Southern Blue Mountains TraverseBrutal and Brilliant
Posted 22 March 2009 - 01:14 AM
With the 30-year anniversary of my first trail ultra approaching fast, I have finally dusted off my plans for combining the best parts of three iconic bushwalks through the Southern Blue Mountains - Katoomba to Mittagong, the Three Peaks, and the Six Foot Track.
Lawrence Mead and I will have a go at The Southern Blue Mountains Traverse on the weekend of 17-19 April 2009, and we'd love some other trail nuts and bush bashers to join us for ~187 km of great scenery and ~8400 m of climb.
We realise that the timing is less than perfect and do apologise to the Hellgate brigade - but for a number of reasons this is the only time window that works for both Lawrence and myself. Looking at the bright side, the two courses will meet each other several times, so this could become the first MultiFatAss.
Some course details, maps and other information are now up on the FatAss site. More details will be added over the coming weeks.
Hope to see you there.
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Posted 22 March 2009 - 08:49 AM
Posted 22 March 2009 - 09:18 AM
I'm commited to Hellgate - I (and possibly others) will be putting out aid at the intersection of Blood Filly Fire Trail and Kanangra Walls Rd and also on Blacks Range.
Let me know if you want me to drive further down the Walls Rd & put in a drop on the Friday night.
Good luck with it mate.
Posted 22 March 2009 - 07:18 PM
I have been looking at the info you posted for this cracker of a run Jan and am extremely tempted.
I would feel a whole lot more comfortable running with someone though as there are a lot of unknowns for me.
I've covered Hellgate, Kanangra to Katoomba but there are part of the 3 peaks and of course Mittagong to Kanangra I'm not familiar with.
Hellgate is an awesome run, but this is the mother of them all.
Anyone else interested?
Posted 23 March 2009 - 09:10 AM
There are so many ways to both shorten and make this route more interesting.
Why Roots Ridge and not Rainbow Bluff??
Why six foot track and not Mt Janolan-heart attack spur and then breakfast creek??
I would be very keen to join you guys - I would be happy to join you spud. However, I have a race at Easter and so it depends on recovery and leave passes, probably will be a last minute decission after returning from Tasmania.
Any sign of significant rain and I am definitely out.
I guess a rough schedule to finish in the weekend would be:
* next to Axehead mountain on Friday night.
* top of Mt. Guougang by Saturday night.
Posted 23 March 2009 - 09:28 AM
Congrats on your 30th anniversary. Age does not weary them.....
Posted 23 March 2009 - 10:51 AM
Looks amazing, totally impressed.
I sent you a mail as although i am unable to run this due to my injuries,
I would love to support it with a 4wd and a mountain bike and have a mate who is also interested.
Pipi - Maybe you can meet Spud at Yerranderie for an abridged version?
Looks amazing, totally jealous.
Posted 23 March 2009 - 03:33 PM
Posted 24 March 2009 - 12:35 AM
And thanks for the interest and the generous offers of support. I think once we have a better idea of numbers and timing, we'll be able to organise drops etc.
pipi, I totally agree: The area offers many options for people to build their own courses. There are several alternative ways to cross the Kowmung and reach Kanangra Walls. I wanted to stay away from Cambage Spire (especially if it's dark), and therefore ignored Bullhead Ridge in favour of Roots Ridge (which I think goes past Rainbow Bluff). I did not necessarily want a straight Mittagong-to-Katoomba, but was keen to also include the Jenolan Caves landmark. This choice then suggests to use the 6 Foot Track for the return to Katoomba. It also gives people a "pit stop" opportunity after going through the Three Peaks without the need for organised support. But of course you could turn east instead of west from Mt Guouogang and cut through the Wild Dog Mountains, either via Mt Jenolan and Breakfast Ck as you suggest, or via the classic Three Peaks route over Mt Bullagowar/Kanangaroo Clearing and Mt Yellow Dog to Medlow Gap/Narrowneck. I have several other obvious variants earmarked, and I might include a few in the maps if I get around to it.
I also agree with your comment about rain. When Paul and I did K2M a few years back, we just made it across the Coxs at the bottom of Mt Cookem after only 2-3 hours of rain. You don't want to get stuck at the Kowmung and be forced to trudge back to Yerranderie...
