The Babylon Crag is easily seen when driving up the valley from Milford Sound - an orange wall with a large waterfall cascading down its left-hand side. If approaching the crag from Homer Hut, pull over 1.7km past the Donne Bridge where the verge allows.
The development of the Babylon Crag has been slow over the years despite a number of early ventures by various parties. The rock is extremely compact and in general does not lend itself to natural protection. It was not until 2002 when Bruce Dowrick and Gwilym Griffiths-Jones bolted Birdsong on lead that access to the surrounding walls became possible. The old campaigners of Bruce, Paul Rogers and Jon Sedon ventured onto the steep and exciting walls between Birdsong and the obvious broken corner to produce Twotogo, Dream Liberator, Fading Grail and The Obvious Weakness, all classic and sustained multi pitch climbs.
The right-hand wall received a line of bolts which was eventually climbed by Derek Thatcher and dubbed Fuel. Late summer 2003 saw an explosion of activity by Derek on the featureless and slightly overhanging right-hand wall. The result was a bunch of the hardest climbs New Zealand has to offer: Requiem, Katalepsis and Rage. Bruce completed the stunning three pitch route Project Aqua, then with Jon explored and bolted lines on the left-hand end of the wall. The results were Leftism and then, later in 2005, Tufa Dub.
Type of Climbing
The diorite in this section of the valley is extremely rounded and weathered. Most of the cracks are fused, providing limited natural protection. Because of this, plus the extremely steep nature of the climbing, most of the routes have been bolted. A single rope will be more practical and reassuring, but as it is a multi-pitch crag a second rope will come in handy for abseils. Be careful - some cunning is required in descending from most routes.
The best approach is via the creek that crosses the road two culverts up-stream from the big slip coming down off Mt Underwood. Follow the creek for about 150m until there is a short cairned detour left to a slabby watercourse. Climb this until the creek divides, then head left to arrive under Monster Falls to the left of “Leftism”.
Be wary on the approach, firstly of deviously slippery rocks but more importantly of climbers dropping things from above! Announce your arrival and get under the crag as soon as possible – don’t hang out in the bush.