17 Down Under:
17 DOWN UNDER. "A celebration of moderate grade climbing in Victoria". 184 pages. 285 images. Father & son team, Steve & John Morris, embark on a journey to climb and photograph 50 of the best rock climbs in Victoria, grade 17 & under. Inc bookmark $50.00
After our failed trip to the Grampians on the weekend we ended up at the Cathedrals, the only National park with climbing where it seemed it wasn't flooding. Because we didn't plan on going there we were completely unprepared with regards to Beta, with just the Chocky guide downloaded on our iphones, and I just wanted to share my experiences to help other strangers to the region have more fun than we did.
First off - the Cathedral Ranges are gorgeous, completely worth a visit just for the camp by the creek and the great bushwalking. Secondly - do not rely on the chockstone guide like we did, it is nowhere near detailed enough, buy the new Melbourne Climbing discussed in this thread here, I checked it out at Bogong yesterday and the pictures make it very worthwhile.
We decided to head up to North Jawbones for a go at Spiegels Overhang first up. Access was a little tricky to say the least. We went in the afternoon and had alot of trouble spotting the "moss covered house sized boulders" discussed in the Chocky guide, turns out they are about 20m off the track on the right hand side, but a little bit after you reach some smaller boulders on the right and the 500m described in the guide feels like a lot more, probably closer to a km. At the moment there is a tarp over the area where the faint path to the crag begins, but I assume that will disappear soon, so once you reach the new section of the walk (there is a zigzag section then some stone steps), it is about 20m further up. If you reach the gully in between the two bluffs you have gone just ever so slightly too far, backtrack a little. The path is marked with three cairns along the entire way so just keep an eye out for them. Once you reach the crag there arn't any initialled climbs so you really need a climber who has been there before or a guidebook to make sure you are jumping on the right climb. Alternatively we met some people who walked to the top then rapped off, but beware that the cliff is alot bigger than it looks and a 60m rope won't get you anywhere near the bottom of the crag. North Jawbones gets afternoon shade.
The next day we headed to sugerloaf, access was a fun little challenging scramble via the Well's Cave walk, but once again you really need a guidebook to pinpoint which climb is which. Sugerloaf also gets afternoon shade. We got up there and decided it was way too hot to climb (in the mid 30's), especially when we didnt know which line was which climb, so we continued up the Well's cave track for a spectacular view on top of the mountain. Just a note that the arrows which point to the left once you get to the top take you the entire way along the ridge to the jawbones side of the ranges, if you want to get back to the carpark look for the arrows which point to the right. Both walks are spectacular, but also challenging, take plenty of water and sun protection.
So, in summary, if you head to the Cathedral Ranges make sure you have a guidebook or someone who knows the area, take a camelbak each, some sunscreen, some good walking shoes and a hat, and have fun!
We definitely did some exploring - but no climbing unfortunately. Not to worry through, the Cathedrals are actually nice enough to still make all the effort worthwhile, though hauling a pack full of climbing gear around with me could well have been done without :)