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Mount Banks

  • Grade context: AU
  • Approach time: 1- 3 hours
  • Photos: 16
  • Ascents: 82

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Description

Epic big wall routes up to 500m in height, but quite broken by large ledges everywhere except around Groseness. Clearly visible from the other side of the valley at Perry's 'Lookout'. It is a one hour walk, or a fairly vigerous 20minute mountain bike ride around the back, or 2-32 hours up from Bluegum forest below.

For a more complete online guide, see http://www.sydneyclimbing.com/confluence/display/nswrock/Mount+Banks

Access issues inherited from Blue Mountains

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'. Do not cut flora and keep any tracks and infrastructure as minimal as possible.

Practically all crags are either in National Park or in council reserve: dog owners are reminded that dogs are not allowed in National Parks at any time and fines have been issued, while for crags on council reserve the BMCC leash law requires that dogs be on-leash.

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.

Some content has been provided under license from: © Australian Climbing Association Queensland (Creative Commons, Attribution, Share-Alike 2.5 AU)

Routes

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Grade Route

FA: Russ Kippax, Dave Roots, Enn Trupold, Owen Llewellyn; Russ Kippax, Enn Truupold & Owen Llewellyn

Alternative finish for pitches 5 and 6 of The Original Route. Move up left and follow right facing corner in 3 pitches. Bolts where needed. Some loose rock.

FA: Hayden Brotchie. & Bryden Allen Jim Croft

FFA: Hayden Brotchie. Bryden Allen. Jim Croft, 1997

1 24
2 23
3 10
4 10

Outstanding and varied climbing following the obvious clean left facing corner on the right side of the only amphitheater in the bottom cliff-line. About 20mm R of Original route. A challenging lead yet well protected. Access as per other routes starting at the base. Two great pitches up the thin crack corner, then up gullies for a few hundred meters and walk left a kilometer on the 3rd ledge

Ok climbing (mostly) on generally ok rock (some spooky choss) with generally ok pro (trad with a few carrots).

The belays are usually trees or bolts to enable retreat. Most of the pitches are about 16 to (hard) 18 with the top pitches being the hardest (thrutchy cracks). Probably worth 20 for the epic factor, and the style (slabs and cracks). Best done on a long cool day (October, November?). Gets sun after noon, take plenty of water, and don't drink from the Grose. It’s a bit of an epic to access, and to escape from.

Access - Easiest to approach traditionally from Perry’s Lookdown. Walk down to Bluegum Forest and then walk back up the valley a bit (looks more like 2km or so), cross the Grose River (-33.594528,150.361746, or Mt Wilson sheet 8030-1N KH550796), and find the creek below Original Route and the Central Gully (maps!). There's a fat orange tree right on the track with "Turn O" carved on the north (back) side, cross the river about 30m south of this. Walk up the ridge just right of the creek to below the huge left facing choss corner (pitches 6 and 7) on the 2nd Tier, and traverse left 50m to start left of orange wall at ground level (see picture of Pitch 1 above).

When you finish the climb, walk 20m up the gully to a good track heading left. After 200m turn left at the Cairn, finish up Pitch 20. Regaining the track, after about 10-15 minutes it drops down over some fallen trees onto to the summit walking track, left up this another 300m then down and right to carpark (45 minutes, take a torch).

  1. 30m Start left of orange rock, up to fixed hanger at 10m, then to ledge belay.

  2. 20m Walk left and up corner.

  3. 30m Up wall.

  4. 40m Up easy slab to corners. Up to tree with rope marker.

  5. 50m (Scary walk) Go right (belayed) about 10m and scramble up 1st ledge below 100m choss corner.

  6. 25m Up corner, loose. U + gear belay.

  7. 25m Up left wall, step R into corner. U + gear belay

  8. 20m Walk easily left to block, bolt and U on lip.

  9. 50m Up and slightly leftwards forever, 2U + bolt belay (poor rock) on the exposed perch out left (The 11 o'clock pitch, that's the direction you head, and you should be on it by then).

  10. 25m Left and up scary erosion groove. Step right at top and up slope to tree and 2nd ledge. 2nd ledge, walk up 15m and then left 40m to weird old 2 bolt anchor with tat. Next pitch starts in sloping dirty corner just to the left.

