6 CLIMB­ING: Blue Moun­tains

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Adventures | New South Wales - Ross Tay­lor (Pic: Kamil Sus­tiak)

Best time: All year

More info: www.www.ver­ti­cal­lifemag.com.au www.bmac.com.au

JUST AN HOUR OR SO WEST of Syd­ney is one of Aus­tralia’s best rock climb­ing des­ti­na­tions, the Blue Moun­tains. Here you can drop off sub­ur­ban streets and sud­denly find your­self in a dif­fer­ent world – sur­rounded by grey and orange sand­stone walls and look­ing out onto val­leys framed by the smooth, sil­very trunks of blue gums reach­ing sky­ward.

It can feel odd to es­cape so eas­ily from the em­brace of subtopia, and just as odd to re­turn with bruised tips and tired mus­cles at the end of your day, al­though it is not the worst thing in the world to never be too far from your next latte or the warm em­brace of a shower. Be­yond the hy­per-con­ve­nience, the Blue Moun­tains is a true climb­ing par­adise, a vast, rugged, al­most in­fi­nite climb­ing re­source, with some­thing for ev­ery­one, from trad war­riors look­ing for ad­ven­ture to rock ath­letes look­ing for the hard­est climb­ing in the land.

The Blue Moun­tains is most fa­mous for its sport climb­ing: routes that are pre-pre­pared with bolts, mean­ing that you don’t have to worry about find­ing ‘nat­u­ral’ pro­tec­tion in cracks or crevices in the rock. The Blueys has more sport climb­ing than any­where else in Aus­tralia. You could lit­er­ally climb here your en­tire life and not get ev­ery­thing done. Some of area’s more fa­mous cliffs in­clude the cirque of crags just west of Black­heath – Ship­ley, Cen­ten­nial Glen, Wave Wall, Porters Pass, et al – an area which will of­ten be heav­ing with climbers on week­ends. Close to Ka­toomba is the leg­endary Di­a­mond Falls, which lo­cals right­fully pro­claim as the home of hard climb­ing in Aus­tralia. Here you will find Aus­tralia’s hard­est route, Re­tired Ex­tremely Dan­ger­ous (35), which was first climbed by vis­it­ing Ger­man uber-wad, Alexan­der Me­gos.

More re­cently, lo­cal climber Tom O’Hal­lo­ran be­came the first Aus­tralian to climb 35 – a long-awaited event in Aus­tralian climb­ing – and he did this by as­cend­ing a new route he called Baker’s Dozen at a cliff called the Pit.

But be­yond the cut­ting edge of climb­ing, there is a huge amount for reg­u­lar climbers, from vet­er­ans to be­gin­ners. Sport climbers can find mod­er­ate sport routes nearly ev­ery­where; tra­di­tion­al­ists can go to older cliffs like Mt Pid­ding­ton in Mt Vic­to­ria and climb cracks on nat­u­ral gear; while if you are after all-day ad­ven­ture you can dis­ap­pear into the gap­ing maw of the Grose Val­ley and climb hun­dreds of me­tres back out on mul­ti­p­itch routes. And if hy­per-con­ve­nience isn’t your bag, don’t worry, there are lit­er­ally hun­dreds if not thou­sands of kilo­me­tres of un­de­vel­oped clif­fline, just wait­ing for some­one with the mo­ti­va­tion and pi­o­neer­ing spirit to climb them. – Be­yond the hy­per-con­ve­nience, the Blue Moun­tains is a true climb­ing par­adise.

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