Scarface Buttress





An impressive chunk of rock with several new 4-5 pitch mixed routes and very short access. Generally they consist of 15-25m pitches interspersed by good belay ledges. The bottom and middle pitches are generally excellent, however the upper pitches can be vegetated, sandy or short. Or a combo of all three. All routes here require some trad and if you plan to rap the wall a 60m rope. All belays are bolted. The base of the cliff is a bit swampy in places, so be prepared with shoes suitable for wetness. If doing new routes here please respect the trad/mixed ethic that these routes were established by, and avoid adding squeeze jobs.

Access issues inherited from Wollongong

Many of the Wollongong crags are located in the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area (IESCA). This region has had a chequered history in recent times, with large swathes of popular crags having to be closed after it was missed that a new NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Plan of Management (PoM - 2018) had incidentally banned climbing along most of the escarpment. After a lobbying effort and a stroke of coincidental good luck an amended plan of management has been published (2023), modifying the plan to allow rock-climbing “… on the west- and south-facing cliffs of Mount Keira and on cliffs north of Bulli Pass."

Access comes with caveats and all climbers should be aware that that “… new bolts or anchors may only be installed with NPWS consent, and park infrastructure such as safety railing may not be used as anchor points as they have not been designed for this purpose. NPWS will not install, assess or guarantee bolts or other fixed protection points. Participants in these activities are solely responsible for their own safety.”

Given the pressures many rock-climbing areas have been under around Australia and the plethora of access issues that have followed it is imperative that climbers respect and heed the access requirements. Access granted can easily be access taken, noting from the PoM: “Locations where rock climbing and abseiling are allowed may be reviewed and altered to address safety issues, risks to visitors or impacts on cultural values or environmental values. Temporary closures of rock climbing and abseiling locations may be applied to limit impacts. Permanent closure of sites may also be necessary. NPWS will consult with representatives of the local climbing community before implementing any permanent closures.”

Please refer to the ‘Ethic” section for more notes on how to be a good steward for the climbing community.


View this marked Google Map to see detailed access information and map.,150.953994&spn=0.021492,0.040298&iwloc=0004eb8f61c28e4e026fa

Crag access is from either above (via abseil) or from above by steep climbers track (walk). The carpark is located on the Old Princes Highway above the town of Scarborough north of Wollongong. From entrance of Boomerang Golf Course drive 1.7km south on Old Princess Highway and park on east side of road at small dirt pull-out.

Rap-in Access. 15 minutes. Bushbash 50m east to 4WD road, follow it south for 50m then take hikers trail left (east) at small green post. Follow this trail north-east for 250m to wooden duckboards. In the middle and highest section of the duckboards is a largish tree growing on the right side - there should be a bit of blue tape on it. Jump off duckboards here and follow blue tape markers directly south through scrub for 230m to cliff top GPS co-ord (34 16 04 S, 150 57 00 E). Notes on how to rap the base of the cliff are detailed in the Descents section below.

Walk-down Access. 20 minutes. Bushbash 50m east from carpark to 4WD road. Follow this road south past little green sign and two power-poles. 15m south from the 2nd power-pole look for climbers trail on the left - currently marked by rock cairn and pink string in tree. Follow faint trail east for 50m until it drops sharply over escarpment. Follow pink string and rock cairns down steep hill, into rock gully then to base of large cliff. Follow base of cliff along (short section of fixed rope) with some steep and muddy sections to cave formed by giant block. Avian Abbatior is 10m right of this. Shoes that don't mind mud recommend.

Ethic inherited from Wollongong

The modern climbing scene and all the access issues that go with it requires modern ethic and all climbers should familiarise themselves with general good crag etiquette to ensure access is maintained into the future.

The following is a short summary for the area:

  • The Wollongong area has a historical mix of sport, trad, and bouldering, with fully bolted sport routes emerging as the dominant form in the last decade
  • Do not bolt or rebolt existing trad or bouldering routes
  • No chipping of the rock to alter the difficulty of a route or create new routes. Loose or dangerous rock may be removed with careful discretion
  • Top rope and lower-off through your own gear. Fixed anchor protection to be used for final lower off only to minimise wear
  • Minimise excessive chalk usage and make brushing of holds a regular routine. Consider using alternative chalk colours to minimise visual impact
  • Do not bush-bash new access trails, stick to existing marked trails where possible
  • Do not remove vegetation, both from around cliff bases and on the cliff. Brushing down built-up lichen, dirt and chalk off existing routes is acceptable maintenance
  • Do not leave rubbish or gear at the crag. Gear left may be confiscated by NPWS
  • Respect any announced closures of tracks, cliffs and areas in the region
  • Don’t play loud music at the crag, consider the amenity of nearby climbs and non-climbers alike
  • Speak up against anti-social behaviour, unsafe behaviour, or other activities that threaten access – contact your local advocacy association - ACANSW
  • Rebolting shall only be carried out by suitably competent and trained persons. The minimum standard is 316 stainless U-bolt or ring eye-bolts with pure epoxy glue. Refer to
  • Remember you are responsible for your own safety, and the safety of your friends!