Your schedule intrigues me a little. When would you plan to start at Mittagong to to get to Axehead Mountain (~75 km) on Friday night? You are moving very fast, but with Beloon Pass to cross along the way I would think it would still take you 8-10 hours to get there. (I'd be doing OK to walk it in 15 hours.)
As I said initially, the timing is not great, and I had forgotten about Coburg. We'll be thinking of you and your fellow lap circlers Phibes, and if you find the going tough, imagine having to crawl up Paralyser instead - that should make you feel better. (I have high hopes for another Phibes 24-hr cracker after your amazing 6-foot run! Sorry I missed you there.)
I'll post a more detailed route description to the FatAss page as soon as I have finalised it.
Posted 24 March 2009 - 05:39 AM
nice to see you peddlin' up the Hwy last week! This run looks like so much fun. I am insanely jealous. For some reason April/May is chock a block full of amazing events, but unfortunately I will be either tapering or overseas.
Might have to talk to Innes about getting out there to support... just to be involved
Posted 24 March 2009 - 07:16 AM
Nice to chat about this run at 6' Track, sure will be a great adventure such a shame the same weekend as so many runs.
Have a great time and we need a report about it for sure, will be a very interesting read.
Posted 24 March 2009 - 09:41 AM
I'll let you know more when I know more :-)
Edit: Won't be able to make it - doing 50k of the WE course as training with the team. Have a great time! and please post some pics when you're done!
Edited by kolya, 14 April 2009 - 11:22 AM.
Posted 06 April 2009 - 05:48 PM
I am still in awe of your proposed run. My attempts at predicting a time for Axehead mountain was only to try to reason with myself that I could join you and get some sleep.
I have only visited Cambage spire twice, but my recollections are that it is not so dangerous and would be sensible in the dark. Surely more sensible then Beloon pass, or any of the traverse from Cloud Maker to Guoguang in the dark. Also, the grinding grooves on route are pretty interesting.
I am still trying to come to grips of what times you expect? I have been around the three peaks (Bluemountains version) three times. These were as a bushwalker before I ever ran any where. I recall cloudmaker, Paralyser and Guougang taking about 10 hours alone. 48 hours for this route is a tough and highly respectable proposition.
I am lucky to be participating the Tasmanain three Peaks at Easter, and so am confident that I am going to be way too stuffed and mentally fatigued to try your crazy plan.
However I hope to help somehow and will see how I pull up next week.
Posted 13 April 2009 - 03:05 AM
A quick update: Lawrence and I will make our way to Mittagong by train on Friday night, followed by the traditional pre-M2K dinner at the Lion Rampant Hotel. We plan to start around 5 AM on Saturday and hope to finish by 5 AM on Monday morning. A rough schedule is here. It is based on a fast walker's pace, some Three Peaks experience, and a fair bit of wishful thinking. Foul weather or any kind of mishap will easily thwart our cunning scheme! I expect that faster runners (pipi, Spud, Terry, ...) would have a fair bit of buffer up their sleeves.
Contrary to earlier planning, there will be no aid drop at Yerranderie. The caretaker will not go to town for shopping until after next weekend. Well, the beer will have to wait until Caves House then...
We hope that some of you can come along for some quality time in the bush - it's going to be great fun!
Posted 14 April 2009 - 09:18 AM
This should be such a good walk/run hope all goes to plan.
Posted 17 April 2009 - 10:32 AM
Look forward to reading the details!
Posted 20 April 2009 - 11:26 AM
Posted 20 April 2009 - 01:53 PM
Ringing is a good sign - at least it is in a coverage area.
Posted 20 April 2009 - 02:41 PM
He is probably still sleeping.
Or having a beer somewhere.
Posted 20 April 2009 - 09:38 PM
Edited by terry, 20 April 2009 - 09:41 PM.
Posted 20 April 2009 - 11:26 PM
And thanks for your interest.
The mountains have given me a pretty stern talking-to. I pulled the pin after just under 100 km and 28 hours at Kanangra Walls, turning west towards the car park instead of east towards the Cloudmaker massif. At that stage, we were over 5 hours behind my (unrealistic, as it turned out) schedule, and I had been walking on rather bad heel blisters since Saturday afternoon which made anything not uphill very slow and painful.
