Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mt Solitary & Miners Pass, Blue Mts, NSW, Australia


2017 November: Climb down Mt Solitary via Miners Pass, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Prolog

Most Sydney / Blue Mountains bushwalkers have been to Mt Solitary. But how many have climbed down the mountain via the steep Miners Pass ?

Not many.

So, today, seven of us intrepid adventurers have a go at it.

By the way, the last time I climbed Mt Solitary was 5 years ago in 2012 October.
   - Climbed up the same way as today, from the east, from Kings Tableland.
   - Return trip was on the west side, via Ruined Castle, Federal Pass, then up Furber Steps to Katoomba's Scenic World.
Photographs and trip report are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/solitary-nsw-australia.html


Miners Pass

Miners Pass is a passage down the north face of Mt Solitary.

The route (Scroll forward to see the 2nd map):
- At about 900 meters west of The Col (Grid Ref: 529 585, almost at 529 586), descend down a steep gully
- Switchback (walking east) under the cliffs for a bit less than 150 meters
- Steep descent ... the final part requires a tape
- Switchback (walking west) under the cliffs for about 100 meters
- Another steep descent takes you down to a flatter area below

There are cairns marking the route. But you need to keep an eye out for them.


Our Party

Seven of us:
- HT, leader
- FM
- John Fox
- LH
- NC
- Saf
- me


Topographic Maps

- 1:25,000 scale maps: 8930-2N Jamison  and  8930-1S Katoomba
- 1:50,000 scaled Blue Mountains South by Spatial Visions Innovation, 1st edition
- 1:100,000 scaled 8930 Katoomba

Bellow is the relevant part of today's walk in the 1:25,000 scaled map:


GPS tracklog file & Route

Our GPX file can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j0FEiPCUBb0v2a9cgsoOuTiE0OiSRzSr/view?usp=sharing

Below is our tracklog, clockwise in red, superimposed on the above 1:25,000 scaled map.
The 7 blue arrows point to, clockwise from the right:
  1. Starting point of our walk by the side of Kedumba Pass Gate
  2. Junction of Kedumba Valley Rd & foot track to Mt Solitary
  3. Cross Kedumba river here in the morning
  4. The Col, about 775 meters high ... There is a log book here.
  5. Start descending Miners Pass here
  6. Lunch spot
  7. Afternoon tea is by the side of Kedumba river, after crossing it.


The corresponding satellite view is:


Summary of our route:
- Start at a carpark by Kedumba Pass Gate on Kedumba Valley Rd.
- Walk on Kedumba Valley Rd.
- Then turn into a foot track to Mt Solitary.
- Cross Kedumba River.
- Climb up to The Col.
- At about halfway between The Col and the 919-meter middle peak of Mt Solitary, bushbash down Miners Pass.
- Cross Kedumba River.
- Climb up to Kedumba Valley Rd.
- And back to the carpark.


Timeline & Distance

08:01   0.0 km  Start at carpark at Kedumba Pass Gate on Kedumba Valley Rd
08:46   3.45km  At junction of Kedumba Valley Rd and foot track to Mt Solitary

08:52   3.55km  Start walking on foot track to Mt Solitary
09:22   5.55km  At Kedumba River and meet up with FM

Morning tea

09:42   5.85km  Resume walking
10:30   7.65km  Stop for a rest

Rest

10:35   7.65km  Resume walking
10:42   7.85km  Stop for rest

Rest

10:50   7.9 km  Resume walking
11:00   8.2 km  Stop for rest

Rest

11:04   8.25km  Resume walking
11:15   8.4 km  At The Col of Mt Solitary

Sign log book

11:37   8.45km  Resume walking
12:06   9.4 km  Leave foot track and start to climb down Miners Pass
12:28   9.65km  At where a tape is required to climb down further

One by one, we take turns to climb down the tape

12:48   9.8 km  Start walking at the bottom of the tape
13:06  10.05km  Stop for lunch

Lunch

13:36  10.25km  Resume walking
14:16  11.55km  Stop

Saf bandages up NC's hand.

14:20  11.55km  Resume walking
14:22  11.6 km  Stop for a rest

Rest

14:25  11.6 km  Resume walking
14:28  11.7 km  Stop

Photograph Lace Monitor
Saf bandages up NC's hand further

14:32  11.7 km  Resume walking
15:22  13.6 km  Stop for afternoon tea by the side of Kedumba River

Afternoon tea

15:42  13.8 km  Resume walking
15:56  14.4 km  At a management road (I think it is still called Kedumba Valley Rd)

Rest

15:59  14.45km  Resume walking
16:27  16.2 km  Stop for a rest

Rest; and put on fresh battery for my GPS

16:32  16.25km  Resume walking
16:42  17.05km  At junction of Kedumba Valley Rd and foot track to Mt Solitary

Rest

16:48  17.1 km  Resume walking
17:44  20.5 km  Back at carpark at Kedumba Pass Gate on Kedumba Valley Rd

==============================================

Total:  9 hrs 43 mins
           20.5  km  Distance is from Google Earth
           23.3  km  Distance is from Garmin GPS


Pictures - Kedumba Pass Gate

1)  This is where we park our cars ... at Kedumba Pass Gate on Kedumba Valley Road ~~~
- The carpark is on the near side of the gate.
- The people on the other side are going to do some weed control, hence their car is allowed to go through the gate.


