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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.

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.

Tags

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

The first routes are located on the orange wall in the middle of Lunch Ledge. You walk past these ringbolted routes when approaching the rap-in access for the multi-pitches. They offer reasonable but seemingly unpopular sport climbing, good quality bolts and great views. It's not a bad place to spend a morning. Sun after midday.

Climbs the right side of the arete on the far left end of Lunch Ledge. Samarkand's bold top pitch climbs the left side of the arete on trad (some of Gob Smack's bolts are within reach).

FA: Mikaela Thomson, 2009

Climbs the grey wall just right of the little cave.

Start: Next line of ringbolts to the right, off a higher ledge.

Start up 'Heavy Chaffing' and go right at the top.

FA: Nathan Bolton

Start about 10m further right

FA: Nathan Bolton

Start 6m right around arete, go left at the top and finish as for the ice thing.

Excellent juggy orange groove. A great warm-up or warm-down if you are climbing some of the multis nearby.

FA: Mikaela Thomson, 2008

1 15
2 21

Climbs the prominent crack about 20m right of Hypothermia just before the big cave. Two good pitches in an amazing location. Recommended rack: single set of wires and double cams to #3.

  1. 20m (15) Start up short slab below prominent flake crack, stepping right into shallow left facing corner. Follow crack up to gear belay under cave on comfy ledge.

  2. 20m (21) Continue up crack to base of roof and plug in some gear. Climb left along roof crack to lip (crux) and follow left tending line to top. Belay at double carrot anchor set about 5m back from edge on shelf, but recommended to use climbing rope to extend belay to edge. Walk off via descent gully ~150m left.

FA: Rene Provis, Julie Pon & Mitchell Stewart, Oct 2018

FFA: Rene Provis & Vicky Chen, 5 Dec 2018

Bolted face just left of Mirrorball. Sheds holds like an Englishman sheds skin after a day at Bondi.

Obvious wide crack that splits the upper wall. 30m left of the Lunch Ledge rap station.

Long sport pitch above far right end of Lunch Ledge, no bolt plates required. To descend either walk off left (north) 150m and scramble down gully splitting Lunch Ledge or 45m rap from cave at top (don't rap in windy weather, you'll lose a rope).

FA: M wilson, V Peterson & M Law, 2000

The bolts further right of Mirrorball - on the arete with the huge void below are the top pitches of Weasellburger.

The remaining routes require an abseil descent (80-120m) down the cliff line below Lunch Ledge. See individual routes for exact rap points.

1 23 15m
2 25 35m
3 23 20m
4 22 35m
5 22 25m
6 22 20m

Some call this overhung crack splitting an amphitheatre the best multi-pitch trad route in the Blue Mountains. Every pitch is great and the access is surprisingly easy. It is however quite difficult to retreat once a couple of pitches off the deck due to the steepness. Bring prussics! This route was originally climbed ground up with an overnight bivy on one of the small ledges and with several sections of aid. Recent rebolting of the original aid bolts ladders has reduced the original bolt count by at least 3 - it's more airy but the bolts are better!

Access via the rap route described separately.

Double rack of cams, micros to Camalot #4, a single set of wires, #2 RP up, and 5 bolt plates does the trick.

  1. 15m (23) The first 5m or so have average rock quality (1BR) then onto the slab with polished hard sandstone and RP seam. Ignore TBB below cramped little rooflet, and climb to DBB up and left with spacious foot ledge. Don't let the grade and RPs scare you - it's more like grade 20.

  2. 35m (25) Tricky moves at start past two RBs, R along break to rejoin the crackline and up into chimney, then steep cracks. Belay from good ledge on bolt and medium cams and wires.

  3. 20m (23) Awkward moves to get established in splitter layback tips crack. Brief excitement leads to a good belay stance (RB, trad).

  4. 35m (22) The corner on good gear using crack and face holds. At a carrot at 3/4 height move up right (optional #4 Camalot in break) to thin flake and 2nd carrot, a sling on this second carrot keeps the rope from jamming in the flake. Climb to small ledge and then to ledge with short corner above. Tricky moves past one more carrot leads to big ledge and DBB. 4a. 8m (23) up the corner, traverse R to arête, up arête (one BR then a runout), to rejoin the original for its final two bolts. Lots of fragile rock (and exposure) on this pitch. Prussics!).

