Old Baldy Upper


The big impressive upper tier wall of Old Baldy, that dominates the valley and can be admired from the camp ground. The main wall is split by three striking lines, Sword of Damocles, Excalibur and Scimitar. Combining one of these routes with a route on the lower tier is a big adventurous day out.


Reach the upper cliff by doing a route on the lower cliff. Secret Swinger is a popular choice as it lands you right beneath the popular lines on the upper cliff, but it's a pretty chossy route. Descend by 2x50m raps from rings above Stiletto (go right from top of Excalibur, left from top of Scimitar). This gets you to the pedestal of Scimitar from which either downclimb carefully or rap again to the half way ledge. If you can remember where you came up via Secret Swinger you can continue rapping down Secret Swinger, although the middle rap tree is looking a bit tired. It is possible to walk off the top of Old Baldy by heading right (facing the cliff) which takes you down Solo Gully.

* The Amphitheatre 10 100m
One of the original routes and formerly known as 'Sarsparilla Slabs (upper pitches)'. Can be combined with The Pulpit or Anthrax Ripple on the Lower Cliff for a long 'easy' route. Some run-outs and suspect rock. Start directly above where Garbage Guts Gully reaches the halfway ledge in an amphitheatre. Look for a right-facing mossy corner slab at the top of the amphitheatre. This is the left of two corner cracks. A large horizontal tree is growing out of the cliff face 5m up and next to the right corner, plus another that has been be-headed by rockfall sticks out of the corner 15m above. Start marked with 'TA' paint. 'SS' is also chipped below this. If you still can't find the start, there is a very prominent right diagonal crack system (unclimbed) going up the broad grey wall about 20m left of here (visible from camp). 1. 45m Up corner past tree then continue up small wall to belay in an overhang/cave. 2. 45m Skirt the overhang and dirty rock by traversing right to tree anchor. Up crack then trend right and up the slab. Tree anchor. 3. 10m Traverse left over broken slabs to top.
Ted Batty, Col Bembrick early 1960s
Reunion Hangover 13M1 50m+
Start 100m right of The Amphitheatre in a short right-facing corner leading to a ledge at 5m and a left-facing corner above. 1. 25m Straight up corner to ledge. A fixed peg was used to surmount the overhang. Continue up corner (vegetated) and belay in gully. 2. 25m (13M1) Up the chimney behind to hangover boulder. Beat this by moving gently up the right wall to a large tree anchor. 3. Scramble up gully behind to top.
Pete Taylor, George Harrison 1-9-74
Jam Boot Crack 11 45m
A perfect boot jamb crack. George Owens finished the climb minus one climbing boot! Start 40m right of Reunion Hangover at a wide left-facing corner crack starting off a ledge 2m up. 1. 15m (11) Up the crack to tree. 2. 30m Up to the top.
Ian Gaskin, George Owens, Lucy Harrison 1964
Yellow Electric Dragon 12 50m
The climb was originally the upper section of Solar Chimney put up by Ted Batty and Charlie Ivin in 1961. Start 10m right of Jam Boot Crack at an open square sided gully, topped by a roof over yellow rock in the large corner on the right. Scramble up the gully to a hidden, incredible three-sided chimney with a 9m wide slab at the back. Start at base of slab in right corner, just inside the narrow entrance. 1. 25m Up slab, right into clean off-width crack and chimney to belay ledge. 2. 25m Left from belay ledge past rotten block, up slab and right into continuation of crack to the top. Easy scrambling to the top of Old Baldy. Descent = use the large gully to the right (east).
Ted Batty, Charlie Ivin 22-1-61; FRA Jan Aalders, Sherin Van Der Sluys 9-3-74
The Dragon's Back 11 50m
Poxy. Start as for Yellow Electric Dragon inside the hidden chimney. Scramble up the leaves and rubbish to the base of the slab. 1. 25m Up 5m then traverse right onto arete. Bridge up arete to belay ledge. 2. 25m As for Yellow Electric Dragon.
Allan Porter, Wendy Hasling 9-3-74
Little Face 9 42m
Not much of a climb. Start at the thin right-leading crack on a very mossy wall 5m right of Yellow Electric Dragon. 1. 12m Up face to small tree anchor. 2. 30m (9) Left and up groove to top.
George Owens, John Ewbank 1964

