Best beginner rock climbing areas around Brisbane



Climbing in the gym is rad. Most of us start our climbing journey on plastic these days, but most of us also begin to feel the itch to try some ‘real’ rock climbing. Rock climbing around Brisbane and South East Queensland might not have massive towering peaks or steep limestone walls, but what it lacks in density, it makes up for in variety.

Getting outdoors when you’re in the beginner / intermediate phase can be daunting task. Even if you have your hand on a guide book, it’s not easy to know where to head for your next climbing adventure – especially when starting out. We’re here to give you a bit of a guiding hand. Rounding up some of our favourite areas. But, before we begin, some words of caution:

 

  1. Climbing in the gym does not prepare you for rock climbing outdoors.

It’s a different ball game, entirely. Rock climbing is a dangerous thing to do. Climbing in the gym doesn’t prepare you to go rock climbing outside, and neither does this guide. There’s simply no substitute for experience, and professional instruction. A smart climber respects every climb they embark on – irrespective of how hard it is. 

 

  1. Grades are just guides.

“Why can I do that 18 but can’t get off the ground on that one?”

Well, because grades are just numbers that we use to describe an entirely subjective experience of difficulty. Some climbs – even at the same crag – were graded decades apart, by individuals who never met one another. It should be little surprise, therefore, that there’s massive inconsistencies in grading.

With that in mind, treat grades as a guide. Generally, climbs at the same cliff will tend to be accurate relative to one another in terms of grading, but rarely across different climbing areas. You’ll see a ‘Sandbag factor’ listed below. A high sandbag factor means the climbing area is probably going to feel harder than other crags listed, a low factor, means you might find the grading a bit soft.

 

  1. Climbing outside is a privilege, not a right.

Climbing as a sport is booming. More and more people are falling in love with this lifestyle. And that’s awesome. What’s not awesome, is disrespecting nature or other people’s experience of the outdoors. Always observe National Park rules and regulations while climbing outside. More importantly, even if you’re outside a National Park, just be a good human. Be courteous, respectful, don’t litter, and leave things as you found them.

Without further ado…

 


 

Andromeda, Mt Ngungun.

Mt Ngungun – Andromeda

A lot of people’s first proper day out on the rocks. Andromeda features low angle, easy slab sport climbing – most of which is well featured, and will have you pulling straightforward face climbing moves for 10-12m.

There’s something for anyone climbing at any level at Andromeda – whether you’re top roping or getting into leading. There’s a handful a moves on the routes in the middle of the cliff (Worm Hole) that are tricksy, but besides that, it’s enjoyable slabbing for all. A very busy crag these days – so pick your time to visit, and respect the other cliff users.

 

Sandbag modifier: low

You’ll have a good time if you’re climbing: 10 – 18

Our 18 or below pick: Gravitational Equilibrium (18)


 

Kangaroo Point, Brisbane.

Kangaroo Point

Ahhh. KP. What a complex beast you are. For the purposes of this guide, let’s focus on what’s incredible about these cliffs: No approach, accessible difficulty, stunning views, good height, cliff top access, night climbing. You simply don’t get all of these things at many cliffs.

The nature of the quarried rock means you’ll be pulling lots of mantles, and finding innovative ways to overcome the lack of friction. While there’s some forgettable routes thrown in, there’s some real stunners too. The variety of tricksy crux, mini-roof, and slab finish puts Pterodactyl at the top of our novice favourites.

The variety in style between KP routes – both in movement, difficulty, and bolting – mean that it’s worth approaching all climbs with respect. Even if a route has a low number attached to it, it doesn’t mean it’s suitable for beginners.

 

Sandbag modifier: moderate to high

You’ll have a good time if you’re climbing: 13 – 26

Our 18 or below pick: Pterodactyl (18)


 

Lower Slider, Mt Tibrogargan.

Mt Tibrogargan – Lower Slider

Put up with a bit more of a walk-in, and some less easy to manage belay stances, and you can enjoy what Lower Slider has to offer. Generally, you’ll find short, vertical face climbing on positive edges. There’s some cracking routes here, and as a group, you can accommodate beginners and more experienced climbers at the same crag.

