Tuesday, February 16, 2016

5 Wild Dog Mts, Blue Mts, NSW, Australia


2016 February: 5 Wild Dog Mts + Splendour Rock, NSW Blue Mts, Australia

Prolog

I have always wanted to climb the 5 Wild Dog Mountains plus Splendour Rock all in one day:
    - 945 meters  Mt Mouin eastern peak;  930 meters  Mt Mouin western peak
    - 865 meters  Blackhorse Mountain
    - 970 meters  Mt Warrigal
    - 905 meters  Mt Merrimerrigal
    - 935 meters  Mt Dingo
    - Splendour Rock
Today I did it !

What do I think of them?

- Mt Mouin: It has 2 peaks, eastern and western peaks. There are splendid views from rocky lookouts a few steps from the eastern peak summit.

- Blackhorse Mountain: Nothing special there

- Mt Warrigal: Highest of all the Wild Dog Mountains. The entire mountain is surrounded by cliffs; and a dearth of information on the Internet on how best to climb it. As there is hardly any breach in the cliffs that would allow a non-rock climber to scramble up, and so it seems that people who know the way up are keeping it a secret.

Rumour has it that a passage is possible on the eastern side. Today we couldn't find it. So we end up circumnavigating 2/3 of the mountain in a clockwise direction; and climb up its cliff via the exact same spot on the western side that Saf and I found 10 months ago. In that trip we walked 1/3 of the way around the mountain in an anti-clockwise direction. So now, taking into account of the 2 trips, I have circumnavigated the entire mountain by hugging along the base of its cliffs.

Post script: 6 months later, in 2016-08, I found the ascent point to climb up the Mt Warrigal cliffs from the eastern side. Photo and trip report are in my blog: http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/mt-warrigal-nsw-australia.html

- Mt Merrimerrigal: Like Mt Warrigal, it is mostly surrounded by cliffs. A way up is via a short tunnel on the west side near its northern tip.

The top of Mt Merrimerrigal is a broad plateau, as flat as a pancake.

- Mt Dingo: Nothing special there

- Splendour Rock: It is a memorial place for Sydney bushwalkers who died fighting in World War II. Fantastic views from there !


Maps

- 1:100,000 Katoomba 8930
- 1:50,000 Blue Mountains South by Spatial Visions Innovation, 1st edition
- 1:25,000 Jenolan 8930-3N

Below is the relevant part of the 1:50,000 scaled map


GPS tracklog files & Route

The KML tracklog file of the drive from Bleakheath to Dunphys Camping Area can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSd3M4bzIzTVg0dDA/view?usp=sharing

The GPX tracklog file of our walk can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSR2diaDJSb1drSjg/view?usp=sharing

Below is our route (green colour) on sketch maps which I found on the web:


A summary of our route is:
- The night before, camp at Dunphys Camping Area
- Up early on the day to climb Mt Mouin eastern peak via Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail
- Then to Mt Mouin western peak
- To Blackhorse Mountain
- To Mt Warrigal eastern tip
- To Mt Warrigal west side by circumnavigating the base of its cliffs in a clockwise direction
- Climb to Mt Warrigal summit from the west side
- Retrace steps to climb down Mt Warrigal cliffs
- Retrace steps to the southern tip of Mt Warrigal
- To Mt Merrimerrigal
- To Mt Dingo
- To Splendour Rocks
- Retrace steps to halfway between Splendour Rocks and Mt Dingo summit
- Turn left (ie north-west) to climb down Mt Dingo
- Walk on foot track all the way to meet up with Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail
- Back to Dunphys Camping Area via the firetrail

Instead of Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail, we could have gone done Carlon Creek Track, then up Black Horse Ridge to climb Mt Mouin. But I hate Carlon Creek Track. It is full of leeches. You'll lost all your blood before you even start the climb up Black Horse Ridge  :-)


