Date: 13 – 14 Nov 2010
Walkers: Drew, Myself
After describing the challenges and rewards of Tom and I’s recent walk up the South Ridge of Mt. Barney to our father we successfully implated the idea of doing another trip in his head who despite bushwalking and camping his whole life had surprisingly never made it to this park. We set aside a weekend to do an overnight trip camping in Rum Jungle and waited for the time to come. Not content to repeat the exact route from only two months ago I decided to try the South-East Ridge to ascend this time and return via the South Ridge again the next day.
We arrived at the Yellowpinch Carpark at around mid-day on Saturday. As we would later discover, this was probably a bit too late to be heading off. We set off along the road to the South as per my previous walk. We passed a troup of returning high school boys along with their supervising teacher who explained that they had just done a three day trip during which they ascended both the West and Eastern Peaks and camped in the saddle. By roughly 1 PM we had reached the start of the SE Ridge Track. This turns off the Cronan Creek track shortly after campsite 10 and is marked by a log across the track start with “SE” carved into a tree to the right.
We had lunch here before heading up the track. This initial section was moderately steep and erroded and continued North for 15 minutes before reaching the top of the ridge that would eventually lead us to the Eastern Peak. Once we reched the ridge the track took a noticable turn to the North-East and continued along fairly open and flat bushland before eventually starting the climb. Almost immidiately we were greeted with the first of many large rocky formations that dominate the ridge the whole way up.
Despite having various track notes for reference the track was easy to follow as it weaved in and around the large rocks. As promised by the notes I had read, this path provided more frequent and varied views than the South Ridge track with the panorama extending all the way from the North around to the South at some points. After climbing steadily for a bit over an hour we reached the first rocky section that provided some difficulty. At first look this section didn’t seem too hard, however on closer inspection the rock was flat and rounded and provided no obvious hand holds. We decided to remove our overnight packs and we were able to pass them up without the need for rope. We managed to slide ourselves up the slightly less steep section just to the right. In the photo below we are putting our packs back on at the top of this bit.
After another 30 min of climbing we reached the first of a number of very steep and slippery rock scrambles. Despite being reasonably well enclosed on the sides they can give the feeling of being exposed because the ridge is overall very narrow by this stage with very large drop offs to both sides. At times it was impossible to see where the track would progress past some sections until it was staring us in the face.
By this stage it was starting to get late and there was some dark clouds rolling in from the North. Luckily the clouds held out and so did the darkness for us to reach the Eastern Peak by roughly 5:30 PM. 4 hours after leaving the main track. Despite being a sunny day for the most part some steep sections towards the top were quite damp and I imagine proper rain would have made them very tricky to overcome.
We didn’t hang around too long at the summit because the cloud had completely enveloped us and the light was fading quickly. We set off towards the West hoping to reach the Rum Jungle campsite before dark. Descending the rocky Eastern Peak was reasonably straight forward until we reached the lower sections. After ending up too far North down the creek on our last trip I overcompensated slightly this time and we ended up bush bashing our way in the dark the last 30m or so to the creek which we followed down to the Old Hut Site. There was already 2 or 3 tents set up here so we quickly found the track which lead up to the other site where we hope there would be some space left for our tent.
We eventually made it to the camp site by about 6:45 to the surprise of the other campers who already had 3 or 4 tents set up. Luckily we were still able to find a good spot and set up for the evening. The cloud by this time had lowered all the way to the saddle and was making everything wet without it actually raining.
The cloud made sure that everything was wet in the morning and provided a fairly miserable start to the walk back down the South Ridge. Unfortunately we were unable to get any good views of the impressive Western Peak on the way down. The decent was mostly trouble free apart from some muddy and slippery sections and one point where we somehow bypassed a section of the track and ended up doubling back on ourselves. Much to the amusement of the other two groups of walkers who chose that exact time to catch up to us. One who was on the way down and one who must have made very good time and was on the way up.
The two main tricky sections of rock were made more difficult than the previous time because of the wetness, however were still very doable. Especially compared to what we had encountered the day before. Eventually we made it back to the Cronan Creek track and then the carpark by 10:50 AM, 3 hours and 20 minutes after leaving the saddle.
Overall this was a harder but also more rewarding ascent route than the South Ridge. The views were breathtaking and the track was more consistantly interesting and provided what seemed like a more direct way to reach the Eastern Peak. This mountain is definitely living up to its reputation and there will almost certainly be more trips planned to this amazing place.
Download Mt Barney SE to S KMZ File (viewable in Google Earth)