21/08/2010 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Brennan
An unpleasantly cold and blustery sou'wester awaited Rachel and I as we pulled up at the Narrow Neck car park. Not the best weather for a bit of pass finding. I hoped that the north facing cliffs we would be checking out would give us some shelter.
We set off down the climbers track to the cliff edge, and then along to Diamond Falls, which was regularly being blown back on itself. Thankfully we crossed without getting too wet and tried to find the old Narrow Neck track. I was quite unsuccessful at this, and we fought our way up the hill through unpleasant banksia and hakea scrub for quite some way before we found it. Somewhat the worse for wear, we followed the track out to the Redledge turnoff. This historic track is getting quite overgrown and needs a few more hardy walkers to help out and keep the vegetation from consigning it to the dustbin of history.
Once on the Redledge track, the going was easier, and we scrambled down into Corral Creek and up on to the ledge. Rachel reminded me about the log book in the tin just before the start of the ledge - it's only got a few pages left, so if anyone wants to take a small (A6) replacement, that might be a good idea.
Then it was out on the ledge to the descent point, noting the climbs on the steep orange rock further along. We dropped down through several levels of small cliffs before traversing right and then down the main ridge to Corral Creek. This was a somewhat easier descent than I'd previously taken, requiring no real navigation unlike the last time.
Rather than heading straight up to Diamond Head, it looked like it would be easier to follow the old road to where it passed closest to the head, and then to ascend from there. It proved pretty easy in practice, a steepish climb leading to a detached pinnacle below the first minor cliffline. There was a potential route up from there, but it was a climb not a scramble, and I decided we'd be better off searching for alternatives. A couple of hundred metres towards Diamond Creek we found an easier route up, though still an awkward scramble, and soon we were through the lower cliff. Rachel was feeling somewhat sick, so I left her sitting near a large boulder while I looked first left, and then right for a route through the next cliffline. At the far right hand end there was a feasible route up, though I couldn't see how far it went. I retrieved Rachel from the boulder, and climbed up the first part. At a small ledge, things got more exposed. Right looked like an exposed scramble, while left looked less exposed but potentially a climb. I was undecided whether to press on. Rachel came up, so I got her to belay me up the right side, slinging (perhaps somewhat futilely!) a couple of small bushes along the way. The scrambling was still fairly easy, just exposed.
I had hoped this would bring us out on the ledge I had been down to before from the top. We headed left, looking for the short climb I remembered doing. No sign of it. The ledge ran out at a minor gully. Just before the gully was a possible route up. It looked like a scramble so after some discussion, I started climbing, Rachel belaying. Sometimes looks can be deceiving. An awkward mantle got me on to a ledge about 4m up, with no easy way off, or back down. The bush I had hoped to sling turned out to be all but dead. A dodgy move got me on to another ledge, from which I could traverse along and climb up to the top of this cliffline. I belayed Rachel up, and looked around.
I still didn't recognise anything, but looking up I could see the cliffs of the halfway ledge looming not far above. Scrambling up through one more vegetated cliffline we hit the main cliff. Blessed relief! We were there!
Not far back from the end is a wide ledge, where we sat and had a very late lunch, taking in the spectacular views. Despite finishing the climb, the walk back to the car still has its excitement. There are several narrow sections of ledge to negotiate back to Diamond Falls. At Diamond Falls we took a drenching as we had to try and scoot across the slippery rocks as the wind blew the falls in all directions, creating a pretty rainbow. My timing coincided with a gust of wind, and I got a free shower. Along under the climbing areas we went, and up the gully and ridge back to the car, where the wind was still blowing.
In hindsight, if we had gone right instead of left at the top of the second cliffline, we may have found the short scramble I had done previously. Though looking at photos of Diamond Head, that actually looks pretty unlikely. If so, that would make the ascent of Diamond Head an exposed scramble, rather than the short rock climb we did.