Desperation Wall



Access issues inherited from Glasshouse Mountains

Most 'Glasshouse Mountains' climbing is within the Glass House Mountains National Park. Please respect the environment and other people's enjoyment of it. Access to climbing here is a privilege, not a right.

The 2019 Ngungun track expansion & fortification work is now complete, and the mountain is once again fully open.


Access as for 'Carborundum Wall' sector (east face track), then follow the rock apron down and right.

© (Trent)

Ethic inherited from Glasshouse Mountains

Modern climbers establishing new routes have taken great pains to ensure any new routes do not interfere with the historic routes established many decades ago.

Retro-bolting of existing routes is unacceptable!

New routes shall make use of traditional protection where available.

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

Start about 70m down right from the Caves Route at low angled wall. Up 15m of slab below a small buttress. Then up centre of buttress to finish at steelwood trees in a grassy area. The Caves Route is 10m left at this point.

FA: Dennis Stocks & Neill Lamb, 1966

Start about 10m right of Keloid at the food of a scoop of easy angled slabs. This route is considerably undergraded and underprotected. Additionally, all former belays are now effectively absent. Proceed with caution, or better yet, not at all.

  1. 36m Up the slabs and diagonally left across the top side of a gully. Continue on leftward trend until steepness eases to worn slabs. Continue on up to the left for another 4m into a gully and dodgy (e.g. non-existent) tree belay.

  2. 18m Climb back down and traverse directly right along small ledges to piton below groove. Continue right and slightly down for 3m to twin pegs. Rusty and not recommended as a belay.

  3. 29m (crux) Left a bit, then straight up to base of groove. Up this with adequate pro to sloping rock and tree belay. From here, scramble up and left to connect with Caves Route.

FA: Neill Lamb & Dennis Stocks, 1967

  1. 40m Straight up to twin peg belay at the end of Wasp's second pitch

  2. 29m Same as Pitch 3 of Wasp

FA: J Mather, M Siwek & K Jesienowski, 1983

Start between Wasp and Desperation Wall. This route is underprotected, beware!

  1. 28m (crux) Up easy slab, onto wall and trenf slightly right and up to peg, then on up to a bulge, Up a right trending groove in the left side of the bulge, then slightly left of white streaks to a belay on a ledge.

  2. 41m Climb directly up from ledge to find a peg at 11m. Continue straight up to overhanging wall, then a short traverse left to the base of the groove.

FA: Paul Caffyn, Mike Meadows & Chris Meadows, 1967

Start 5m L of 'Desperation Wall'.

Very well protected climbing in good position for the grade. Grade 16 leaders love this route.

  1. 35m 12 FHs to rap station (DBB).

  2. 35m 11 FHs to rap station (Ring and chain). Use long draws to minimise drag coming under and around the rooflet

Two 60m ropes will get you back to the ledge at the start, scramble down from here.

FA: Darrin Carter & Kevin Coleman, 2004

Start at the base of an impressive blank wall right of Line of Credit. This route climbs mostly solid rock but is runout in places. Various alternate finishes have been done.

  1. 22m This pitch has very little protection. Straight up on nice rock for 8m, then traverse diagonally right with care on sloping holds to ledge and belay.

  2. 17m Traverse left for 5m then up scary, thin wall with little pro with a slight right trend and up to small ledge. Bolt belay as described in previous topos seems not to exist any more, best to traverse up and left to DBB on Line of Credit.

  3. 50m (crux) Straight up, then traverse right under yellow overhang, passing some rusted pitons en route. Continue up shallow corner where decent wires protect some tricky moves on poor rock. Skirt overhang on right to ledge and bush belay.

  4. 25m Continue up into Cave 1.

FA: Ron Cox, 1960

Start to the left of Ishoni. Looks unlikely from the ground but is much better than you think. Starts off the left end of the ledge with easy climbing on medium sized gear then FH's up steep headwall. Absolutely outstanding after the start.

FA: G Llewellin R Ferguson, 2007

To start, skip the crack but and go right to through the steep bulge past bolt. Merge left with Straight to the Pool Room and finish up headwall.