  11. 20m Up finger crack ramp and slab to 2BB. Stay out right.

  12. 25m Right to groove and up, then black slab to small trees (can link to next pitch if you have cams for the top).

  13. 15m Up wall to big tree.

  14. 30m Up sandy seam, right and up tricky slab, wires in finger crack.

  15. 15m Easily up ridge to 3rd ledge. Walk down and left across gully past chossy white corner, and left 40m more to big black corner.

  16. 25m Up corner, hand, offwidth (basalt chock stones!), and flare in corner, tree belay (don’t use the dead one like I did)

  17. 20m Up gully to base of main corner.

  18. 25m Up corner then left wall and crack, sling runners near top, 2UB

  19. 20m Right into corner and weird moves into crack on right wall. Follow thrutchy crack (plus chockstones if you are out of big gear) then up to 2UB on right wall high. Then walk out and finish up Pitch 20!

Gear: Take a single rack of cams, finger to a big fist sized and doubles of hand-size, wires, a bunch of brackets (and wires you can use for clipping also). 3L of water, torch.

Escape: On the 1st ledge it’s possible to scramble left through horrendous scrub and past Original route, then up the access ramp (rope) then up to carpark. About 2.5 hours. Probably safer to rap and walk back down to Bluegum and up (rap plus 2 hours). There is an awesome bivvy hut on the 1st ledge about 8 minutes’ walk left of the big corner, built in the 50's, no water though.

On the 2nd ledge, walk right easily for 30 minutes and up 10m to the fire trail and turn left. About 70 minutes from here back to Mt Banks carpark. You can go left along the 2nd ledge but it gets funky. There is a good cave where someone had an epic bivvy about 40m right of the top of pitch 10 on the 2nd ledge.

On the 3rd ledge apparently you can walk off left, but few details so don’t try it in the dark. There is a sandy cave atop pitch 15. Rap to 2nd ledge and go off right.

Unusual climbing up a basalt pillar. Virtually pitch 20 of The Camel, as there isn't much other reason to be out there. Walking out from The Camel on the track, after 200m the track heads left into thicker scrub then makes a 90 degree right-angle turn. At this point turn left and bash 30m, coming out on a basalt scree slope. This climbs the tallest buttress (-33.590111, 150.370618) on your left, with a finger crack running up most of it. The top is a bit shattered so put in a few delicate directionals and belay from trees on the hill behind.

Climbs the “undeniable wall” mentioned in the Coronation Crack description in Warwick William's guidebook. Protection is a bit sketch - some was replaced on rap. Walk 240 m further left (N) of the top of Groseness along the ledge. On the edge of the wall below are 3 pine trees, rap down off the southmost and smallest one (bring spare slings or rope to back it up with other trees). Rap 50m to small tree and bolt belay, and another 50 m to the ground. Alternately, rap down Coronation Crack. Take a few slings, brackets and many cams up to large size. Shut your eyes on the way down.

  1. 50m Start about 20m of Coronation Crack at small left-facing weakness. Up past bolt and cams breaks, drift R and up corner at 20m then diagonally left towards ledge and tree belay.

  2. 50m Up corner above belay and leftwards then up wall with top bolt hard to clip (pre-clip?). Up past cams and some slings to collapse on tree.

Five pitches of sustained wall climbing, mostly on hanging belays. Bring 19 bolts plates (!!) and a comfortable harness. This is a fully bolted route. Helmets advised - you are a LONG way from a rescue (unless you can yell loud enough to get the attention of the tourists on the other side of the valley). Named in memory of a young and very motivated Graham Fairbairn, many years ago. Now he's matured into a statesman of rap.

Start: Rap into this route with double 50m ropes. You will need to rap each pitch (ie 5 abseils). Either down Groseness (15m, 25m, 40m, 50m, 25m, 25m) or down 'Pestosterone' (45m, 45, 45, 15, 45, but a bit harder to get the rope over the edge on the top rap).

  1. 45m (21) Dirty corner to start, that slowly steepens and gets more technical to hanging stance. Use long runners to avoid rope drag.

