Outdoor Climbing & Bouldering

The club organises local and distance rock climbing and bouldering trips. We are able to do setup and supply of equipment at our events, and can rent out club equipment to our experienced members who are keen to go on a personal trip.

There are opportunities to be trained in setting up ropes, learning knots, and other safety procedures when we’re running an event, so reach out to us if you’re keen and we will offer you the chance to come along and learn.

General info on Rock Climbing in New England

The New England region has seen a lot of development since the 1960s with the establishment of many large cliffs located in Gara Gorge (15km’s east of Armidale), Bulagaranda, and Ebor Gorge. Around Armidale climbing on granite offers many cracks, slabs and faces.

However, about 70km east can take you out to Ebor which offers an abundance of cracks and aretes on Basalt which originated from a long extinct volcano. In terms of access Ebor is the easiest as the climbs are only a couple of minutes walk from your car. The climbs also happen to be very close to the local pub!

All cliffs located in Gara Gorge (with the exception of Blue Hole) can be accessed by a demanding long hot or bloody cold walk down the gorge, OR by driving virtually to the cliffs through private property with permission. Therefore, it is advisable just to climb at Blue Hole which has no access restrictions, or to contact a local climber to take you out to the cliff. If unsure follow these simple steps:

  • Contact a local climber or the UNEOAC
  • Obtain permission before driving through a farmers property
  • Leave all gates as you find them

Failure to do so may see climbing access to these cliffs restricted by car and will entail the previously mentioned long walk!

In addition, there is lots of bouldering at Blue Hole (Gara Gorge) and Bulagaranda (formerly Mt Yarrowyck).

Information on the climbs around the Area can be found on our Guides Page.

Rock Climbing & Aboriginal Sites

Please ensure you do your due diligence to protect any Aboriginal heritage sites you may encounter on your trips. Rock climbing activities can damage these protected sites, so please be aware of where they are and your actions while in these areas. The Aboriginal Heritage Office provides great resources for understanding your impact and identifying Aboriginal sites.

Rock Climbing

So what is outdoor rock climbing?

Rock climbing is an activity in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route without falling. Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber’s strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control. It can be a dangerous sport and knowledge of proper climbing techniques and usage of specialized climbing equipment is crucial for the safe completion of routes. Because of the wide range and variety of rock formations around the world, rock climbing has been separated into several different styles and sub-disciplines.

  • Top Rope Climbing: is a style in climbing in which the climber is securely attached to a rope which then passes up, through an anchor system (e.g. an ATC or Gri-Gri) at the top of the climb, and down to a belayer at the foot of the climb. Top-roping is a great entry point into roped rock climbing.
  • Sport Climbing: is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors (or bolts), permanently fixed into the rock for climber protection, in which a rope that is attached to the climber is clipped into the anchors to arrest a fall.
  • Lead Climbing: In a roped party one climber has to take the lead while the other climbers follow. The lead climber wears a harness attached to a climbing rope, which in turn is connected to the other climbers below the lead climber. While ascending the route, the lead climber periodically connects the rope to protection equipment for safety in the event of a fall.
  • Traditional Climbing: is a style of rock climbing in which the climber places all the necessary protection gear required to arrest any falls as they are climbing, and then removes it when the pitch is complete (often done by the second/follow-on climber).


What’s different about bouldering?

Bouldering is a form of free climbing that is performed on small rock formations without the use of ropes or harnesses, at heights that typically allow you to safely jump down back to the ground. While bouldering can be done without any equipment, most climbers use climbing shoes to help secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry and to provide a firmer grip, and bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls.

In outdoor bouldering it is also highly recommended to have “spotters”, one or more people that guide your fall to the ground and ensure that you land and stay on the crash-pads.

There a great introduction to rock climbing on theCrag if you would like more information.