Bob had suggested this trip for a while. Earlier he had seen, from Pulpit Rock Lookout, a possible new pass on the side of Lockleys Pylon in the Grose Valley. He knew of a climbers pass from the Lockleys Pylon – Blue Gum Forest track that allowed climbers to walk down to the half way ledge. He thought is may be possible to climb up onto the half way ledge from the bottom of the major cliffs – by using a series of ledges that led to the half way ledge from the southern side.
Rather than climb up to the start of the pass from Blue Gum Forest or Govetts Creek, I suggested abseiling down from near the end of Fortress Ck Canyon. At the end of the canyon – there is a huge drop, but by traversing along a ledge and climbing down a bit to a lower ledge, then the distance down to the bottom is not so large. I had heard of climbers accessing some climbs this way.
We had considered this trip for a fair while now, but been put off by poor weather or more interesting options. But Bob was keen on trying it – and kept suggesting it for a possible trip. So it was time to try it.
Bob drove out on a nicely graded Mt Hay Road and we parked at the Fortress carpark and set out on the track to the Fortress. It took about an hour to reach the end of Fortress Ridge. We then descended down the canyoners track to the end of Fortress Creek Canyon.
We were amused to see the pool at the end of the canyon. Last year, a website had advertised a set of “secret waterholes” in the Blue Mountains. The website had videos of the waterholes and people could get details of how to get to them by paying a small fee. One of the waterholes was the small pool at the end of the canyon.
We kept on going, now off track, and traversed some sketchy country to reach our abseil point. We scouted several trees to abseil off and chose one that was both strong and close to where the distance to the bottom looked the least.
We had two ropes – one 40 m and the other 45 m. We knotted then, then Bob started descending. He reported that the ropes made it down easily. I followed – being careful not to dislodge rocks. The abseil ended up being about 25 m.
After pulling down the ropes, we were committed to continuing. The talus slope was not too bad. Not too scrubby and not too loose. It was reasonable going.
We soon crossed a small gully. Here we noticed a log that had been cut by a chain saw. A remote place to see something like this. Perhaps done by bushfire fighters many years earlier?
We had a few printed photos of the cliffs, but it was hard to relate them to where we actually were under the cliffs and it was hard to work out where to start scrambling up. But we just followed our instincts and after passing under the shoulder, we started scrambling upwards. It was all easy going – we did not do any technical scrambling. A bit loose in places perhaps.
At one point, huge cliffs and a high pinnacle reared above. This seemed right – perhaps we on the half way ledge? We started traversing – and the going was very easy. But soon the ledge seemed to be running out. We went back a bit and descended to a lower level – and the ledge kept on going, round a slight corner, and then more easy ground. We reached a cave with old footprints. It seemed we had reached the climbing areas.
We stopped for lunch in the cave, and then continued on the ledge to where the gully was that we could go up and reach the track. The gully was short and very easy. We soon reached the track.
From there, it was aa short climb to the Pylon and then about an hour back to the road, and not much longer to walk back to Bob’s car.
This was an interesting adventure. More photos are online here on my website.