Taipan Wall Mostly trad climbing86 routes in cliff
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(a) Before you leave the car, please try to poo in the toilets at Flat Rock car park; and
(b) if you need to poo while at the crag (which should be rare if you adhere to (a)!), then please walk at least 50m (no, 10m from the base of the crag is NOT ok!) and make sure you bury your poo and paper.
(c) do not burn your paper. Visiting Americans and Euros bringing this practice with them start bushfires all too often - the Australian bush is highly flammable!
It's a shame we have to start with the above, but unfortunately the popularity of this great crag is having some side effects caused by those who are happy to shit in their own nest. Don't stuff it for the rest of us!
Now onto the good news. 'Taipan Wall' is widely considered to be the best single crag in 'Australia', and many climbers consider that it ranks up there amongst the very best crags in the world. It is certainly the most outstanding climbing feature of the Grampians: a 200m long, overhanging wall up to 60 metres high, which positively glows a stunning orange in the evening sunshine. And the wall doesn't only have good looks: the climbs themselves are almost all of incredibly high quality. While a number of climbs unfortunately require a bolt for aid or have a crux move that is grades harder than anything else on the climb, the climbs are nevertheless generally magnificent.
Because of the uniformly excellent quality of the climbing, previous guides have used "Taipan stars", which effectively involved deducting a star from most routes and only giving 3 stars to those particularly sublime routes which push for the mythical 4th star! In a break with that tradition, this guide gives stars wherever they're deserved - and 'Taipan' deserves plenty! To help you work out what is the absolute cream of the crop, look out for the group of "Taipan's Top 5": Daedalus, Cardigan St (pitch 2), 'Feather Boa', 'Serpentine', and 'World Party' (pitch 3). It could have also been a "Top 7" because Mr Joshua and 'The Seventh Pillar' are right up there too.
Despite a reputation of being largely inaccessible to moderate climbers, the truth is that if you climb in the low 20s there are many days' worth of truly fantastic climbing to be had. In this regard it is worth remembering that, at times when difficult multi-pitch routes are all a bit too much, many of the hard classics have excellent easier first pitches. In particular, the following pitches are highly recommended, and have rap anchors:
'Sordid Orchids' p1 (** 20m 25);
Seventh Banana p1 (** 20m 23);
~Sirocco p1 (* 20m 21);
'Medusa' p1 (* 40m 25);
~Seventh Pillar LHV (* 45m 23);
Seventh Pillar LHV (short version) (* 28m 22);
~Serpentine p1 (* 35m 24);
Naja p1 (** 30m 27);
'World Party' p1 (* 20m 21);
Mr Joshua p1 (* 30m 25);
~Kaa p1 (20m 23).
(The ~ symbol indicates pitches which must be seconded because they traverse too much to allow rap-cleaning).
Note that a 60m rope is required to lower off many routes, and longer ropes are often very handy. A 100m rope has even been used to work Father O from the ground! In any event, you often need every metre of your rope to lower off, and you're often trying to land on a ledge, so there is a real chance of ending up dangling in space or worse. Take careful note of the rap length and pitch length information provided against each route, and tie a knot in the end of your rope.
Because most routes have slopers and/or smooth holds, bear in mind that temperature and humidity conditions have a strong bearing on route difficulty. The wall has shade until 1-2pm so generally speaking, depending on the forecast daily maximum temperature, you should plan as follows:
>35C: climb elsewhere
28-35C: make a very early start and expect to be roasted off by noon
23-27C: exploit the mornings, but may be ok to carry on in the afternoon sun
17-22C: prime 'Taipan' conditions. Go hard!
<17C: Morning shade will be cold, afternoon sunshine will be glorious, although limited to only a few hours in winter.
'Taipan' is a good venue on days of light showers, but is not great if it really rains. Despite the large areas of always-dry orange rock, the grey & black lichen streaks will seep. The black streaks can develop a surprisingly strong trickle if there's been decent rainfall, due to the fairly large slabs above which drain down these lines. Also, despite the majority of the crag being overhung, the prevailing southwest winds tend to bring rain into the base onto packs and belayers. Plus, if its anything more than passing showers then the humidity will make all the slopers seem harder to hold on to! And don't count on a retreat to 'Spurt Wall' - despite the huge rooves protecting it from direct rain, it has an amazing ability to soak up moisture and all the crimps become disgustingly spoodgy. So, 'Taipan' is a good choice on days of light showers, but if rain sets in you're better off going somewhere shorter, steeper and thuggier.© (willmonks)
Access issues inherited from North Grampians
This area is now reopening after the fires in early 2014
Here's an update from Parks Victoria:
Grampians National Park Update – 17 September 2014 (Rock climbing and Bouldering)
In January 2014 a large bushfire swept through the Northern Grampians causing widespread damage to visitor sites, roads and walking tracks. Many popular rockclimbing and bouldering sites were also impacted including Hollow Mountain, Summerday Valley and Mt Stapylton.
