Blue Mountains Winter Climbing: Chasing the Sun
29 Jun 2017
Winter Climbing in the Blue Mountains
We are fortunate to be able to climb year-round in the Blue Mountains. A big part of what makes this possible is the sheer number of crags with different aspects, different angles and different levels of exposure to the wind. In the summer we seek out shady caves in gullies that catch the afternoon breeze, and in the winter we flock to sun-soaked crags to enjoy the golden winter light.
Here are some of our favourite winter sun-traps for beginners:
The Soft Parade
This relatively new crag is quickly emerging as a crowd favourite, with throngs of climbers flocking there every weekend to bathe in the toasty north-easterly aspect and climb short, sweet little routes, most of them in the 8-18 grade range.
The Soft Parade is a haven for newcomers to outdoor climbing, with very well-marked access and friendly bolting, including bolts at ground level for you to practice your systems for cleaning the route at the top.
If you are visiting the Soft Parade please be mindful that this is a sensitive bush area and a complex ecosystem. Organisms live in the soil, the leaf matter and under stones. Please toilet responsibly and leave it as you find it.
Soaking up the afternoon sun in the Blue Mountains
An historic classic, Mt York is home to Exhibition Wall (21), the first sport route in the Blue Mountains. Also the location of the first European crossing of the Blue Mountains, Mt York has many sectors and a multitude of routes: sport, traditional and mixed. It is also one of the rare crags in the Blue Mountains with easy access for setting up top ropes.
Wrapped around a peninsula, Mt York gives you the benefit of varied aspects, so you can move from the ‘Sunny Side’ to the ‘Shady Side’ depending on the season.
If you are keen to camp in the Blue Mountains, the well-maintained Mt York campsite has become popular with locals and visiting climbers alike, with great sunset views. There are composting toilets, tables and benches, a shelter and some small bins for day use. Bring your own water and please pack your rubbish out.
If it’s possible to find a crag that’s more historic than Mt York, it’s Mt Piddington in Mt Victoria. The home of traditional climbing in the Blue Mountains, Mt Piddington is a trad climber’s dream, a playground of sun-baked splitter cracks, flakes, technical roofs and the occasional run-out bolted slab. Here you will find The Janicepts (21), once the hardest route in Australia and still a test-piece at the grade.
There are also plenty of more moderate routes where you can build your trad climbing prowess. If you’re new to climbing traditional routes, ask more experienced climbers for beta before you start out. Even some of the moderately graded climbs like Angular Crack (11) and Joseph (14) are technical and committing at the grade.
There are also some ‘sport’ routes at Mt Piddington. Most of them have carrot bolts and are bolted with a traditional ‘bold’ ethic. Bring your bolt plates and your balls.
There are of course many other lovely winter crags to explore in the Blue Mountains. Consult your guide book and use the sun/shade scale to help you decide on a crag. Happy climbing!