FA: G Llewellin R Ferguson, 2007

A proud line. Start by scrambling up onto vegetated terrace 25m right of Line of Credit, then walk off left end of terrace 3m to tree. Belay out of wide crack. Double ropes essential. Up left around bulge, then up to first of three black FH's. Up and left to ledge (big gear). Right off ledge to horizontal break in superb marble-like stone, then back left to FH. A long undercling move, then up to last FH. RP's take you up the ever steepening wall, then a good wire and a thankful rest on easy ground. Slab to chains. Well protected with careful placements.

FA: Lee Cujes, Aaron Jones & Neil Monteith, 1999

Start to the right of Ishoni. Cruisy but fun start then steep conclusion. Trad down low and two FH's higher up. Lower off.

FA: G.Llewellin B. Strachan, 2007

Groove/crack to its end. Up wall trending right to S crack and anchor.

FFA: Ross Ferguson Ben Carter, Feb 2013

1 17
2 13
3 15

Start by scrambling 10m up to broad ledge 30m R of 'Line Of Credit'. A DBB at the base of a line of FHs is found here.

  1. 32m (17) Follow line of FHs up and diagonally R over steep headwall before trending back L to DBB on spacious ledge.

  2. 38m (13) Up through typical Tibro slab. Ignore 1st DBB you come to - it's there purely to facilitate retreat on a 60m rope.

  3. 35m (15) Continue up nice exposed slab to top. Again, ignore 1st DBB you come to.

From final DBB it's easy to scramble up a few metres into Cave 3, then down and L into the large Cave 2 to join the 'Caves Route'. Descent via the 'Caves Route' consists of easy scrambling with some optional rapping for the steeper sections.

FA: David, Ruth Reeve & a host of helpers, 2010

Start the same as for Black Orpheus. This climb ascends the wall directly to the left of Black Orpheus. A fairly comprehensive rack with a selection of wires, including RP's, hexes and cams from small to #3 Friends should provide plenty of protection.

  1. 20m Climb straight up the first pitch of Black Orpheus to large ledge and natural belay.

  2. 13m Step left from belay onto short wall above then easier ground. Follow the left trending ramp for a few meters then step up to a natural belay on a small stance. An escape right is possible onto Black Orpheus.

  3. 30m Step left from the belay and climb obvious line above the loose blocks. Continue up the steep section (crux) staying right of a small tree to where the angle eases. Follow the easier ground to another natural belay a few meters left of and below obvious corner.

  4. 40m Traverse right from the belay and up into the corner left of the chimney of Black Orpheus, follow this to where it widens into a grassy gully, then step right onto the wall and climb easily to a tree.

  5. 10m Scramble up the slabs to another tree at the mouth of the big cave.

FA: Bill Strachan & Ross Ferguson, 2008

1 7 20m
2 10 20m
3 4 25m
4 10 32m
5 3 15m

A great, easy 143m multipitch route although pro can be pretty sparse on p2/3. A good initiation to what to expect from Tibro multipitches. Can be done in three pitches with 50m rope.

Start: About 30m R of Ishoni at big corner/gully. Marked 'BO'.

  1. 20m (7) Very easily up gully on big jugs and good pro to ledge and TB.

  2. 20m (10) Up slab (right of ledge) Then left to mount short wall (crux), onto slab & up this gully (R) with little pro to big ledge & tree belay.

  3. 25m (4) Climb up edgy slab in an exposed position with minimal protection until it curves back left & you reach a tree-lined ledge. Scramble up L to the top of the ledge & belay from the small tree pinned to the wall. (You can choose to run pitch 2&3 together, beware that you may be out of earshot of your belayer.) This pitch requires a cool head: exposed pitch & minimal pro!

  4. 32m (10) Bridge up outside of chimney (crux), which is better than it looks (very good gear), traverse L along rising ledge and into corner, then over blocks to top of gully & crack & tree belay.