Timeline & Distance

05:33   0.0 km  Start at Dunphys Camping Area
06:53   6.7 km  At junction of Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail and Tarros Ladder Firetrail
07:00   7.4 km  At junction of firetrail and foot track to Kennel Flats (and keep going on firetrail)
07:03   7.6 km  At junction of Tarros Ladder Firetrail and foot track to northern flank of Mt Mouin

Explore around

07:06   7.7 km  Start walking into the foot track
07:10   7.9 km  Stop for morning tea

Morning tea

07:22   7.9 km  Resume walking
07:33   8.3 km  At lookout at end of foot track at northern slope of Mt Mouin

07:36   8.3 km  Start bushbashing towards Mt Mouin eastern summit
08:16   8.7 km  At Mt Mouin eastern summit

08:22   8.8 km  Leave Mt Mouin eastern summit
08:29   9.0 km  At Mt Mouin western summit

08:33  9.0 km  Leave Mt Mouin western summit
08:50  9.6 km  At Blackhorse Mountain summit

09:07   9.6 km  Leave Blackhorse Mountain summit
09:13  10.0 km  At eastern tip of Mt Warrigal
09:40  10.9 km  At southern tip of Mt Warrigal
10:13  11.5 km  Climb up cliff on western side of Mt Warrigal
10:30  11.7 km  At Mt Warrigal summit

10:39  11.7 km  Leave Mt Warrigal summit
10:50  11.9 km  At base of cliff on western side of Mt Warrigal (same spot as 10:13)
11:13  12.5 km  At southern tip of Mt Warrigal

Explore around, try to find a way to climb up the cliffs. No success.

11:47  12.7 km  Leave southern tip of Mt Warrigal
11:56  12.9 km  At northern tip of Mt Merrimerrigal

Explore around

12:02  13.0 km  Leave northern tip of Mt Merrimerrigal
12:10  13.1 km  Tunnel up the cliff of Mt Merrimerrigal
12:18  13.3 km  At Mt Merrimerrigal summit

Lunch

12:48  13.4 km  Leave Mt Merrimerrigal summit
13:31  15.1 km  At Mt Dingo summit

13:33  15.1 km  Leave Mt Dingo summit
13:37  15.3 km  At junction where one can climb down west side of Mt Dingo
13:41  15.6 km  At Splendour Rock

Enjoy the views and browse through the Honour Roll (photo #58)

14:10  15.6 km  Leave Splendour Rock
14:14  15.8 km  Climb down west side of Mt Dingo (same spot as 13:37)
16:22  22.2 km  At junction of foot track (through Kennel Flats) and Tarros Ladder Firetrail

Afternoon tea

16:30  22.2 km  Resume walking
16:39  22.9 km  At junction of Tarros Ladder Firetrail and Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail
18:08  29.6 km  End at Dunphys Camping Area

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

Total:  12 hrs 35 mins
            29.6 km  Distance is from Google Earth
            33.6 km  Distance is from Garmin GPS


Pictures - Dunphys Camping Area

1)  The night before, we camp out here at Dunphys Camping Area.


2)  Plenty of kangaroos around the camping area


3)  Narrow Neck Plateau overlooks the camping area.
No - we are not going there. We'll be going to Mt Mouin first, then the rest of the Wild Dog Mountains.
(In the photo, Black Billy Head is at the left tip of the cliff.)


Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail

4)  Next morning ... on Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail
Instead of Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail, we could have gone down Carlon Creek Track, then up Black Horse Ridge to climb Mt Mouin. But I hate Carlon Creek Track. It is full of leeches. You'll lost all your blood before you even start the climb up Black Horse Ridge :-)

Climb Mt Mouin eastern peak

5)  We've turned west into a foot trail that leads towards the northern flank of Mt Mouin.


6)  The foot trail ends here at a lookout towards the north with a view of Narrow Neck Plateau.
In the pic, the 3 red arrows point to landmarks on the plateau. From left to right:
- Black Billy Head
- Carlon Head
- Glenraphael Head
It is not a particularly impressive lookout - too many trees around. So why built a foot trail to end at here, the middle of nowhere?


7)  From the lookout, we bushbash directly up the slope to climb Mt Mouin eastern peak ... its cliff is just in front.


