North Jawbone

  • Grades: AU
  • Approach time: 45 minutes.
  • Photos: 4
  • Ascents: 649


North Jawbone (singular!) overlooks the Cathedral Valley on the eastern side of the Cathedral Range. Despite its steep appearance North Jawbone is a reclining slab of about 60 degrees. The climbs are over 100m long on quality chocolate sandstone.


Access: From Melbourne take the Maroondah Highway to Buxton (100km). From Buxton continue along highway for 9km, and then turn right onto Cathedral Lane. Follow the road to the Cathedral State Park. Once inside the State Park, drive to the Cooks Mill camping site and continue on until you arrive at the North Jawbone car park. From the car park take the well marked walking track, down to the creek and on up the ridge on the other side of the valley. About half way up a bunch of slabby buttresses appear on the right (almost reaching the trail) A short distance further, there is a marked boulder on the left and a trail leading right, then follow the track to the base of the cliff.

Abseil Descent: The route follows the left edge of the right (Spiegal's Xanthene etc) buttress as marked. The rappels are approx 55 and 56m so the ground can be reached in two raps with 2x60m ropes (see notes below for options with shorter ropes).

First rap is two SS Petzl rings located a small scramble down from near the top of Travellers Slab.

Head down and slightly left to reach the ledges, go over these and down the face about 8m further to two more rings at a small but comfortable stance.

From here, the second rap heads slightly right down the face (near Route Two) to the bottom.

Options: If you have 1x60m and 1x50m ropes, you might be able to reach the midstation by equalising the ropes as best you can. Otherwise, stop on a small stance on the face and downclimb the easy but exposed face (or belay to be safer). Don't forget to tie stopper knots in the ends of your ropes. You can reach easy-angled slabs at the base with this rope combination and scramble down the last 2-3m of low-angle slabs.

If you only have 2x50m ropes you might still consider using the rap descent. Rap down to the ledges then belay or scramble down to the rings. For the second rap, head straight down the face over roofs (watch for sharp edges) to end up reaching a stance higher up in the gully, then bash down the last few metres.

Caveat: the short-rope options have not been tested. Abseiling can lead to injury or death, take suitable precautions.


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1 13
2 12
3 14

This route is described in Rockclimbs Around Melbourne by Glenn Tempest.

A wonderful sustained adventure on perfect brown sandstone. There are various belay possibilities.

  1. 40m (13) As for Jerry-Pot.

  2. 40m (12) As for Jerry-Pot.

  3. 40m (14) Up the thin crack until it runs out. Not far above this is small slot that accepts a 0.5 cam. Step R, then back up L under the overlap and shallow L-facing corner. Up the clean-cut corner and cracks to join the last few metres of Junglescope.

This route is described in Rockclimbs Around Melbourne by Glenn Tempest.

Superb climbing all the way. Three excellent pitches. Start below the distinctive cricket ball impression on the wall 5m R of Junglescope.

  1. 48 m (16) Climb straight up the technical slab past 2 FHs to the comfortable Junglescope ledge.

  2. 50m (14) Climb the R-curving arch (directly above the belay) for a few metres, then straight up the intermittent cracks and seams on the increasingly delicate slab. Belay across L at the base of the corner as for Junglescope.

  3. 32m (17) Climb the slabby grey wall tending up and R to under the middle of the steepening headwall. A few tricky moves over the overlap (FH), then up the final clean wall.

FA: Richard Smith & Jason Scott, 1987

An epic adventure.

  1. 25m (10) Same as 'Speigal's Overhang'. If 'Speigal's Overhang' is busy, try 'Route One'.

  2. 29m (12) Since the crack in the middle is overgrown, this pitch is a bit runout for its grade. Go right at the big crack in the middle until the overhang. Build semi-hanging belay right under it. (The guide recommends to go left into the corner to a ledge, but everything's totally overgrown there; good luck with the spiky bushes!)

  3. 20m (19) Go through overhang left-hand side of the hanging belay. Follow two BRs to the second overhang. Crux with a surprise! Belay on small stance 2m above and a bit to the left of the crux. (The guide suggests a grade 17 here; yes, sure, if you have a wingspan of 2m+…)

  4. 20m (17) Delicate slab climbing, a bit runout. Follow a thin crack a bit to the left to a BR, then straight up and a bit to the right to the 'Traverse of the Gods'. Then several options how to end this climb:

You can link 4th pitch of 'Xanthene' and 'Xanthene Direct' (total linked pitch length of about 65 m).

FA: Doug Hatt & Rodney Coles, 1963

Starts where 'Xanthene' ends.

On the 'Traverse of the Gods', there's a bolt to the left of the route which can be clipped. Otherwise, straight up on slabs with pockets. Small cams in pockets. A lot easier on the 2nd half.

4th pitch of 'Xanthene' can be linked with this route (about 65 m altogether).

Out right from below last roof of Spiegals. Five BRs.

FA: Simon ?

FA: Roger Caffin & Sue Wilcox, 1966

Up the centre flake until its top, then delicately traverse left over the slab, pull up and left through the roof (crux), then continue left through more delicate slab moves to the next corner, and up easily from there. Descent involves scrambling UP the steep gulley behind the top of the climb to a trail that leads under Odd Wall (K. Y. Jelly area) and then North and down to the American Dream area. Alternatively, with double ropes it is possible to leave a sling over the pinnacle at the top and rappel the 40m to the ground.

FA: Tim Bearman & Silvia Lazarnick, 1977

Up the arete 1m right of Fruit Hustler, staying on the arête after you pass the tree, all the way up to where it meets the Fruit Hustler flake.

FA: Geoff Butcher, 1986

Up the arête 1m right of Fruit Hustler. From the tree, swing out left and follow the crack on the slab. Claimed to be a better option than the original finish to Babel Fish.

FA: Geoff Butcher, 1986

Starts in the corner left of Kiwi Express, then joins up with Low Act.

FA: Simon Todman & Owen Morris, 1989

Very minimal protection available.


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