Learn more at


History timeline chart

The cliff appears untouched by climbers until 2013. Surely someone tried something here previously????



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Grade Route

Weaves around the two monster roof sections on the left end of the cliff, with a lot more sideways climbing than up climbing. This route is mostly bolted, but requires a single set of cams for the upper pitches. A confident second is mandatory - bring prussics. Start about 40m left of Stop the Bolts! at ground level on top of triangular boulder. Look for ringbolts.

  1. 25m (24) Scramble to top of pointy boulder, clip RB then bouldery move up arete to jug and RB. Traverse right along shelf and then up and right across juggy wall to break. Keep traversing 8m right to white rock and easy corner. At top of corner do one tricky move to large ledge under roof and belay bolts. This pitch is all bolts and if you pull on the first bolt it's only grade 18.

  2. 12m (25) Short, steep, funky. Move belay 5m right to end of ledge and 2nd set of belay bolts. Mantle onto shelf and clip RB under intimating roof. Find mega jug under roof and lean back to clip 2nd RB over lip. Now reach to pocket on right and swing onto overhung prow with a hard move to get established onto face. Look for the awesome sneaky kneebar on lip. Up face (RB and #2 Camalot) to belay on mini ledge on right arete. It's possible to combine this pitch into the next pitch.

  3. 17m (23) Left across face on desperate sloping crimps (two RBs) then up to major horizontal. Continue left then up crack through orange steepness to belay ledge at left end of massive roof. Medium and large cams needed for 2nd half of this pitch.

  4. 25m (20) Look Mum - another traverse! Hard move to get past undercut start (RB) then traverse right for 10m (small/medium cams at waist level) above roof then up and right (RB) to vegetation band. Work right (RB) up mossy slab then negotiate plants to small ledge. Finish up slabby wall past 3 RBs to bolt belay in large cave. Exit via last pitch of Stop the Bolts! or Neanderthal.

Set: Neil Monteith, 2013

FA: Neil Monteith (p1, p2 & p4) Paul Thompson (p3), 2013

A rap-in, climb out sport pitch on steep featured rock. Neil spent 2 hours hiding in a cave during a thunder storm attempting to bolt this. To get to the rap point climb pitch 1 of Avian Abattoir to ledge. Move belay to 2nd set of anchors on right end of ledge. Rap off these anchors down overhung wall to hanging belay about 6m above the ground at super pockets. Climb pockets, left to flake then back right and up overhung wall to break. Reachy move to arete and up slab to anchors.

Set: Neil Monteith, 2013

FA: Neil Monteith & Paul Thompson, 2013

Reachy arete climbing on trad - grade may go up if you're short. May get a first pitch at some stage - at the moment it is a rap in climb out single pitch. From anchors above Kaboom rap down the right side of the arete to belay at base of corner at tiny little footledge ledge and single FH (back it up with muedum cams to the left). Traverse left onto overhung arete (small cams in horizontal) then reachy move up arete (#4 camalot in break) then run it out up lovely orange rock to big pocket (#5 camalot) then fun little pockets and finish left onto the arete to anchors.

FA: Paul Thompson & Neil Monteith, 2013

Four really good pitches, all different and all on good quality rock. Double set of cams to #3 camalot size and single set of wires. Some slings and double ropes are highly recommended for pitches 1 & 2.

  1. 15m (21) Start up Stop the Bolts! choss for 5m to the base of the corner, then follow line of pockets horizontally left (RB) to vertical seam crack. Up this to small belay ledge under roof and DRB.

  2. 17m (24) Bouldery hug move off the ledge and up to lip of roof (RB), now throw caution to the wind and climb the super exposed roof-flake right (medium cams) then up seam crack to jugs. Traverse left along horizontal then up and left past two RBs to ledge. Easily up corner rightwards to final hand traverse right to higher ledge and DRB belay. Double ropes for this pitch!

  3. 20m (22) Pumpy! Great pockets to start up prow then a couple of reachy moves (2 RBs and small/medium cams) to mantle (RB) onto vegetated ledge. Solve the tricky mini slab above this for 5m to gain much larger ledge and DRB. Communication with belayer is problematic.

