2016 August: One day climb to Mt Warrigal in the Wild Dog Mtns of Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
Via Lyrebird Point and Faithful Hound Ridge
This is the third time I climbed Mt Warrigal. Well, that probably makes me an expert on this mountain :-)
The first time was with Saf in 2015-04. We didn't know a thing about Mt Warrigal then. When we reached the base of the mountain, to our chagrin, we found it was surrounded on all sides by unscalable cliffs. But to our credit, we managed to find a way up the cliffs from the western side. Photos and trip report are in my blog: http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/warrigal-nsw-australia.html
The 2nd time was 6 months ago with RZ in 2016-02. Our main objective was to climb all the 5 Wild Dog Mountains (Mouin, Blackhorse, Warrigal, Merrimerrigal, Dingo) in one day. We also made an attempt to find an alternative way up the cliffs from the eastern side, but no success. So we ended up climbing Mt Warrigal the same way I did with Saf, from the western side again. Photos and trip report are in my blog: http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/5-wild-dog-mts-blue-mts-nsw-australia.html
Rumour has it that a passage is possible on the eastern side. This makes sense as there is a foot trail called Wombat Parade that goes along the base of the escarpments on that side. Hence if bushwalkers are going to climb Mt Warrigal, it is likely to be somewhere along the Wombat Parade, not the way found by Saf and I. But there is a dearth of information on the Web on this mountain. It seems that people who know the ascent point are keeping it a secret !
Then I met Michael Keats. He had climb up to the summit of Mt Warrigal a few years earlier. And he kindly gave me the coordinates of the ascent point. Thank you Michael !
And my suspicion was correct, the way up is on the eastern side, along Wombat Parade.
And so today, NC and I are going to find this ascent point ! And since we are there, we will also circumnavigate the entire mountain along the base of its escarpments.
At 970 meters, Mt Warrigal is the highest of all the Wild Dog Mountains.
For the record, the 5 Wild Dog Mountains are:
- 945 meters Mt Mouin eastern peak; 930 meters Mt Mouin western peak
- 865 meters Blackhorse Mountain
- 970 meters Mt Warrigal (highest)
- 905 meters Mt Merrimerrigal
- 935 meters Mt Dingo
The usual way to approach the Wild Dog Mountains is to start at Dunphys Camping Area. From there to Mt Warrigal, the routes are limitless ... up to you to mix and match. Today, NC and I go via Lyrebird Point and Faithful Hound Ridge. Return is by way of Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail.
Top of Mt Warrigal
The area at the top of Mt Warrigal is triangle shaped ... see the maps below.
The summit itself has too many trees, and so the view from there is limited.
But if you walk to the southern tip, 600 meters from the summit, there is a fantastic rock platform with a marvellous 270-degree panorama centred towards the south. Had I known about it, I definitely would have visited this southern tip in my previous trips to Mt Warrigal. Why is this wonderful lookout platform not mentioned anywhere on the Web !?! Well, this blog should fix up this glaring omission.
- 1:100,000 Katoomba 8930
- 1:50,000 Blue Mountains South by Spatial Visions Innovation, 1st edition
- 1:25,000 Jenolan 8930-3N
Below are the relevant parts of the 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 scaled maps
Below is our route, red colour, superimposed on the 1:25,000 scale map.
(Main route is anti-clockwise. At Mt Warrigal, it is clockwise.)
Satellite view of our tracklog:
A summary of our route is:
- Start at Dunphys Camping Area.
- Go east on Bellbird Ridge Firetrail.
- Then Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail.
- Then go off track, along Lyrebird Ridge to Lyrebird Point.
- From Lyrebird Point, climb down to Breakfast Creek.
- Climb up Faithful Hound Ridge to meet up with a foot trail.
- Follow foot trail to Blackhorse Gap.
- Then to eastern tip of Mt Warrigal.
- Walk along Wombat Parade, ie along the base of Mt Warrigal's east side escarpment.
- Climb up the cliff at the boundary of GR 430 522 and GR 430 523.
- To the southern tip of the top of Mt Warrigal.
- U-turn. To Mt Warrigal summit.
- Re-trace steps; back down the east side escarpment and back to Wombat Parade.
