Lee Cujes 2

A rock climber’s guide to south-east Queensland

Hexes, chocks, pitons, cams, quickdraws. Sport, trad, slab, face, aid. I’m sorry, what?!

It seems every sport has it’s own dictionary compiled solely to confuse newbies and rock climbing is no exception. But the popularity of rock climbing has increased exponentially over the last few years and south-east Queensland has some world-class locations on offer.

Whether you’re stepping into a harness for the first time or are already a vertigo-loving overhang-hugger, you can have your own Cliffhanger moment at one of these top climbing spots.

Rock climbing 101

1. If you’re a first-timer or prefer a more controlled environment, head to one of the locations or indoor centres listed below that offer tuition and coaching, where you can hire all of your P.P.E. gear (personal protection gear – helmet, harness, shoes); or

2. Rock up with your gear and join a group of friends who have prior climbing experience on one of the many monolithic mounds of earth on offer.

Where do I go?

1. Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Brisbane

Kangaroo Point Cliffs (or KP to the locals) is a government-sanctioned natural climbing facility. It’s also pretty damn beautiful, sitting beside the Brisbane River in the middle of the CBD.

KP is one of the most user-friendly crags in Australia. Water fountains, free barbecue facilities plus floodlights mean you can climb all night.

Why it rocks:

  • Routes for absolute beginners up to the high 20’s (the Australian system grades all climbs from 9 to 34).
  • A great place for bouldering with a flat, grassy floor in case you fall.
  • Concrete bollards at the top of the 20m face to anchor to, lots of bolted climbs and a few cracks too.
Total beginner? Hook up with professional instructors from Riverlife Adventure Centre or Pinnacle Sports.

2. Mount Coolum, Sunshine Coast

Mount Coolum

An hour-and-a-half drive north of Brisbane will put you at the foot of a huge green-cloaked dome that looks out over the ocean known as Mount Coolum.

Why it rocks:

  • Easy access with overhanging ledges.
  • A pure sport climb that’s both incredibly popular and incredibly difficult.
  • Can be climbed throughout summer as most of the routes are in shade.

3. Frog Buttress, Mount French

On the outskirts of Boonah,100 kilometres south-west of Brisbane, lies the Moogerah Peaks National Park. Get ready for some world-class rock!

Why it rocks:

  • Top-level trad and crack climbing can be found on both the eastern and western sides.
  • Best climbed between April and September or conditions can get uncomfortably hot.

4. Mount Beerwah, Sunshine Coast

Mount Beerwah is the first of three epic climbing spots in the glorious Glass House Mountains.

The tallest of the granite outcrops (556 metres above sea level) offers over 140 different climbing routes and is a popular location deep in the heart of the national park.

Why it rocks:

  • Routes for all levels from beginner up to expert.
  • Toilet facilities but camping is not allowed…unless of course you pitch your tent halfway up the climb. Aid Climbing is allowed on the Organ Pipes if that’s your idea of climbing bliss!

5. Mount Ngungun, Sunshine Coast

Mount Ngungun is the smallest of the Glass House Mountains at 253m above sea level.

Why it rocks:

  • Offers some epic multi-pitch climbs on good rock with jaw-dropping views.
  • It’s easy to get to with ample parking and even has drinking water onsite.
  • Routes for all levels from beginner to expert.

6. Mount Tibrogargan, Sunshine Coast

Mount Tibrogargan

Mount Tibrogargan is easy to spot from the Bruce Highway and the most popular for sport and trad climbing in the Glass House Mountains.

Why it rocks:

  • “An absolute must to climb on but bring a healthy rack – good wires, mid-sized cams and beefy hexs,” says Glen Jones from Urban Climb.
  • Great fun to be had on all the multi-pitched sport climbs around the mountain.
  • Ratings have been under-estimated so take it into account before climbing.
  • Offers routes for beginners right through to expert climbers.

Indoor climbing

Urban Climb Brisbane

Photo by Urban Climb via FB

An indoor climb is a great way to come to grips with the basic skills required to go climbing for the first time. Try:

Urban Climb, West End, Brisbane

With over 60 top ropes and 250 different routes from beginner through to advanced, this is the largest and most climber-focused centre in Queensland. This year they hosted the largest climbing competition in Australian history!

Rockit, Sunshine Coast

A classic indoor climbing facility with 21 top ropes and courses for primary and secondary children. It’s the perfect alternative for kids when it’s raining in the Glass House Mountains!

Are you a keen rock climber? Where are your favourite spots to hook on?