Thursday, 20 June 2013

Mount Barney

Mount Barney

What an adventure! We’d never heard of Mount Barney before, but it’s apparently been on Paul’s ‘tick list’ for a long time and one he did a while back with a guide and his friend Mark. On that occasion he took his gps and mapped the route on it, making navigation (which would otherwise be very difficult) quite easy. He even went out there last weekend, walking both the start and end to make sure he knew exactly where to take us so there would be no navigational stress at all. What a star he is!

Our 6:05am start
After arriving at the campsite at dusk on Saturday night our day started at 5:00am on Sunday in the dark. We needed an early start Paul said as it’s a 9 or 10 hour day of scrambling on sometimes exposed rock, 1150m of ascent and about 15km so, after breakfast we were on our way at 6:05am with just enough light to pick our way through the forest. “Was that a ‘Private, No Entry’ sign we just went past?” No problem, Paul said, he’s got special permission! (Actually it said no trespasses!)

First rays of sun on Mount Barney
Sunrise was pretty good and, as it rose Mount Barney was bathed in red light and we could see for the first time what we had to do. It looks like a big version of Tryfan, a mountain we’re familiar with in Wales that has fantastic scrambling and rock climbing of all standards, but this was on a much bigger scale and climbing is rarely done here because of the long walk in and difficulty and length of routes. Our scrambling route up is known as Logan’s Ridge, the most difficult and spectacular of the scrambles, and our descent down by the South-East Ridge, another scramble of high standard. No easy ‘Peasant’s Ridge’ (the normal ascent for normal people) for us, let’s get straight in to the most difficult!

Paul enjoying himself

Some interesting bits of scrambling
Some of it quite exposed

Mr. Poser!

The ascent took us 3hours and 50minutes and was as spectacular as Paul described. The summit is 1350m above sea level which is low enough to have trees and vegetation the whole way, so we were negotiating a path round the eucalyptus and black boy grass and over the bare rock, which was on occasions pretty exposed sometimes with thin, almost non-existent holds – interesting! 

On the summit
The views all the way were fabulous, over Mount Lindsay (an old volcanic plug with vertical faces, positioned right on the NSW border) in one direction, Mount Warning (the mountain that receives the first rays of sun in Australia, being positioned just inland from Cape Byron well inside NSW), in another, Brisbane in the distance and the ocean beyond that. Closer in were many lesser peaks all covered in forest and very much the wilderness. 

Brisbane in the distance (can you see it?)
Mount Warning (the pointy one!)
There are many other routes taking in this and other surrounding peaks that are multi day excursions, but the thought of carrying a tent, sleeping bag, cooking supplies and food up here was enough to put us off, so after a 40 minute break of a mid-morning snack and a few photos we set off down at 10:35am following the track of Pauls gps which, after a gentle downhill through trees appeared to go off a cliff! 

Its down there!
Some pretty steep downclimbing using various skills including sliding down sloping rocks until the feet stopped further travel made the descent just as interesting. 

Just follow me, you'll be fine!
Now just let go and slide!
As promised by Paul we found the Mount Barney equivalent of Tryfan’s ‘The Cannon’, a chunk of rock lying on its side and hanging out over space. The thing to do here is to walk, or shuffle in a sitting position along the length of the rock until you are situated above about 300m of fresh air. Mmm, it’s a long way down, but it had to be done and Paul had made it clear it wasn’t going to be him, so off I went. At first I thought I could walk out, but as the space opened up below and the rock thinned to about 400mm wide I decided to be seated and use the tried and trusted shuffle! I am sure there are people who would walk to the end, do a handstand, hang off the end, but not for me. Halfway along was enough, a few quick pictures and back again. All very exciting!

Mount Barney's Cannon - its much worse than it looks here!
A nice viewpoint with Mount Lindsay behind
As is usual with these sort of walks, the down always seems longer as the legs get tired and as Paul read off our current altitude we all felt we should be lower than that, but glimpsing through the tress showed us just how far we had to go. A brief break for one person coming up (the first person we had seen all day) and a little later a group of thirteen (!) and finally a couple who Paul was able to exchange stories of ascents on other surrounding mountains, gave us welcome breaks for tired legs!

At the swimming hole....
Eventually we got down to the track at the bottom that leads up the standard ascent and a little deviation that only Paul (and a few hundred thousand others) knew took us along a creek back to the camp. Before reaching the camp we stopped at a swimming hole by the creek that Paul knew and, stripping down to his undies he jumped in! Apparently I’d proved myself a man earlier on ‘the cannon’ so now he needed to do the same. I didn’t go in and Jackie dangled her feet in, but Paul did the ‘whole nine yards’. 

In he goes....
Just as he’d predicted, it was cold, but I think it was colder than even he thought as the shouts he made, the look on his face and the frantic swimming said it all. He did stay in long enough to do a further surface dive, but that was it, he was out pretty quickly!

Bit cold is it?
Sunday night was blissful. Hot showers, camp fire, good food (chicken stew prepared by Cat) warmed by Jackie over Paul’s portable barbeque, several bottles of wine and the usual discussions about life and the universe (if only politicians would listen to us!). We even had some wildlife visits. 

Jackie to the rescue!
Some minah birds paid us a visit before dark, one hopping into our van to have a look and then getting stuck (Jackie to the rescue) and, after dark a possum called by to see what we were eating. He had a look in our washing bowl, ambled round our camp and enjoyed the last spoonful of the chicken stew that Jackie fed him while she stole a stroke (very soft she said).

The little possum investigating our washing up bowl

Jackie trading food for a stroke

Time for 'meaningful' discussion
Several bottles of wine later! (Can you see a third person between Jackie and Paul? Spooky!)

An easy start to Monday morning (the aching legs didn’t allow anything active) with bacon and beans and plenty of coffee rounded off our trip to Mount Barney very nicely. Many thanks Paul, you’re a star!


  1. What an exciting trip! Really loved the pictures, thanks. Off to work in a min so must stop skiving at the computer with my porridge! Lots of love, H x

  2. That was an instant reaction. I posted it less than 5 minutes ago! Go to work and stop skiving, we're just about to cook our dinner, its starting to get dark here!