The Blue Mountains is one of Australia’s best locations for outdoor climbing, but the towering cliffs which are part of its appeal aren’t the most beginner-friendly to climb. Saphira’s scoped out the best beginner climbing in the Blue Mountains.
There are over 700 sport climbs under a grade of 20 in the Blueies! I learned the hard way which crags are suitable for beginners so you don’t have to! Star ratings (★) are taken from thecrag.com.
Important Safety Advice
To climb in the Blue Mountains you’ll need to know how to lead climb. This isn’t the same as your typical top-rope indoor climbing and carries more risk. If you don’t know what grade you’re climbing at, you probably don’t have enough experience and knowledge to be climbing outdoors in the Blue Mountains. Go with someone experienced who’s climbed the area before. Make sure you know the history of the gear you’re using and that you’re using a helmet – climbing is dangerous and carries the risk of serious, life-altering injury and death. Do not solely depend on this article as a guide.
These crags are within half an hour’s drive of Katoomba and Blackheath. They don’t cover the whole Blue Mountains region, beginner trad climbs, or the very limited options for top-rope climbing.
I recommend borrowing or purchasing the Blue Mountains Climbing guidebook by Simon Carter for specific advice on routes, crags, and approach. You can also check out thecrag.com, where you can track which climbs you’ve done and rate them yourself.
Ultra-beginner // Training Crag
The Soft Parade
Location: Mt Victoria
Climbing grade: (8-20+)
My pick: Organic Donkey Milk Products Climb #1 (★ 18) and Devious Diversions (★ 16)
Don’t go too far left or you’ll end up in the trad climbing section (that’s a whole other kettle of fish). This crag is suitable for people who have just started to lead climb, assuming you’ve been properly trained and are being closely supervised. This is the most beginner the Blue Mountains gets! Go crazy, young grasshopper.
Location: Medlow Bath
Climbing grade: (4-20+)
My pick: Mañana (★★ 14) is a 2 star, 22m climb that’s enjoyable for beginners and the more experienced, get stylin’!
This crag is super diverse and a short walk from Medlow Bath station if your crew would rather spend the petrol money on snacks. There are some long climbs with lots of clips to make learning to lead climb more fun and less terrifying. Check out Kaboomba Brothers (★ 4) (everyone argues about whether it’s harder easier than this), Go Back To Switzerland (★ 11) and Until Death Do Us Part (★ 12) for juggy goodness.
Location: Shipley Upper
Climbing grade: (13-20)
My pick: Trinity (★ 13) and The Bandoline Grip (★ 18)
This is your next pick after you’ve practised at The Soft Parade. It’s got slightly higher teen rated climbs with consistent stars (stars rate a climb’s quality).
Little Triggers Wall
Location: Bardens Lookout, Mt Victoria
Climbing grade: (15-20+)
My pick: Quirrell’s Quarrell (★★ 19)
You can walk back up from The Soft Parade and make your way to Barden’s Lookout. There are lots of climbs here for you to flex your muscles, and more 2 star climbs.
Ancient Mariner Buttress
Location: Boronia Point near Mt Victoria
Climbing grade: (14-20+)
This is a very cool place to hang out. Just around the corner at Main Wall (Ferris Cave) are seriously impressive overhung routes where you can admire climbers doing routes in the high 20s and beyond!
Cowboy Clip is pretty popular here and fun to watch someone do. It might be just out of your range though at 21. I mainly watched others climb here and only attempted Squashed Parrot (14). Weirdly hard for the grade. Definitely give some of the other routes here a go, there are two 17s and an 18 worth trying!
The Dam Cliffs
Location: Bell’s Line of Road and Chifley Road
Climbing grade: (10-20+)
My pick: A Tale of Two Cities (★ 18) and The Sisters of Fatima (★★ 16) at Steep Wall (16-20+). Also check out Mossy Wall (10-20).
This place is AWESOME. If your arms are too tired to climb or it’s sweltering you can enjoy some great swimming at an abandoned dam here. There are two rope swings (one of which is frighteningly high up), a massive rock in the dam you can deep water solo (17-20+) and jump off if you’re so inclined (I didn’t jump from higher than 3m because I like having my back unbroken). Oh yeah, there are tonnes of beginner-friendly climbs here too in the crag below the dam, they’re generally pretty easy for their grade.
Feature photo by @tim_ashelford