22/06/2007 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Jonathan Potts
I picked Jonathan up from the ferry at Greenwich and we headed up to Katoomba to get a few provisions for the day. Arriving at the locked gate on Narrow Neck, I was surprised to find four cars there already, including one that looked like Michael Keats'. I remembered that Michael had mentioned a group doing Sliprail Creek and Dunphy's Pass on Friday, so that may have been the reason for the traffic. Walking out along Narrow Neck, there was plenty of frost on the ground, and some quite large crystals. In some places, the patches were only there from being in the shadow of a tree trunk, which made for some interesting effects. A side track led out to the east side of Narrow Neck where it petered out with good views of cloud in the Jamison Valley.
Back at the fire trail, we decided we had gone further than our notes suggested, and so backtracked to an old fire trail that headed in the right direction. It was slowly swallowed up by the bush, and we waded through Narrow Neck scrub for a while until we hit another track - heading right down the middle of the ridge. We followed it down into Corral Creek, which was flowing strongly. Across Corral Creek we were treated to a spectacular sight. Water dripping from the cliffs above had frozen solid on a large swathe of plants, encasing them in ice. All sorts of fantastic shapes. We spent a while taking photos, and watching chunks of ice falling from the plants as it melted. Then we headed out along the Red Ledge. The pass was a lot less exposed than I was expecting. Hardly more than the non-climbing bits of say Taros Ladders or Carlons Chains (aka Mansons Ladders). There were a number of bolted climbs on the upper line of cliffs which we checked out.
At the end we stood around for a while on the nose, looking at the map and the ground and trying to get the two to connect. We weren't particularly successful. As we headed back to go down the descent gully, we heard some voices. After waiting a while the voices hadn't emerged, so we descended anyway. There were vague tracks most of the way to the bottom and we were soon at a creek. Looking again at the notes, we were supposed to have headed north to find an old miners road, whereas we had headed north west. We cut across country, up and down over a couple of ridges until we found a cutting near the junction with Corral Creek that looked like a good approximation of a road.
After checking out the ruins on the other side of the creek, we set off along the road. The road headed north east, but there was a lot of debris and we had to continually make little detours to keep on track. The recent rains had also made swamps of some parts of the road, necessitating further detours. In the end I just got my feet wet. It was a while until we hit what we thought was the Water Board Road - but which just turned out to be our original route taking a turn - and so even longer still until we actually did hit it! Seeing as we had a fair bit of time, we thought we would check out what was left of Dixons Ladders. The regularly branching road caused us confusion, but we eventually found ourselves at the foot of the ladders after a steep climb. Most of the rungs had been removed from the bottom section, and I baulked at the slippery rock in the middle. Jonathan led the way with the appropriate technique, which turned out to be fairly straightforward. Unfortunately we got about half way up the next section before the ladders petered out, obviously removed. Not wanting to descend all the way back to the Devils Hole turn off, we started traversing north under the cliffs towards the Devils Hole. I thought we would get stuck in the corner where the creek comes down, but it was all pretty easy, and we soon joined the Devils Hole track, complete with creek running down it (something I hadn't seen before).
At the top we had a late lunch on pagodas, and set up some (exposed) photos on a particularly exposed pagoda, before heading back to the car on Narrow Neck. There were even more cars there than when we left in the morning. We had a disgustingly rich hot chocolate deluxe (with a mound of whipped cream) before Jonathan just made the train back to Sydney.