- Circumnavigate, clockwise direction, around the base of Mt Warrigal's escarpments.
- When we reach the eastern tip of Mt Warrigal, re-trace steps back to Blackhorse Gap.
- Follow foot trail all the way to meet up with Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail.
- Back to Dunphys Camping Area via the firetrail.
Timeline & Distance
08:15 0.0 km Start at Dunphys Camping Area
08:39 1.7 km At where Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail crosses Lyrebird Ridge
09:18 3.6 km At Lyrebird Point on Lyrebird Ridge
09:28 3.6 km Start to climb down towards Breakfast Creek
10:18 4.5 km At Breakfast Creek
10:26 4.7 km Stop for morning tea a bit of way up Faithful Hound Ridge
10:37 4.7 km Resume climbing up Faithful Hound Ridge (It is steep.)
11:23 5.3 km At a lookout along Faithful Hound Ridge
11:28 5.3 km Resume walking up Faithful Hound Ridge (not so steep from here)
12:18 7.3 km At where Faithful Hound Ridge meets foot track
12:25 7.7 km At junction of foot track and Black Horse Ridge
Quick chat with a group of overnight hikers on their way out of the Wild Dog Mountains
12:26 7.7 km Turn southward
12:37 8.2 km At Blackhorse Gap
12:42 8.4 km At eastern tip of Mt Warrigal
Then explore around to check if we can climb up the cliffs here at the eastern tip. Answer: Too difficult
13:22 8.5 km Start walking southward on Wombat Parade along eastern side of Mt Warrigal
13:44 9.1 km At Mt Warrigal eastern ascent point, boundary of GR 430 522 and GR 430 523.
13:46 9.1 km Finish ascending up the cliff
13:58 9.4 km At southern tip of Mt Warrigal
14:03 9.4 km Turn around towards Mt Warrigal summit
14:21 10.0 km At Mt Warrigal summit
14:29 10.0 km Head towards north-west
14:32 10.0 km At 200 meters north-west of summit; turn around to return to car
14:49 10.7 km At descent point, same spot as at 13:46
14:51 10.7 km End descending down the cliff; same spot as at 13:44
15:00 10.9 km At southern tip of Mt Warrigal, just below the spot as at 13:58
15:25 11.6 km At Mt Warrigal western ascent point (discovered by Saf and I in 2015-04)
15:56 12.4 km At eastern tip of Mt Warrigal, same spot as at 12:42
16:07 12.5 km Resume Walking
16:13 12.7 km At Blackhorse Gap, same spot as at 12:37
16:20 13.2 km At junction of Black Horse Ridge and foot track, same spot as at 12:25
16:26 13.6 km At junction of foot track and Faithful Hound Ridge, same spot as at 12:18
16:48 14.9 km At junction of foot track (through Kennel Flats) and Tarros Ladder Firetrail
16:56 15.6 km At junction of Tarros Ladder Firetrail and Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail
18:11 20.8 km At junction of Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail and Lyrebird Ridge
Spend some time along the way looking at the conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter close to the horizon.
18:40 22.5 km End at Dunphys Camping Area
Total: 10 hrs 25 mins
22.5 km Distance is from Google Earth
25.4 km Distance is from Garmin GPS
Sunsets : around 17:30
Total darkness: around 18:00
Pictures - Dunphys Camping Area
1) We start at Dunphys Camping Area. Here is NC crossing the stile from the camping area into Bellbird Ridge Firetrail.
2) Looking back at Dunphys Camping Area, bathing in the morning sun.
To Lyrebird Point
3) 20 minutes, 1.4 km after we started walking, we are at the junction of Bellbird Ridge Firetrail and Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail.
4) 4 minutes, 340 meters from the junction in the previous pic, we are at the turn off to Lyrebird Ridge. The turn off is marked by the sign: "131-2"; and an access trail which goes along the top of the Ridge.
5) The track you see in the previous photo only lasts for 200 meters. It ends here at the powerlines. The powerlines run roughly from north-west-ish to south-east-ish. Our route cuts perpendicular across it, from north-east to south-west.
6) After crossing the powerlines of the previous pic, it is off-track walking along Lyrebird Ridge.