100m right of Little Face is a thickly wooded gully about 150m across - this is the base of the descent gully for Yellow Electric Dragon. Towards the back of the right (east) edge is an amphitheatre of overhangs that forms a cave of sorts. There is a fireplace and a box of ancient rubbish (mainly rusted tins) and a few old newspapers from 1968. This was where 'The Master' (and his partners) camped before they made the first ascents on the main face of Old Baldy.

Blue Band 15 75m
Long run-outs and bad rock for runners. Start approximately 300m right of Little Face at a short crack leading to a ledge with trees at 6m. This is on the right edge of the large 150m wide amphitheatre. Looking up, a huge rotten yellow roof can be seen on the sky-line about 70m up, above a black/grey chossy looking face. 1. 30m (15) Up to base of blue band, traverse left, up over band and right into cave. 2. 30m Up to cave on left. 3. 15m Up to top.
Allan Gordon, John Worrall 1965
The Slab Climb 14 46m
Despite being 100m left of the top of Unfinished Crack on the Lower Cliff, these were originally the top pitches of that climb. Start 50m right of Blue Band at the base of a short steep wall leading to a wide ledge. A finger crack 1m right looks to be a better protected option. 1. 8m Clamber up 'slab'(!) to side ledge and trees. 2. 38m (14) From tree, go straight up the slab, trending left-ward to tree anchor at top. Easily up the gully behind to the top of Old Baldy.
Allan Gordon, George Owens 1965

The climbs from Old Baldy Wall Route to Uprising are on 'Old Baldy' itself. This is the huge blank grey wall that dominates this part of the valley and is split by the three mighty looking cracks. All the climbs on this sheer, vertical face offer steep, exposed and sustained climbing - definitely not for the faint-hearted. Summer is the time to tackle this face, however, a remarkable number of hardy souls venture here when Old Baldy shivers beneath the winter shadows.

Old Baldy Wall Route 17 80m
A strenuous start, but the difficulty soon relents. The rest has spaced protection and the route is ambiguous in places. Use double ropes. Start on a shelf 10m above the halfway ledge on a short slab below the line of BRs (about 5 old 8mm BRs one metre apart) about 80m right of The Slab Climb. This bolt ladder was a 'ground up' attempt by John Pickard and Alec Campball in the mid-60s. 1. (17) Right and up slab to ledge at 5m below line of BRs. From about 2m right of the BRs, move straight up on good holds for about 5m. Now move back left onto the line of old BRs and follow these to ledge. Bolt belay. 2. Traverse left about 3m and up to long ledge then traverse right (5 to 10m) to BR. Keep going right then up to bolt belay. 3. Diagonally up left about 15m to BR then go straight up on good jugs. Belay in the diagonal crack (reportedly hard to find). 4. Continue straight to the top. Spaced pro.
John Worrall, Dave Massam 1968
Sword of Damocles 16M5 100m
The 'sword' of rock which gave the route its name has since fallen from the lip of the roof. The left of the three major crack-lines on the main face. Good protection but poor rock. Several large bongs and many large and medium nuts were used. Start below a rotten corner leading to a big roof 80m right of Old Baldy Wall Route. This is directly above Secret Swinger on the Lower Cliff. 1. 21m (16M5) Up rotten wall to base of corner. Up flaring crack to roof, strenuous climbing using large nuts for aid. Climb roof then juggy wall to small stance. 2. 40m Up crack and chimney to tree, then up to ledge on left. 3. 30m Up crack then chimney corner to jam anchors on stance above loose blocks. 4. 15m Over bulge and up to top.
John Ewbank, Ross Templeton 31-8-68

Secret Swinger on the Lower Cliff is below Sword of Damocles.

