The Blue Mountains, or “Blueys” as it is affectionately known to climbers, is a vast sandstone plateau with eucalyptus filled valleys and towering red cliffs, a 2 hour drive west of Sydney and our final climbing destination. The name comes from the blue haze which blankets the mountains, supposedly due to the mix of eucalyptus oil droplets in the atmosphere mixed with water droplets and dust particles. With all the eucalyptus forests we had assumed that we would see wild koalas – unfortunately it turns out that koalas are fussy eaters, and the trees here are the wrong kind of eucalyptus.
Climbing isn’t the only sport which draws an international crowd, and for the past two years the Blueys has hosted one of the North Face ultra marathon events. Participants come to challenge themselves by running 50km or 100km, and that evening our hostel was full of athletic folk strutting around in running gear. Being mistaken a couple of times for runners made us feel flattered but lazy; instead of running we put all our efforts that day into cheering the real competitors over the finish line!
Unlike the Grampians, which boasts Australia’s finest trad routes, the Blueys is primarily known for its sport climbing. The access is easy, with no dirt roads and short walks to reach the cliffs. Each crag has hundreds of consistently high quality routes, however they don’t quite reach the standard of the very best Grampians routes. The Blueys does go some way to making up for this with spectacular scenery.
During our time here Luke tried as many of the harder classics as possible, and I tried to push my leading grade. We have had a great week in the Blueys, and it is with mixed feelings that we look ahead to our next climbing destination, Cheddar Gorge!
With sore muscles and finger tips in tatters we move on to Sydney, and the final week of our trip.