TRIP:Yodellers Range, 25-30/06/10
PARTY: Dave ‘Fritz’ Lee, Bjorn Sturmberg, Peter Raines, Ambert Xie, David Williams, Lucy Connell, Carina, Pia Brabek
The Yodellers Range in the northern Wollemi NP lies 40km south west of Denman, about a 5 hour drive from the city.
Heading out of the city on a cold somewhat wet Friday afternoon Fritz and I sailed through the traffic, spirits high due to post-exam enthusiasm and anticipation of spending 5 days bagging some of the most interesting peaks in the Yodellers.
On navigating out way through the back paddocks of Widden Valley Stud and Myrtle Grove farm by Fritz’s memory it became painfully clear to us that instructions better than ‘follow Myrtle Grove Rd until you see a camp fire’ were required for any of the remaining party to make it. So after some homebrew and cheese, full moon photo-pfaffing, a chilly rainy nights sleep and still expecting Pete’s arrival we drove back to out of the valley on the Saturday morning. Half way to Denman, and still no sign of Pete, Telstra came into reception and we contacted Pete who was now to join us that evening and passe on our best directions to Ambert and Pia. With the odds of the rest of the group finding us somewhat increased we dropped the car back at our campsite and started off up the peak just to the south.
As Fritz had previously bagged this peak the going was fast and the only detour was up the first face which had previously been considered but skirted and was this time climbed only to find the face and corner of the peak truly unconquerable. After dropping back down to the scrub we followed the previously taken route up to the top, to our first views of the Yodellers through the clearing rain. having made good time we traversed the tops making sure to take silly one footed/handstands on the various ledges. Three short abseils, a wombat highway and a wood collection trip later we were back at the car and starting up our first fire. Then with the first beers of the night in hand and the fire just getting going Pete’s ute splashed and slid its way into camp.
The agenda for Sundays trip was clear, to pitch an abseil off as close to the natural arch on the eastern side of Wedding Cake mountain as possible. This arch had been discovered on a previous trip but presented a serious challenge to get close to, as it starts half way down the cliff line. With the rain all but cleared we followed roughly the same gully up the mountain but found an easier route up the last incline avoiding a step scrub infested gully previous trips have gone up. As is always the case in the Yodellers the easiest path is also the most exposed and this was a case in point with a highly exposed ledge leading us onto a clear patch up to the top.
After traversing the relatively flat top we had to next find the arch. This proved to be reasonably straightforward from another ridge and we were soon on our way onto the correct ridge, anxiously awaiting whether or not we would find a route down. Optimistically we abseiled of the eastern side of the ridge to a ledge 30m below the tops and were pleasantly surprised to find that it took us directly to the arch. Better yet we in fact found two possible anchors on either side of the arch but the one on the western side brought the rope over a sharp ironstone edge so the gumtree on the east was selected. With our two 60m ropes (and the optimism of the days success’s) we were cautiously we could abseil all the way down the face, directly adjoining the arch. Still a prussik was attached preemptively by Pete who took the first dive over the edge. After some time we heard the good news that the ropes indeed reached! Having not seen the arch previously I was amazed to see its scale and shape (following precisely the form of a flying buttress). Pete had gotten off rope at the base of the arch which required some pendulum motion on rope but provided some great photo-pfaffing opportunities of Fritz as he went past. Getting back on rope was somewhat more complicated as the rope needed to be swung in back under the arch but after a 3 man pull down and another short pitch we were back on the forest floor.
Surprised at our good fortunes and the early time we took a luxurious lunch break on an outcrop before skirting around the northern end of Wedding Cake mountain. After some more timtams on a Pagoda we made it back to the car by early afternoon, being accompanied through the paddock by a hungry heard of cattle. From the camp site we wandered up to the NP boundary scoping out future peaks and deciding a 2 day traverse of the lower part of the Yodellers would be a great challenge. We also noted that there is a 15m wide patch of no-mans-land in between the gate of the Mytle Gully property and the Wollemi NP sign that is quite clear and lush and we all agreed would make an ideal camp site for a future trip. By 9pm, just in time for some deserts, Ambert and Dave had found us after a somewhat adventurous drive up putty road.
The five of us set of on Monday to attempt to a new climb up a unnamed peak of the range parallel to the Yodellers but on the other side of Emu creek.