  5. 25m (22) This would be a good rap-in and climb-out pitch in its own right if you aren't up for the rest. Follow left leaning crack until it peters out, step right then up scoop to fragile short headwall with 2 carrots. Take care mantling the grass and dirt slope (yum) and on the 10m scramble up to path. DBB.

  6. 20m (22) The left side of the arête above the cave on Lunch Ledge (4m left of the bolted routes). Bold runout start off rock ledge with a key thread at 4m then easier and better protected above this. Most people skip this pitch and just walk off.

FA: Lucas Trihey & Bob McMahon, 1992

FFA: Michael Law, Greg Child, Steve Moon & Wawrick Payten, 1996

If you're planning an onsight, access per the dedicated Samarkand abseil route (see description) and take about 18 draws. If you plan to rap the route instead (slower, but you get to see what you're in for), you'll need a 130m rope. Your top anchor (DBB) is hidden 10m up and right of Samarkand's top anchor, behind grass tree. You will need a rope protector for the top edge and lots of quickdraws to clip in on the way down to stay in contact. Choosing a day with westerly breeze is recommended.

  1. 12m (24) 10m R of Samarkand. A bit of a goey "good morning!" move getting past the 2nd&third, then interesting balance features. Steeper than it first appears. 5 bolts. Ledge belay (DBB).

  2. 15m (28) Pull the lip, then balancy yet powerful moves past a few bolts, eventually easing to jugs and a small foot ledge for belay (DBB) in base of corner. 6 bolts.

  3. 32m (27) Monster corner - the money pitch! Weaves in and out of the corner following holds and avoiding blankness. When the corner ends, there’s still a disturbing amount of climbing to go. At least three or four long slings, or more, can minimise drag on this wandering journey. Belay on ledge (DBB). 15 bolts.

  4. 36m (25) The Trail Of Tears. Up through roof and the unique ‘limestone’ face above. Major ledge for belay (DBB). 16+ bolts.

  5. 25m (23) Corner and short wall to finish. Anchor behind grass tree up the hill. 8 bolts.

Certain pitches were freed individually earlier, but the first ascent was done in a continuous push.

FFA: Lee Cujes & @1293, 28 Apr 2019

The BEST access for Samarkand and Trail of Tears.

Walk approx. 40m further along Lunch Ledge past the Samarkand top out (you'll see DBB on the track here) to where there is a block slightly downhill from the track. Carefully scramble down to the block and rig an anchor from the very long chains on the DBB (rebolted 2019).

Either abseil the dedicated rap line (entire rap line rebolted 2019) as 20m, 20m, 30m & 50m (can join raps 1 & 2 easily, or a single fixed 65m rope lets you join raps 1,2&3) to the ground; OR fix a 120m rope to the ground. Walk 30m left (facing the cliff) to reach the route's obvious start.

FA: M Wilson & M Law, 2007

1 17 35m
2 19 35m
3 19 30m
4 16 25m

Quite a striking line climbing a continuous corner crack system back to the Lunch Ledge. Starts about 50m left (facing the cliff) of the Mirrorball pinnacle, downhill under right facing corner. All trad with gear belays, no bolts please. Originally climbed on single wires, double cams to #3 (with 4x #2), and #6 cam handy for pitch 3. Good gear and great rock throughout.

  1. 35m (17) Climb short ramp to chimney, then right crack up to easier ground. Splitter hand crack to the top of pitch. Cross short grassy ledge to gear belay in base of corner crack (2x#2 cams),

  2. 35m (19) The obvious splitter corner crack to ledge. Then a thought-provoking finger crack to big chossy ledge aka “Brunch Ledge”. Belay in left leaning crack a few metres right of corner.

  3. 30m (19) The steep corner crack (add a grade or two if you’re short, take care with gear). An intricate start leads to easier ground as you prepare yourself for a riveting finish (#6). Belay in small cave under continuation of crack (#3 and small gear).