Between Sword of Damocles and Excalibur is a mystery fixed installation dating from the late 1990s. It consists of a double anchor at the top of the cliff and single anchor fixtures spaced at about 10m down the cliff. The fixtures are cemented into the rock but are not conventional anchors used by rockclimbers. It is not a climbing route but may have been established as a commercial abseil route (if so, it is an illegal fixture). Climbers are advised to use the abseil descent down Stiletto.

* * * Excalibur 18 100m
The middle of the three major crack-lines on the main face. Good, well protected climbing of sustained difficulty. Short-arses may find some of the cruxes a little tough. Take many medium-large hexes. None of the belays are particularly comfortable and it is possible to run some of the pitches together. Start below a rotten looking yellow corner leading onto the wall 50m right of Sword of Damocles. 1. 12m Up sandy corner with one awkward move to small stance in cave (1 old bolt belay). 2. 15m (18) Swing out of cave and up to a small stance. Semi-hanging belay. 3. 27m (15) Sustained at the grade. Continue up crack and over bulge. Up 5m to a small stance at the base of a right-facing corner. 4. 24m (17) Up crack and over bulge to small stance 5m above a small tree. 5. 22m (18) Climb bulge above and up the dirty headwall to top. Tree and bush anchors 8m back from cliff edge.
John Ewbank, Valerie Kennedy 24-8-68

The next five climbs (from The Day of Long Knives to Knife of Air Variant Start) start from the roomy ledge on top of the Scimitar Pedestal, a narrowing black slab which extends 15m or so up the face. You can climb to its 'summit' via the slabby corner on its left side but it is a bit easier to scramble up the right side.

* * The Day of the Long Knives 20 92m
Excellent, challenging and sustained face climbing in an exposed situation. Stays left of Central Direct all the way. Start 5m below the left edge of the Scimitar Pedestal 'summit'. 1. 22m (18) Traverse left 6m (2BRs) and up to small ledge (#4 cam) then up right-facing corner (4BRs, medium cam) to a stance. Semi-hanging 3BB. 2. 23m (19) Step right, up thin wall then back left to a stance. Steeply up right side of scoop. 6BRs, small cams. Semi-hanging 3BB. 3. 28m (20) Veer left and up 5m to the base of the thin right-diagonal crack on Central Direct pitch 3 (thread, #1.5 cam, hidden BR) then up and veer left (6BRs, medium cams) to narrow ledge. 2BB next to old 2BB (Cameron, 1981). 4. 19m (16) Step left (BR) then up (4BRs, medium cams, medium wires) to top. Tree anchors.
Wade Stevens, Glen Lewin 30-4-2000
* * Stiletto 21 90m
Very straight and very thin. A direttissima between Central Direct and Scimitar that heads for the middle of the prominent orange roof high on the face. This route is equipped for an abseil descent. Start on the left edge of the Scimitar Pedestal, just left of the tree. 1. 44m (21) Straight up (small-medium cams, 11BRs - the 3rd BR is on the traverse of Central Direct P1) to abseil anchor (1RB, 1 Maillon Rapide). 2. 20m (19) Committing moves up and veer right (4BRs - 2nd BR is hidden, small cams) to a ledge below the huge orange roof. Move right to 2BB. 3. 26m (17) Traverse easily right to the yakka and finish up Scimitar (large cams). Tree anchors. Descent = walk left 15m to abseil station. Rap 40m to anchor 1 of Stilleto then rap 44m to top of Scimitar Pedestal.
Tim Day, Wade Stevens 20-4-2000
* * Central Direct 18 100m
A very impressive 'ground up' ascent. Three excellent, sustained pitches of 'out there' climbing. Run-out in places. A #4 cam would be handy. Use double ropes. Rebolted 2007. The pitons have presumably been replaced with bolts. Start as for Scimitar at the top of the pedestal. 1. 35m (18) Up crack as for Scimitar for 8m then traverse left 12m (BR, FH, optional medium cam) to right-facing corner. Up this to a BR, then step right to FH. Up a right-facing corner and wall (3BRs, cam) to a good stance. 2BB. 2. 18m (18) Up right-facing corner, wall and bulge (3BRs, 2FHs) to ledge. 2BB, large cam just below. 3. 35m (17) Move easily left 6m and up to gain thin right-diagonal crack (piton). Up and right (2 pitons, natural pro) through steepening to small tree and large block (good pro) under left end of the huge orange roof. 4. 12m (X) Up short arete/wall (no pro) to ledge. Traverse left then up and left using cracks to top (fair rock). Tree anchors.
Will Moon, Bruce Cameron (alt) December 1981

