Northern Wall

Access: Climbing restrictions may apply

ACAV Note: Parks Victoria has issued the following advice regarding rock climbing in Gariwerd/Grampians (updated February 2022):

See warning details and discuss

Created 14 weeks ago




Most of the following has been copied directly from Kieran Loughran's excellent Amphitheatre guide - thanks!

The Northern Walls offer a wide variety of climbs with a few being outstanding. While some of the cliffs do not look particularly attractive at first sight, don't let that put you off. These steep walls offer good wall climbing and a couple of weird grooves. There's not a bad climb here, but some are quite unusual and not to everyone's taste. Whatever else you do, don't miss out on 'Trident'.

The cliffs are shaded much of the time but get sun on summer mornings (as shown in the topo below, taken at 8:30 AM). It's a good spot for mild to warm days but it is quite sheltered so can get humid and sticky.

© (willmonks)

Access issues inherited from Grampians

ACAV Note: Parks Victoria has issued the following advice regarding rock climbing in Gariwerd/Grampians (updated February 2022):

Please note that due to the fact that the Grampians is a National Park, dogs and other pets are not allowed in the park except in vehicles on sealed roads and in sealed car parks.


This is the line of cliffs on the Northern extremity of the Amphitheatre, being the southern side of Wudjub Guyan (Hollow Mountain). The left side is above 'Epsilon Wall' and eventually becomes Kindergarden at the far left (West) end. The right side terminates at the major gully which separates the Northern Walls from 'Central Buttress'. 'Access' by walking into the Amphitheatre for about 150m past 'Epsilon Wall', then taking a well trodden sandy track up left towards 'Central Buttress', then walking back left along the base. The Northern Walls can also be accessed via Kindergarden, but this is slower, has scrambly bits and is verging on bushbashing at times.

The best descent from climbs in this area is by abseil. Two ropes are usually required. In the past the main descent, was a 40 metre abseil from the tree above Zola. The chain has been removed to prevent damage to the tree from ringbarking and climber movement around the tree. An anchor left of 'Trident' serves the climbs in that area (35m). There is another anchor at the top of 'Germinal' (30m)

The major gully to the right of the Northern Walls does not deserve it's title of Amphitheatre Descent 'Gully' because it is highly dangerous and 100% NOT recommended. Originally noted by the Gledhills as being "dangerous at night", this gully is dangerous even in broad daylight and fine weather!! It is often wet and features awkward chimneys, greasy slabby sections and difficult sections with dangerous landings. In recent years, broken glass has become a real hazard. There are few abseil anchors and it is not possible to abseil the gully in one rope length. At least one accident in this gully has resulted in serious head injuries. In short, it's far better to traverse from the top of your route of choice to one of the numerous abseil anchors.

© (willmonks)

Ethic inherited from Grampians

Grampians access issues have emerged due to potential damage to the environment and cultural sites. Climbers need to be aware that there are significant Aboriginal sites in the Grampians, especially in cave areas. Leave no trace and treat everything with care.

The following is a basic list of things climbers in the Grampians need to be aware of. For more detailed information visit

Climber’s Code

Find out about and observe access restrictions and agreements.

Use existing access tracks to minimise erosion - don’t create rock cairns or leave marking tape.

Do not disturb nesting birds or other wildlife.

Vegetation, even on cliff faces, is protected. Wire brushing to remove mosses and 'gardening' in cracks and gullies is not permitted. Use slings to protect trees while belaying or abseiling if belay anchors are not provided.

Large groups can create problems of crowding and excessive damage around cliffs. If you plan to take a group of ten or more people climbing, you are required to register to ensure there is space.

Respect sites of geological, cultural, or other scientific interest. Don't climb near Aboriginal sites

Vehicles must stay on roads open to the public; off-road driving is illegal.

Do not leave any rubbish - take it home with you.

Keep campsites clean.

Avoid all risk of fire - do not light campfires outside of official campground metal fire pits.

Dispose of human waste in a sanitary manner (bury, or even better pack it out) Do not pollute water supplies.

Respect established climbing traditions in ethical matters such as the use of chalk, pitons, bolts etc.

Avoid indiscriminate or excessive use of fixed equipment.

Responsible climbing will protect cliffs and ensure continued rockclimbing


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

The following 3 climbs ascend the most Western buttress on the Northern walls (the Kindergarten bouldering is just around the corner). For all routes on this buttress there is an abseil ring & fixed sling just below the highest part of the wall.

Up past FH and gear to ledge, out through roof (FH), then veer left up nice grey wall. Up to and along the final left leading wide crack below roof.

FA: Goshen Watts & Chris Leidy, 26 Nov 2016

Starting from the ground, up past FH to ledge, out through roof past 2nd FH, then veer right and straight up the featured orange/grey wall finishing steeply through jugs (careful what you pull on). Finish at abseil point.