Well bolted and fairly steep, it’s a good place to start to push your limits, and gaze longingly at the steeper, beautiful orange rock of Upper Slider. While there are routes in the 15 – 18 range, you’ll get more out of Lower Slider once your pushing 20, and leading confidently.

The sub 18 routes at lower slider get a lot of traffic, and they’re well worth climbing.

 

Sandbag modifier: moderate

You’ll have a good time if you’re climbing: 16 – 23

Our 18 or below pick: Such a Nice Monster (15)


 

Mt Beerwah

Mt Beerwah – Mosquito Wall

A bit of a hidden gym. Until recently, there was a handful of inconvenient, metallic reasons to choose Andromeda over Mosquito Wall, but thankfully, the offending carrot bolts have recently been replaced with shiny glue in ring bolts. Another reason to thank and donate to ACAQ and their incredible volunteers!

Mosquito Wall has shorter, but steeper and more sustained climbing than Andromeda. The foot of the crag is quite spacious, and makes for a comfortable belay. To top it all off, the walk in is pretty cruisy (although the last 10 minutes once you hit the rock apron can be slightly confusing).

While there’s only 10 routes, there’ll all very accessible to newer climbers at around grade ~15. Don’t be fooled though – there’s some pretty legit cruxes sprinkled in if you’re just getting your grade 15 legs under you. A Mosquito Wall 15 certainly packs more of a punch than a similar grade at Andromeda. While it’s only given grade 11, Aeroguard is great fun. It’s short, but while it lasts, its juggy, flowy face climbing.

And yeah, there’s often a lot of mozzies. Bring your deet.

 

Sandbag modifier: moderate

You’ll have a good time if you’re climbing: 13 – 17

Our 18 or below pick: Aeroguard (11)


 

Brooyar – Black Stump, Eagles Nest

When new climbers make their first trip out to Brooyar, their mind is usually blown. After grappling with slippery quarried rock of Kangaroo Point, and climbing out the routes Andromeda, the sandstone flakes of Brooyar represent a whole new world. The best part? The walk ins are minimal. In most cases, you’ll be at the foot of the cliff ready to climb within minutes of parking the car.

There’s a lot of routes to sink your teeth into at Brooyar, but a good introduction is to get out to Black Stump Buttress. There’s a smattering of well bolted, shorter routes features big holds and, for the grade, steep rock that gym climbers will adore. Among the easier lines, there’s a bunch of harder routes – both steep thuggery and delicate slabbing – that will keep all the members of your party happy.

For maximum enjoyment, get out for the long weekend, and assemble a crew to stay at the Glastonbury Creek Camping area. (Midges can get a bit nasty here. Deet advisable.)

 

Sandbag modifier: low to moderate

You’ll have a good time if you’re climbing: 14 – 26

Our 18 or below pick: French Bandit (15)


 

Urbenville – The Pines

Definitely a bit off the beaten track compared to some of the other crags here, but worth a trip in its own right. Provided you actually find the relevant roads, The Pines allows for one of the closest parking to crag approaches you’ll find in Queensland. Somewhat reminiscent of Tibro slabbing, there’s a handful of routes that novice climbers can enjoy at The Pines.

It’s definitely an older school ethic out there though and, as ever, it’s worth respecting any climb you jump on and be aware of the slightly spicier nature of the bolt placements.

 

Sandbag modifier: moderate to high

You’ll have a good time if you’re climbing: 16 – 26

Our 18 or below pick: Don’t Trust the Bunny (16)


 

Flat Cats and Whippets (18), Pages Pinnacle.

Pages Pinnacle

Pages Pinnacle is located a bit over an hour away from Brisbane, just outside the Gold Coast. Despite the long walk in, Pages Pinnacle is getting more and more popular – especially among the sport climbing die hards. Featuring a huge array of climbing of good length, for anyone climbing 17 and up, it’s worth making the 1 hour uphill slog for a day trip.

A lot of the routes are on gently overhanging terrain – right in the sweet spot for the kind of rock climbing pump fests that gym climbers love. There’s not a hell of a lot of trickery in the movement, the bolting is good, and there’s new routes being added constantly as the upper reaches of the headwall is developed.

It’s tempting to throw the pack down the moment you hit the first batch of routes (around the TOS area), but if you’re climbing around 18, make the extra effort to get over to Yorkshire Wall and try Flat Caps and Whippets. A super unique little formation that will put a smile on your dial.

