Dunes Buttress




The prominent buttress immediately L of Major Mitchell Gully.

Emergency Location: Mount Arapiles, Eskimo Nell Area

Access issues inherited from Arapiles

Bird Nesting September-December Raptors usually nest on the following climbs in Spring : Cassandra, Eurydice, Harlequin Cracks, Revelations. Nesting usually finishes mid-December. There may or may not be signs in place at these times. Please keep 50m clear of these climbs if there appears to be nesting activity.

State Park


Approach by walking left of 'Fang Buttress' and then up along the base of 'Morfydd' Wall.

© (koala)

Descent notes

Scramble over the summit to find the road the head L until you find the sign-posted track down Central Gully.

It is also possible to cross the ridge and downclimb to Missing Link then descend via Ali's.

Either way it's a bit of an epic but DO NOT attempt the rap down Major Mitchell Gully. The pin is old and dodgy.

Ethic inherited from Arapiles

Mount Arapiles is first and foremost a trad climbing area. The few sport climbs tend to be in the higher grades where no natural pro is available.

Bolting, particularly retro-bolting, is discouraged and should only be undertaken after extensive consultation with the local climbers, first ascensionists, etc. Inappropriately placed bolts have been chopped.

Do not chip the rock.

Look after the park.

  • Stick to the paths.

  • Don't disturb the wildlife.

  • Routes near peregrine falcon nesting sites are closed in the spring.

  • Minimise the impact of your camping (fuel stoves not fires, take your rubbish with you, etc).


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

Tackles the hanging corner on the left side of a narrow grey/black buttress (Cow Cragg) immediately left of Lawrence's second pitch.

Start: Start at belay/rap station near the "Lawrence" traverse.

FA: Ingvar Lidman & Gerry Narkowicz, 2009

Start as for Withnail and I. Climb the steep grey wall above to gain the arete proper of Cow Cragg passing a FH on its left (if you move right here it is about grade 20 and still worthwhile). Continue up the arete to join 'Marwood' at the top.

FA: Ingvar Lidman & Gerry Narkowicz, 2009

Gain the hanging corner as for Withnail and I. Continue up the obvious crack/seam in the wall above.

FA: Ingvar Lidman & Gerry Narkowicz, 2009

1 9 35m
2 13 35m
3 13 30m

Some think that the excellent climbing on the upper pitches makes up for the atrocious start; others strongly disagree.

Start: Start between 'Dreadnought' Buttress and 'Dunes Buttress' at a shrubby rib.

  1. 35m (9) Up the rib with vegetation issues (persevere: the climb gets better). Traverse right and belay near the beautiful ferns at DBB

  2. 35m (13) Bridge steeply up the chimney.

  3. 30m (13) More excellent chimneying on great rock.

FA: Peter Jackson & Reg Williams, 1965

A varied route which parallels Lawrence to its right and features some interesting rock flutings.

The cruxes on this and the variation are runout on average gear and the rock is a little fragile in places.

Start at the first belay of Lawrence.

From the first belay of Lawrence climb a short right leading crack to a small stance. Climb the vague groove and buttress above passing the rap station for Forbidden Fruit on its left. Higher up the buttress narrows and is marked by a crack on its left. Climb the compact grey wall to its right to gain an atttractive orange groove near the top. Finish steeply on jugs and belay in a cosy niche.Scramble easily to the top of Dunes Buttress. A righthand variation was done at 21 by Ingvar which climbs the wall directly above the Forbidden Fruit anchors to rejoin the original route at the compact gray wall.

FA: Gerry Narcowicz & Ingvar Lidman, 2009

The shenanigans on the first ascent suggest they were certainly consuming something forbidden...

Start: Start 2m L of Semi-detached.

  1. 25m (23) Up wall, traverse right to gain diagonal flake sytem and follow this to ledge. There is protection but it won't stop a groundfall from the crux.

  2. 20m (26) Scary face with fragile rock to crux past 2 bolts. Apparently you need double thumb sprags.

FA: James Falla, Dave Mudie (alt), Kieran Loughran, Richard Smith & late 80s, 1988

Serious start but finish is worthless. This original probe at the 'Forbidden Fruit' face got Kieran an invition onto the FF team.

Start: Start 4m L of 'Saracen'.

  1. 25m (22) Tough poorly protected start to dubious flake-block, then up R to jugs. Easier runout section up to overlap, over bulge and move L to join 'Saracen'. Belay at good ledge on L.

  2. 10m (22) The crack on the R side of the yellow wall, through the bulge then R to easy finish and go across to rap anchor for 'Sandpiper'.