Excalibur, The Day of the Long Knives, Central Direct, Stiletto and Scimitar all finish on a terrace recessed into the top of the cliff. The abseil station is 15m right of the top of Central Direct and 15m left of the top of Scimitar. Rap 40m straight down to anchor 1 or Stiletto then rap 44m to the top of the Scimitar Pedestal.

* * * Scimitar 18 91m
The right of the three major crack-lines on the main face. A great route. Sustained and well protected. Bad rock in places. Can be done in two long pitches. Scramble to the top of the pedestal which forms a scrub covered ramp 50m right of Excalibur. It's easiest to scramble up the right side. 1. 12m Up crack then traverse right to belay. 2. 36m (18) Up into recess. Move spectacularly over the roofs then up the crack to sentry box. 3. 22m (17) Up chimney, over roof and up crack to a yakka and small ledge. 4. 21m (17) Continue up a short corner then around roof and up corner to top. Tree anchors.
FA (17M3) John Ewbank, Keith Royce 30-1-68; FFA Bryden Allen, Keith Bell (alt) 13-10-74
Knife of Air Variant Start 18 20m
Start as for Scimitar. Up Scimitar or wall on right to alcove at 10m. Traverse right (2BRs) to anchor 1 of Knife of Air.
Mike Law, Stephen Hamilton 1994
Knife of Air 24 110m
Thin and pumpy technical climbing. BRs are well spaced and hard to see. Start 6m right of the scramble up route to Scimitar. 1. 25m (24) Stick clip double BR above lip of overhang, then top-rope out to lip of cave and up the loose arete. Step right, up thin and pumpy wall (6 to 8 BRs) to hanging 3BB. 2. 50m (23) The climbing wanders around in between the 10BRs. Step right, up rib to roof. Swing right along lip of roof to hanging 3BB. 3. 45m (22) Up (10BRs, some hard to see).
Mike Law, Stephen Hamilton, Mike Stacey 1994
* * Uprising 20 110m
Climbs one of the most prominent natural lines in the valley - the oft eyed right arête of Old Baldy. Weaves its way up on both sides of arête. The climbing is exposed and mostly on good rock – given that it is Old Baldy. Well protected with many glued carrots (take 20 bolt plates), a couple of fixed threads, cams (take #.75- #4), spikes, bollards, and a couple of large wires. Take a heap of draws and 6-10 single slings. Use double ropes. Belays are equipped for abseil descent. If approaching from the top, the first abseil/belay anchor is just below the cliff-top level, on the L of the arête (looking out). As a 60m rope won’t make it from the top to the P2/3 anchors (allowing you to cut out the short rap to P3/4 belay), you will need to rap to each of the belay/rap points in order. On the last rap, make sure you swing around to the R side of the arête to reach the belay at start of P2. Start: 20m R of Scimitar, beneath undercut arête. 1. 15m Climb onto block leaning against cliff 3m L of arête. Use fixed rope to gain ledge under roof, walk R to pillar that forms R end of ledge. Clip U bolt and do a few moves of jiggery pokery using another U and in-place sling, to get past fresh air and heinous choss to DUB belay at foot of slab. 2. (19) 25m L up steep, juggy breaks to arête. Up L side then R to large break and move back L to belay station. 3. (20) 50m Up on L side for 3 m, until steepening forces you R. Up steeply, first on R side of arête for 20m, then a bit on L, then back R until large horizontal break. Tricky move off break leads past 4 bolts on R side, to blocky ledge. Belay station on L of arête. 4. (19) 20m Up 2m above belay, step R at block and up R to final steepening on L. DUB belay on R.