 

Sandbag modifier: low to moderate

You’ll have a good time if you’re climbing: 17 – 26

Our 18 or below pick: Flat Caps and Whippets (18)


 

Owl Pillar, Mt Ngungun.

Mt Ngungun – Lower Cliffs / Owl Pillar

Although Lower Cliffs are only a short walk from Andromeda, the rock climbing here was developed well before, and the rock is generally more blocky and steep. There’s still a handful of 17 and under routes here – particularly on Flat Battery Wall – but be prepared for a bit more of a challenge than a similarly graded route at Andromeda.

Owl Pillar is a novel and funky feature to climb on. Even though the routes are short, they’re well worth roping up to do. Venture around the cliff face a bit more, and things get a bit more serious, with the Acid Ravine boasting a handful of hard routes and linkups, before you get to the route of the cliff: Absentia. Originally graded 17, it’s snuck up to be considered 19 in modern times. But really, who cares. Point is – it’s great.

 

Sandbag modifier: moderate

You’ll have a good time if you’re climbing: 17 – 25

Our 18 or below pick: Absentia (17)


 

Mt Tinbeerwah

Coming from Brisbane up the Bruce Highway, Mt Tinbeerwah is definitely a bit more of a mission to get to than some of the crags on Mt Ngungun or Tibrogargan, but if you’re feeling like mixing it up, it’s well worth the longer drive. The bonus is, once you get there, the parking is only a few minutes from the climbing.

The far left of Main Wall (facing the cliff) has a section of easy slab climbing that is a great introduction for beginner outdoor climbers. The view is incredible, and the routes are 30m+, a rare treat in SEQ. Working your way down the wall, you’ll skirt past an imposing cave featuring the harder stuff, before hitting the crag classic – Me and My Dog.

Me and My Dog, and its sister route Sports Fan, aren’t the hardest climbing for their respective grades, but they’ll make you think. Add carrot bolts into the mix and decent bolt spacing, and you have the recipe for climbing that’s full of character, and has become a bit of a rite of passage for new leaders. Most Queensland climbers will be able to tell you about the first time they climbed Me and My Dog.

The fact that it’s slab climbing usually keeps the crowds away, but there’s a lot to love at Tinny. At the far end of the cliff, there’s even some fun, relatively accessible multi pitches to sink your teeth into.

 

Sandbag modifier: moderate

You’ll have a good time if you’re climbing: 13 – 22

Our 18 or below pick: Me and My Dog (15)


 

Witches Cauldron P1. (13), Frog Buttress.

Frog Buttress

This might seem like an odd inclusion given Mt French is a traditional climbing area, but the reality is, there are more quality, full-fun factor low grade routes at Frog Buttress than just about any other crag in Queensland. Obviously you need to be competent at placing traditional protection, or have a mate who’s leads you can second, but don’t let that put you off.

The easier stuff at Frog tends to be corners, with blocky jugs breaking up the grunting and thrutching. While experienced climbers who are unfamiliar with this style often struggle, funnily enough, newer climbers can usually adapt pretty quickly. There’s something surprisingly intuitive about squeezing up chimneys and stemming up corners – almost like a throwback to childhood and finding inventive ways to get onto the roof.

While the easier climbing at Frog isn’t always ‘stellar’ in the sense of flowing movement, or sustained difficulty – it’s hard to find more character squeezed into routes anywhere in Queensland. It’s rare that you’ll clip the chains on a grade 14 sport route with a story to tell about how you got there. At Frog though, regardless of the grade, you’ve probably gone through a full gambit of emotions, are slightly bruised and beat up, but have a big smile on your face. That’s the charm of the place.

For a bite sized portion of the experience, second a friend up pitch 1 of Witches Cauldron.

 

Sandbag modifier: moderate

You’ll have a good time if you’re climbing: 13 – 26

Our 18 or below pick: Witches Cauldron P1. (13)

 


 

Disclaimer: The author has often been criticized for his poor choice in routes… Think it’s way off the mark with the favorites? Get in touch and let us know!

 

Looking for some outdoor rock climbing courses? Hit up our mates at Pinnacle Sports.

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