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Table of contents
Long/Lat: 142.383756, -36.893250
- Description:© (willmonks)
Most of the following has been copied directly from Kieran Loughran's excellent Amphitheatre guide - thanks!
'Central Buttress' is the big somewhat scrappy looking area extending right from the Amphitheatre 'Gully', until the cliffline breaks down into a gully before the Grey & Green Walls. It offers a wide variety of climbs with a few outstanding classics. While some of the cliffs do not look particularly attractive at first sight, don't let that put you off. The highlight of this area, and the best section of the entire Amphitheatre apart from 'Taipan Wall', is the recess containing 'Simpleton', 'Missing' and 'Technical Ecstasy'.
'Central Buttress' is in the shade until early afternoon. 'Simpleton' gets sun only on summer evenings. An early start on a hot day can see you up a good climb before the heat of the afternoon. The climbs left of 'Simpleton' appear grey and amorphous but are generally quite steep and more difficult than appearances suggest.
- Access Issues: inherited from North Grampians
This entire area is currently closed due to ongoing fire activity. Fires started on 15/1/2014 and swept the area. All access is prohibited.
Here's an update from Parks Victoria:
Grampians National Park Update – 14 February 2014 (Rock climbing and Bouldering)
The Northern Grampians Fire severely burnt the natural environment and much of the park infrastructure in and around Hollow Mountain, Summer Day Valley and Mt Stapylton – this includes many popular rock climbing and bouldering sites; as a result there are many park closures in place. The dry, rocky landscape is now extremely fragile and will take a long time to recover – the fire burnt extremely hot so in many cases regeneration will now occur (very slowly) from seed. Loss of vegetation, loose rocks, unstable soils and loss of access tracks means any foot traffic will have long term impacts on the recovery of the environment. Impacts now will also affect the sustainability of rock climbing sites well into the future.
Please respect the fragility of the environment and support the long term recovery of the Northern Grampians by remaining out of any closed areas. While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on those found in any closed, fire affected area.
Parks Victoria recognises the importance and popularity of the Northern Grampians to the rock climbing and bouldering communities and will be working closely with industry and community representatives throughout a staged reopening process. Environmental considerations will largely determine when sites are available to be reopened, and replacement of damaged infrastructure will occur as suitable funding is available.
As part of the recovery process, Parks Victoria will be identifying alternative options for climbing and bouldering, and will closely monitor impacts on these sites as their use and popularity increases. There will also be significant work done on the future experience of visitors in the Northern Grampians.
Parks Victoria is continuing to improve its understanding of the needs of climbers and boulderers and is intent on providing an experience that is well respected, regarded, promoted and understood throughout the Australian and International Climbing and bouldering communities.
Parks Victoria will be relying heavily on the climbing industry to work together to spread the messages about the fragility of the landscape and the long term sustainability of rock climbing in the Grampians. There may be opportunities for licenced tour operators, school and community based groups to become involved in the recovery process.
Due to closures in the Northern Grampians, the availability of rock climbing, camping, car touring and bushwalking experiences is limited. Sourcing information on available campgrounds and other accommodation options is recommended. Please visit www.parkweb.vic.gov.au for park maps and regular Grampians fire recovery updates.
For detailed information on available rockclimbing and bouldering sites in and near to the Grampians please refer to recognised guidebooks/websites. A general list of open and available areas includes the following:
Rockclimbing sites open in the Grampians:
- Wonderland Range
- Serra Range (Including Mt Rosea and Bundaleer)
- Mt William Range
- Victoria Point area
- Victoria Range (Including the Red Rock, Muline and the Gallery area. Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas)
Limited Bouldering Sites available in and near the Grampians:
- Victoria Range (Including the Gallery area. Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas)
- Serra Range (Including Mt Rosea and Bundaleer)
- Mt Arapiles
- Mt Talbot
- The Black Range
Please remember your climbing etiquette:
- Only climb and boulder in open accessible areas
- Stick to tracks
- Respect fragile environmental areas and cultural heritage
- Keep an eye out for Aboriginal Art sites – Report to Parks Victoria if you come across anything new.