FA: Goshen Watts & Jimmy, 28 Feb 2016

Not bad for the grade... Takes the RH arete of buttress. Starts up on the ledge, so you have to do a short pitch up the start of SO, or roped traverse in from the Kindergarten (about Gr 15). Up corner on R (3m R of SO), then step left to arete. Up this, before trending R towards the top to finish R of arete (Don't go direct to the rap point as there are some dangerous blocks).

FA: Goshen Watts & Abby Watkins, 29 Feb 2016

Most of the following climbs start from ledges above ground level.

LOWER LEDGE: This is the ledge you access for routes such as 'Cool Connections'. Directly under ledge is a steep wall, with a fixed rope on the RHS (up gritty slab).

UPPER LEDGE: This is the ledge you access for routes such as 'Agent of Cool'. The fires have burnt off the fixed access rope to the upper ledge (via ramp), so either do a short access pitch on the R somewhere, or if already on the lower ledge, you can do a tricky 5m scramble up the entrance to the 'chasm'. There's some rap slings on the West side of the upper ledge.

The easiest line to the top and is a bit more worthwhile if climbed from the ground. Start directly under LHS of wall, up to mantle onto small ledge, then up steep but easy wall to main ledge. Stretch to clip FH, then straight up wall / grooves to top. Rap down into gully as for Birth of the Cool.

FA: Jan 2022

Probably to be unrepeated since access has been cleaned up for the climbs on the ledge! Up chossy looking corner 10m L of 'large hole in roof'.

FA: Abby Watkins & Goshen Watts, 29 Feb 2016

Interesting wall climbing, culminating in a nice finger crack on the L side of the headwall. Due to the convoluted nature of the wall, it's worth scoping out your route before you start.

On the LHS of the blank overhanging wall (on ledge BELOW Agent of Cool) is a scoop (FH) which you can climb to a stance. Now keep trending up and R across wall (ignore the easier finish straight up) to an unlikely move up to shallow corner. Up to horizontal breaks, finishing via finger crack.

FA: Goshen Watts & Abby Watkins, 29 Feb 2016

Exhilarating climbing up the middle of the wall. Not trivial to find the route and gear on the traverse. Access via the start of CC (FH), traverse across wall to FH, then up short crack to hard moves R past FH, and awesome final headwall. Gear to size 2, camalot.

FA: Goshen Watts & Troy Mckenzie, 4 Apr 2017

As for Moon Dreams to juggy horizontal break; then R past flakes via a big move, then straight up amazing wall. Resist the urge to climb into diagonal crack - finish straight up. Takes lots of nuts, and a few small cams. Add a grade if climbed placing gear.

FA: Goshen Watts, 1 Nov 2021

Song from Melbourne Duo 'Time for Dreams'. ...the luminous Amanda Roff muses, “when I wrote the song I was thinking of Norman Mailer’s “Ancient Evenings” where at one point in the afterlife you must swim through a river of actual human shit”. (which might explain the first pitch of AE)!?

Start as for Moon Dreams - across to FH on wall, then R to 2nd FH over lip of roof (and a hidden hold). Now up and R through steep terrain / horizontals (ignore thread on AE) and up to Arete and welcome jugs even bigger than those on the rest of the route. A pretty cool excursion. Trad belay - rap down into gully from higher rap station on pillar. Take med-large nuts and cams to size 1.

FA: Goshen Watts, 10 Jan

A bit of a link-up, with the other routes on this wall providing easier access than the wide crack!

  1. 22, Wide crack to DBB as for P1 of Ancient Evenings (take brackets).

  2. 19, Continue climbing leftwards for about 5m then straight up nice crack, trending left on the large breaks. Either escape left (belay), or go straight up delightful thin crack to the top. Descend from bollard down the East face.

FA: Goshen Watts & Chris Leidy, 7 Feb 2016

Looks like a sensational overhanging headwall; but has a very difficult crux move. Start as for Cool Intentions in the major chasm just left of Agent of Cool.

  1. 22, Traverse wide crack (large cams) and awkwardly around arete to a hanging DBB in corner (brackets required).

  2. 24+, From DBB, up overhanging wall past 2 FH, and a fixed sling (Tat replaced, bolts look ok?). New rap ring for this climb (shared with MD).

FA: Nick White & Richard Smith Early's, 1990

FA: 1990

A movie out at the time was called Cruel Intentions. Start: Start by scrambling down to a platform of rock just below and to the left of BOTC. Climb takes the obvious (wide) left leading crack. Then head straight up wall (just before arete), past small hanging corner, and up wall past a FH. NOTE: The 2016 Gramps guide has the topo wrong - the route pictured in the guide is Ancient Evenings, and not this route.

