Mt. Warning Explorations

Queensland specific bushwalking discussion.
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Queensland specific bushwalking discussion. Please avoid publishing details of access to sensitive areas with no tracks.

Mt. Warning Explorations

Postby tecais » Fri 08 Apr, 2011 9:58 am

Yes, this should probably be in the NSW section, but I thought some nearby bushwalking history might appeal to Queenslanders. It all started when we became interested in the technical climbing potential of Mt. Warning in the early 70's after reviewing geological aerial survey pictures of the magnificent north-facing syenite cliff below the summit.

Naturally we had to find a suitable approach and first drove around the Tweed Valley sorting out possibilities, but soon raised the suspicion of locals asking directions over some ales in the timber-getters pub at Uki. I think Bruce Neill, now a world famous bridge player, accompanied us then. We stood out from the grizzled axe men as hippie University students, so naturally they decided to have a little fun at our expense.

The area has many “thunder egg” geodes and there in the corner of the bar was an enormous boulder weighing perhaps 200 pounds. Seems it was perfect to humiliate outsiders by challenging them to a lifting competition. So I was issued the standard challenge: "Yair, youze wonner drink? Jus put the rock on the bar ‘n me ‘n me mates will shout yuzall (har, har)!"

Unfortunately for the locals I was in prime shape on the U.Q. weightlifting team and had dead-lifted almost twice as much, but on an Olympic bar of course. The boulder was more awkward but I knew to find an uncomfortable but effective bear-hug grip.

So the thunder boulder was quickly hoisted on the bar only to bring admonishment after the joke on us backfired. I was told "get the *&%$#! thing off before something broke" as the bar top sagged and creaked ominously. The axe men immediately busied themselves back in their schooners and feigned indifference.

After we gained credibility from that incident information was more forthcoming. We were told of an old timber road and later Ian Thomas, Kirsty and I did our first reconnaissance up the north side. This turned out to be an epic and inefficient approach to the magnificent wall with its beetling bulges and acres of blank chocolate rock! The problem is the cliff is guarded by an impressive volcanic ring dyke and more remote than appears, with miles of wicked jungle infested by tiger snakes.

The logging road turned out to be abandoned and waist high in grass. At one point my venerable Peugeot 203 was teetering on the edge of a massive slide into some bottomless abyss, yet Ian and I laughed hysterically while struggling to jack a wheel back onto solid ground. I should add we probably had ample amber refreshment, unlike poor Kirsty who sat weeping in fear and frustration at the stupid boys. We stumbled on and called it quits at the top of the ring dyke, hardly able to see anything through the rain forest.

On a later trip with Mike Meadows in May 1973 Ian and I finally discovered the way up from Cedar Creek fed by a natural spring on the western side. There was a hut at the base and the canyon above is a truly wild, beautiful and impressive place, demanding good rock-hopping skills. There were large choke boulders to be negotiated at almost every turn.

Our interest was not so much a new way to the summit but access to the huge syenite rock band of the north wall. So after gaining a saddle at maybe half height we traversed left, over and down a break in the rock wall seeking potential free climbing routes up and over the central bulges that are a feature of this face. Our hopes for a practical route were quickly dashed.

We were ahead our time and not prepared for placing bolts and the next level of commitment on such remote and difficult rock. Later I read an article about the first ascent where Tim Balla and his team approached via a much more roundabout way from the actual summit itself. Their route became Lost Boys at a stiff grade 24 and necessitated multiple bolts.