- Be mindful of cleaning
- No chipping or bolting
- Avoid excessive chalk
- Take your rubbish home with you
Parks Victoria - Grampians National Park
- Approach:© (willmonks)
Follow the walking track from Flat Rock down into the Amphitheatre for about 150m past 'Epsilon Wall', avoiding any right-hand turns. Follow a faint pad on the left to soon arrive below the Amphitheatre 'Gully'. 'Central Buttress' extends from here to your right.
Descent: Descend via the abseil near 'Simpleton' or the 'Hollow Mountain' walking track towards Summer Day Valley (return into the Amphitheatre is then possible by walking beneath Amnesty, Clicke, Kindergarden and Northern Walls areas). Avoid the horrible dangerous Amphitheatre 'Gully' (which I refuse to call by its traditional name of "the descent gully"!). Parties with novice climbers are strongly advised to use the walking track for descent.
'Simpleton' Abseil Route: This is the only abseil descent from this area, and allows the awful Amphitheatre 'Gully' to be avoided, but it has its own hazards. If you have two 50m ropes, you need to use the old anchors: from the top of 'Simpleton' (near a lonely 4m pine tree), move out to the front of the cliff and scramble down 5 metres to the chains, the scramble is fairly easy but very exposed - one snapped hold or foot slip and you're facing a death fall. If in doubt, keep the rope on. Have slings ready to clip into the anchors, which are now worryingly rusty. It is a 50 metre abseil, and the first 40 metres are free hanging. Abseil ends on long ledge at the base of 'Missing'. Either scramble down the initial slabs of 'Technical Ecstasy' or do a further short abseil from trees. If you take novices on this descent (not recommended) you must be able to rescue them if they get stuck on the long free abseil section. On a pragmatic note, remember that belaying a novice on descent can take just as long as simply walking off.
In May '09 a new anchor was added at the top of the 'Simpleton' corner, and this can be accessed much less dangerously than the original anchor because you don't need to do the scary 5m downclimb. To use this new anchor you need two 60m ropes.
Climbs are described from left to right.
A major geological feature.
Start: Start beneath the prominent chimney.
FA: Keith Egerton, John Chapman, 1975
Arete right of 'Incisor'. Take lots of slings for the creaking jugs.
Start: As for 'Incisor'
FA: Keith Lockwood, Ray Lassman and Tim Lockwood, 2006
Synchronised Tractor Maintenance
Quite good really, but the crux is a little intense. Should be OK now that the dust has cleared.
Start: Start as for 'Incisor'.
FA: Kieran Loughran and Meg Sleeman, Norm Booth, 1995
This excellent buttress has been done in one pitch (not on the first ascent) but that placed the second at serious risk on the start. Add some slings, cams to #2½ and a handful of wires to the rack. Some think that the climb is worthless, that may be due to style or aesthetic preferences but they may be right. Make up your own mind.
Start: Start below slabby groove about 10m L of 'Strela', just R of the foot of the major Amphitheatre 'Gully'.
FA: Kieran Loughran, Meg Sleeman, 1995
Generally nice climbing with a spectacular move through the overhang near the top, but spoiled by the first 10m shared with 'Strela'. Could improve with traffic.
On the FA, the overhang at the top was avoided by traversing right and climbing easy ground to finish up a steep flake left of the finish of "Strela". The overhang was added by the team doing the variant start.
Start: Start as for "Strela", the first chimney-line R of the foot of the Amphitheatre 'Gully'.
FA: Kieran Loughran, Bill Andrews, 1994
Indentured (Variant Start)
Start: Start 1m L of the original start.
FA: Kieran Loughran, Norm Booth and Keith Lockwood, 1994
Not a classic. The first of the major chimney lines accessible without scrambling up the descent gully. The length of this climb is preposterous but it wasn't worth repeating in full to correct the description. If you wish to do so, go ahead. The various possible lines at the top of 'Strela' have all been done as variants to 'Indentured', 'Strela' and 'Filling'.
Start: Start at the first chimney line R of the foot of the descent gully.
FA: Dave Oldfield, John Rogers (Alt), 1967
Good, though the early part of the first pitch is a bit contrived. Poorly protected in spots. All pitches are about the same grade though pitch three is probably the most serious.