FA: Dave Jupp, 1998

Up the wall. A few meters up there is a sickle shaped crack/pod that takes a bomber #7 rock. Up on natural gear. Take care with the juggy rock near the top, as some of it is a little fragile. Rap from the big penis-shaped bollard.

Start: Start on the left wall of the gully, a few metres right of the start of the distinctive horizontal break.

FA: Tim Marsh, 1998

As soon as you are out of the scoop and onto the face look up. 2 FH take you through the lovely rippling grey wall above. Finish at the ledge, with another chain/ring combo (50m rope is long enough to lower off).

Start: Start as for 'Pressure Drop'.

FA: Tim Marsh, 1998

An old Jamaican ska song, but also descriptive of the relief felt by the first ascentionist after finally ticking it, just as a cool front rolled through on a hot day.

Start: Start at the back of the gully on the same wall as, and about 15m L of, 'Agent of Cool'.

FA: Tim Marsh, 1998

A fantastic natural line that was one of the 'last great lines' in the Grampians until Lee Cossey put a few days work into it and freed it in November 2015.

Start: On the right wall of the gully, about 15m L of 'Neptune' pitch 2, is this striking overhung curving corner/crack. Up tips finger crack to crux move from crimpy pinch to big huecos above the sickle, monkey right into the crack (drop the rope back to the belayer - or use double rope technique - to avoid heinous drag) and blast upwards to glory.

First ascent

FFA: Lee Cossey, Nov 2015

The following climbs are back on 'ground level' of the Northern Walls.

For routes in the vicinity of 'Trident', descend via an abseil station found 10m west of the top of 'Trident' (35m to the ground).

Start: Overhung bolted groove (22/23) leading to roof about 10m left of 'Trident'. Traverse right then hard out through roof.

Good face climbing but a long approach.

Start: Start as for 'Trident'.

  1. 20m (14) As for pitch 1 of It's My Brain Again.

  2. 30m (14) Traverse L to the major line (very easy, climbed on FA of Plastic People) left of the smooth wall and step left around the arete and then up the steep wall, continuing up the headwall via lovely cracks.

FA: Keith Lockwood & Kieran Loughran, 2007

Was almost going to call it YACSAFT (yet another climb starting as for Trident) but that would be silly. This climb was originally approached from the ground but the approach is long and quite easy and mostly climbed by other routes. It is best approached via the 'Trident' area abseil after doing another climb.

Start: Start on the large ledge on the left below the overhang about 12m down the abseil.

FA: Norm Booth, Kieran Loughran (alt) & Ray Lassman, 2006

Good face climbing on pockets on the second pitch. Could be straightened out at the top.

Start: Start as for 'Trident'.

  1. 25m (14) Follow the first pitch of 'Trident' to the traverse L at 9m. Traverse L and keep going L around the arete to a ledge above the overhang. Move L along ledge to belay below L side of orange-streaked wall (2FH).

  2. 25m (20) Up the grey wall, 2FH, just L of the orange streaks to a cave. Step R and pull over overhang into thin crack. When crack steepens move L to easy ground and go up.

FA: Peter Canning & Kieran Loughran, 1992

The best way to finish 'Trident', as you would expect from two masters of stone! Enormous holds providing the opportunity to move through some unusually steep terrain at the grade.

Start: Start as for 'Trident'.

  1. 21m (14) Climb the first pitch of 'Trident'.

  2. 24m (16) Up a short crack from the L side of the ledge to a horizontal slot. Traverse L along the slot (large cam) and go up steeply to cave. Take the crack from the L side of the cave (the crack on the R side of the cave is far easier and far less interesting).

FA: Kieran Loughran & Malcolm Matheson, 1991

Contrived but enjoyable.

Start: Start at the first belay of 'Trident' (i.e. do pitch 1 of 'Trident' first).

FA: Keith Lockwood & Kieran Loughran, 1993

"Continuously steep between the vertical and the overhanging", Speedie. A very interesting angle and a bloody good climb. One of the best of its grade. Consistently difficult and strenuous, can be done in one pitch if double ropes are used.

Start: Find the "T" inscription at the corner 15m L of Zola and just R of the large overhang.

  1. 20m (14) Ascend the wall just R of the crack, passing a horizontal slot which accepts a #4 camalot (and that's the only pro you'll be likely to get in the first 4m), and up to ledge at 9m. Traverse 3m L and go steeply up another groove to a ledge.

  2. 15m (14) Traverse 3m R and up steep crack for 8m. Near the top, move L a bit before moving up to the top. This helps to avoid some loose blocks.

FA: Ian Speedie, John Mclean & Nick White(not the English Nick White-he was probably still in nappies!), 1965

Good climbing, with funky moves around the overhang which would have been hard to protect before small cams.