8)  Cliffs of Mt Mouin eastern peak ... we need to get to the top of this cliff !


9)  RZ finds a way up ... so we thought.


10)  This is as far as she can go. The rest of the cliff is too steep to climb. So she climbs back down the step-like vertical slit in the previous photo; and we search towards the right (west) for another way up.


Mt Mouin eastern peak summit

11)  We make it to the summit of the eastern peak of Mt Mouin, 945 meters, after finding another way to climb up the cliff, not too far to the right (west) of the previous 2 photos.
At the exact summit, there is not much of a view  :-(   Too many trees.  But a few steps away, there are lookouts where we enjoy the wonders of the Blue Mountains scenery.


12)  The slab of rock in the upper pic is one of the lookouts.
The red arrow point to, from left to right:
- Upper pic (towards south-west): Splendour Rock, Mt Dingo, Mt Merrimerrigal
- Lower pic: (panoramic view taken from the edge of the rock)
    • Lake Burragorang (towards south-east)
    • Mt Dingo (toward south-west, blocked by the tree)
    • Mt Merrimerrigal
    • Mt Warrigal (towards west)
Today, we'll be going all the way to Splendour Rock.


13)  Zooming onto the left side of the above panoramic view ~~~
The lake on the left edge of the pic is Lake Burragorang, towards south-east.


14)  Zooming onto the right side of the panoramic view of photo #12 ~~~
The red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Splendour Rock
- Mt Dingo
- Mt Merrimerrigal
- Mt Mouin western peak, we are going there next (The colour of this peak blends in with the background. As one can hardly make out the shape of the peak, hence I've put in some black dots to help visualize it.)
- Mt Warrigal, behind Mt Mouin western peak


15)  Still at the summit of Mt Mouin eastern peak ... at a different lookout to photos #12, 13, 14 ~~~
The red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Mt Dingo
- Mt Merrimerrigal
- Mt Mouin western peak, we are going there next.
- Mt Warrigal
The red oval is Ironpot Mountain/Ridge.


16)  Continuation to the right of the previous pic ~~~
- Ironpot Mountain/Ridge is the darker coloured big mountain in the middle of the pic.
- The red oval is Ironmonger Spur.
- The red arrow on the left points to Ironmonger Hill, 765 meters.
- The red arrow on the right is Bellbird Lookout.
- The spur slanting downwards from Bellbird Lookout towards the left is Bellbird Ridge.
- The yellow line on the right is Faithful Hound Ridge.
- The yellow line on the left is Black Horse Ridge.


To Mt Mouin western peak

17)  We are now walking on top of the ridge towards Mt Mouin western peak ... in the pic, you can see the slope dropping away from us on both sides.


Mt Mouin western peak summit

18)  We make it to Mt Mouin western peak summit, 930 meters. The view is limited due to too many trees. However we can see Mt Warrigal ... my thumb is pointing at it.


to Blackhorse Mountain

19)  Now on our way to Blackhorse Mountain ~~~
Just like photo #17, we are walking on top of the ridge with slopes dropping away on both side ... like waking on the edge of a razor blade.


20)  This must the most photographed rock on the Mouin-to-Blackhorse ridge ... There is the urge to pose in front of it  :-)   Peter Cai, a keen bushwalker based in Sydney, named it Tofu Ru Rock 豆腐乳石.


Blackhorse Mountain summit

21)  We arrive at the top of Blackhorse Mountain, 865 meters. The view from here is limited due to too many trees.
- The red oval is Ironpot Mountain/Ridge.


Circumnavigate Mt Warrigal

22)  From Blackhorse Mountain, follow the ridge brings us to the eastern tip of Mt Warrigal cliffs.
Mt Warrigal is surrounded on all sides by cliffs.

10 months ago, in 2015 April, Saf and I reached here via leech infested Carlon Creek Track and Black Horse Ridge. At the time, we turned right (towards west) in an attempt to find a way to climb up the cliffs.


