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Hocus Pocus Area

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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.

Approach

This is one of the far left (northern) sectors of Piddo. If you want to start your day here (it gets sun a little earlier than the rest of the crag), it is possible to shave almost a kilometre off the usual walk-in by bush bashing in to the top and rapping in down Curtain Call (i.e. by reversing the fairly popular Hocus Pocus exit bush bash). To find the best place to start the bush bash, walk down the firetrail below the locked gate as usual, past the Boronia Point turnoff to the left, and about 80m further to the next small rise. Turn R into the bush here and follow the ridgetop due west for 200m to the clifftop. You may have to head 20m L to descend a small upper cliff; the hand-rope leading down to the Curtain Call rap chains is about 20m walk downhill from this point. If you navigate the bush bash ok it's less than 10 mins from the car to the rap anchor.

© (mjw)

Descent notes

Most routes top out in this area, in which case the quickest descent is the rap chains above Curtain Call (28m abseil - one 50m rope will suffice but be ready for an easy downclimb and don't go off the ends of the rope!). When accessing this abseil anchor from above, take EXTREME CARE. It is a very exposed 20m downclimb (grade 2?), and any fall would almost certainly end on the ground 40m below. Indeed, sadly there has been a death here. This downclimb has a fixed rope that can be hand-over handed or rapped on. Either way - clip into it!

© (mjw)

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

Start: Approximately 25m to the left of 'Idiot'. Left side of the buttress.

  1. 9m (11) Easy to tree.

  2. 27m (11) Up, mantle, right and up to ledge and tree.

  3. 16m (11) Left and up.

FA: J.Ewbank & J.Worrall, 1967

Start: Corner 5m left again.

  1. 27m (16) Corner, roof and wall to rest. Wall and ramp.

  2. 25m (12) Up.

FA: J.Ewbank & R.Reynolds, 1967

Start: 7m left again. Right of arete.

FA: I.Rath, N.Mahunt & V.Burke, 1986

The first route at Mt Piddington, and still one of the best. If you're at this end of the crag at the end of the day this route is a nice way to significantly shorten the walk out. It's not too hard to climb it with packs on, then do a 200m bush bash due east along the ridge to the firetrail. Start 17m left of 'Infidel' opposite the Cottage Boulder. It is the left most route on the slab. Now has a million bolts which didn't originally exist.

  1. 30m Up slab to bulge, hand traverse around to the right and up to belay with an eclectic assortment of hardware.

  2. Up slab, veering left and up. Pitches 1 and 2 can be run together if you have double ropes, or even on a single rope if you think about which bolts to skip and which to extend.

FA: K.Westren & M. Hailstone, 1964

  1. As for Hocus Pocus to top of initial slab. Over bulge, up slab to Hocus Pocus belay.

  2. Head diagonally right to top.

FA: H.Luxford, 1977

Start: As for Withdrawal. Follow line of carrots right of the flakeline.

FA: Unknown, 2000

Easy slab, slight corner, right onto slab. Up.

Start: 1.5m right of Curtain Call.

FA: M.Law & G.Harrison, 1979

Start: 1.5m right of Curtain Call.

FA: A.Penney, L.Closs & M.Stacey, 1987

Start: Crack system to the left of Hocus Pocus.

FA: J Ewbank & J Worrall

1 15 24m
2 15 30m

Start: As for Curtain Call.

  1. 24m (14) Up to ledge then delicately left on slab past two manky carrots.

  2. 30m (14) Left into gully then trend right up arete past bolt to rap station.

FA: J.Lawrence & J.Woods, 1965

Slab to face just left of Curtain Call. One tough move over the bulge. Finishes at ledge with chain - easy to lower-off and clean or top out and go home up the fixed rope.

FA: C.Sloss, 1987

Start: 5m left of CC.

FA: A.Penney, 1978

Rambly trad first pitch and fun bolted arete 2nd pitch. It's easy to rap in and climb out the top pitch without doing the bottom one.

Start 9m left of 'El Bungle'. Dirty crack.

  1. 25m (16) Not much gear but it's there when you need it. Start in the centre of the dirty grey slab beneath the right hand end of the Solomon Overhang (or just wherever looks most approachable). Easily up vague dirty crack to small tree than generally rightwards to blunt arete and up to very comfy belay ledge (bolt belay).

  2. 22m (21) Wall left of arete, then up the steep arete (ringbolts). Runout easy finish to bolt belay on top of cliff.

FA: Law, Grey & Smoothy, 1979

If you like aiding up bolt ladders you will love this. Free climb up Quits for 2 bolts - then aid to glory up shitty bolt ladder (blank rock - not free climbable).

FA: J.Ewbank, J.Moore & J.Worrall, 1966

One of the best routes at Piddo and something a little bit different from the usual fair. Rebolted 2021.

  1. 25m (16R) Average. As for the first pitch of Beginner's Steps wandering up right on grey slab to bolt belay on small ledge.

  2. 40m (21R) Pure class. Climb boldly left from the belay along juggy rail eventually reaching the first bolt (be very careful getting to this - there is a slab below to hit). Continue left and up via some exciting slabbing past another bolt to reach break and old bolt ladder (clip the jumbo bolt hanger). Steel thyself for the memorable journey leftwards passing one more bolt and a lot less gear than you'd like. When you get to the arete you can either finish easily up this (probably the better option) or, for those looking to get the maximum amount of sideways mileage, continue around the corner and finish up the top of Solomon. Belay from trees etc.

FA: Michael Law & Pete Adams, 1978

Too blank to free - kind of stupid. Climb seam crack start of TSLA to slabby shelf ledge below bolted orange wall. Up orange wall (aid on old carrot bolts for a couple of moves) then up to join Quits traverse. Continue straight up (more old bolts and more aid moves because rock is blank). A couple of metres of free climbing to finish. This route is 90% bolted with bash-in carrots - only a couple of cams required.

FA: S.Moon & G.Bradbury, 1985

Start: 5m left of TSLA.

  1. 15m (15) Wandery grey slab to belay from bolt, piton and small cams/wires at base of knifeblade crack.

  2. 35m (24) A hard start (pull on 2nd bolt to make this 23M1) to gain slab. #0.3, #0.75 and small wires to traverse line. Hard traverse left to bolt (#1 and #2 cams - long runners advised!). Funky face climbing to rooflet, stemming corner and stance below final boulder (#0.4 and #0.75 cams). Bolt, crimpy boulder problem, and run it out up easing arete to the top. Belay from tree.

FA: M Law & G Bradbury, 1984

FFA: Paul Thomson & Monty Curtis, 15 Dec

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