The first thing of note about Mt Buffalo is that's
in an alpine region, so in winter time the place is covered in snow, making
climbing very hazardous. The mountain is renowned for drawing bad weather
even in the height of summer. Furthermore if this is your first visit be
aware that locating the scattered climbing areas and finding routes is
quite difficult, even armed with the guide book. I don't suggest heading
up there with anything less than a long weekend, and preferably in the
company of someone who's climbed there before.
Despite this foreboding introduction, Mt Buffalo is simply
an amazing place to climb. With possibly the tallest routes in Australia,
breathtaking views, flora & funa, picturesque water falls, and cool
inviting lakes, Mt Buffalo is probably one of the finest places to climb
in the country. Even if you don't manage to get much climbing done, just
being up there is way fun. Hiking around, camping, maybe swimming, caving,
skiing in winter of course, and even hang-gliding are all options. Just
make sure you pack a raincoat and beanie!
Right: The Cathedral in winter snow. Photo by
Michael Boniwell. See: More Mt Buffalo Photos. Print Sales Available.
Update 2010:Re accommodation at Mt Buffalo, the Chalet has been closed for over 2 years now and Tatra burnt to the ground in 2006 bushfires. We no longer charge an entry fee to access the park and the entrance station is closed.
Access is via Porepunka, about 4.5 hours drive from
Melbourne. I suggest you fuel up here
before taking on the steep drive up if you've got a gas guzzling little
car loaded down with a tonne of gear. Depending on what time of year you
go, you might incur park fees to drive up the mountain. The
Chalet (pictured left), offers a high standard of accommodation (and guided
abseiling/climbing sessions). I've stayed there a few times and found the
buildings offered a unique history and feel and the food was excellent.
You can always buy a beer at the Chalet bar. There's also
the Tatra Inn out near the Hump and the Horn, which has more budget accommodation. From
the Chalet: "...
people can stay there for a little as $60 a night, bed and breakfast, this
also includes National Park entry, and access to all walks etc. We also
have $100 p.p a night including bed, breakfast and dinner. The company
that have taken over the lease of the Resort are also aiming to do up the
Chalet and Lodge and reopen the Tatra Inn, which was closed after the
bushfires." (Jan 05)
However the typical climber will likely want to camp instead, in which
case the beautiful Lake Catani is the where most stay. Open from the start
of November to the end of April the ground has only 60 sites so it pays to
book in advance if you have a large group or intend staying during busy
times like Christmas. (Phone the Entrance Station on 03 5756 2328 or the
Ranger on 03 5755 1466). Toilets and
even hot showers are available - a very welcome luxury after a long day's
climbing and during summer a swim or canoe of the little lake is just
magical. (For complete details see Park's
Victoria's page, and this Lake
Catani Camping Guide PDF document).
Places To Climb
There are a few short bolted lines if you're a
sport climber, and the granite offers legendary smearing potential
allowing you to walk up gradients you'd be mad to try on slippery
sandstone. However, most of the taller routes follow natural features,
predominantly cracks that eat cams (and flesh), so bring plenty of all
sizes, including the massive ones. Learn how to make a sports tape glove
before you launch into some of the harder cracks. Many of the routes are
so tall you need to be on the rock at first light to have any hope of
getting off before dark. Some routes, like the infamous "Ozymandias"
actually require big-wall tactics, with bivi gear and aid climbing
involved. At least some of the areas require abseil access, meaning you
might need ascenders (prusiks, whatever), to get back out again.
I guess my point is that Buffalo is not really an
area for amateurs. Some of the run outs and painful cracks will likely
make many reconsider. Still if you're totally freaked they have a tiny
indoor wall for kids at the Tatra Inn that might restore
confidence. (Hehe). Seriously though Buffalo is an amazing place, even if
you only get up a handful of easier routes.
I can recommend the Horn area as a place to start.
The shorter routes, some with bolts, should give you an introduction to
the sharp granite. See if you can on-sight Peroxide Blonde, the grade 20 arÍte
climb which summits at the end of the tourist railing. Bolts all the way,
it's more psychological than physical. Bush whacking in to the base of the
climbs isn't much fun though. If the Horn looks to short, check out the
Cathedral, and head on up the three star route "Maharajah", 42m grade 17
on the main pinnacle. For something a
lot taller and more daring, check out "Where Angles Fear To
Tread" the 263m grade 17 on the south side of the
Angles Buttress. You'll need a crack of dawn start, and bring the head
If it's too wet to climb, and you've had enough of
hiking about. Consider doing a spot of caving. From the tourist carpark
near the Chalet the track to an underground stream/cave system is clearly
labelled. You'll need helmets, head torches, thermals and be prepared to
be submerged in freezing water up to your waist. I'm not a caver so I
can't evaluate the grade or risk involved, but we didn't find anything
serious enough to need a rope. Presumably you'd not want to be
down there when the water level is high. But even if you only go a little
way in you can still spot the glow worms. The system travels up stream not
very far under the surface for some distance before you're force to crawl
up and out via a hole.
Above Left: The Horn rising in the distance. Above
Middle: The Horn close up. That white block is Peroxide Blonde, the grade 20 arÍte.
Above Right: Sunset over Lake Catani.
Above Left: "The Hump" as viewed from The Cathedral. You can
see the Horn rising in the background. Above Right: The Cathedral
as seen from the road.
The well recommended, three star route "Maharajah", 42m grade 17
takes the main pinnacle on the left of this shot. When approaching via the
tourist track, the route is on the right (see pic).
Above Left: The Gorge below the hang gliders ramp. Above
Middle: The Gorge below Bent's Lookout. Above Right: The Gorge below Wilkinson's Lookout.
"Ozymandias" the infamous 270m grade 29 that is generally aided
over a couple of days on the rock heads up this cliff. If you've ticked
Ozy, you've made it to "Hardman" status.
Only for living legends.
Anyway, I'm sure you'll work it all out, given enough time.
There are far too many climbs to mention them all here. Grab yourself a
copy of the guide book by Boreham & Breeton, and give yourself plenty
of time for route finding. Have
fun and climb safe!
Selected Mt Buffalo Climbing Areas
The North Wall offering the best
Australian big wall aid routes including the penultimate "Ozymandias", and the South side offering lower
grades, plenty of exposure, and the odd single pitch rap-in classic.
The Cathedral looks single pitch at first
sight, until you spot the tiny flyspeck climbers 3 pitches up it. ***
Maharajah (17) is the pick of the lines here.
||The Horn Area
A great place to start, and some beginners routes as
well. *** Peroxide Blonde (20) is the one to tick here.
Chadwel Galleries is only a few minutes walk from the
beautiful lakeside camping and offers some good slab routes.
Guide Books Available
There isn't much choice of guides to Buffalo. In
fact Boreham & Brereton's 1996 guide is about it, with a downloadable update
available from the VCC. Be aware that route finding is not simple, even
with the book in hand. Most guide books are available
from local climbing shops or the VCC.
Buffalo (Version 5)
A Rockclimber's Guide
Kevin Lindorff & Simon
Buffalo, A Rockclimbers Guide - A climbing guide book, edited by
Jeremy Boreham and David Breeton and available from local
climbing shops, or the VCC.
- Descriptions for some of the more popular routes, from Will's Climbing
Buffalo - A few routes described from The Sydney Area Climbing Page.
Buffalo National Park - Park's Victoria's page on the area.
Rock Climbing Travel
Guide To Mt Buffalo - Brief intro from Arapiles.com web site.
Buffalo - Brief description from rockclimbing.com web site.
Mt Buffalo Resort - The
Chalet's web site for upmarket accommodation.
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