  4. 14m (19) Short and fun. Left facing corner and seam crack above. Either lower-off single bolt at top of rock, or topout and bush bash uphill for 5m to DRB - then bush bash to top of cliff.

Set: Neil Monteith, 2013

FA: Neil Monteith (P1 & 4) Paul Thompson (P3), 2013

FA: Neil Monteith & Mike Law (P2), 2013

An amusing mutl-pitch trad adventure up a very scenic sandstone buttress. The first pitch is a bit scary, the second pitch steep and classy and the top pitches a mix of green and gold. Bring a double rack of cams from #4 Camalot to small finger size, a single set of wires and a couple of slings. You'll also want a single 60m lead rope.

  1. 15m (21) Start at sandy corner 5m to the left of the rap route (when facing the rock). Belay on top of little rock ledge above ferns. Cautiously up sandy flake to base of fused corner. Bridge up this (fiddly but bomber trad) then hand traverse right to belay ledge and DRB belay. Don't forget the bigger cams.

  2. 25m (22) The best pitch of trad near Sydney? From the ledge swing left onto arete to secret hold (and cam placement) then straight up to splitter finger crack. Follow weakness up overhung orange wall, traversing a bit right and then back left to a single bolt. After a cruxy move past the bolt traverse right a metre then another tough move to finish on small ledge on left and DRB belay. If you are keen you could link this into the next pitch.

  3. 15m (21 A0) A bit dirty and scary. Right a metre onto face then up to horizontal. Trend left up dug out crack onto slab and up to DRBs and fixed rope. Hand over hand up this rope past blank slab and vegetated slope (!) to DRB on large terrace.

  4. 25m (20) Up little corner then traverse right along airy horizontal past high RB and right again to little corner. Stem up this to large vegetated cave. Either bush bash right for 3m then wander up easy corner system to arrive at summit rocks or...

  5. 8m (22) Belay in cave at 'hairy rock' DRBs then do the optional finish through juggy roof on left side of cave. Two RBs and tricky mantle out.

FA: Neil Monteith (led all pitches) & Macciza Macpherson, 2013

Bolted arete starting from ground level, directly below the rap route. Sandy breaks make this quite unpleasant unless you scrub in advance on the way down the rap line. Start off rock step above ferns. Up subtle arete then right under roof then up flake crack to small ledge, then up to main ledge. Clip single RB but belay on DRB on the left edge of ledge. #2 Camalot and wires are vital to protect the top bit of this pitch.

FA: Neil Monteith & Nick Le Baut, 2013

MAIN LEDGE - The next two routes start on the large ledge at the top of Stop the Bolts! pitch 1. They both share the same lower-off anchor. The easiest way to this ledge is to either not rap all the way to the ground, or the route Bolts are Back.

Every cliff needs a girdle. The second pitch on this one is amazing. The first is currently terrifying and needs a bolt to make it less poo in your pants scary. Bring prussics for leader and second. Start on the left end of Main Ledge as for Stop the Bolts! pitch 2.

  1. 30m (22) Up Stop the Bolts! Pitch 2 for 5m until on lip of roof. Traverse left across orange rock, boldly around the subtle arete with feet right on the lip of monster roof and across the middle bit of Neanderthal Pitch 2 past one RB to blocky corner. Traverse left on small pockets (RB) to hanging belay on arete. Lots of medium/large cams and slings needed for this pitch. Rope drag and communication with belayer problematic.

  2. 20m (19) Wild, exposed and well protected. Possibly the best pitch at Scarface. Drop down (?!) a metre into horizontal break (#2 camalot). Traverse the entire length of the wall (2 RBs + medium/large cams in amazing pockets) to left arete (RB), then up this to small ledge and rap rings. Either rap back to ground (33m) or continue up to next ledge with small tree 3m above to 3rd belay on Avian Abattoir.

FA: Neil Monteith (led both pitches) & Paul Thompson, 2013

Nice orange rock and cool pockets. The bolted middle line on the main ledge, 4m right of Stop the Bolts! pitch 2. Faint flake weakness up face (3 RBs), then a couple of hand sized cams to finish up fragile flake crack. DRB anchors on the right, shared with Cuckoo Dove Crack. Might be 24 if you're tall.

FA: Neil Monteith, 2013

Splitter fingercrack on gorgeous orange rock on the right side of the main ledge, 2m right of Gravity. Overhangs at least a metre. Shared lower-off anchors with Gravity.

FA: Neil Monteith & Nick Le Baut, 2013

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Thu 25 May
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