Kedumba Valley Road

2)  Walking on Kedumba Valley Road
- From left to right: HT, NC, Saf, LH


3)  Feral pig control gate on Kedumba Valley Road ~~~
- Upper pic, left to right: NC, HT, Saf, John Fox, LH
- Lower pic: We've passed the gate and now looking back up the road. (Photographer: John Fox)
  The sign says:
       SHUT THE GATE!
       SWINE   LINE
       Please help protect the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area
       by stopping the spread of feral pigs!


Foot track to Mt Solitary

4)  We've left Kedumba Valley Road and is now on a foot track to Mt Solitary.
- Left to right: HT, LH, Saf, John Fox, NC


5)  From the foot track, occasionally, we get a glimpse of Mt Solitary.
In the lower pic:
- Left red arrow: The Col
- Right red arrow: 919-meter Mt Solitary middle peak (not its highest point, which can't be seen from here)
- Yellow arrows: Our route after The Col
- Miners Pass: It is the drop between the 2nd and 3rd yellow arrows.


Kedumba River

6)  We arrive at Kedumba River. (Photographer: John Fox)
The river level is low ... We haven't had a decent downpour for a long time.


7)  Here, by the side of Kedumba River, we meet up with FM and have morning tea.
(FM started at the carpark earlier at 7:30am, half an hour before we started. She walked to here by herself and has been waiting for us for some time.)
- Left to right: LH, HT, FM, NC


Crossing Kedumba River

Morning is tea over, time to cross Kedumba River.

8)  NC crosses the river over this log.


9)  Freda chooses to walk through the water. She has a pair of crocs with her for the water crossing.
(Photographer: John Fox)


10)  The rest of us walk over another log.
- Left to right: John Fox, Saf, LH


Climb Mt Solitary

11)  1.3 km after crossing Kedumba River, we are here at the junction with Maxwells Walking Track. We won't be turning into it. We'll continue west to climb Mt Solitary.
- Left to right: Saf, NC, John Fox, FM


From now on, the climb will be much steeper.

12)  Steep climbs ~~~
- Upper pic, left to right: HT, NC, Saf, John Fox
- Lower pic, left to right: NC, John Fox


13)  FM (upper pic) and LH (lower pic)


14)  HT and FM


15)  We come to a flat area and have a rest.
- Left to right: John Fox, FM ... FM doesn't look tired at all !
- Yellow arrow: The foot track to Mt Solitary ... another steep climb there.


The Col of Mt Solitary

16)  From the flat area of the previous pic, another steep climb takes us to here, The Col.
At about 775 meters, The Col is the eastern tip of the top of Mt Soliary.
(At the middle of Mt Solitary is a 919-meter peak. And the highest point of Mt Solitary is near its western end, approx 965 meters. We won't be going to either of these two places. At somewhere near the midway between The Col and the 919-meter peak, we'll descend the mountain via Miners Pass.)


17)  I am at The Col.
- Left red arrow: Lake Burragorang
- Right red arrow: Rucksack Point
- The slope to the right of Rucksack point leads to Korrowall Ridge of Mt Solitary.


18)  Panorama from The Col
- Right side of this pic is the background of previous pic.
- Left red arrow: Lake Burragorang
- Right red arrow: Rucksack Point
- The slope to the right of Rucksack point leads to Korrowall Ridge of Mt Solitary.


19)  (Continuation to the right of previous pic)
The entire mountain range in this pic is Korrowall Ridge of Mt Solitary.


20)  Still at The Col ... We are taking a well deserved rest.
- Left to right: FM, HT, NC, Saf, John Fox
- The red circle is a metal container with a log book inside.
- On the outside of the container were engraved these words:
        Mount Solitary 919 metres
        "The Col"
        Moomarr (Mount Solitary) is an outlying
        mastiff contained within the of
        Garrengatoh Dreaming-Mythological ancestor hero
        of the Gundungurra Aboriginal People.


21)  FM writing down our names in the log book
(Photographer: John Fox)


22)  Entries in the log book ~~~
          5/11/17  "I was happy once"
          6/11/17  Shit my legs hurt
Haha ... not surprising ... as it is a very steep climb up the Mt Solitary slope.
Our entry by FM is:
          09 Nov 2017  ANB Gang of Seven. Piece of Cake -
          real cake ! Nick Paul Harold Liam
          Saf, John F, Freda.
5 years ago, I climbed Mt Solitary, also from Kedumba Pass Gate.
( Trip report is in: http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/solitary-nsw-australia.html )
It took me 1:25 to reach The Col from Kedumba River. Today, it took us 1:33. Considering I'm 5 years older and with a not-so-good knee, this is not too bad an effort ... definitely not a "piece of cake"  :-)


Along the top of Mt Solitary

23)  Scribbly Gum Moth (Ogmograptis scribula) made their tracks in this gum tree.
But is the arrow man-made ?


