Blue Mountains Flood Access Update

A once in a lifetime flooding event in March 2021 has caused considerable access issues at Blue Mountains climbing areas. Please read this important information about what crags are closed and what you can do to avoid damaging climbs and approach tracks at our special climbing areas. This post will be updated regularly as events unfold.

This was last updated at 8.00pm – 15 April 2021

This natural disaster is on top of previous massive flooding and the Black Summer bush fires from last year that had already damaged many climbing areas. The advice given here is advisory only – if in any doubt take the cautious approach and stay at home. If you know better information than what is on this page please get in contact and let us know!

Camping in the Blue Mountains

Mt York & Megalong Campgrounds are OPEN. Perry’s Lookout Campground is temporarily CLOSED due to falling tree danger. Big Top is also CLOSED permanently.

Megalong Valley Rd washout 21 March 2021 (has now been partially repaired)

Crag & road closures

The Blue Mountains National Park, Gardens of Stone National Park and Kanangra-Boyd National Park have now reopened – but some access roads in these parks are closed due to flood damage which restricts access to climbing areas. There is also likely to be considerable damage to access tracks, falling trees and high water levels in canyons and creek crossings. Walkers and cyclists may be permitted on closed roads.

OPEN – Bells Line Road between Mt Wilson and Mt Tomah (Pierces Pass, Bowens Creek, Banksy, Mt Banks) has reopened as a single lane 40km/h road. Expect delays during weekends.

CLOSED – Pulpit Rock Road (Bellbird Wall – full closure due to fire and flood damage)

Erosion on tracks

With half a metre of rain pouring onto the mountains in a week we have seen huge damage to approach tracks to many crags. Please avoid crags that do not have “official” hardened tourist tracks to them for at least a week. If you are walking in mud then it’s probably a bad idea to be on that track. It only takes a few people to ruin an approach track for decades to come. Avoid driving on dirt roads – walk if you have to. Consider donating to Crag Care to help finance the inevitable repair of climbing area tracks.

Walking track to Centennial Glen 21st March 2021

Wet rock – stay off!

Blue Mountains rock is incredibly fragile when wet. Climbing on wet rock can break key holds and cause grooves to be worn into the rock from ropes. Please allow our crags to fully dry before pulling on. This extraordinary rain event has dampened every piece of rock – even the caves. Expect to wait for at least a week of good sunny weather before the rock will be fully dry and ok to climb on. If a hold is oozing water on an otherwise dry section of rock please avoid using it. Pick another project. Trad gear is also greatly compromised when placed into wet rock. This applies to all NSW sandstone cliffs including Sydney and Nowra crags.

Shipley is a wet seeping mess

Don’t be a statistic

Local emergency services, including NSW Police Rescue and the SES, are hard at work dealing with flooding and cleanups in the town areas and don’t need the additional strain of rescuing injured or trapped rock climbers in remote areas. We have already seen reports of bushwalkers & kayakers having to be rescued and the public outcry from wasted resources is not a good look. Reconsider visiting remote areas and choose routes that are safe and easy to get to for rescue personal if your day goes pear shaped.

Flash flooding

As the ground is 100% saturated any further heavy rain will cause immediate flash flooding. Some climbing areas are approached via access tracks near waterfalls and canyons. These are not safe areas to be in during flash flood events. You can easily become trapped if rain fall causes flash flooding on the approach trails (in particular Porters Pass is a very susceptible to flash flooding).

Steps down to Porters Pass hit by flash flooding 20th March 2021

Falling trees, landslides and rockfall

As dirt turns to mud the usually solid structure holding everything together is gone. Trees topple when their roots can no longer hold them up in the mud. This is not only a direct danger to your head, but a fallen tree can also block roads and bring down powerlines across paths. Just because you managed to drive into that sneaky crag doesn’t mean you will be able to get out again. We have seen several minor landslides this week, including at Shipley, and there will be plenty more to come. Last years floods saw huge slips at Narrow Neck and Wentworth Falls that removed tracks, ladders and other infrastructure. Who can forget when the whole cliff fell down at Medlow Bath a few years back? Wet weather is what triggers these events. Rock fall is also common for months after fires/floods – even at popular crags. Consider wearing a helmet.

Rockfall damage to walking tracks during floods March 2021
Landslide on ledge below Shipley Upper 23 March 2021

Landslide damage on walk in along Shipley Lower 23 March 2021

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