FA: Kieran Loughran & Maureen Gallagher, 1987

1 16 35m
2 12m
3 16 33m
4 34m

The first and third pitches are good. It's best to run pitches 1 and 2 or 2 and 3 together, then you get two good, long pitches followed by an easy pitch off.

Start: Start below and L of the big overhangs, on the lower section of 'Dunes Buttress', at a layback crack.

  1. 35m (16) Up the corner for 6m, then swing up L past overhang onto slab. Trend L into bushy territory, then R into dirty groove to Arab's 3rd belay.

  2. 12m (-) Step L and up to small stance. Best to keep going up the next pitch rather than belay here.

  3. 33m (16) Go 2m R then up excellent grey crack. (A grade 8 variant established by the three Gledhills on 14/1/68 goes straight up the deep crack into the chimney on pitch 4).

  4. 34m (-) Ramble onwards.

FA: Chris Dewhirst, Phillip Stranger & Chris Baxter, 1967

Veer up R from the corner and easily over small roof. Tough moves to a rest on the R, then out the main roof being wary of a captive loose block. Rap off as for 'Sandpiper'.

Start: Start as for 'Saracen'.

FA: Chris Shepherd, Louise Shepherd (the top roof (22) was first done by Kevin Lindorff & Peter Jacoband named Scaredy Cat), 1979

start 5m left of sandpiper (2m right of Top Cat). Climb rightward up slab to corner (left of prominent nose). Follow diagonal line, crossing Sandpiper. Continue rightwards to steep overlaps (crux). Finish as for Arab pitch 1. Fun!

FA: Geordie Webb & Kane Hendy, 25 Nov 2016

Start at a large chimney at the foot of the buttress, then traverse left until at the base of a short overhanging wall easily noted by large white jug, crux, then once past this, up on difficult and sharp layaways through small roof, then arriving at the rap station (26m).

Start: The overhung arete at the base of 'Dunes' buttress, up the offwidth chimney on the right.

FA: Chris Dewhirst, 1968

The roof jam crack.

Start: Start under the small lump of rock with a flat top, up and R from the start of 'Sandpiper'.

FA: Kim Carrigan, 1981

Climb Arab p3 for 4m then step L and up. Stay out of 'Saracen' and traverse R along the lip of the roof, to join a thin crack, straight on up the face, and take the roof by the R. The original route has a poxy independent first pitch starting 10m L of 'Saracen' but you're far better off approaching via Arab as described.

Start: Start at Arab's second belay.

FA: Chris Baxter & Russell Crow, 1984

1 16 25m
2 10m
3 3 15m
4 25m
5 32m

Start: 2m L of 'Dunes' is a R facing corner. Start by scrambling (or roping) up this to the top of the huge flake.

  1. 25m (16) Grey slab to strenuous chalked wall, then head L up stepped ramp to a belay ledge on the arete. (The original avoided the overlap by going way off R - this better direct way was done by Keith Lockwood and Geoff Schirmer 4/2/78).

  2. 10m (-) Step L then up over worrisome blocks and belay under orange corner. 2b: Variant 15m Straight up arete with reasonable pro and rock.

  3. 15m (16) Up orange corner then R under arching roof to arete.

  4. 25m (-) Up the line then L onto wall and belay under steep little crack (which is pitch 5 of Dunes).

  5. 32m (-) Traverse L, ignore scrubby crack, and take the balancy grey slab then join the final corner of 'Dunes'.

FA: Peter Jackson & Bob Bull, 1965

Definitely bold but the climbing is rubbish

Start: Start at Arab's 2nd belay.

  1. 15m (-) Climb the arete R of Arab's corner to a ledge.

  2. 20m (21) Continue up the undercut arete, which gets rather runout.

FA: Glenn Tempest & Michael Collie, 1982

A spectacular journey. 1. 20m Wall right of Sandpiper, continuing up slab/chimney, to good ledge. 2. 25m (crux) Break through overlap as for Arab, step up right, then follow the line of right-facing edges. (This line is left of an obvious yellow stripe of rock). Continue up wall, trending slightly left, to major horizontal break. Don’t touch the loose boulder sitting on the belay ledge. A dramatic, technically interesting pitch. 3. 20m Up black wall (left of Dunes) to the Oasis. 4. 20m As for Dunes, pitch 3. 5. 20m Move right to yellow corner, step up right and follow black rock direct to the summit.

FA: Tim Lockwood & Keith Lockwood, 2010

1 136m
2 6m
3 12 40m
4 27m
5 10m

The original version.

Start: Start up the L-facing corner of a huge flake leaning against the east face of the buttress (crawl through behind the flake from the right).

  1. 36m (-) Up the corner then trend R up slab to the base of a short chimney facing R into the gully.