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.
Recently, Parks Victoria, volunteers and contractors completed recovery projects within rock climbing areas to reinstate damaged walking trails, realign rock climbing access and replace directional signage.
As of Saturday 20th September access will once again be available to rock climbing and bouldering areas within the Stapylton Amphitheatre in addition to those already available in the Flat Rock area. The access track from Flat Rock has been realigned into Grey and Green Walls and to Taipan wall. Please follow these new alignments and refrain from walking off track.
Open Rock Climbing and Bouldering Areas in the Northern Grampians:
- Central Buttress
- Grey & Green Walls
- Taipan Wall (Upper and Lower)
- Spurt Wall
- Epsilon Wall
- Trackside Bouldering area
- Spurt and Afterglow
Closures remain in place at all other Northern Grampians Climbing and Bouldering sites for the time being, including Summerday Valley, Andersons, The kindergarten, Van Diemens Land and Cut Lunch Walls. Stapylton Campground also remains closed. Plantation Campground is the closest, open campground.
Parks Victoria will continue to assess damage and undertake recovery works over the coming months. Updates will be posted as re-openings occur. 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 anyone found in any closed, fire affected areas.
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.parks.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:
- Stapylton Amphitheatre
- Flat Rock
- 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:
- Stapylton Amphitheatre
- 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
Drive to Flat Rock carpark and walk up Flat Rock (noting the difference between "flat" and "horizontal"!). Follow the track down into the Amphitheatre and across the flats. About 300m into the Amphitheatre the track starts to rise again and here the first boulders are met on the left (Trackside Bouldering Area), at this point leave the main track and head left. Follow this track uphill through the boulders for 100 metres or so to a tall boulder on the left with a prominent arete. From here the path up to 'Taipan Wall' is nowadays a well trodden highway, and meets the base of the cliff between 'The Great Divide' and Seventh Banana.
Descents: for climbs on the left half of the wall (i.e. all routes left of, and including, Serpentine), the descent is by a 40 metre abseil from the top of 'Clean Sweep'. Anchors atop other routes (such as 'Divided Years', Father O, Cardigan St and Mirage) are either unsafe to access from above or are poorly arranged for rope pulling, so the 'Clean Sweep' anchor is the only option. It is recommended to get your bearings beforehand (e.g. from the top of Flat Rock) as the anchor can be a little tricky to find from above. Traversing along the top of the wall to this anchor is quite exposed, particularly the section above Father O. While some people opt for the scary traverse on the very edge of the clifftop, this is not trivial above Cardigan St and the fall potential could hardly be worse. The better option is probably to stay about 12m back up from the clifftop above Cardigan St and Father O but this is still quite exposed so take care, and if in doubt rope up. Once you're at the 'Clean Sweep' abseil anchor, make sure to test-pull the ropes before the last person comes down because the ropes regularly get jammed on this abseil. Hint: the last person should step to abseiler's left to avoid laying the ropes in the offending groove on the lip. Right of 'Serpentine' it is not safe to walk unroped along the clifftop, and descent details are specified against each individual route below.© (willmonks)
Some content has been provided under license from: © Australian Climbing Association Queensland (Creative Commons, Attribution, Share-Alike 2.5 AU)
The easiest way to the top of 'Taipan' if you want to pre-place gear or take photos from rap. It is also a great beginners route with excellent rock, big features and good pro.
Start: Start 3m L of 'Mission Over Tokyo' (to avoid it's tricky starting crack). Climb most of the first pitch of Mission Over Tokyo then step left across the void of the Gunigalg Gully chimney. Easily up the slabby left wall of this, into the boulder choked gully, and up the short right wall to the top.
FA: Andy Pollitt?, 2000
A couple of exciting moves but the rest is ordinary.
20m (18) Up the short tricky crack, step right then up slab and belay before steepening.
20m (18) Up until level with roofline to right. Dangle right around the arete then easily up face to final steepening. Exit left.
