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Saturday, May 08, 2021

Almost But Not Quite

There are a cluster of Grampians cliffs which, perhaps because of the limited number of high-quality routes that each of them offers, and/or access which is either difficult or difficult to describe, didn’t quite make it into the guidebook. These cliffs nonetheless offer some great climbs.

Links to the ACA website will take you to the most up to date information for these cliffs, and a full on-line free guide to the area.

THE RAVINE - This relatively easily accessible sports climbing venue (a short drive from Mount Stapylton camping ground followed by a 40-50 minute easy walk) is a convenient option in the summer. It offers vertical wall climbs that stay in shade until about 4pm on one side of the little creek and, on the other side of the creek, roof climbs that get morning sun and then are shaded for the rest of the day.

This cluster of crags, including The Sun Deck (RMP Mini Guide), offers relatively easy access to a range of sports routes, mostly of modest grades.

CENTURION WALL - This north-facing crag, nestled down below the imposing Briggs Bluff, is something of a suntrap and is ideal for visits in the cooler months. There is a limited range of good climbs, mainly graded in the low and mid twenties, generally bolt protected climbs. 

BARBICAN ROCKS - Though offering only a limited selection of classy routes, this little crag, about 10km drive southward from Hall’s Gap, is a 5-10 minute walk from the car to a handful of memorable middle grade trad classics in almost day-long summer shade.

REDMANS BLUFF - Redmans Bluff boasts a good collection of easy and middle-grade trad climbs, generally of two or three pitches. From Redmans Road, steep foot access gains the Northern Cliff in about 20 minutes. This cliff and the adjacent Middle Cliff hold the pick of the established routes.Redmans has fallen out of favour in recent years: some judiciously placed rap anchors above some of the better lower pitches would no doubt remedy this (also see the very old publication: “South Eastern Grampians” by Chris Baxter, sadly the most comprehensive record of climbing there at the moment.

THE RED SAIL (no online link available) - This is the prominent red pillar down and left of Eureka Wall. Both aretes of this buttress (Bristol Fashion, 26** and Sailing Away 23**) provide brilliant climbing. Best approached directly up from the road, via a vague footpad through scrub (25 minutes).
- The upper and lower Lost World crags certainly have some fantastic, high-class routes (graded from the high teens to the high twenties). However, the lack of a good walking track into this crag may deter some climbers. From about 2km along the Emu’s Foot Track, where cars can be left, there is a vague foot ‘pad’ marked with a few cairns. 

HOLLYWOOD BOWL - Hollywood Bowl is the prominent slabby ‘bowl’ toward the left end of the big cliffs on the skyline up and left of Mount Fox. If you want some easy-middle grade adventure climbs, away from the madding crowd, and aren’t afraid of a bit of walking, This place is definitely worth considering. For some slightly harder routes (low 20s), the right hand extension, Satyricon Wall, is worth a look. Main Wall  is another option. 

Along and just below the ridgeline up from the Waterworks Track (which is east of and parallel to Harrop Track, and, like Harrop Track, runs north from Glenelg River Road) is a sprinkling of buttresses and craglets that are mostly relatively easy to access and well worth visiting.
GILHAM’S CRAGS - This cluster of little crags and buttresses offers a variety of single pitch trad-protected routes, mostly graded in the high teens to mid-twenties, generally on excellent rock. Red Rain Wall is the best sector and has a clutch of fantastic climbs, generally about 35m in length. There are options for climbing in the sun or the shade, and the approach from the Harrop Track to the climbs is relatively straightforward.
CURIOSITY CRAG - Tightly packed with a good range of different climbing styles from steep sport (Tarzan Wall) to sustained trad (Curiosity Wall), the summer shade and the 5min access make this well worth a visit.
RUINED CASTLE - An excellent cluster of sport crags for the medium-grade climber who relishes heaps of exposure. However, you’ll need to climb two pitches to make it up to the best climbing on the third tier. The approach is steep and rough but relatively short (10-15 minutes). Shade until 3pm in summer.
TORTOISE WALL - From the same place where the car is parked for walking into Ruined Castle, a 10 min easy walk to Tortoise Wall gives access to small number of good quality trad routes. A pleasant, shady place to climb on a warm day.

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