At Lyrebird Point
7) At Lyrebird Point ~~~
I've been to Bellbird Point. It has less trees and hence has better views than here at Lyrebird Point. But still, the panoramic views in this and the next 3 pics are quite good.
- Towards south, the 5 red arrows point to, from left to right:
• Mt Mouin eastern peak
• Mt Mouin western peak
• Blackhouse Mountain, directly south
• Blackhouse Gap
• Mt Warrigal and its north face ... see photo #8
- Red oval: Faithful Hound Ridge
- Blue dots on the right: Black Horse Ridge
- Yellow arrows: Our route to Mt Warrigal. (We'll climb to the Mt Warrigal summit from its eastern side. From this photo's point of view, it means going behind the mountain once we reach the tip of the right-most yellow arrow.)
8) Zooming onto Mt Warrigal ... this is the north face of Mt Warrigal.
- The 3 red arrows from left to right:
• Blackhorse Gap
• Mt Warrigal summit
• Mt Warrigal western tip
- Blue dots on the right: Black Horse Ridge
- Yellow arrows: Our route to Mt Warrigal. (We'll climb to the Mt Warrigal summit from its eastern side. From this photo's point of view, it means going behind the mountain.)
- Red dots: There is a band of cliffs surrounding the entire mountain. In the late afternoon, we'll walk along the red dots (base of escarpment) from right to left, towards Blackhorse Gap.
9) Continuation to the right of previous pic ~~~
- Towards west-ish: Running up the main valley near the centre of the pic is Breakfast Creek.
- The 4 red arrows point to, from left to right:
• Knights Deck, on Blue Dog Ridge/Spur
• Ironmonger Hill, on Ironmonger Spur, directly west
• Highest point (unnamed), on Ironpot Ridge
• Ironpont Mountain, on Ironpot Ridge
- The red bar near the right edge: Together with the 3 red arrows on the right, form the Ironpot Ridge.
- Red dots on the left: Black Horse Ridge
- Blue dots on the left: Cattle Dog Ridge
- Black dots: Blue Dog Ridge/Spur
- Red dots on the right: Bellbird Ridge. (Bellbird point is further up Bellbird Ridge, beyond the right edge of this pic ... see photo #10.)
10) Continuation to the right of previous pic ~~~
- Towards north-west is Bellbird Point, the red arrow.
- Dunphys Camping Area, where we started our walk, is behind Bellbird Point and can't be seen from here.
11) Still at Lyrebird Point ~~~
These look like Boronia. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
They are in full bloom ... beautiful.
Climbing down Lyrebird Point to Breakfast Creek
From Lyrebird Point, we go down towards Breakfast Creek.
12) About halfway down from Lyrebird Point, we can see the top of Faithful Hound Ridge (red arrow) and its cliffs. On our way to climb Mt Warrigal, we'll go via Faithful Hound Ridge and will reach where the red arrow is pointing at.
13) Around the same spot as where the previous pic was taken, we can see a large cave (red circle) on the flank of Black Horse Ridge.
- Red arrow on the left: Mt Warrigal
- Red slanting bar on the right: Along the top of Black Horse Ridge
Has any one been to the cave? Can one scramble up to it without climbing gears? Please let me know !
And if you are interested to visit this cave, contact me and we can go there to explore.
14) Google Earth ground view of the upper pic of Photo #13 ~~~
- Red slanting bar on the left: Faith Hound Ridge
- Red arrow: Mt Warrigal
- Red Circle: Cave on the flank of Black Horse Ridge ... the above pic
- Red slanting bar on the right: Along the top of Black Horse Ridge
15) LPI 1:25,000 scale topographic map and satellite view of where the cave is:
- Lower marker: The cave
- Upper marker: Where photo #13 was taken.
16) We are close to Breakfast Creek now. In fact you can see the creek as a dark band across the pic. The terrain here is stonier than further back up the ridge where we came from.
At Breakfast Creek
17) NC crossing Breakfast Creek
Faithful Hound Ridge
18) After Breakfast Creek, it is climbing up Faithful Hound Ridge. Faithful Hound Ridge is steep. And as illustrated by the below pic, it is also narrow, like the edge of a razor blade :-)
19) Looking back down at Faithful Hound Ridge ... It is like the edge of a razor blade :-)
20) Some rocks to climb over along Faithful Hound Ridge
(The 2 pics below are continuation to the left/right of each other.)
