Three Peaks

19-20 Nov 2005


All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2008. Not to be used for any purpose without permission.


Trip Report

TRIP: Three Peaks, 18-20 Nov 2005


James Bevan
Ashley Burke


This trip is becoming something of an annual ritual, a long walk from Katoomba to the peaks of Cloudmaker, Paralyser and Guouogang and back in a single weekend. Mid November is a bit late in the year to be attempting this hard walk, but fortunately for us the temperatures were not unbearably hot.

The walk starts in Katoomba at the beginning of the Narrow Neck road and James and I clocked on there at 11pm on Friday evening. The night began mild and starry, but after the first hour or so the moon rose, washing out the stars and lighting the way ahead in a milky grey.

A little under 2 hours of walking brought us to the end of the Narrow Neck road and before us the bulk of the southern Blue Mountains wilderness could dimly be made out beneath the night sky. We climbed down the spikes to the track below and descended to Medlow Gap, and then pressed on through the Wild Dog Mountains to Mobbs Soak and Mount Yellow Dog. Sleep deprivation was the hardest aspect of this part of the walk, as it was the dead of night and there was no prospect of sleep until the following night. After a jarring and seeming endless slog down Yellow Pup Ridge we reached the Coxs River. It was 4:30am.

We took a short break here and then started up Mt Strongleg. At last, after half an hour or so of climbing in the dark, we were able to switch our torches off, for the natural light of dawn began slowly seeping through from the east. It was on this section of the walk that I almost fell asleep while I was actually walking, and when we stopped for breakfast on top of Mt Strongleg, I kept dropping off to sleep while trying to eat my breakfast, which probably would have appeared rather comical, except that James was probably half asleep as well at the time.

Anyway, once the full strength of the daylight came forth, the sleep pangs receded for a while and we pressed on to Dex Creek and then on to Cloudmaker, reaching it at 8:10am.

Then came the huge 1000m descent to Kanangra Creek, which we reached at 9:50am for another short break. Ahead of us was the long steep climb up the aptly named Mt Paralyser. I got into a steady rhythm and reached the summit at midday and settled in for a well earned lunch. James had decided to pace himself carefully up this hill, knowing that Nooroo Ridge had to be done today as well and he arrived at the summit about 40 minutes later.

Then it was the huge plummet into Whalania Deep, and for another 1000m of descending my knees pleaded for mercy. When at the bottom we rehydrated, refilled our water bladders and then tackled Nooroo Ridge.

Undisputedly the highlight of the 3 peaks, Nooroo ridge is a spectacular ascent. Snaking its way up the south side of Guouogang, Nooroo Ridge climbs steeply in stages, with quartzite outcrops offering breathtaking views. Davies Canyon and Mt Paralyser lie directly to the south, and the rainforest gully of Jenolan Creek lies directly below. And as you climb, the view becomes steadily more expansive until at last the Blue Breaks come into view, and beyond that, the horizon. When the summit of Paralyser is below that horizon, you know you have nearly made it. At last, the ridge levelled out and at just after 5pm we reached the summit cairn.

With all 3 peaks bagged and logbooks signed, it was time to head for home. We descended via Mt Bullagowar and onwards down towards the Coxs River until finally, after 21 hours of almost continuous walking, we stopped on a flat section of ridge to camp at about 7pm. On a small camp fire we set about preparing our first warm meal of the trip. James got as far as putting his billy on the fire, and then promptly fell asleep. His dinner would be his breakfast. I struggled through my billy of noodles, my appetite lost, and then lay down. I remember gazing at the branches overhead for a few moments, happy to be resting at last, and then dreamless sleep came.

Just before 5am the sense of fine drizzle falling on my face woke me. It was still dark but the morning bird chorus had begun. It was time to get going. We packed up and headed down to the Coxs River for breakfast. Then it was the long climb back up through the Wild Dog Mountains towards Katoomba. It was overcast and mild, and the walking straightforward. After Medlow Gap James powered ahead while I plodded my way up towards the end of the Narrow Neck. Once we reached the end of the Neck it was only 2 hours to go (or 1 and a half for James). James powered on ahead again while I hobbled my way back into Katoomba. Finally, we crossed the finishing line and recorded the following 3 peaks times:

James : 37 hours and 10 minutes
Ashley : 37 hours and 35 minutes

Back in Katoomba we had almost reached the car when who should come running down the street but Jo out on an afternoon run. And a little later on Tom who was in Wentworth Falls got in touch. And so it was that all 4 of us ended up at the pub in Wentworth Falls to conclude the trip. Another successful 3 peaks challenge in the bag. Congratulations to James for his first 3 peaks in under 48 hours.

Ashley Burke


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All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2008. Not to be used for any purpose without permission.