The You Yangs offers some reasonably good climbing, albeit on short granite tors, within an easy 40 minute drive from Melbourne. There are many areas and hundreds of routes, but, and it has to be said, quite a considerable number are not worth a second glance, much less an ascent. The various outcrops are scattered over a fairly large park with up to 20 minute or so approach hikes required for some of the more distant tors though there is some good stuff a lot closer to the road. The whole place is something of "an acquired taste", and may not appeal to all. Never-the-less there is some good stuff if "granite blobs" is your thing.
There's only one entry point to the You Yangs State Park, and you have to (at least had to) pay a couple of dollars at a boom gate to get in. (There was no fee on out last trip). There's also an administration centre here with few displays to look at, where climbers are supposed to sign an intentions book, although I suspect most don't bother. For a first visit, try Urinal Wall (not as loathsome as the name suggests), the Gravel Pit Tor area, or perhaps the Stockyard's Car Park and it's North Western outcrop for some harder ticks. For some easy routes, try Flinder's Peak at the Turntable Area. All routes are covered in the VCC guide book.
Above Right: Gravel Pit Tor contains some of the best and steepest climbs in the park.
Access from Melbourne is via the freeway heading towards Geelong and turning off at Little River (some 43kms), then right at the railway, left at the church for 3km then left onto Little River-Ripley road at the T-intersection and continue for 2km before taking the first right, Branch Road, which hits the park after another 4km. From Geelong, it's only 15 minutes away. The whole park is encircled by a one-way dirt track called "The Great Circle Track". Head clockwise around this to access most of the areas.
This area has some of the steepest routes in the
Park, and is probably one of the better outcrops, certainly the most
popular on our last visit. The star attractions
here are the arête climb "Edging Bets" 20m grade 26, the
sustained "A Question Of Ethics" 15m grade 20 (pictured below),
and the well protected crack "Silver Knight" 15m grade 16.
"Asylum for the Insane" 22m grade 17 (pictured above right) gets
no stars in the guide, but is well worth a climb. It starts up a tricky
slab, past three closely spaced bolts then veers right into an interesting
jam crack finish on the headwall above. Just when you're wondering if your
sport climbers hands can take course granite jams a victory jug appears on
the right to an easy top out. Beware the small nuts on the easy mid-way
terrain. You can downclimb off the back of the block to descend.
To the left of Asylum, a short pillar presents the very popular grade 16 trad crack "Silver Knight". The crux is about three quarters of the way up, where-in a weird little move forces a pumpy layback out of the finger crack onto delicate feet. The route is well protected and quite exciting for it's height. You can also downclimb off the back of this block to descend.
The Gravel Pit area has enough routes to easy fill in an afternoon, if not a day. Especially if you're up for some of the harder ticks. Throwing a top rope over "A Question Of Ethics", looks doable off of belay bolts, though a tad precarious, and would certainly fill in time. To it's right are the area's boldest leads on the dominate main block.
When I first set eyes upon the west face of this outcrop I thought..."Hmmm, smaller than I expected". The answer to this query is that the upper portion of the wall, invisible from below, tapers off into a low angle slab (invariably run out), giving the cliff a stunted appearance. Access, however, is a breeze, and there are some nice slab routes here, despite the fairly scarce bolts. We used this area as a warm up, before heading deeper into the park.
To access Urinal Wall, head left around the Great Circle Track for 3.75km from Admin centre turn off, or until you hit a small car park and gate on your right. Walk down the track beyond the gate for 100m then head left up some steps and you'll very quickly arrive at the west face (pictured above right).
Right: The west face of Urinal Wall. Owen
leading "Round The Bend", 22m grade 17 past two bolts. The crux
is moving up the slab and clipping the first bolt. The actual steeper, but
protected moves above are quite reasonable. Runout low angle finish. In
this pic, Brett is rapping down "Aiming To Please", the grade 15
just left of Owen, which was a very nice little intro route.
From above you can walk around the whole outcrop on either side, making top rope access very easy. Double belay bolts exist above many of the routes.
Nightfall Pinnacles can be found by following the
Great Circle Track 6.8km from the Admin center turn off or until you reach
a small car park on the left and picnic area on the right. Don't expect to
find a walking track in. There is a faint footpad leading out of the
picnic area on the right side of the road and heading up towards the
blocks visible from below, but its an overgrown, scrambly affair. Once you
get there, however, you'll be rewarded with a few fun climbs, such as
"Nightfall", the 12m grade 15 (pictured below) that follows a
thin right trending finger crack to the top of the Nightfall block, on the
face hidden from the road.
On the block next to Nightfall Pinnacle, called "Nightmoves Pinnacle", you'll find a couple of routes worth a look. The obvious 13m grade 16 slab "Nightmoves" facing the road offers sustained, but enjoyable climbing, past three bolts.
Right: Ben leading "Knight Moves", 12m grade 16, a nice little slab climb past three bolts, some of which are too fat to accept a standard bolt plate, so you might need to lasso them with a nut peeled back on its wire. Left: Brett top roping Wilkinsons Sword 12m grade 19.
bolt belay is also handy for top roping "Wilkinson's Sword", the
12m grade 19 that takes the thin flakes off the ground, then heads
slightly left past two bolts. It's missing a good hold near the crux so is
very hard for the grade. We all fell off the flakes trying to move past
bolt one (crux), until it was discovered you could torque up the good
underclings, move your feet real high onto the flake system and reach up
right of the bolt for a crappy crimp, where upon a secondary flake on the
right offered a means of advancing further left. This might have been
borrowing a little from the nearby 19 "Things that go bump in the
night", which shares the start but trends right.