  5. 15m (3) Up very easy slab to big tree in Cave 3 (no gear) (Some choose to run pitch 4&5 together, on a 60m+ rope, be aware you may be out of earshot.) Finish up the 'Caves Route', or descend via rap station at mouth of Cave 1. Alternatively, you can climb (on belay) over to the chains on Zeitgeist & abseil down this to get back to the start of the route.

FA: Sid Tanner & Andrew Spiers, 1969

An easy but badly protected outing. A great adventure for the discerning choss jockey. The FA was completed (just!) in two pitches (running 1-2 and 3-4 together). Note that this was not at all comfortably done on a 70m rope - if you're going to do this as two pitches I would only recommend doing so on an 80m rope.

  1. (4) 20m - First pitch as for Black Orpheus

  2. (14R) 50m - Instead of mounting the short wall as for Black Orpheus, head right just under the steep wall and trend right and slightly up over occasionally horrific rock (only real landmark is a grassy tree ledge you traverse about 5m above) with a healthy dose of airiness to ledge at start of white and black streaked slab and up this for 15m to tree belay on left.

  3. (10) 40m - Up right easily to tree (sling) then straight up over rotting rock to mount bulge, then trending up and right to big tree belay just below obvious chimney

  4. (4) 30m - Up and right into chimney and finish in cave 4 as per Prometheus

FA: Jake Forker & MisterS, 15 Mar 2020

Start 7m left of Orpheus. A fine route, avoids rubbish. Pro and rock good except a small patch on Pitch 2.

  1. 50m Up grey prow, over flat topped pillar. Trend slightly right to tree.

  2. 40m Following left-trending diagonal crack to tree at 25m. Before tree, up on good clean rock, then trend right to shallow block corner left of wide crack.

  3. 50m Up corner then directly up to belay in bowl below cave. Tremendous pitch!

  4. 10m Scramble up to cave.

FA: Rob Staszewski & Peter Beames, 1991

Start about 20m right of Black Orpheus. Fairly contrived.

  1. 25m Up an open rock gully to a tree belay.

  2. 29m Trend right over a horrendous flake, then diagonally up to tree belay.

  3. 27m Up slab trending left to a line of small trees. Left along dirt ledge to the face right of Black Orpheus chimney. This ledge is the same as the end of BO pitch 3.

  4. 28m (crux) Up onto the wall right of the chimney. Traverse rightward around to rubbly gully. Up this gully to a tree belay.

  5. 40m Finish as for the fourth pitch of Prometheus 1.

FA: R Brooks & G Baines, 1957

Climbs the white streaked slab 3m L of prominent corner, just L of Prometheus I. Crap pro, good rock.

Climb the prominent corner you pass on you way to the start of Prometheus I. Good gear and ok climbing but you end up climbing through an unpleasant bush to top out, hence the name. Continue up or scramble down Prometheus I. Named but FA not listed because it has probably been climbed heaps of times since the 1960s!

FA: Unknown

A novel way up to cave 4 and beyond, not as nice as The Caves Route but a nice change of scenery. Start about 50m right of Black Orpheus, in a gulley that is accessed by scrambling up just before the track drops down and starts heading around the Northern side of the mountain. This route has many variations - this description is only one of them.

  1. Scramble up the gully with a short steeper section into the bushes, stop when you find a shady spot or some scrub big enough to belay off.

  2. Climb the short wall into the bushes and repeat as per pitch one.

  3. Climb up between the shitty rock and the harder stuff to the right. Bush bash to something resembling a belay.

  4. Move left and head in the direction of cave 4, either stop at the ledge at the bottom of the ramp in front of cave 4 or continue up to the prominent tree on the ramp. Rope drag will guide this decision.

  5. Continue up and towards the right side of cave 4 (facing cave) into the gully/chimney with zero gear, top out into cave 4. Apply lotion to scratches from bush bashing and then descend by traversing left (facing cave) out of the cave to join the top of Black Orpheus. The unpleasantness of P4/5 and the traverse can be avoided by heading left at the top of P2 and linking up with Orpheus (some bad rock at the start but still about grade 4).

FA: Ron Brooks 1953, Ron Brooks & Neil Lamb, 1953

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