23)  This time with RZ, we turn left to see if we can find an alternate way up the cliffs on the eastern side of Mt Warrigal.
We hug close to the cliffs - There is a foot trail called "Wombat Parade" along the base of the escarpment.


Post script: Along Wombat Parade, one can climb up the cliffs at the boundary of GR 430 522 and GR 430 523. Today, we miss it. Well, our main objective was to climb all the 5 Wild Dog Mountains; hence we don't have the leisure to inspect closely every nook and cranny of the cliffs. And without knowing the coordinates of the ascent point, it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But 6 months later, in a trip to climb Mt Warrigal in 2016-08, I found the ascent point. Photos and trip report are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/mt-warrigal-nsw-australia.html


24)  Now at the southern tip of Mt Warrigal cliffs ~~~
All along the eastern side of the cliffs, we couldn't find a way up (but note the "Post Script" in the previous paragraph). So now here at the southern tip, we have a crack at it.
- Right pic: RZ has climbed up the steep face of this cliff.
- Left pic: She walks along the ledge to the left in an attempt to find a way up.
Unfortunately there is no way up from here too  :-(
By now you should have noticed that RZ loves rock climbing, so I let her do the pioneering leg work of finding suitable routes up the cliffs  :-)   The idea is if the route is dangerous, she'll be the first to fall and I'll be spared  :-)   For gratitude, here, she kicks a BBIIGG rock down the cliff and almost have me killed !!!


As we couldn't climb up Mt Warrigal from its southern tip, so we go around the tip and walk northward along the western side of the cliffs.

25)  As we hug along the cliffs, we pass by this nice shelter where someone had built a fireplace.
The upper photo is looking forward. The lower photo is looking backward.


26)  Pass the above shelter and going further along, we notice this cache:
- Upper pic: After removing a rock or two from the cache.
- Middle pic: Removing more rocks reveals a small treasure trove  :-)
- Lower pic: Printed on the white sac ...
    Cnr Dursley & Fairfield Roads,
    Yennora, NSW 2161
    Ingredients, Bread Making Flour, Salt, Gluten,
    soya Flour, Vegetable Shortening, Sugar, Emulsifier
    (481, 472(e)), Vitamin (Thiamine), Enzyyme (Amylase)
    Yeast Sachets included
The cache seems to have been here for a long time. Whoever hid the stuff here had intended to come back ... but didn't.


27)  The cache is marked by stone cairns stacked against the cliff ... interesting.


28)  Going further along the cliff ~~~
A large slab had fallen to create this narrow passage.
Left pic: We are walking along the narrow passage.
Right pic: We have turned the corner and RZ is climbing out.


29)  After the fallen slab, we come to here ... about to pass through this tunnel, so we thought. But it turns out to be a dead end ... steep drop at the other end. So we go around it instead.


Climb Mt Warrigal

30)  After going around the tunnel of the previous pic and walking further along, we come to this exact same spot where Saf and I managed to climb up the cliff 10 months ago in April 2015.
These 2 photos were taken last year. In the left pic, I have drawn a red vertical bar to indicate where my body was in relation to the photo on the right.
Photos and an account of my 2015 Mt Warrigal climb with Saf are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/warrigal-nsw-australia.html

Taking into account the trip with Saf, I have now circumnavigated Mt Warrigal. As far as I can tell, this is the only place where a non-rock-climber like me can climb up the cliffs.

Question: Has any one climbed up Mt Warrigal from the west like us? If not, I am laying the claim that Saf and I were the first people to climb up Warrigal this way.

There is a dearth of information on the internet on where to climb up the cliffs. Seems that it is some sort of a secret no one wants to share  :-)

Rumour has it that it is possible to climb up on the eastern side, ie along Wombat Parade. But today, we couldn't find a way up from there.

Post script: I found the eastern ascent point 6 months later in 2016-08. Photos and trip report are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/mt-warrigal-nsw-australia.html


31)  RZ has just climbed up.


32)  Mt Warrigal summit is just in front.