Brad Carmady, Ben Maddison November 2011
Walhalla 13 102m
Start marked at the second huge corner to the right of the main face of Old Baldy Upper. Pitch 1 is a chimney above a section of easier angled, yellow honeycombed rock and starts about 10m above track level. The scramble up route to the base of the climb starts about 150m right of Scimitar and 10m right of the climb. Scramble up via a short gully towards the right end of a low mossy wall adjacent to the track. 1. 33m Straight up the sandy yellow rock to ledge. Up small wall and left corner before traversing right to bulge. Up to tree anchor. 2. 25m Scramble over bushes to base of huge chimney. 3. 25m Up the chimney to a chockstone anchor. 4. 20m Continue up chimney to top.
Fred Kitchener, Alan Bailey 1962
The Kingston Flyer 18 35m
Start marked by a chipped square at a thin crack 8m left of Dirk. Up crack, left-facing corner, over roof to ledge.
John Croker, Bruce Maxwell 27-1-85
* Dirk 18 50m
A good climb to fill in the day after doing Excalibur or Scimitar. Start marked adjacent to the track 60m right of Walhalla at a steep grey and yellow wall. Dirk takes the right of the two cracks. Starts as a thin crack and turns into a shallow right-facing corner. 1. 30m (18*) Climb crack to ledge. Tree anchor on left. Walk up the ramp for 6m to a stance below P2. It's possible to escape by abseil from a large gum tree on the right. 2. 20m Up the continuation of the corner then slightly right up corner to tree, scrubby and unpleasant at the top. Abseil down the climb or descend the gully to the right.
Rick McGregor, Matt Dunstan (alt) 31-1-77
The Eiger Sanction 12 102m
A forgettable contribution that will never be repeated. All three pitches are poorly protected. Only 5 pieces of gear were used on the first ascent. Some poor rock. Start about 60m right of Dirk. The climb goes up the left side of a very wide chossy blank slab/wall, finishing right of a buttress visible on the skyline. 1. 27m (10) Scramble up to a ledge at the base of a left-leading, easy angled, left-facing corner. Up tending left-wards across to small pillar and tree anchor. Only one poor runner, a chicken-head at 6m. 2. 25m (12) Up the black wall to a large break (#5 cam). Up to tree anchor. 3. 50m (12) Step right and up, then up the black wall (only one runner, a #5 cam at mid-height), moving left just below the top to a good natural pro belay in a small corner.
Jim Croft, Glen Lewin 4-3-2000

The track passes under some yellow walls, which become increasingly undercut. It then crosses a band of shale underneath some overhangs.

The Seeds of Death 17 30m
Start 150m right of Dirk and 20m right of the top of Fire-Power on the Lower Cliff. Start at a prominent bottomless, overhanging corner. Roof, choss, up then bridge off-width over bulge. Take some large cams.
Ian Lewis, Mike Law 5-10-74
Savanarola 17 20m
A bit manky at the start but then quite good. Start 40m right of The Seeds of Death at a right-facing corner. Climb the corner crack and the left wall. Tree anchor. Walk down the back or rap off the tree.
Rick McGregor (solo) 30-1-77

20m right of Savanarola the Upper Cliffline becomes very small and abruptly changes direction to form one side of the wooded gully that is the walking access to/from the summit. There is a tall cairn 30m right of Savanarola on the crest of the rocky spur below this.