Start: Start as for 'Trident', i.e. start at the crack line about 15m L of Zola.

  1. 20m (19) Follow 'Trident' to the ledge at 9m then head directly over the overhang and up the shallow orange corner.

  2. 15m (16) Move 2m R and climb the wall L of the wide chimney (bold to start.

FA: Keith Egerton & Jeremy Boreham, 1977

A good climb based on 'Sternold'. Be careful with rope management around the 'Sternold' overhang.

Start: Start 2 metres right of 'Trident'.

Up face (FH) to ledge (some poor rock) at 8 metres. Climb directly through the overhang (small cams) and up the easier corner to a small stance on the right. Move back left and climb the steep headwall (2FH). Will probably need to go back some distance to belay (not included in length)

FA: Kieran Loughran, Norm Booth & Keith Lockwood, 2007

FA: Kieran Loughran, Norm Booth & Keith Lockwood., 2007

Start: Start 4m L of 'Spinoza' and about 15m R of 'Trident'. After negotiating the bulges at the start, this wall offers a number of ways to meander upwards via numerous brittle jugs.

FA: Kieran Loughran & Meg Sleeman, 1990

The definitive word on ethics? Wall 4m R of Zola. Originally done in 2 pitches but pitch 2 is worthless and it is now a 1 pitch sport route.

Start: Start 4m down L of 'Starstruck'.

FA: Kieran Loughran, Simon Mentz & Louise Shepherd, 1991

Unusual groove climbing on the first pitch. Rarely, if ever, repeated. Protection looks a problem but climbing looks good.

Start: Start a few metres L of 'Germinal' at the scooped line (4m up R of Spinoza).

  1. 20m (21) Trick moves up first scoop lead to hard climbing in the second scoop and so to a ledge. 'Spinoza' rap anchor is just to the left and now would be a good time to use it.

  2. 30m (21) L to an easy break in the overhang, back R and up steep wall.

FA: Kevin Lindorff & Glenn Tempest, 1977

Climbs the wall L of Germinal (can be done in one pitch with creative rope management). Climb pitch 1 of Germinal. Delicate traverse L above roof to shallow crack in middle of the wall. Arrange gear and launch up awesome wall above, keeping slightly R on the orange rock. Finish up and L.

FA: Goshen Watts & Dick Lodge, 1 Jan 2018

An old classic with a tough crux. Often done in 1 pitch.

Start: Start beneath the major but strangely scooped line up the prominent sheer orange/grey wall at the foot, and to the left, of the descent gully. This is at the L edge of the jumble of flakes and blocks.

  1. 15m (17) Move up an easy rib R of the corner and traverse L across a gargoyle into the corner (the direct variants have all been bouldered). Up corner, an old peg or two, with hard moves to gain the cave.

  2. 22m (14) Continue up the chimney to a ledge on the L. Continue in the line or move out L to the arete. The rap anchor (added early '07) is about 0.5m down in the crack itself.

FA: Ian Guild & Chris Davis, 1965

Looks wonderful but rarely has handed out some spankings so may be rather solid. The bolts are those funny hanging ring jobbies and are rather old, plus the abseil sling needs replacing with a decent anchor. Ascends the golden wall L of the descent gully, between the upper sections of 'Asterisk' and 'Germinal'.

Start: Get to the start by soloing across a ledge from 10m up the descent gully. Alternatively, the initial cracks of 'Asterisk' are reputed to be a good warm-up approach.

FA: Andy Pollitt, 1990

Quite attractive, with some good moves. Protection is good even though the old bolts are terrible. Originally two pitches but better done as one.

Start: Scramble R from the foot of 'Germinal' along the vertical wafers leaning against the main wall, to a flake crack.

Belay in the chasm just right of 'Germinal' at an old initial "A".

  1. 18m (20) Easily up to the wide apparently detached flake crack and go easily up to the top of this (rotten rock, very good protection from large cams). Move L and climb the wall via the intermittent crack/seam past 2 poor bolts to a narrow ledge (poor bolt) (LOE belay is to the left) then up into a sentry box.

  2. 6m (17) Fairly sensational out of the sentry-box (watch rope-drag) into the final crack.

FA: Phillip Seccombe, Ian Speedie. FA Glenn Tempest & Kevin Lindorff 1977., 1966

Middle of face left of 'SyntheticSpine'. There's also a medium wir below the final bolt.

FA: Kieran Loughran, Norm Booth & Ray Lassman, 2006

It's nice to climb a pinnacle that has no easy way up. Final mantle might be solid for the grade.

Start: Start about 10m L of the foot of the gully, about 10m around R of 'Germinal'. This route climbs the south-west arete of the square pinnacle that squats at the foot of the descent gully.

FA: Kieran Loughran & Meg Sleeman, 1991


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