Yet I still have a special memory of that beautiful hut at the base with idyllic pastures spreading before the doorstep and magnificent canyon hike above. What's become of it now, I wonder?
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Re: Mt. Warning Explorations

Postby DaveGwy » Tue 12 Apr, 2011 8:49 am

Thankyou for sharing Ted. It's really good to hear all this history. I had a chuckle at the "get this !@#!ing thing off the bar before something breaks!!".
Was the hut privately owned? In my wanderings I've never heard of walking (i.e. a canyon) at the base of Mt. Warning. I guess people are much more strict about trespassing these days. Still, that would be a good little mission - try and find the hut, or what is left of it, then scoot up the canyon.
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Re: Mt. Warning Explorations

Postby tecais » Tue 12 Apr, 2011 9:12 pm

Hi Dave - as I remember we passed through a gate (unlocked) to reach the hut and there were cattle grazing in the fields so I'm pretty sure it was private property. There were no signs or postings against trespassing and it was quite deserted. A long steel pipe brought water down from a spring to the hut, and there are a couple of huge house-sized erratic boulders nearby. If you look on Google Earth you can see several buildings there now. I assume the National Park boundary is close by.
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Re: Mt. Warning Explorations

Postby ithomas » Wed 13 Apr, 2011 4:50 pm

Hiya Ted (and Dave).

You are right about the hut/private land description. The hut was deserted and in a state of disrepair. The walk up the creek was quite beautiful as I recall and surprisingly easy considering the alternatives. It should be possible to get permission somehow and it would certainly make a good outing for anyone confident with rock-hopping. I also remember that when you plonked the big rock on the bar (from a height of about two inches) every glass jumped up about four, with much consternation from the locals. I went back about 20 years ago and there was no sign either of the boulder or the axemen. Do you also remember the flight under the cliffs? The three of us, you me and Mike Meadows, charted a small plane at Coolangatta to fly under those enormous cliffs. I think that even the pilot was a wee bit nervous. By the way I saw an old 203 the other day and have half a mind to knock on a door and ask if it's for sale!! See you.
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Re: Mt. Warning Explorations

Postby ithomas » Wed 13 Apr, 2011 5:10 pm

Oh yes; I also remember on an earlier occasion, that when we walked up the normal tourist track to the summit you had somehow mysteriously disappeared. Until that is, Kirsty and I found you giggling behind a patch of bushes. It transpired that you had spied a big tiger snake sunning itself on the track and had hidden yourself in the hope, that I, walking a 100 meters behind you, would scare myself senseless as I engaged with the view instead of the track. I did and so did Kirsty!
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Re: Mt. Warning Explorations

Postby tecais » Thu 14 Apr, 2011 8:16 am

G'day Zoo, you grizzled Nothofagus……

Glad you chimed in as I'm always amazed at your memory and gift of the gab. I remember the tiger snake incident but assure you it had slithered away to a safe distance.

That was an exciting flight bouncing about in the little Cessna but the vibration made most of my photos blurry. Anyway, here's one showing the big north wall:

Image
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Re: Mt. Warning Explorations

Postby DaveGwy » Fri 15 Apr, 2011 6:43 am

Do you reckon you could pick out the place where the hut was in Google Earth?

Was it the canyon to the direct east of the face? I.e. centred in this link:
http://maps.google.com.au/?ie=UTF8&ll=-28.397177,153.277259&spn=0.01948,0.038581&t=h&z=15
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Re: Mt. Warning Explorations

Postby tecais » Fri 15 Apr, 2011 7:38 am

The coordinates to the canyon entrance are 28 deg 24 min 53 sec SOUTH by 153 deg 15 min 34 sec EAST. The old hut doesn't show but you can see several new buildings nearby on Google Earth. Use the rotate and tilt feature to get a nice view. Hope I'm not violating forum rules giving detail to this sensitive area so please check the access rights. Good luck!
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Re: Mt. Warning Explorations

Postby Phil Box » Sun 08 May, 2011 4:56 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ63Abkjv-k Here's a short video of a route that a few of us put up about ten years ago.

The north face that Ted talks about is The Wollumbin Shield. I'm leading a bushwalk in to the Shield soon. We are doing a through walk that heads up the right hand gully of the shield and over the top to the tourist track. We start this walk from Tyalgum Ridge which is the ring dyke that Ted talks about.

Thanks for putting this history up here for us to enjoy Ted and Ian.
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