Abseil as for 'Simpleton' or walk-off.
Start: Start at a small groove 3m L of 'Molar Buttress'.
FA: Peter Martin, Steve Jones (alt), 1989
Something to get its teeth into you. The start and finish are enjoyable, but the middle pitches are weird, spooky and poorly protected. All pitches are graded 12 simply because there is no information about individual pitch grades. Take a double-length sling.
Start: Start 9m R of 'Strela' at the initials "MB" below a groove.
FA: Steve Craddock, Sue Priestly (alt) Easter, 1965
Start: Just to the right of the first pitch of 'Molar Buttress', below the right arete of a groove.
FA: Keith Lockwood, Kieran Loughran, Joe Cook, Peter Watling, Ray Lassman., 2005
An impressive overhang. Originally graded 17! Not too hard but you'ld get a nasty thump if you fell off the crux.
Start: Start 4m R of 'Molar Buttress'.
FA: Jared McCulloch, Peter Martin., 1989
Great sport first pitch and OK trad second pitch.
"And she's begging you please not to tease her with reason,
Cause all she wants to do is dance.
You're in a Disco Dilemma", Mike Rudd
Start: Two metres right of Herbal Sim below diagonal groove.
Not a popular concept. Takes the corner out L of the main 'Simpleton' corner with a loose crux.
Start: There is a chimney/gully 10m R of Molar Buttress; start 1m R of this gully.
FA: Kevin Lindorff, Phillip Armstrong (alt), Peter Newman, 1979
Well protected moves up an impressive and steep wall. Seconds should take prussics and/or not unclip the first bolt until it is at their waist. Gear: take a standard trad rack with a set of wires and cams. A large cam is needed for the Simpleton roof, and save a medium to large cam (BD#2 or Friend #3) for the final horizontal break. Start: as for Simpleton, from the ledge below Missing.
FFA: Steve Toal, Paula Greene, 2012
A magnificent climb up a great line. The first pitch can be avoided by scrambling up the slabs below 'Technical Ecstasy' and traversing in. Do the finish as described (it's worth it) and save the obvious finish for 'Technical Ecstasy'. Take 1 or 2 large cams (e.g. #4 or #5 camalot).
Start: Start as for 'Gross Encounters', 1m R of gully.
FA: Chris Dewhirst, Ian Guild, Michael Stone. FA Dave Mudie 1975, 1966
Slabba-dabba-do! An absorbing, exacting and extremely long pitch. The lengthy co-crux slab sections are unique for the 'Grampians'. Take 6 brackets, cams from micro to #3, and a few wires. There's ledge-fall potential at the 2nd FH (oops). A retrobolt above the 1st bolt (and shifting the 1st bolt a bit lower) would be welcomed. Until then, a quick safer option is to scoot up the easy first 8m of 'Simpleton', walk R to Present's 3rd bolt, and lower off it to pre-clip/pre-extend the 2nd bolt. You could also climb this as a fantastic 24/5 by starting up 'Simpleton' and linking into this pitch at the 3rd bolt.
FA: Chapman (as a present from Will Monks when he left!)
FA: Kevin Lindorff, Michael O'Reilly, Steve Chapman
A beautiful thin line leads to a large roof at the top of the cliff. You have to be good at placing RPs and other small wires, although the advent of microcams is a boon for this route. To a rack up to #3½ cam, add 2 sets of RPs and plenty of microcams, extra #2½ cam, thin sling and many quickdraws. A bolt was placed on the first pitch around 1996 because the original starting stump disintegrated.
Start: Start by scrambling up 'Technical Ecstasy' for 15m to a terrace on the L where the real climbing starts.
FA: Kieran Loughran, Meg Sleeman March-April. Dave Vass made the first lead of pitch 1, before any fixed gear existed. 1st continuous ascent Steve Monks, Louise Shepherd 1989., 1988
Technical Ecstasy Direct
Might get bumped up a grade once the third ascentionist gets back from cleaning his undies to give us his thoughts. The 18m of new climbing is only 2-4m L of the original second pitch, and can be escaped at a few spots. Otherwise, this version of the second pitch is every bit as good as the magnificent second pitch of 'Missing'.