Climb over cliff on Faithful Hound Ridge
21) Now comes this cliff that we need to scale over ... not right here ... see photo #22.
22) Continuation to the left of the previous pic ~~~
The yellow arrow points to a ramp up the cliff.
23) NC climbing up
24) This is the ramp up the cliff. NC was half way up when I snapped the previous pic.
25) Immediately after climbing up the ramp of the previous pic, comes this vertical scramble ... the yellow arrows.
This part of the climb can be scary if you are afraid of height and exposure.
Lookout on Faithful Hound Ridge
26) After climbing up to the top of the cliff of the previous pic, turn towards the east a bit and you'll come to this lookout platform on a rocky outcrop.
27) An interesting chockstone at the lookout
28) Marvellous panorama from the lookout - from north-west to east: (Click on the image to enlarge the pic.)
- Black bar: Ironpot Ridge
- The 6 red arrows from left to right:
• Bellbird Point
• Lyrebird Point, directly north ... we were there earlier on ... photo #7
• Narrow Neck Plateau: Black Billy Head
• Narrow Neck Plateau: Carlon Head
• Narrow Neck Plateau: Glenraphael Head
• Narrow Neck Plateau: Clear Hill
- The 2 downward pointing yellow arrows: The way we climbed down Lyrebird Point.
- The 2 horizontal yellow arrows: Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail, along which we'll return to the car in the afternoon.
- The turquoise dots on the left side of the pic: Bellbird Ridge
- The gully immediately to the right of Bellbird Ridge is Nortons Gully.
- Carlon Creek and Carlon Creek Walking Track is in the gully immeidately behind Bellbird Ridge.
- Dunphys Camping Area, where NC's car is parked, is between and behind Bellbird Point & Lyrebird Point, and can't be seen from here.
29) Zooming onto Bellbird & Lyrebird Points, the 2 red arrows in the middle of the pic.
- Lyrebird Point is directly north of the lookout, ie where this pic is taken.
- Dunphys Camping Area is between and behind Bellbird & Lyrebird Points and can't be seen from here.
- The red arrow on the right points to Black Billy Head of Narrow Neck Plateau.
- Bellbird Ridge is the ridge slanting down towards left from Bellbird Point. It divides Carlon Creek on its left and Nortons Gully on its right.
- Yellow arrows: The way we climbed down Lyrebird Point.
Further along Faithful Hound Ridge
After the lookout of the previous few pics, Faithful Hound Ridge becomes less steep.
30) You are bound to see termite mounds in the Blue Mountains, no exception this time.
This one is quite large, as tall as me.
To Mt Warrigal
31) The end of Faithful Hound Ridge meets up with this foot track which heads towards Mt Warrigal.
The other direction of the foot track goes towards east, to meet up with Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail. After we finish climbing Mt Warrigal, we'll walk along here to the firetrail; and from there to the carpark at Dunphys Camping Area.
Mt Warrigal escarpment - eastern tip
32) This is it, Mt Warrigal ... specifically, the eastern tip of Mt Warrigal.
To reach the top, we have to find a way to climb up the escarpment !
(Another photo of the eastern tip escarpment is photo #65, from a different angle.)
33) From where the previous pic was taken, looking back through the trees, we can see:
- Left red arrow: Clear Hill / Tarros Ladder of Narrow Neck Plateau ... towards east-north-east-ish
- Middle arrow: Blackhorse Mountain ... towards east-ish
- Right arrow: Mt Mouin eastern peak ... towards east
We now try to see whether we can climb to the top of Mt Warrigal from here at the eastern tip even though Michael Keats' instruction is to go further forward along the east side of the escarpment.
34) At the eastern tip of Mt Warrigal (photo #32 ), we go towards the left a bit, then climb up a bit; and are presented with this minor rock cliff. It is not so easy to scramble over it, but we manage to climb up.
