Banks Gully Amphitheater

  • Grade context: AU
  • Approach time: 25-40 min
  • Photos: 9
  • Ascents: 41




Quintessential Blue Mountains conundrum crag - amazing rock and routes with troublesome access.


First developed by Simon Opper, Andy Myers et al. around 2007. A vast amphitheater of jaw-dropping rock requiring rap-in, climb out tactics.

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.


From Mt. Banks carpark follow the summit trail, which starts directly behind the large slab of rock. Walk up the initial hill to where the track levels off in a saddle of sorts. Just before the track starts steeply uphill after the saddle, contour around to the right, staying directly underneath the cliff line.

Continue under the cliff line until you can see a small ridge heading to a pagoda. From the top of this pagoda, you will be able to see the spur that heads towards an obvious orange cliff.

The trail skirts the right of this first pagoda and then to the left of the next pagoda. Then follow you nose down the spur, all the while staying your course towards the orange cliff.

When the spur flattens out, drop down a gulley which will bring you close to the edge.

Once at the edge, after negotiating a small rock step either continue down to the main amphitheatre or continue contouring back left into the gully to reach a small wall with a few warm up routes.

To reach the main amphitheatre Sidle around to the left and down fixed ropes.

25 - 30 min approach, 30 - 40 min exit.

See photos for details.

Where to stay

At home.

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

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)


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Grade Route

A small grey south facing wall just above the main amphitheater.

Left of the two lines here. Quite good until the last dangerous runout to the anchors - where all the holds are now dirty.

Right of the two lines. A useful warm up for the main event in the amphitheatre, where flash pumps will ruin your effort for getting here. Climb up juggy wall on bolts steepening at the anchors. Spaced bolting and not well cleaned - take care..

Set by Simon Opper

FA: Simon Opper, 2007

1 23 45m
2 24 35m

Two inoffensive pitches of orange up the wall right Call Out Culture. Approach via abseils down Call Out Culture.

  1. 45m (23) Up

  2. 35m (24) Up

1 16 15m
2 18 45m
3 19 35m

"It's such a cool line, but if you can see it, it's too wide." Mikl. A three pitch trad route up a major corner feature. Bring a rack with plenty of wide gear (doubles of Camalots from #0.3 to #5) plus single set of wires, a couple of micro cams and lots of long runners. Liek everything around here the route accessed by rapping in. Follow narrow sketchy ledge around from top of Lulu for 50m to slot (bolt & fixed rope) - crawl along this for 10m then pop out onto larger ledge with tree and double FHs. Walk 5m further along to double RBs. Rap 35m to small ledge and 2nd set of RBs. Rap 50m to ground (swing across to touch down below the start of the route).

  1. 15m (16) Grey loose corner 5m left of the base of the major orange corner. Belay on small ledge using loop of rope over large detached pillar (it's bomber).

  2. 45m (18) The mega line! Problem is you have to grovel with fear up the first few metres of alarming choss. Belay at bolts on small ledge on left (the halfway rap anchors). This pitch eats large cams and requires copious long runners. Don't skimp.

  3. 35m (19) Back into the jaws of death for several metres then traverse left to continuation of line punching through the steepness above. Be alert but not alarmed past the big chockstone (it wouldn't budge when we tried to manhandle it). Finish with airy thin crack (save the small cams).

FA: 5 Jun

Bolted top pitch. Rap in to DRB from DRB on ledge. Quality mix of climbing - face, arete and roof.

FFA: Simon Opper & andy myers, 2007

An excellent trad adventure with a long, quality crux pitch reminiscent of Samarkand (albeit easier).

From the Lulu top abseil bolts, fix a 100m rope and rap the route, fixing as you go. The arete overhangs a good 20m, if you dont fix you will end up in space. This will likely only get you to the top of the first pitch (depending on how efficient you have been with your short fixing) but from here you can easily rap to the ground on your climbing rope using the single bolt and a bomber #2 for the anchor.