  4. 25m (16) Climb crack to next ledge system, and then link the final step to gain lunch ledge. Belay in crack on wall behind Lunch Ledge trail.

FFA: Rene Provis & Mitchell Stewart, 21 Sep 2018

Major featured corner just left (facing the cliff) and down the hill from the Mirrorball pinnacle. Take a handful of bolt plates.

  1. 30m (19) Up fantastic corner past old piton with heaps of varied moves and plenty of gear to a series ledges below an awesome thin corner. Up this to double carrot belay.

  2. 8m (2) Move belay a few metres right to another double carrot belay below next corner.

  3. 40m (21) Follow the broken corner system up and left, passing a few ledges and into the major corner. Up this to roof and then traverse left past a bolt to the arete. Up this to triple bolt belay.

  4. 25m (20) Left and up wall past three bolts to a ledge. Up death by ironstone face above to Lunch Ledge

FA: Mark Wilson, Michael Law & Vanessa Peterson, 2001

1 14 40m
2 14 20m
3 10 35m
4 15m

Starts behind Mirrorball Pinnacle. 4 pitches. Bolts and gear. Old fashioned 14, may be 17 for sport climbers.

  1. 40m (14) Up rad chimney passing four bolts and good cams on both walls (hint, turn around) to bolt belay on the far side of obvious ledge.

  2. 20m (14) Bridge up through minor choss passing one or two bolts to funky overhanging corner. Climb through this and belay at bolts atop the Mirrorball pinnacle.

  3. 35m (10) Easy right-hand traverse passing the odd bolt and bit of gear to belay on two rings.

  4. 15m Up whichever way looks nicest.

FA: Ness, Mikl & Mark Wilson

Start approx 10-15m left of West Face of The Mirrorball where the crack constricts above the obvious wide chossy chimney (wide start may also go direct. Not climbed on FA due to presence of angry snake.)

  1. 40m Tie belay to tree and gingerly traverse right to gain corner crack. Up into steep wide corner (# 6 Camalot) then over bulge onto easier terrain. Crack then steepens into left leaning diagonal to big ledge. From here plug in some high gear and extend to reduce drag, then traverse right approx 10m to single carrot bolt and gear belay (in middle of WFotM p2).

  2. 15m Climb the obvious beautiful finger splitter (grade 20,), or if finger cracks aren't your jam also possible to climb up past 3 carrots to next ledge system to the same belay (grade 17). DBB as for p3 of WFotM.

  3. 20m Up chossy wall for 5m past carrot, then trend left aiming for the notch past a variety of terrible threads and finally good large cams in horizontal. Traverse low beneath scarily large loose blocks (don't squash your fingers!) Up short hand crack to DBB on top of pinnacle.

  4. 40m up easy slab past average gear clipping as few bolts as possible for trad purity, then fun steepening orange corner left of WFotM p4 to ledge and belay on rap anchors.

FA: Rene Provis & Mitchell Stewart, 14 Sep 2018

1 19 25m
2 18 30m
3 17 20m
4 18 45m

Four pitch, bolted (carrots), slightly runout climb with epic views across the valley. Take 10 brackets. You can finish the route with an extra pitch by doing the confusingly named Mirrorball (21) pitch above Lunch Ledge.

Start: On outer left (NW) arete of the Mirrorball Pinnacle. Look for the line of bolts (carrots, take brackets).

  1. 25m (19) Up arete to ledge, with DBB.

  2. 30m (18) Up arete and face to chossy cave and high DBB on far lip of cave.

  3. 20m (17) Up face to big ledge.

  4. 45m (18) Up face, to Lunch Ledge, moving right at 2nd ring. Pretty exposed.

FA: Peterson, Wilson & Law., 2000

The obvious chimney & crack that splits the front face of the Mirrorball Pinnacle.

  1. 25m (13) Up the chimney on natural gear (#5 camalot is handy for near the top). Double bolt belay.

  2. 18m (20) Weird undercut wide crack start (large cam is handy again) then up the narrowing crack to the classic finger-crack (crux, well protected with medium-large wires). Double bolt belay.