- Both pics are of the same scene:
• Left pic: Me (photograph courtesy of NC)
• Right pic: NC
35) After climbing up (previous pic), we are met by this rock face. It looks climbable. Both Saf in 2015-04 and NC today made a half-hearted attempt to climb it. It is more difficult than it looks. An agile person probably can climb up here without a backpack. But the question is, will we encounter an un-climbable cliff further up? Anyway, we know from Michael Keats' instruction that we can climb Mt Warrigal from further south. So we soon give up, and retrace our steps back down to the base of the escarpment.
Wombat Parade - eastern side of Mt Warrigal
36) Now walking towards south, along the base of the escarpment on the eastern side of Mt Warrigal ~~~
- The footpad seen here, called Wombat Parade, will go through Mt Merrimerrigal, Mt dingo and all the way to Splendour Rock.
- Notice there is a coal seam along the base of the cliffs.
37) Walking along Wombat Parade
38) Still walking along Wombat Parade ~~~
Through the trees, we get a glimps of Lake Burragorang to the south-east.
Climb up Mt Warrigal
39) This is it, Mt Warrigal eastern side ascent point at the boundary of GR 430 522 and GR 430 523.
The 3 photos below are all looking backwards in the direction where we came from:
You can see the ramp off Wombat Parade to climb up the cliffs.
- Yellow arrows pointing downwards (on the right side of the big tree root): The Wombat Parade trail
- The big tree root: Need to climb over it.
- Yellow arrows pointing upwards: The ramp up the cliff
- Red circle: The stone in photo #40
When RZ and I climbed Mt Warrigal 6 months ago in 2016-02, we tried to look for a way up along the east side too. But we missed this ascent point. Well, our main objective was to climb all the 5 Wild Dog Mountains; hence we didn't have time to inspect closely every nook and cranny of the cliffs along Wombat Parade. And without a coordinate, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
This time, armed with the coordinates given by Michael Keats, it is quite easy to locate this ascent point.
40) The ramp up Mt Warrigal ~~~
The only minor obstacle is the rock in the middle of the ramp, don't worry, it is not too hard to climb over it.
This rock is the one in the red circle in the previous pic.
On top of Mt Warrigal
41) We've just climbed up the cliffs via the ramp.
- NC is checking the map and GPS to get a fix on our location.
- There is a cairn, the red circle. As there is no cairn on the Wombat Parade trail to mark the ascent point, I can only assume that people who know the way up prefer to keep this passage a secret.
42) Now walking towards southern tip of Mt Warrigal ~~~
- It is an open casuarina forest. The floor is carpeted with droppings of their needle-like leaves.
- I'm the guy in the lower pic (photograph courtesy of NC).
Southern tip of Mt Warrigal
43) The southen tip of Mt Warrigal is rock platform jutting out saliently from the tip. It has a fantastic panoramic view from east to south to west. It is strange that this wonderful lookout is not mentioned anywhere on the Web !
- Upper pic: NC is sitting of the edge of the rock platform.
- Lower pic: Me and the rock platform (photograph is by NC.)
45) Continuation to the right of previous pic ~~~
This 180-degree panorama is towards west:
- Left red arrow: Mt Merrimerrigal
- Right red arrow: Mt Warrigal
- 2 red ovals:
• The one on the left: Blue Dog Spur
• The one on the right: Ironpot Ridge
- 2 series of yellow dots
• The ones on the left: Brindle Dog Ridge
• The ones on the right: Blue Dog Ridge
- Merrigal Creek flows in the valley between Brindle Dog Ridge and Blue Dog Ridge.
46) Zooming onto the left side of the previous pic ~~~
- This pic is also the continuation to the right of photo #44; and is towards south-west-ish.
- Red arrow: Mt Merrimerrigal
- Yellow dots: Brindle Dog Ridge
To Mt Warrigal summit
After enjoying the view from the southern tip, we head north to the summit of Mt Warrigal - 600 meters away.
47) Passing this termite mound with casuarina needle leaves dropped on it, and also piled up around its base.
48) The southern part of the top of Mt Warrigal is quite level, and mostly like in photo #42. The northern part is steeper and more scrubby. This pic is around the middle where there are a few relatively open rocky areas.
49) Mt Warrigal summit is just in front.