Good slab climbing and a great view - you’re about 250m above the surrounding plains and can see the Bay, Melbourne city and Geelong - a lovely place to be. From the Turntable carpark, walk along the Eastern track for 10-15mins. When you get to the switchback in the path you’re a bit past halfway. There are a number of boulders with dykes in them, so identify the spot to turn R off the track by walking until you’re directly in line with the road from Little River. (30m past an 8ft boulder with very distinctive protruding twin vertical dykes right beside the track, and 5m before a big boulder with a 1ft thick horizontal dyke). Walk 50m down to the slab, continue down R to the upper end of the major ramp, the 3 sets of DBB are just below here. The climbs from Andy Pandy to Psychedelic Termination start getting shade around midday, the rest later in the afternoon.
* Andy Pandy 19m 13
From Great Circle Drive, walk to the Saddle Carpark (10mins), then start along the Eastern Walking Track - take care here, there is a much more obvious track (which starts between two wooden posts) which is not it, and is a dead end after 500m. The best way to be sure is to walk right up close to the signpost at the uphill end of the carpark, and from there you can see the start of the Eastern Walking Track, obscured by a dead tree over the start. Follow this track up and around to the other side of the small valley for 10mins to a steel pipeline cutting across the track. Continue to a small rock platform and cleared area on the left - about 150m after the pipeline (not "just after" the pipeline like the guide says!). The track goes straight downhill from the rock slab, over some more slabs and through lots of f***ing prickly bushes, to a big open slab of rock above the climbs. To descend, walk down to the very top of the climbs, and an obvious descent gully becomes visible on your left (facing out), requiring a squeeze at one point.
* Fig Leaf 25m 10
If you have the VCC South-western Victoria Guidebook, follow its instructions to find north-western outcrop. From where the access road is closed to vehicular traffic it is a 25 minute easy walk in, with the outcrop being clearly visible for the final 15 minutes of walking. The outcrop faces southwest, and is therefore in shade till the afternoon.
Of the routes at the outcrop and its associated buttresses, there appears to be nothing of worth under grade 18, and most of the face climbs given stars in the guidebook look to have grown a slight covering of lichen since their first ascent. A Kevin Lindorff ***26 ‘Coming Apart At The Seams’ seems to be an exception. This route looks good from the ground.
Two natural lines really stand out on the main outcrop, all other natural lines look to be absolute rubbish. The two of note are:
**Talmud 15m 18
This is the right facing corner crack slightly left of centre, with a ledge and dead tree at half height. It felt decidedly stiff for the grade, with insecure jamming up a slightly overhanging corner followed by a rest on the ledge, and more steep jamming/laybacking required at the top. A nearly complete lack of face holds forces the climber to use a variety of jamming skills on this route. The crux arrives in the first few metres, but fatigue means that the remainder of the climb is no pushover. A worthwhile, albeit trying and character building, route that is more enjoyable in retrospect than it seemed during the climbing itself. If I ever climb this route again I will tape my hands to within an inch of their life, as the carnivorous cracks seem to have developed a taste for blood now. Those climbers that enjoy bondage will also enjoy this route.
***Grimulus 15m 20
After struggling on the previous route we chose to toprope this route. It is the left facing (and left leaning) corner crack 20 metres left of Talmud. Excellent climbing of sustained quality with as much protection as you care to place. This route is not as steep as Talmud, and had the odd face hold which allows a more stylish approach. Id go out on a limb and call this the best moderate crack climb the Melbourne area. Would retain its three stars at any climbing area in the state.
Left of Grimulus are two steep Mike Law face climbs, *Pit Semitri (26) and ***Pain And Frequency (28). They look damn near impossible, particularly with their current covering of lichen. Around to the left of Pain And Frequency is a **21 ‘Squish Band’ supposedly offering exciting face climbing. This route looked lichenous and unappealing on our visit. The *19 ‘No Pedestrians’ at the very left end of the outcrop looks ok, but virtually identical to the many other You Yangs 19’s involving a seam with a slab finish.
Around left of No Pedestrians is a separate face were you will find ***Exam Technique after battling across through the boneseed.
***Exam Technique 13m 22
Described in the guide as “the perfect face climb” one cant help be a little disappointed at first viewing. It follows a 30cm wide dyke which runs at a 50 degree angle up a steep face. It looks shorter than its height of 13 metres, and is tucked away at the right hand end of the face. When you get on it though it doesn't take long to realise that this is a very good climb. The simple fact that the climb follows a dyke feature separates it from the typical boring You Yangs slab route, and well positioned bolts make this a safe route to lead. A hard high step using a sharp undercling and tenuous sidepull comprise the crux start, long reaches between small sharp positive holds comprise the middle, and a steep energy sapping finish on flat topped dyke rock holds finishes the route. Great!
Royalty Walls Area
"I think the Youies are some of the worst climbs in the state. I can't believe people are still putting up new routes there. Places like Mt Alex are SOOOO much nicer. If the Youies has 500 routes - I reckon about 20 might be worthwhile"..... "Gravel Pit tor is a nice area with about 4 worthwhile climbs between 16 - 21." - Neil M.
"Urinal wall has a couple of nice routes on it. But I have to agree with Neil, the climbing aint that good, and the bolting is worse. I mean I know it's a slab, but two bolts on a 35m route is just a bit crazy for my liking" - Phil Nev.
Home | Guide | Gallery | Tech Tips | Articles | Reviews | Dictionary | Forum | Links | About | Search