  3. 20m (16) Bolts (bring lots of brackets) and dinnerplates. Double bolt belay on top of Mirrorball Pinnacle.

  4. As for pitch 4 of 'The West Face of the Mirrorball'.

All bolts are stainless steel glue-in hex heads (bring lots of bolt plates!). A good variation is to do P1 of 'The West Face of the Mirrorball', then step right to do P2 of 'Dirty Dancing', then P3 of either route - the belays are on the same ledge systems.

FA: Peter Monks & Andrew Duckworth (alt), 2001

1 22 35m
2 24 35m
3 23 30m
4 21 40m
5 22 30m
6 20 20m

The classic of the area.. A great mix of styles on great rock. The top 3 pitches above the lunch ledge are not to be missed.

Easier 3rd pitch than weaselberger,

Climb the south-facing (downhill) arete of the free-standing pinnacle 40m past Weaselburger, predominantly on gear.

5 carrot bolts and a double rack of cams. Bring more big cams (#3 an #4) if you get scared on trad.

Rap off anchor at the top, 45m straight over the route.

FA: M Law & V Peterson, 2003

Climbs a great wall with an inspiring seam. Two awesome pitches, two nice ones and two easy chossy ones. Take 16 draws. Starts 30m right of Burgermiester, up a gully, below a left facing corner. It is possible to traverse left at belay 3 to escape, but you will need 3 bolt brackets.

  1. 40m (22) Layback corner. 12 ubolts

  2. 40m (25) Follow amazing seam to belay on right (the 2 belay rings are widely spaced due to hollow rock). Crux is at low roof.

  3. 30m (21) Follow seam onto large ledge.

  4. 30m (18) Easy choss, out left and back right to hanging belay.

  5. 45m (23) Up sustained wall trending right. Very crimpy!

  6. 10m (10) Up easy ground past a UB to ledge.

FA: Mike Law, Vanessa Peterson & Monique Foristier, 2007

Mixed climbing up a prominant crack line and around some huge roofs. Rock is of varying quality, but bolts protect the worst of it, and the spectacular under-roof traverse is on mostly good rock. Take a standard rack plus extra big cams and hexes to fist + size, many slings, 10 brackets.

Start: Start below a steep yellow layback corner (pitch 1 of Blue Ruin) 70m right of the Mirrorball pinnacle.

  1. 45m (18) Up corner to second ring, long slings (or come back and unclip the ring) and easy traverse to right arête and carrots, step around and up layback flake to ledge. R to next corner (BR), R along ledge, up then left to U and carrot belay.

  2. 35m (18) Up corner R of the belay, step R and up corner (BR), step R and up corner past 2 bolts, traverse left at top (BR) to carrot and U belay.

  3. 25m (19) Wander out left and up corner past cams and bolts, then back right past 2 more bolts, continue up rightwards to ledge. 3BB.

  4. 35m (20) Up to ledge (2BRs) then a hard move in the corner past bolts and up to roof and bolts. Massive traverse under 18m roof underclinging thin hand to fist crack, clip ring at lip to avoid rope jambing in crack. Pull lip and up ramp for 4m to 2U belay. Easier to lead than to second. Well protected but gripping.

  5. 35m (18) Up easy ramp and follow wide crack to large roof, 2U belay on lip.

  6. 25m (17) Up corner and groove (BR), step left into chimney (BR) and up easily to bolts on ledge on right.

FA: M Law, V Peterson & N Monteith, 2008

If you like chimneys, this is a 3 Star classic. Makes for a great bit of extra climbing if you're already out doing Darkside or something similar.

Bring a double rack up to #4 plus one #5 and #6

Start at the base of the obvious chasm 20m right of Big Trad Thong.

Make your way up the endless enclosed chimney following the obvious formation (eats gear), then about 3/4 of the way up thrutch your way to the chock stones.

Sling a chock stone (whichever feels most solid), then thrutch some more until you are reborn into the outside world.

Tree Belay. As of Nov 2019, the slings and maillon for the tree belay look to be in great condition.

FA: Mitchell Stewart, DJ McCready & Nathanual Hebbard, 17 Sep 2018

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