Mt Warrigal summit
50) This is it, the summit of Mt Warrigal. The cairn is just a pile of loose stones with a stick poking up from it.
51) NC & I
52) Unlike the southern tip, there are too many trees at the summit. Here are the partial views towards north. The red horizontal bars indicate where Narrow Neck Plateau is.
Circumnavigate Mt Warrigal - eastern side escarpment
53) After the summit, we climb down the cliffs via the same ramp that we had climbed up (photos #39 and #40).
Then we circumnavigate the base of the escarpment surrounding Mt Warrigal in a clockwise direction.
The 2 pics below are the cliffs on the east side of Mt Warrigal when we are heading towards the southern tip of the mountain.
54) Still on the east side of Mt Warrigal, but very close to its southern tip.
Here, a big slab has split off and fallen down from the ceiling.
Mt Warrigal escarpment - western side
We've rounded the southern tip of Mt Warrigal and are now going north along the western side of the its cliffs.
58) ... but NC climbs directly to the top of the fallen slab instead.
I've already scrambled over the loose rocks of the previous pic (the pic on the right) and now looking back at NC. The fallen slab is not level, hence NC is inching down on his fours slowly :-)
61) We continue on. Here are some more photos of the cliffs and overhangs along the western side of Mt Warrigal's escarpment.
62) Still along the base of the escarpment on the western side of Mt Warrigal ~~~
Occasionally there are glimpses of the Blue Mountains scenery through the trees:
Towards north-west-ish is:
- Blue Dog Ridge is the 4 horizontal yellow dashes.
- Blue Dog Spur is the other 2 yellow dashes.
63) Here, towards south-south-west-ish:
- Left red arrow: Mt Merrimerrigal
- Right red arrow: Mt Dingo
Mt Warrigal escarpment - north side
We've rounded the western tip of Mt Warrigal.
64) While walking along the base of the escarpment on the north side of Mt Warrigal, Narrow Neck Plateau is constantly in view. (Narrow Neck Plateau is the flat top mountain range across the entire pic.)
This pic also gives us a good view of our route: (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
- Turquoise dots on the left: Bellbird Ridge
- 3 red arrows from left to right:
• Lyrebird Point
• Dunphys Camping Area is behind Bellbird Ridge and can't be seen from here.
• Lookout on Faithful Hound Ridge ... photo #26.
- Yellow arrows: Our route in the morning
• From Dunphys Camping Area, walk behind Bellbird Ridge.
• Then bushbash along the top of Lyrebird Ridge (the 3 yellow arrows pointing towards the left) to Lyrebird Point.
• Then bushbash down to Breakfast Creek (the yellow arrow pointing down).
• Then bushbash up to the lookout on Faithful Hound Ridge (the yellow arrow pointing up).
• Then keep going along Faithful Hound Ridge, the 2 yellow arrows pointing towards the right.
- Black arrows: Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail, our return route in the late afternoon back to Dunphys Camping Area.
Mt Warrigal escarpment - eastern tip
65) We reach the eastern tip ... the same place as where photo #32 was taken.
Return to Dunphys Camping Area
66) We've climbed down Mt Warrigal via Blackhorse Gap. Now on a foot track which skirts around the north side of Mt Mouin to meet up with Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail. This photo is taken between the tops of Black Horse Ridge and Faithful Hound Ridge.
67) Along the foot track ... a tall termite mound engulfing a dead tree trunk
68) Me, walking along Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail (photograph is by NC)
Time now is 5:10pm. It is starting to get dark, as sunset is at 5:30pm, and total darkness is at 6pm. By the time we reach NC's car at Dunphys Camping area, it will be 6:40pm.
The final 40 minutes was walking in the dark. The timing was perfect as we get to see Mercury Venus & Jupiter close together near the horizon ... a rare conjunction, says NC.
Highlights of this trip
- Climbing up the cliffs half way up Faithful Hound Ridge ... photos #22 to #25
- Lookout platform on a rocky outcrop half way up Faithful Hound Ridge ... photos #26 to #29
- Rock platform jutting out from the top of Mt Warrigal's southern tip ... photos #43 to #46
Post Script: Other trips to the Wild Dog Mountains