FA: James McIntosh & Melanie Taws (alt), 1988
An attractive climb with an intimidating finish. Usually done in a single pitch.
Start: Start on the elevated ledge, just L of the boulder, at the base of the nice face crack in the middle of the grey slab.
30m (18) Up finger crack to overhang, dangle around then up slabby wall to belay below headwall.
10m (20) Boldly up faint scoops on headwall (small shallow wires).
FA: Glenn Tempest & Kevin Lindorff, 1977
A selection of the various flowers, plus some nice poses of its own.
Start: Start on top of the big boulder perched on the ledge between 'Atomic Tadpole' and 'Tokyo Rose' (but it's a better more sustained pitch if you start up UG). Trend R up the easy slab (adequate pro found on the R). Cross Tokyo Rose, then join Ukrainian Geranium for 8m over bulges to the start of the upper slab. Now traverse 3m R to FH in major grey streak, then up to break. Move R to join Sordid Orchids Direct past it's final 2 FHs, to rap anchor (28m). Full set of cams and wires, and several long draws (or double ropes).
FA: Will Monks & Mike File, 2005
Start: Start in the square orange corner at the right side of the grey slab, about 8m R of 'Atomic Tadpole', on the elevated ledge.
25m (18) Climb the corner to the roof and traverse left below the roof, crossing 'Atomic Tadpole' to belay on the arete.
20m (18) Follow the diagonal crack up left through a small overhang to a vague ledge. Step right, climb the arete and exit left at the steepening. Has also been done by continuing from the 'vague ledge' up the vague leftwards diagonal (poor pro) to the arete of the chimney (as shown in the topo above).
FA: James McIntosh & Melanie Taws, 1987
This ground-up effort felt all the more intrepid for being established in single-digit temperatures with no fewer than three hailstorms on the way. It's the best moderate route down this end of the wall.
25m (21) Thin orange corner then diagonally up L with feet dropping into TR for a move or two. Steeply over bulge and up the short orange flake on the R to gain slab. SHB below white bulge.
15m (20) Move R over white bulge to ledge. Leftward arcing thin orange corner to the intermittent headwall crack 4m R of 'Atomic' Tadpole's finish.
FA: Will Monks, Kevin Lindorff (alt) & Joe Goding, 2004
Extends the first pitch of 'Sordid Orchids' by 12m and adds three bolts. Sustained wall climbing with crimpers and reach moves. Climbs more like a Blue Mountains wall climb rather than a 'Taipan' steep sloper fest.
Start: Start as for 'Sordid Orchids'. Climb Sordid Orchids to horizontal break after last RB. Instead of traversing off right into the birdshit, head straight up wall above (FH), step left (#2 camalot) and then up again (2 FHs). At large slopey rail step right into Sordid Orchids pitch 2 and climb this for 2m to a single U-bolt loweroff (60m rope required). Above this U-bolt is the aid move on Sordid Orchids pitch 2.
FA: Neil Monteith & Will Monks, 2005
A good line spoilt by a single aid move on the second pitch. The first pitch is a popular and well chalked line with a handy lower-off, but beware that falls before the 1st bolt have strained a few ankles on the swing into the slab below.
Start: Start at the flake/seam 5m right of 'Tokyo Rose', on the elevated ledge.
18m (25) Up the right-facing slabby flake (wires) to undercling (small cam(s), make it bomber). Burly moves to jug (RB). Crux crimps past 2nd RB to break, traverse R to guano ledge and DRB (18m). Wash your hands afterwards to safeguard against bird flu!
20m (26 M1) Take bolt brackets. Climb the closed corner above the ledge past 1 or 2 old fixed wires (bring your own too) then traverse left to gain the overhung ramp. Follow the ramp past three bolts (2nd bolt for aid) then up the headwall past final bolt to top. The aid move (an awkward dyno to a tricky catch of a pocket) might go free at 30+ if the strong persist.
FA: Pitch 1: Chris Shepherd, Parrish Robbins. Pitch 2: Parrish Robbins & Nick White, 1990
A beautiful natural line but unpopular due to its rusting bolts and bizarre traversing.
Start: Start at the first anchor of 'Sordid Orchids' Pitch 1, on the guano-stained ledge. Drop down, traverse 4m right and go up flake to roof. Right below roof for 5m and over lip (crux). Traverse 5m right to finish beside Clean Sweep. Approx 5 bolts?
FA: Pete Cresswell & Andy Pollitt, 1990