Mt Warrigal Summit

33)  At Mt Warrigal summit, 970 meters ~~~
Some one had built a cairn and planted a twig.
In the lower pic, the cairn and twig are in the red oval.
This is the 2nd time I am here. Photos and an account of my first climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/warrigal-nsw-australia.html


34)  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.


Post script: Unbeknownst to me, if we had bothered to walk for 600 meters along the top towards the southern tip, there is wonderful rock platform jutting out from the tip with a tremendous view of the Blue Mountains scenery. I did just that 6 months later in 2016-08. Photos and trip report are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/mt-warrigal-nsw-australia.html


To Mt Merrimerrigal

35)  We retraced our steps, climbed down Mt Warrigal and is now back at the southern tip of the Warrigal cliffs and heading towards Mt Merrimerrigal, the peak in this pic.


36)  Now at the northern tip of the Merrimerrigal cliffs and looking back at Mt Warrigal ~~~
Here is how we climbed Mt Warrigal:
- We approached it from the non-camera facing side, north-east side.
- Then hugged along the cliffs on the east side and walked towards the right until we reached the tip on the right (the southern tip).
- After a hairpin 180 degree turn at the southern tip, we follow the yellow arrows (west side,  ie camera facing side of the mountain) to the summit.


37)  Still at the northern tip of Mt Merrimerrigal ~~~
Like Mt Warrigal, Merrimerrigal is also almost completely surrounded by cliffs on all sides.
From here, we go around to the right, ie to the west side, to find a way up the cliffs.


38)  Shortly after going the right, we come to this cave.


Climb Mt Merrimerrigal

39)  Going a bit more along is a break in the cliffs where we can scramble up.


40)  But instead of scrambling up as RZ did in the previous pic, I go a few more meters along the cliff and voila, a tunnel !  Threading oneself through the tunnel is a more interesting way to climb up the cliffs  :-)
In the pic, RZ is waiting for me at the top of the tunnel.


41)  Once through the tunnel, from the cliff edge is this nice view towards north.
- Red oval: Ironpot Mountain/Ridge
- Red arrow: Mt Warrigal


42)  Walking towards the summit of Mt Merrimerrigal ~~~
The top of Mt Merrimerrigal is a broad flat plateau, literally as flat as a pancake ...


Mt Merrimerrigal summit

43)  ... Hard to tell where is the summit of Mt Merrimerrigal on a pancake ... We think this flat area is the highest point, 905 meters.
We take a rest here ... have lunch at this highest point.


44)  While having lunch, a Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) and its juvenile keep circling above us. I don't think they are eyeing us as dinner. It looks like the mom is teaching the juvenile how to fly.


45)  To get some sort of a view, you'll need to walk to a cliff edge.
This view is towards the north-east.  The 3 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Mt Warrigal
- Mt Mouin western peak
- Mt Mouin eastern peak


To Mt Dingo

46)  Now walking towards Mt Dingo ~~~
There is a faint track which goes along the top of the ridge.


47)  Still walking along the ridge top towards Mt Dingo


Mt Dingo summit

48)  At the top of Mt Dingo ~~~
Someone had built a fire place right here ... otherwise, nothing special around.


To Splendour Rock

49)  Walking towards Splendour Rock


At Splendour Rock

50)  At Splendour Rock ~~~
- The rock platform on the left side of the pic is a splendid lookout ... see photo #54.
- The valley in the middle of the pic (towards south-west) is where Coxs River flows.
- In the small red circle is a memorial plate etched on the rock to commemorate bushwalkers who died in Word War II... see photo #51


51)  This is the memorial plate etched on the rock in the small red circle of the previous pic.
The words are:
   In memory of
   bushwalkers
   who fell
   in World War II.
   Their splendour shall never fade


52)  We've walked a long way, climbed 5 mountains, 6 peaks:
  - Mt Mouin eastern peak
  - Mt Mouin western peak
  - Blackhorse Mountain
  - Mt Warrigal
  - Mt Merrimerrigal
  - Mt Dingo
and now deserve a well earned photo !


53)  The name Splendour Rock is indeed appropriately named ... Fantastic scenery !
In middle of the pic, on the horizon, is Lake Burragorang - towards east.