  2. 18m (20) Traverse right to rotting flake, up this with caution to gain better quality steep wall. 'Grovel' onto Ledge.

  3. 43m (23) Up thin wall to start, rightwards through small roof then up endless edges to hanging belay.

  4. 47m (23) Epic. Up thin corner, bouldery wall, roof, crimpers, edges, orange groove and final crimpy crux! Hanging belay on tiny ledge.

  5. 35m (22) A steep conclusion through the tiered roofs and pumpy end wall. 'Bush bash' up vegetation and surmount final easy wall to belay anchors.

FA: Neil Monteith & Mike Law, 2008

1 20 35m
2 20 35m
3 24 45m
4 23 45m
5 22 35m
6 15 10m

Excellent and very vertical climbing, the runout sections are easier than they look. This goes up the only section of Mt Banks that doesn’t have huge vegetated ledges on it. Access and descent: There’s a cairn on the edge of the cave, about 5 m south (left facing out) of the point of the triangle roof. Scramble down on the left (facing out) then back right to trees 5m below this and rap straight down 10m to a rap station (belay # 5) on the edge of the cliff, 1m south of a little conifer. Abseil down the route. There are a selection of rings and chains on the belays, some of the glue was dodgy so use all the anchors, leave some water on “The Oasis” too. The rings are a bit tight so if you leave a biner clipped into the rings, it may (has often) jamb the abseil rope. Scramble up 10m to a ledge about 8 m south (right) of the corner (Pestosterone) to a short crack. Inspection of the climbing helps as you rap in. The climbing takes about 4-6 hours. Take slings, 12+ brackets (if you take of cams in the finger to hand size it's not really a proper sport route, but some people like to) (Camalot 0.5 - 2).

  1. 35m (20) Thin crack and slab to ledge.

  2. 35m (20) Up and left into corner line, up to tree and big ledge.

  3. 45m (24) Sustained up to small ledge (“The Oasis”). 11 bolts.

  4. 45m (23) Thin start just left of belay then right and up, runout up and right (medium cam if you’re scared) then back left to anchor.

  5. 35m (22) Up to edge of cliff. Rock quality deteriorates in top half of this pitch.

  6. 10m (15) Up easy choss to ledge 5m below cave. This pitch can easily be linked with pitch 5.

FA: Mikl Law & Vanessa Peterson, 2000

A nice big crack for 3 pitches then 7 pitches of bush bashing crap. Bring a full trad rack, crampons and 10 bolt plates. Best to do first 2 pitches, then rap off and finish up Pestosterone. Big Day Out!

Start: You need to rap in to access this route. First ascent team went straight down the route off manky trees and bolts, not recommended. Best to rap down Grossness and walk about 200m right to below left facing big wide corner and roof.

  1. 30m (16) Scramble up choss, up easy chimney past scary chockstone, then finally layback up nice orange offwidth past 4 carrots to belay on big ledge at double BRs.

  2. 15m (22) Mega offwidth undercling under huge roof. Belay around in corner at 4 bolt belay. Pumpy!

  3. 35m (15) Continue up wide crack with spaced trad gear in horizontals. Big cams and slings useful. Belay on loose slope on multiple suss trees.

  4. 50m (1) Scramble up and right through spiky bush to little cave.

  5. 30m (6) Up dirty corner and chimney to tree belay below big orange wall.

  6. 17m (18) Climb tree to gain undercut corner at far right end of roofs on right edge of orange wall. Up corner for 7m then traverse hard left across black wall to belay in scoop at double BR belay (up high in scoop).

  7. 25m (17) Step left into corner crack. Up this (good cams) to final tricky bulge to gain bushy gully. Belay on double BRs on left side of bottom of gully.

  8. 40m (3) Classic. Bushbash straight up guts of vegetated canyon/gully until an easy traverse left solves the overhang. Belay on trad on ledge.

  9. 45m (6) Walk to left end of ledge, then up on rock (shock horror!) to topout.

  10. 30m (1) Walk right along ledge to gully and scramble up.

FA: Mike Law & Neil Monteith, 2008

FA: Mike Patterson & Hayden Brotchie, 2005

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