Start: Start as for TE.
FA: Kevin Lindorff, Will Monks (both lead crux, after TR rehearsal), 2009
Another great route with some pretty bold bits on the second pitch.
Start: Start at the toe of the slabs 18m R of 'Simpleton', just L of a gully.
FA: Glenn Tempest, Kevin Lindorff, 1977
Good, but not in the same class as the other climbs here. Apparently it should have been called 'Maniac'.
Start: Start as for 'Technical Ecstasy'.
FA: Tim Hancock, Peter McKeand 20.8.70, finishing by long traverse L to roof of Technical Ecstasy. As described: Kieran Loughran, Meg Sleeman. First pitch variant: Joel Malady, Michael Sim December 1995., 1988
|21||Mania Direct Finish||18||20m|
Very reachy, add two grades if you're less than 190cm tall. The original climb bashed its way up to gain the line R of 'Mania' and followed this line until 24m below the top then aided the final pitch.
FA: Andrew Thomson, Adrian Davey 19.8.70. FA Simon Mentz, Kieran Loughran, Louise Shepherd., 1991
Probably worthwhile at the grade. The route originally started as for 'Imbecile' but the route is described here with a better start.
Start: Start about 10m R of 'Mania', and 5m R of gully.
FA: Andrew Thomson, Joe Friend. (pitch 1 as described: Allan Hope). (Horrible gully start: Derek Vissor, Ann Scholes).(Second Pitch variant: Ray Lassman, Kieran Loughran)., 2006
Cul De Sac
Clean slab/wall climbing all the way up to the chains on TSIC. Two BRs (hangers required!) and an assortment of cams and trad gear. Slightly contrived at the start, the hard moves past the first bolt can be avoided by easier climbing to the left, but delightful above. The second bolt is hidden until you get right to it!
Start: Five or six metres left of This Structure is closed.
FA: Keith Lockwood, Peter Canning, 2000
This Structure is Closed
Despite being an excellent pitch up a superb line, this climb is over 1m high and has no hand-rails. It takes the great corner leading to the right side of the huge overhangs on 'Central Buttress'. Protection is excellent (double up cams to #2½ and throw in some larger ones for luck). Originally graded 17 it has cleaned up with traffic.
Start: Start about 30m R of 'Mania' et al on a boulder below the R edge of the corner.
FA: Kieran Loughran, Meg Sleeman, 1999
The Long Paddock
A nice word, paddock: very evocative. Not a bad climb either. A #4 cam would be handy on the final pitch.
Start: Start below the above-noted alcove (about 50m R of Cerambycid).
FA: Kieran Loughran, Meg Sleeman, 1995
Probably quite good and certainly unusual. Awkward climbing up the peapods leads to a solid, overhanging corner. A number of Aliens or similar tiny cams are needed to protect the hard move out of the peapods and protection is otherwise excellent.
Start: Start beneath the alcove, just R of 'The Long Paddock'.
FA: Louise Shepherd, Simon Mentz, 1991
Would be a reasonable, long beginners' climb if not for the ridiculously hard [and hard to protect] move around the bulge to start which is out of character with everything else on the route. After that it's hard to work out where it goes, but the climbing is generally easy.
Start: Start 10m around R of 'Body Bath'. The original description says that it starts behind a pine tree. That was 40 years ago. There is a dead pine tree resting amongst the gum trees where I think this climb starts. There used to be a dead pine tree just L of 'The Long Paddock'. I wonder if the M was put there by the first ascent party or just a guidebook editor who thought they had worked out where the route went?
FA: Sue Priestly, Steve Craddock (alt) Easter., 1965
Essentially a variant finish to 'Median' except that it exaggerates the length, but it's hard to work out where it goes. Possibly only 10m of independent climbing. See comments for Median re the start.
Start: Start as for 'Median'.
FA: D.Smalley, D.Holroyd (alt), 1974
|14||The Long Paddock||75m|
|This Structure is Closed||35m|
|17||Cul De Sac||35m|
|Mania Direct Finish||20m|
|20||Synchronised Tractor Maintenance||33m|
|Indentured (Variant Start)||25m|
|Technical Ecstasy Direct||70m|