54)  This scene from south to north-west is taken at the tip of the rock platform in photo #50 ... at the small red circle there.
- The red arrow on the right side of the pic points to Yellow Dog Ridge.
- The valley at the centre of the pic is where Coxs River flows.


55)  Towards North-east is Mt Mouin.  The red arrow points to its eastern peak.


56)  Still at Splendour Rock ~~~
There is a metal box - the red circle.


57)  Etched on the metal box are the words:
Splendour Rock
Log Book
Sydney YMCA Ramblers
Kenneth P. Gliddon
22.11.43 ~ 30.10.87
In God's beautiful garden ~ rest in peace


58)  Inside the metal box, beside a log book, is a 34-page booklet: "Honour Roll - Bushwalkers War Memorial at Splendour Rock".
The booklet honours 13 Sydney bushwalkers who died in WWII ... with a brief biography on each one:
- Bruce Alfred Elder
- Kenneth Hugh Grenfell
- Reginald Dicker Hewitt                          preferred name Reg
- George Bruce Loder
- James Ronald Kenneth McCormack
- Leslie Gordon Martin/Marshall Mannell   preferred name Gordon
- Cyril James Nichols                              preferred name Mac
- David Arnold Ray                                  preferred name Arnold
- Charles D'arcy Roberts
- Norman Henry Saill
- Gordon Archbald Smith
- Gordon Christopher Townsend
- John Edwin Francis Wall                       preferred name Jack


59)  Daisies at Splendour Rock


60)  From Splendour Rock, looking back at how we came here ... the yellow arrow


Around here, I lost a lens of my glasses. RZ, forever being helpful, tries to find it, but no success. It is a pain to wear glasses. Sometimes you put it down and step on it; sometime you absentmindedly leave it behind; and sometimes, like now, a screw comes loose and the lens drops out ... ggrrr  :-(


Return to car

Well, even though Splendour Rock is so nice, we can't stay here forever ... time to leave by retracing our steps.

61)  Halfway between Splendour Rock & Mt Dingo, we turn north-west to climb down Mt Dingo. Then follow a foot track (this photo) that skirts around the base of the 5 Wild Dog mountains to meet up with Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail.


62)  Plenty of Lambertia formosa (Mountain Devil) on the foot track ~~~
This flower is endemic to New South Wales, Australia; and  grows in sandstone-based soils.


63)  Mushrooms found on the foot track ~~~
The 2 upper mushrooms seem to belong to the same species; and similarly the 2 lower ones.


64)  Another mushroom on the foot track


65)  An interesting twin mushroom


66)  Typical termite mound ... quite common in the Blue Mountains


67)  Now on Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail


68)  On the Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail we occasionally get a glimpse of Narrow Neck Plateau.  In these pics, the left most tip of the plateau is Black Billy Head.  The right most tip is Clear Hill / Tarros Ladder.


69)  12 and a half hours after we started walking this morning, RZ and I climb the stile back to Dunphys Camping Area. It is a long but rewarding day ... we've climbed all the 5 Wild Dog mountains !


Thank you to RZ who accompany me to complete this trip which has been on the top of my to-do list for quite a long time.


Post Script: Other trips to the Wild Dog Mountains

2016-08  Climb Mt Warrigal via Lyrebird Point and Faithful Hound Ridge; return via Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail.
- Ascent point up the Mt Warrigal escarpment:  East side of the mountain.
- Photos and an account of the climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/mt-warrigal-nsw-australia.html

2015-04  Climb Mt Warrigal via Carlon Creek Track and Black Horse Ridge; return via Medlow Gap Northwest Firetrail.
- Ascent point up the Mt Warrigal escarpment:  West side of the mountain.
- Photos and an account of the climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/warrigal-nsw-australia.html

2015-02  Climb Mt Mouin & Blackhorse Mountain via Bellbird Ridge and Faithful Hound Ridge; return via Cattle Dog Ridge.
- Photos and an account of the climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/mouin-blackhorse-nsw-australia.html

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