Alternatively, rap in 100m down Charlie Don't Surf to the ground - either fix a 100m rope or 3 x raps (1 x 28m, 1 x 38m 1 x 40m). Once on the ground, walk down to the base of the waterfall and easily over to below the route. You will end up roughly 15m below the starting ledge. Walk past the start of the route and around the arete, you will be able to scramble up steep vegetation to the same starting ledge and traverse back around left to the start of the route. From the base of the rappels to the start is roughly a 10 minute walk.

Take full set of nuts, double cams from tiny to #4 Camalot, with a few extra smaller cams (0.3 - 0.5 Camalot).

  1. 20m (20) A scrubby and undercut start (pre-clip/stick-clip the bolt) leads to surprisingly difficult and varied crack-fu. Belay on ledge at bolt.

  2. 35m (22 to 23) The soaring corner/crack. Belay on ledge under roof.

  3. 20m (20) Step left under roof and up beautiful water-washed crack, then around right where the crack fuses to Lulu belay bolts at ledge.

  4. 35m (22) Exit via Lulu.

FFA: Emil Mandyczewsky & Paul Thomson, 3 Sep 2018

Work in progress, please stay off.

Set by Emil Mandyczewsky, 1 Jan 2019

Rap in climbers left of Lulu to DRB at base of flake line. Up spooky flake to big reach at first roof (crux). A 0.75 (green) camalot on a long sling under the roof can make you feel a little more zen about reaching around the roof to clip the bolt. The line of least resistance on the upper section of wall and thus winds about the face.

FFA: Simon Opper & Andy Myers, 2007

A sustained and technical power-endurance crimpfest leading into The Hornet.

From the walk-in terrace rap from first set of anchors (as you approach) down IFP, fixing as you go or directly down from middle anchors. 75m rap to comfortable ledge.

Finish as for The Hornet or jug out.

Set by Emil Mandyczewsky, 1 Jan 2019

FFA: Emil Mandyczewsky, 24 Mar 2019

An aesthetic, improbable 3-pitch line of technical face climbing up the water-washed wall between The Hornet and Lord of the Balrogs.

Rap from the first bolts you come to (above Lord of the Balrogs) 35m to the first belay, and another 40m to the small ledge, clipping into a few bolts on the way down to avoid being stranded in space.

  1. 40m (27) 16 Bolts - Beautiful, dreamy face climbing. Up trending left (long sling on 2nd bolt) via technical slab, to sustained water-washed headwall. This pitch can be combined with the next at the same grade with a few long runners.

  2. 10m (23) 4 Bolts - Traverse hard right from the belay to 2nd bolt, then up through roofs to cosy belay ledge.

  3. 25m (25) 12 Bolts - Boulder off the belay, traverse hard right, then more directly up through long punchy crux to easier finale. The final moves to the anchor pack a sneaky punch.

FA: Paul Thomson, Emil Mandyczewsky & @nmonteith, 2 Mar 2019

Long trad corner crack, varied and interesting. From spacious ledge, up crack for 50m, trending left onto face in the last 5m.

First lead as one long pitch, however can be split into 2 at small ledge at 25m.

Takes gear from 0.3 to 4 camalot and wires.

To access, rap down Puppet of a Sinner from rings in cave, either with fixed 55m rope or 2 raps.

FFA: Emil Mandyczewsky & Will Vidler, 30 Nov 2018

55m 2 pitch face on back wall. Rap in from double rings in cave.

FFA: Simon Opper & Andy Myers, 2007

2 pitch sport route in a picturesque and exposed position that serves as the access rappels to 'The Thin Line' ledge. 1 x 28m and 1 x 38m rap.

  1. 38m Gr. 26 Off the belay traverse right and up flake. Winds through interesting terrain with a number of techy and crimpy cruxes.

  2. 28m Gr. 24 Surprisingly consistent climbing with a sting in the tail.

Set by Emil Mandyczewsky, Nov 2018

FFA: Emil Mandyczewsky & Paul Thomson, 9 Dec 2018

The bolted traverse to gain the ledge below The Thin Line of Reprieve. Can be aided at about 18M1.

