TRIP: Two Colo Passes, 19-20 May 2007

PARTY: James Bevan, Kendy Burke, Rob Hynes, Jacqui Knox, Tom Murtagh, Ashley Burke

Last week’s rain had gone by Friday evening, when 3 cars coming from different directions rendezvoused on the Putty Road beneath clear starry skies and welcome autumnal coolness. We consolidated into 2 cars for the drive out along a fire trail to our camp site, which was a cleared area beside the trail where there was room to park.

The trip began on Saturday morning with a walk along a faint and partly overgrown fire trail. The air was clear and apart from the occasional gust of wind the weather was perfect. Our first views of the Colo revealed a deep rugged gorge with huge river bends against which were pressed broad ridges fortified by cliffs. The trail petered out and we continued along a ridge until finally it ended abruptly, surrounded on all sides by the Colo. The only way forward was down the steep broken rocky pass to the river. This pass had to be carefully negotiated. There were 2 sections where a hand line was needed and packs were passed, and a third section was best solved by abseiling about 15 metres. This brought us to a saddle, and beyond that a pinnacle, which we finally reached by about 2pm for a late lunch. James, who had charged on ahead and disappeared more than an hour earlier, was finally found here dozing on a rock.

Our original plan of climbing a different pass to a high camp that afternoon had to be scuttled due to the lateness of our arrival here, so we adapted our route so that we would reach a point on the Colo river where we could camp. So we descended steeply to the river and walked downstream for an hour or so. The camp site was on the other side, and I picked what appeared to be a shallow sandy reach as a crossing point. It was indeed shallow most of the way, just the last bit was a little deeper, up to my shoulders in fact. Jacqui and Tom came this way, but the others found a much shallower crossing a little further on.

We arrived at the sandy camp site just on dark, and by the time we had readied the camp it was tipple time. There were 5 bottles of wine to go among 5 people, so we made do.

Next morning we headed a little further downstream and then began to tackle a steep climb out of the gorge. None of us had been up this pass before. It turned out to be an easy one, with no major obstructions, and a great view from the top. Our route from here crossed a creek and then climbed higher onto a prominent ridge. Here we had a great lunch in the sunshine. A little further on and we came to the top of cliffs with more fantastic views. These were the best views of the trip. We could see the gorge of the Colo slicing through the plateau and beyond this familiar mountains and more gorges away into the distance. We would have loved to linger for longer among this great scenery but unfortunately weekends are just too short and it was time to navigate our way along the ridges back to the cars.

We arrived at the cars just before 5pm and then headed our separate ways.

A great weekend out in a fantastic part of the Blue Mountains.

Ashley Burke