The prospect of the Three Peaks on my bad feet and going up Guouogang in the dark was too much for me. Lawrence contemplated Kanangra-to-Katoomba via Cloudmaker/Mt Yellow Dog/Narrowneck, but at the pace we were moving there was a good chance of not even making the last train out of Katoomba, and I really didn't fancy getting stuck down at the Coxs with shredded feet and the weather moving in.
On the plus side, we had a grand day out with splendid weather on Saturday, wonderful views over the peaks and valleys of the Southern Blue Mountains and plenty of wildlife. We now also have a much more realistic idea of overall strategy and timing for future attempts.
A bit disappointing, but I'm glad we went out and gave it a go. We'll be back better prepared.
We'll post some photos, splits and a few more details soon.
PS: My mobile was safely in Sydney. Lawrence's Telstra phone (NextG or something like that) had patchy reception at Kanangra Walls. I know it's too much information, but the Wollondilly water caught up with me - first time that has ever happened. You definitely don't want that while still out there...
Posted 21 April 2009 - 09:53 AM
Posted 21 April 2009 - 09:59 AM
Posted 21 April 2009 - 01:03 PM
Is this an "established" route or something that is being created?
Posted 21 April 2009 - 01:26 PM
Is this an "established" route or something that is being created?
Indeed it is TP, a great run too.
Posted 21 April 2009 - 05:29 PM
Inspiring stuff attempting the route Jan. I look forward to hearing about next time. I would be very happy to support or join you.
Posted 21 April 2009 - 08:17 PM
it was an awe inspiring effort so well done
Posted 29 June 2009 - 12:19 AM
Lawrence, Innes and I will have another crack at this next weekend. Call it 'The Return of the Stubborn'.
Tentative start at 8pm Friday, 3-Jul-2009, at Mittagong station. I have updated the SBMT FatAss page with the details. There are some changes to the course between Mt Feld and the Kowmung River which are reflected in the map, profile, description and spreadsheet files.
I also uploaded some photos from our April attempt here.
Come along for all or part of it if you have nothing else planned for the weekend!
Posted 29 June 2009 - 08:59 AM
Terry / Daryl - This is going to be a cracker of a weekend.
Posted 29 June 2009 - 10:21 AM
Not that you would want to rely on it, but FWIW there was an unopened 1.5L bottle of water behind the right hand gatepost at Mt Lakeman (Blood Filly FT/Kanangra Rd intersection) when I was there on the June long weekend.
Best of luck guys.
Posted 02 July 2009 - 06:42 PM
night from Mittagong post office.
any last minute interest?
Posted 02 July 2009 - 07:06 PM
Looking forward to the reports.
Posted 02 July 2009 - 07:11 PM
Posted 02 July 2009 - 07:46 PM
Posted 02 July 2009 - 10:48 PM
Posted 03 July 2009 - 07:30 AM
Posted 03 July 2009 - 08:50 AM
Good luck and be safe.
Posted 07 July 2009 - 08:33 AM
Starting at 8:00pm on Friday night has its plus's (time in the bank) but in my opinion the negatives outweigh it...namely that you start the run tired which was the case for me.
We set off after a big dinner in the Lion Rampart hotel at 20:00, Jan's pack was HUGE and made me nervous that I had packed too lightly even though I had bivvy bag, 3 litre bladder, thermals, other layers and enough food for 3-4 days.
We set off at a good pace covering 7+ k per hr and within a couple hrs were passing Hilltop and heading towards wattle ridge.
Felt quite flat after a busy week and been up since 5:30 that morning but enjoying the cool evening, the stars and the moon mean't no headlamp was required.
The entry and exit parts of the SBMT are a little long winded with a 20+ k hike to get into the Nattai valley but eventually we headed down and down and came to the firetrail proper and headed down the switchbacks into the Nattai valley.
Both of us were moving well, spirits were good and we eventually came to the nattai river some time in the early hrs.
The next few k's are slow going with 3 river crossings which was freezing and we were determined to keep our shoes dry so it was off with runners and socks, cross river, dry feet, on with socks and shoes - repeat exercise a couple k later....
Jan had brought along a pair of soft mocassins which was a genius stroke for the river crossings as going across barefoot was quite sore.
Eventually we crossed and came to the sign for "Belloon pass".
