Rock climbing challenges your strength, endurance, agility and balance. It is physically and mentally demanding. Climbers are also known to develop an aptitude for problem solving.
There are a range of guided rock climbs in Sydney and the Blue Mountains for all skill levels and for individual and group outings.
For your first climb, go with an instructor to ensure a safe introduction. Facebook groups for beginners share information about guided rock climbs. Companies such as ASM provide equipment.
Jack Masel from the Australian School of Mountaineering shares his favourite spots for beginners, from indoor gyms to braving the elements.
One of the most popular crags in the Blue Mountains, Shipley Upper is located just outside of Blackheath. According to Masel, this area has sequences for all experience levels and plenty of routes for hours of climbing. “Try not to get caught in the sun unless it’s in the middle of winter,” he says. Climb against the sweeping backdrop of the region’s sandstone cliffs. Facing the north-west, the slab soaks up the sun and provides an unobstructed view of the dramatic scenery.
Reaching a height of 200 meters, this two-tiered cliff is balanced on the end of a finger rock just south of Leura. “It’s one of the closest crags to Sydney and has a pretty spectacular lookout,” says Masel. Home to the popular Sweet Dreams route, this rock face offers easy but adventurous climbs for those craving a rush of adrenaline. This west-facing wall includes a matchless view of the Three Sisters.
The Soft Parade
Halfway along the Mount York peninsula is The Soft Parade, an approachable crag for beginners. This slab is a great place to hone your climbing skills and practise new movements. “Learn to lead climb here, it’s the perfect environment,” says Masel. “It’s a short climb that’s as fun as it is thought provoking.”
You haven’t climbed the Blue Mountains until you’ve knocked over Mount York. This is a must for Masel. “It’s easy to set up for a spectacular view,” he says. With an elevation of 1061 meters the summit has a striking view over Hartley Valley, Kanimbla Valley and the Vale of Clwyd. Expect a view of eucalyptus tree canopies against a backdrop of dissected plateaus. These climbs offer nice exposure with a few thin sections to keep things interesting.
Tackle the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest-ever bouldering gym, Nomad, in Annandale. Bouldering doesn’t involve ropes but instead uses thick mats at the base of each climb. Try conquering “Earth” (a giant surmountable globe with 360-degree climbs).
In the heart of Alexandria’s industrial sector there’s a perfect place to test your climbing. This indoor bouldering gym is open until late with tunes to get you in the zone. It’s a great way to connect to other enthusiasts; and it offers climbs for all levels and a great support staff to help you improve. There are also classes and workshops daily.
Mon & Tue 4pm–10pm
Wed to Sun 9am–10pm