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The Pit

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Summary

Quality and diverse routes on an eclectic mix of features. Quick access and stacked in the mid to high grade range.

Description

A beautifully positioned crag, belied by an inauspicious name. A tight amphitheatre of rock and forest, many of the routes in The Pit start from a spacious ledge nestled in the canopy of trees. The Pit is comprised of two distinct sectors, each with its individual style and sun exposure.

Each route at The Pit has its own personality, mostly on holds and sequences atypical of Blue Mountains climbing. Many routes have pockets and monos, largely absent from most Blueys routes.

Foot access is short, about 10 minutes from the car to the top of the crag, followed by a short 20m rappel. Exiting the crag is by Via Ferrata, protected by the rappel access rope.

Sector 'Pit Fighter' is the first sector encountered from the base of the rappel. This sector is protected from rain, though will drip from the top of the routes after many days of consistent rain. In summer it gets afternoon sun starting from about 1 PM on the right side, or 2.30 PM on the left side, until it drops behind the opposite ridge at 4.30pm. It gets no sun at all in winter.

Across the amphitheatre, 'The Sunny Side' will be in the sun until around 12 in summer and 10.30 in winter.

Access issues

Elphinstone Plateau is mostly private property, whereby landowners tolerate access for a variety of purposes. The tracks and paths are frequented by many users other than climbers so please keep our impact to a minimum. Avoid obvious track markers and cairns within sight of the main trails.

The Blue Mountains are a World Heritage listed area. The Grose Valley, the cliffs around Katoomba and much of the Narrow Neck peninsula are part of the Blue Mountains National Park which is managed by the NPWS. The Western Escarpment - where most of the climbing is - is Crown Land managed by the BMCC. While the NPWS Plan of Management nominates several locations in the National Park where rock climbing is deemed appropriate, the majority of the climbing remains unacknowledged. To maintain access our best approach is to 'Respect Native Habitat, Tread Softly and Leave No Trace'.

Approach

Park as for 'The Egg' and 'Elphinstone' at the end of Pulpit Hill Rd (PHR) in Katoomba.

Access PHR by turning from Great Western Highway (GWH) onto Explorers Rd directly outside of Katoomba heading towards Medlow Bath. Explorers Rd is a small loop road with two access points to GWH, one being at the 'Explorers Tree'. Which direction you access it from will dictate which way you will turn on to PHR.

Once on Explorers Rd, turn on to PHR and follow this to the end. Park here and walk through the stile at the gate. Follow the main, obvious fire trail as for The Egg/Elphinstone for about 400-500m (4 mins brisk walk), the first 200m gently uphill, then the next 200m gently downhill to a road-width puddle at the lowest point. 30m past the puddle is a derelict, green corrugated iron shed structure on your left. The path winds into the forest directly before the shed on the left.

After a few initial twists and turns, the track will become more obvious with some cairns leading the way. Once the forest opens out on the ridge, the track will spill down to the right past a few rock steps and the crag will become visible. Follow the track down to a great overlook and down again to the rap point (2 rings). About 300m all up from the fire trail to here. Rappel from here leaving the rope fixed for the climb out. As the Via Ferrata and rappel are steep, bolts have been placed to keep the rappel line close to the rock. It is advisable to keep bouncing and to clip in the rappel rope using at least the permadraw on the bottom bolt. Perhaps consider bringing gloves to climb back out.

Rappel to an obvious ledge system with more Via Ferrata rungs, do not rappel the last 15-20m all the way to the valley floor. A short traverse on a good ledge with more rungs (you can use the bottom end of the abseil rope to set up a safety line along here) will lead you to the right hand side of the main ledge and the first routes. To exit, climb the Via Ferrata protected by the rappel rope using a suitable device.

To access 'The Sunny Side', simply traverse the full length of the main ledge under the whole 'Pit Fighter' sector and at the far (north) end follow the ropes down the rock step. Follow the path across the valley, and up to the other side. Takes all of 2 minutes to walk to the other side.

Ethic inherited from Blue Mountains

Although sport climbing is well entrenched as the most popular form of Blueys climbing, mixed-climbing on gear and bolts has generally been the rule over the long term. Please try to use available natural gear where possible, and do not bolt cracks or potential trad climbs. If you do the bolts may be removed.

Because of the softness of Blue Mountains sandstone, bolting should only be done by those with a solid knowledge of glue-in equipping. A recent fatality serves as a reminder that this is not an area to experiment with bolting.

If you do need to top rope, please do it through your own gear as the wear on the anchors is both difficult and expensive to maintain.

If you have benefited from climbing infrastructure in NSW, please consider making a donation towards maintenance costs. The Sydney Rockclimbing Club Rebolting Fund finances the replacement of old bolts on existing climbs and the maintenance of other hardware such as fixed ropes and anchors. The SRC purchases hardware, such as bolts and glue, and distributes them to volunteer rebolters across the state of New South Wales. For more information, including donation details, visit https://sydneyrockies.org.au/rebolting/

It would be appreciated if brushing of holds becomes part of your climbing routine - do it with a soft bristled brush and never a steel brush!

The removal of vegetation - both from the cliff bases and the climbs - is not seen as beneficial to aesthetics of the environment nor to our access to it.

However, the fast growing scrub can conceal walking tracks in mere months, making remote and less popular crags slightly more difficult and fun to navigate to. Some appropriately discreet pruning is a far better alternative then track braiding (which causes far more damage).

However, do so only on Council land and definitely not in the National Park. Remember, to maintain access our best approach is to 'Respect Native Habitat, Tread Softly and Leave No Trace'. Do not cut flora and keep any tracks and infrastructure as minimal as possible or risk possible closures.

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