24)  Along the way, we can see the middle peak of Mt Solitary, 919 meters, at the centre of this pic.
We won't be going to this high point. Roughly halfway between The Col and the high point, we'll turn north to climb down Miners Pass.


25)  A particularly steep section along the top of Mt Solitary ~~~
- Upper pic, left to right: John Fox, NC, LH, HT
- Lower pic, left to right: FM, Saf, HT, LH, NC, John Fox


26)  Passing an overhang ~~~
After this overhang, in another 50 meters, we'll begin our descent down Miners pass.


Start of Miners Pass

27)  The start of Miners Pass ~~~
It is down this steep gully.


Miners Pass

28)  I've climbed down the passage in the previous pic, and now looking back at FM climbing down.


29)  After the steep drop in the previous pic, we do a switchback and traverse eastward along the bottom of an escarpment.
- The 2 pics below are not of the same cliff face. But they are not too far from each other (about 100 meters apart).


30)  Then it is another steep drop ... LH is at the start of it.


31)  FM sliding down an even steeper section


32)  Now approaching another steep descent ~~~
By the way, all along Miners Pass, there are cairns to guide you, like the one in the red circle in this pic.


33)  I've climbed down to the bottom of the rock cliff (the top of which is the previous pic); and now looking back at FM climbing down.


34)  This pic is taken at where I was standing in the previous pic ~~~
HT has set up a tape, and now proceeds to climb down.


35)  I've climbed down the tape; and now looking back at FM climbing down.
- Lower pic: It is a tricky area. We need to crawl through it. John Fox is keeping an eye out for FM in case she needs help.


36)  Everyone has climb down, and so HT is putting away his tape.


37)  After the tape, it is walking along the base of an escarpment for a little while before another descent.
- Red square: The lower pic zooms into the square.
- Lower pic: This plant grows sideways out of the cliff face, how interesting !  And one of the branch is encased in a spider web.


38)  Descending
- Upper pic, left to right: NC, Saf, John Fox, HT
- Lower pic, left to right, HT (left edge), John Fox, FM, Saf, NC, LH


39)  FM starring in this last steep descent, after which the terrain will be much flatter.


To Kedumba River

40)  We've finished descending Mt Solitary; and now walking on a flatter terrain towards Kedumba River.


41)  Time to have lunch ~~~
Left to right: Saf, FM, LH, John Fox, HT


42)  Lunch is over, back on our feet.
- Like photo #40, the terrain is quite flat.
- Upper pic, left to right: HT, John Fox, NC, FM
- Lower pic: FM


43)  We walk along the top of a ridge towards Kedumba River. Most of the time it is quite flat as shown in the previous pics. Occasionally, here for example, it is like a razor blade. We can see the slope dropping off on both sides of the ridge.
- Left to right: HT, John Fox, LH


44)  Shed skin of a snake


45)  NC has a superficial scratch to his hand, and ...


46)  ... and he should be given an Oscar for acting  :-)


47)  NC has his hand bandaged up by Saf (lower pic) so he can tell his wife he has a broken hand and can't do the dishes  :-)


48)  At the same spot as where the previous pic is taken ~~~
Even a Lace Monitor (Varanus varius) comes out to investigate NC's hand.


49)  A beautiful Grevillea asplenifolia


Kedumba River

50)  We reach Kedumba River ... FM is crossing it now.


51)  I am at where FM was in the previous pic, and looking at HT ahead of me.


We have afternoon tea by the side of the river.

52)  HT also has a superficial scratch on his hand and was promptly attended to by Saf.
Geez, real men don't need bandages ... we are becoming a bunch of softies  :-)


53)  Still having afternoon tea by the side of Kedumba River ~~~
You just have to love Nick's colourful shoe. The shoe lace was bought separately to match the colours !


On our way to the cars

54)  Grass Trees are blooming at this time of the year.


55)  We are now on Kedumba Valley Road, west of the junction with the foot track to Mt Solitary.


56)  We take a rest at the junction of Kedumba Valley Road and the foot track to Mt Solitary ~~~
- Upper pic, left to right: FM, Paul, HT, NC, LH
- Lower pic: Paul, HT, Saf, NC, LH
- John Fox is too fast and too far ahead of us, and misses out on the group photos  :-)


57)  Back at the feral pig control gate on Kedumba Valley Road ... same gate as photo #3


Carpark by the side of Kedumba Pass Gate

9 hours after we started this morning, we are back at the carpark by the side of Kedumba Pass Gate.

58)  Freda is with her brand new one week old car. It's a surprise she is willing to drive it on a dirt road to here. Ah, the passion for an adventure out weighs everything !


Thank you

Many thanks to HT for leading. His navigation skill is superb.