  2. 6m (-) Up the chimney. (In Sep 88, Kieran Loughran and Meg Sleeman skipped the pitch 2 chimney by going straight up from the p1 slabs, pulling L onto ledge then up the flake and wall staying R towards the arete (grade 9)).

  3. 40m (9) Traverse L, step down, and go a bit further L. One tricky move up then continue straight up easy wall to the Oasis (the big ledge between 2 huge boulders).

  4. 27m (-) Traverse L to ledge, then up the short steep crack with good jugs, and up the clean corner above.

  5. 10m (-) Short corner then easy finish.

FA: John Fahey & Peter Jackson, 1965

1 13 30m
2 11 25m
3 10 22m
4 12 23m

A good four pitches with the first, second and fourth having quite absorbing sections.

Start: Tuck under the boulder left of 'Eskimo Nell' - One metre right of the start of Arab.

  1. 30m (13)

  2. 25m (11)

  3. 22m (10)

  4. 23m (12)

FA: Greg Pritchard & Simon Mentz - mid's, 1990

Up the steep jam-crack through the V-cleft lip, then nice flake/crack to small ledge. Step L and up short corner.

Start: Start on the L side of the Oasis (which is 3-4 pitches up 'Dunes' or Eskimo Nell).

FA: Mike Law & Kim Carrigan, 1975

The usual offering from these two! The ugly offwidth roof/corner on the L side of the boulder. Finish up EN pitch 5.

Start: Start on the Oasis on the L side of the big boulder which 'Eskimo Nell' pitch 4 crawls under.

FA: Rod Young & Jeremy Boreham, 1977

Variant first pitch that avoids the greasy start of the original, but is quite runout. Squeeze through behind the block L of the original start to a ledge. Up the L side of the block and up the slab with very little gear to join the original first pitch at the corner/overlap

FA: Unknown

Wonderful climbing up the right side of the Dunes Buttress, with virtually every pitch offering something of interest.

  1. 35m (10) Up corner and slabs above. Belay below chimney around the corner.

  2. 40m (9) Easily up chimney. Step across the void from top of chimney onto the face proper and continue up to large ledge.

  3. 15m (1) Crawl through hole, belay on chockstone in chimney on the other side.

  4. 40m (9) Pull up onto the chockstone with difficulty. Follow line of least resistance to the top.

FA: John Moore, Chris Dewhirst, Chris Baxter & Laurie Beesley, 1968

The arete right of the first pitch of Eskimo Nell. Not a great choice of placements on the first half. Take a pink (0,5) Tricam (seriously) and Metolius 0. Start just left of the arete right of the initial crack of Eskimo Nell. Follow seams just left of arete (crux) to bolt and onto a narrow ledge. Move right to the arete and up the arete into a broken area. Don't veer off but finish steeply up the arete, Rap anchor (not lower-off).

FA: Kieran Loughran, Norm Booth & Keith Lockwood, 8 Apr 2017

Not bad, Seems hard for the grade. Start around R from 'Eskimo Nell' in the gully. Jam and undercling the diagonal crack on the left wall of the gully and continue more easily to first belay of 'Eskimo Nell'

FA: Clive Parker & Graham Squire, 1966

Start: Start as for 'Eskimo Nell RHS'

  1. 46m (13) Climb ENRHS then continue up ramp for some distance to belay below a corner, immediately right of the crack of 'Icecream Man'.

  2. 25m (-) Bridge undercut corner and follow line to the R side of the Oasis.

  3. 46m (-) The initial chimney of EN pitch 4, traverse 7m R, then straight up over bulges.

FA: Bill Andrews, Dave McLean & Barry Edwards, 1977

The steep flakes up the middle of the short orange wall just R of 'Dunes' pitch 2.

Start: Start at the first belay of 'Dunes'.

FA: Rod Young & Chris Shepherd, 1982

The short steep arete 3m R of 'Scribble'. Off ledge into short crack, up to PR, then steep jugs.

Start: Start at Dunes' first belay.

FA: Chris Shepherd & Rod Young, 1982

Go 8m R uphill from 'Kays Third Marriage'. Take the hand crack through the short roof.

Start: Start at Dunes' first belay.

FA: Rod Young & Tim Chapman, 1981

Go R under roof to juggy exit.

Start: Start on the ledge above 'Icecream Man'.

FA: Ant Prehn & Rod Young, 1983

Start and finish have poor pro. Straight up (was originally brushed very clean but may have grown back). Finish up shallow corner L of an orange nose.

Start: Start 10m L of 'Brontosaurus' at L end of ledge.

FA: Damien Hansen & Tim McCormack, 1989

Up the middle of the wall to short blank corner, then up and L and short crack.

Start: Start under the middle of the grubby wall.

FA: Rod Young & Tim Chapman, 1981


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