Accessed by abseiling 70m straight down the wall to a semi-hanging belay from the rap point above.

Start immediately left of the belay.

Can be climbed either direction, with the "left to right" variant being about 1 grade harder.

Stay off the vegetation!

Named in remembrance of the many, many, o so many girdle First Ascents I've done with Monty over the years.

FA: Paul Thomson & Emil Mandyczewsky, 11 Nov 2018

FA: Monty Curtis & Paul Thomson, 5 Jul

An impressive crack in an unlikely position. The first pitch is 38m of glorious and sustained corner crack, one of the finest single trad pitches of the grade in the mountains.

Initially led with a rest on the first pitch circa 2007 by Simon Opper and Andy Myers.

Access by 2 raps down Charlie Don't Surf followed by the Monteith Memorial Traverse. Alternatively, fix and rap an 80m rope and swing across on the traverse bolts to ledge.

  1. 38m Gr. 24 From spacious ledge, head up corner crack to belay on ledge.

  2. 30m Gr. 20 Continue up steepening corner crack. Once around first few roofs follow an obvious escape left onto slab. Continue up to ledge and DBB.

While this would be the line of the route, a more enjoyable and sustained outing would be to finish up the second pitch of Charlie Don't Surf.

Recommended Rack:

1 x #1 C3 (red), 1 x #2 C3 (yellow), 3 x #0.3, 3 x #0.4, 2 x #0.5 to #3, 1 x #4, Small-Medium Wires

Optional: #6 Cam for the very start (an extra 0.5 is also suitable as an inferior placement), extra #0.3 and #0.4 cams (recommended), extra #2 and #3 cams.

FA: Simon Opper, andy myers & Robert Bryniarski, 2007

FFA: Paul Thomson & Emil Mandyczewsky, 3 Nov 2018


"Two Nobodies in the Middle of Nowhere (Arguing over Nothing)"

  1. 25m (xx) 13 Bolts - PROJECT

  2. 20m (xx) 8 Bolts - PROJECT

  3. 35m (21) 10 Bolts - Traverse 3m left from the belay (rather runout, be careful) then up to break. Truck back right for 4m before gaining corner. Up this, around prow, then up face to base of hanging overhung corner (crux). Negotiate this with some stemming skillz and conquer the scary mantle to the belay.

A creek/canyon splits the Banks Amphitheater into two sides. The western side cliffs are steep but more chossy than the eastern side, and stay in the shade almost all of the day. Access this wall by either bushbashing upstream a hundred metres, crossing the creek when it opens up, then following cliffline left to the edge of the amphitheater again. There are currently 3 sets of belay/rap bolts. All routes require rapping to hanging belays and climbing back out again.

Nearest route to the waterfall. This was an abandoned partially bolted Simon Opper project from 2007ish that has been re-equipped and a lower pitch added.

  1. 25m () Corner crack (trad) for 15m then trend right onto face and long rising traverse to small ledge and semi-hanging belay.

  2. 37m () Steep, mostly juggy climbing up guts of big orange wall. All bolts.

Set by Simon Opper & @nmonteith, 2019

Long sustained route up a dyke feature splitting the upper section of the wall. Bring 18 draws (long if possible) and a backup jumar for escape. Fix 40m rap rope to anchor consisting of a FH and vertical Ubolt. Rap down grungy black corner for 10m until you can reach first bolt under roof. Clip in to most of the bolts below this on the way down as it is a steep wall and you will loose connection with the rock very quickly. Hanging belay off two Ubolt with feet on tiny ledge. Climb the dyke feature for 25m to roof, then traverse left under this (airy!) and onto small vegetated ledge. Finish up short grey wall to ledge where you started.

FA: @nmonteith & Paul Thomson, 24 Mar 2019

Mostly trad, mostly choss. Major crackline splitting the orange wall. Very overhung. Rap in to hanging belay above the ferny and climb out. Closed project - stay off.

Set by @nmonteith

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