A short jaunt over a few hills...aka 3 peaks in a day
12 April 2003
A trip report written by Richard Wood
Trip Report - A short jaunt over a few hills...aka 3 peaks in a day
Richard Wood (author)
We were back at Katoomba only 10 hours after leaving having aborting our attempt for no reason that i could discern...i couldn't understand why...Then I realised that I was still lying in my sleeping bag in Andrew's parent's place in Blackheath and it was time to get moving...(damn stupid dreams! :)
Unfortunately, William and I had missed our alarm and didn't get going till 2:07am from the climber's carpark on Narrow Neck. Meanwhile, Alex and Andrew who had said they were intending on taking it a bit more 'leisurely' had ended up leaving considerably earlier - 11:20am (mainly due to Andrew not being able to sleep on the Friday night..)
Sore legs soon developed as we jogged the neck and trails out to Yellow Pup...hindered a bit by difficulty keeping to the track due to the almost full moon being already set, and the fact that LED headlamps give jack all light (lucky i didn't buy one..). We were disturbed to see that Mobbs Soak was dry (Alex and Andrew still drank from some tiny manky puddles) - but luckily we found a little creek flowing soon after.
Due to our late start, Dawn was arriving as we were descending Yellow Pup - meanwhile Alex and Andrew were just about to summit Cloudmaker, taking somewhat of a more rapid than leisurely pace to get there (6:35am = 7h25min).
On the way up Stongleg, we passed a party of 5 with huge packs - although it turned out they were attempting the 3 peaks as well!
William and I hit Cloudmaker at about 9am (6h55min), and were surprised to see how early the others had gone through - we knew that we'd have some catching up to do in order to get back first to raid their food drop :). However, the pressure eased off a bit now, as we realised that any fastest times were out of reach, and that sub 24hrs would be fairly comfortable.
Thus it was following Andrew and Alex's footsteps down into Kanangra Ck and up onto Paralyser (A+A ~=9:30? , W+R~=11:45). My legs were starting to recover a bit from the bashing they'd got along the tracks in the morning (it was interesting that apart from at the very end, i think my legs were sorest in the first 6 hours!).
Anyway, the beautiful Whalania Creek offered some deep muscle relaxtion as I opted for a swim in its crystal clear and cool waters - it certainly provided plenty of reinvigoration.. (meanwhile William was itching to get up Guouogang!). However, William payed a bit of a price for not taking a swim (or maybe it had more to do with undertaking a few ultra-marathon type events in the preceeding few weeks) as his legs started to feel like spaghetti up the never ending Naroo Buttress.
We hit the top of Guouogang at 3pm (12h55min) noting that the others had still been travelling very well, arriving around 12:45pm (13h25min).
The descent over Bullagowar and down to the Cox's was fairly uneventful for us, but it turned out to be a bit different for the others - Andrew had started getting little cramps up to Guouogang, and these were getting a bit worse on the descent, and he was starting to feel 'not quite the best'...he eventually convinced Alex to push on ahead. So Alex set off on a trot down the spur and up onto Yellow Dog.
Sometime later, I enjoyed another nice swim in the Cox's, whilst William found a tree to cross that took away the need to get feet wet. We reached the top of Yellow Dog for sunset, and got stuck into our food that we had stashed there 12hours earlier.
Both Alex and Andrew had both pushed through this section (albeit seperately), with Andrew, although still not feeling the best, pretty much running the whole Yellow Dog to Medlow Gap section. It was about here that Andrew's food choices started to have repercussions - Andrew had opted for the maximum energy, minimum bulk option, and (especially after losing his only sandwiches and muesli bar on Narrow Neck in the morning) had 4 blocks of chocolate and a range of lollies to keep him going. Half a block of chocolate for lunch had pretty much killed him, and he had started hyperglycemiating (too much sugar in blood), causing him to collapse and almost pass out at Medlow Gap. In order to ensure that he kept glycogen available to the brain (and so as not to fall into a coma), he had to keep eating his remaining food (which was more chocolate of course!) - which he was subsequently throwing back up. However, he managed to drag himself through stages over Mt Derbert - which is where we found him about 2 hours later (8-8:30 or so), huddled by a fire with somewhat slurred speech, glazed eyes, and of course, half a block of chocolate in his hands. We emptied our bags of everything non-sweet and Andrew was in heaven as he munched on such delicacies as bread and dried fruit.
After talking through the options, and as Andrew started to feel a bit better, we decided that pushing on slowly was the most viable option - so we continued at a careful pace up through Taros Ladders and on to the neck - Andrew going considerably well considering his state. We reached the top of the Neck and retrieved the sandwiches that Andrew had lost that morning (as we'd found them and stashed them...). We had a break here whilst Andrew tried to stomach the sandwiches.
He felt well enough to push on, so we set off, and William and I were soon very surprised at the pace Andrew was able to keep going on in his current state (i think the fact that he still had a bit less than 2 hours in which to bash the neck for a 24hour completion might have been playing in the back of his mind...:)
The neck (as always) dragged on and on and on...and our legs were really starting to feel it...
Meanwhile, Alex had been putting in the hard yards over the trails, and was still pushing far ahead of everyone else. He had his mind set on 20 hours...but unfortunately the Narrow Neck curse of the perpetual fire trail got to him...and he didn't realise till too late that the locked gate was still coming, no, almost there, maybe just around the corner...and eventually he had to get running for the last 15 mins....and arrived at the Climber's carpark just 4 mins over...20hours, 4 minutes - a stellar effort - and thus he promptly collapsed and fell asleep for two hours...
William, Andrew and I rocked up a few hours later, William and I clocking it at 21h43min (we had to run the last 200m to ensure we beat the old SUBW time by Athol Abrahams and Dave Dash by 1 minute :). Andrew had just missed out on the sub 24 hr - but only by 30 minutes - a time of 24h30mins for him - a most remarkable achievement considering the delirious state that we had found him in 3 hours previously.
So all in all, a very successful walk, with everyone completing it in one hit. Unfortunately any possible pizza places were closed in Katoomba by the time we got there...so we had to resort to raiding Andrew's parent's place for such delicacies as peaches and ice cream...
We read in the paper the following day that the health department were recommending "10,000 steps per day" for a healthy lifestyle...we figured we'd done somewhere over 300,000...We also had gone through over 10 litres of water each in the day. And for the others stats...the 3 peaks is almost equivalent to two back to back marathons, with about 80km in total, and has increases (and decreases) in altitude of around 4000m...about equivalent to climbing half way up everest and back (without the high altitude effects) in a day...
So all good fun really!