When you’re sick of climbing indoors in the Sydney summer, Neil and Gabby Massey have the salve to soothe your sweaty fingers. What you need is a dawn bouldering sesh at Palm Beach, topped off with a refreshing swim.
- Climbing in the cool of the day
- If you get there early enough you can do some star gazing
- Have the beach to yourself
- Not far to travel (for Sydneysiders)
Sydney in summer can be hell for climbers – hot and humid conditions leave you slipping off jugs or heading indoors for your fix. So, tired of waiting for the cooler weather with its awesome friction, we decide on a sneaky sunrise bouldering session to beat the heat.
Sydney, being uniquely situated in a big ancient sandstone basin, has the luxury of several bouldering areas close to town but, eyeing yet another weather forecast in the high 30s, we opt for some dawn bouldering at Palm Beach boulders. A climb then a swim is the plan. Sweet.
At the last minute we add in some star-gazing.
Under Barrenjoey Head
It’s still completely dark when we arrive at Palm Beach, so we head to the northern end, just under Barrenjoey Head. Fewer lights mean better views of the stars and we have arrived early enough that the Milky Way is still visible–amazing to see it so clearly this close to Sydney!
As the sky begins to lighten we head further down the beach to the boulders–two large and one smaller block, squatting on the beach side of Ocean Road. Between the three boulders there are nearly 50 problems, ranging from V0 to V8. Most are between V1 and V3, which suits us perfectly for a cruisey early morning climb.
Palm Beach Dawn Bouldering
While the climbs are not overly difficult, this is not the place for an absolute beginner. Many of the problems are vertical, with only a handful of overhangs and traverses, and topping out at 4 metres can be intimidating. However, it is a great place to practice your more delicate face-climbing moves.
Before the sun has climbed too high above the horizon, the east facing rock begins to warm, the less positive holds start to lose friction and the climbing gets harder–time for a swim to cool off and round out the morning’s adventure.
And next, breakfast…
- Climbing shoes, brush & chalk (if you use it)
- Crash pad and/or spotters
- Carpet square and old towel (to get the sand off your climbing shoes)
- Swimming gear and sunscreen
- Camera and tripod
- Snacks and drinks
How To Get There
There are two large obvious boulders on the beach side of Ocean Road about 300m south of the turn from Beach Road (and the entrance to Governor Phillip Park).
Intermediate–rock climbing can be dangerous and bouldering can look deceptively easy. Go with someone who knows what they are doing and learn how to spot effectively.