Up , up and further up we climbed and the firetrail turned quickly to singletrack which quickly disapeared completely to nothing.
Lots of trees had come down, it was overgrown and we bashed our way upwards.....
At 5 in the morning after lots of slow slogging we were off track and concerned about getting up the pass in the dark so decided to climb into a gulley, get in the bivvy bags and wait till first light.
We lay freezing till 6:30 and continued.
Easy to find the occasional blue markers on trees which indicate the track but massively overgrown and difficult underfoot but after an hr we crested the top and were rewarded with spectacular views from the top of the pass.
The log book had its last entry as Jan and Lawrence on April 18 !!!!!
WE headed down, across the wollondilly and the slow hike to Yerranderie.
I was surprised how much harder it was going in reverse to Yerranderie and its uphill for 18-19 k's fairly constantly but we were soon into it.
Very weary which was a concern , but we came into Yerranderie at 1:15, sat afternoon.
No one about except for a 4 wheel drive and the caretaker.
Took a 30 minute break to sort out feet, fill up bladders and relax and started off again.
Once again - the next 15-20 k's were hard work up towards Byrnes Gap and onto scotts main range
and we both seemed to be more weary than we might expect.
We eventually got to the gate which we had to head down to the Kowmung, to begin the climb up to Kanagra walls and its was here that a difficult decision had to be made.
My hip had been hurting for the last few K's and it was a worry.
I was unsure about wether or not we would be capable of making it across the 3 peaks as we had already fallen slightly behind but also concerned about the cold and we knew we needed to rest at some point before Kanangra walls.
I was also pretty sure that I didnt have a 3 peaks and a 6 foot track in me without some proper sleep:(
We made the decision to complete the classic Mittagong - Katoomba route and the SBMT would remain unconquered.
We kept moving for another 20 k's until the Catholic bushwalking huts, arriving at 9:30 Sat night and staying till 4:30 Sunday morning in absolute luxury.
These huts are amazing, with bunks , mattresses, fireplace etc...
I never once regretted the decision to change our plans as I didn't have it in me and I do not beleive we would of made it across the 3 peaks in daylight if we had continued and Sunday night would of been a worry.
Anyhow - the next day we headed down Mt cookem, enjoying the incredible views from the top, across the cox's, up to Medlow Gap where we met some bushwalkers having completed the 3 day hike from kanangra walls, up Tarros and the long trudge along Narrowneck arriving at katoomba station at 1:45 on Sunday afternoon.
Wildlife seen :
red tailed black cockatoos
lots of other birds....
Thanks a lot to Jan for the great company. Its strange to complete M2K and feel like you have cheated and taken a soft option but I had a brilliant time, and we had a blast the whole way through.
I am going to complete SBMT in the next couple of months...
Its a big big ask in the middle of winter due to not only the cold but the daylight hrs and realistically I think you need to do this in spring which is when I will next attempt it.
To complete the SBMT, I am going to drive up the weekend before to kanagra walls and hike to the top and then down to Coal seam cave (2-3 k's from the walls on the way up from the Kowmung), and I will leave a mat, a sleeping bag, small stove, food and supplies there.
Leaving Mittagong at 5 in the morning and running this I am confident of reaching coal seam cave by 11 on the Sat night, especially not having to carry as much gear and then having a feed, a 4 hrs sleep and continuing on re-supplied for the 3 peaks and 6 foot options.
Some of the best scenery in the mountains out there - looking forward to an October assault when I will be far better prepared. Certainly happy about a great training weekend though.
Posted 07 July 2009 - 09:36 AM
looks like it was tough going...Crazy to think you could do 40 + hours and feel you have taken the soft option..
Well done,you will have it beaten next time..
Posted 07 July 2009 - 09:47 AM
Sounds like a great run, Jan and Innes you should be proud that you have the balls to even attempt this in the middle of winter.
Posted 07 July 2009 - 10:09 AM
I would like to be involved in your october SBMT.
The 5am start is a good idea, starting a 180ishkm run fresh is the way to go.
It would be much more enjoyable and you would have a greater chance of finishing.
The drop the weekend before is also a good idea allowing you to have a big first day with less weight
Looking forward to the full version of the SBMT
Posted 07 July 2009 - 11:23 AM
Posted 07 July 2009 - 03:11 PM