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Climbing Mt. Warning

Saturday night, Richard and I were talking about were we would go for our next photography adventure.
We had planned on going back to O’Riley’s, where he took me last year, to take the long circuit that featured 17 waterfalls, but, the rain was too much Saturday, and I did not have the proper shoes to do such a muddy trail.
So we thought about it. And around 11:30 pm, Richard says “we can go to Mt. Warning.”

Now, Mt. Warning is the first place that that the sun hits at sunrise… the highest point in New South Wales….almost the highest in Australia!
The summit is a 4.4 k trek through lush rainforest and over lots of rocks and slippery roots that have been polished smooth by weather and many hikers. At the top of the summit is a platform that has 4 areas that overlook the surrounding valleys and mountains…each a spectacular view!
And the point that faces east has the best view of the morning’s sunrise….

So of course I said that I wanted to go!
This sounded like a grand adventure!

I asked how long it would take to get there from home…
Being a 161 km (100 miles) – about 2 hours 45 mins, drive…we needed to leave immediately in order to make the climb in time for sunrise!
So we quickly got ready and by 12:20 we were on the road!

We arrived at 3am and began the long trek with the 101 stairs that headline the beginning of the steep trail.
It was DARK!!! If we did not have our flash lights, we would not have made it…the trail, once past the steps becomes narrow in places and while I am thankful that I could not see just how close to some of the drops offs that we did walk. It may have been nice to see more than just our feet and a little bit in front of us…lol

the rocky narrow trail

the trail ahead with no light, save the flash from the camera…and that brightened more than our flashlights did!

About a half hour into the hike, Richard stops and tells me to look to the side of us… there in the dark, amidst the vague shadows of trees and bush, it looked like someone had taken small green stars and sprinkled them there… I was amazed… they were a lot like fireflies, or lightening bugs (depending on what you call them) but they did not wink on and off… just a nice steady glow…
Richard at first thought they were glow worms, but when we looked more closely at the ones that were on the rock wall nearest us, we could see that it was just a bit of plant or fungi that had glowing tips
It was a most magical moment… like being in the midst of a faerie world!
I only wish our camera could have picked up the soft glow

After that we continues to climb…yes climb…some of the areas had places where rocks had literally fallen across the path and we had to scramble over them on all fours, in order to not lose our balance and tumble over the edge!

Soon after (45 mins from the starting point) we reached the sign that stated we had reached the half way point…

After about an hour and a half of more climbing, hiking and scrambling…
not to mention slipping, shivering and puffing for breath…
we finally reached the beginning of the end…
THE CHAIN!
Now the chain was something that I thought would be easy… after all… I had climbed up the rock face of a waterfall with no gear… a free climb… surely, this chain would make this rock climb much easier…
I thought wrong…
We had been hiking for nearly 2 hours… in the dark… at ridiculous inclines… we were tired and very cold… this was the top of the mountain… and the wind chill was making it close to 30 degrees C below freezing…
I would love to say that it was easy and that I climbed without any problems… but that would be wrong… There were a few places that I was not sure that I could make it… and on top of it all I needed to be faster… dawn was coming and the sunrise, our whole reason for the climb, was not going to wait for me to get my tired butt up to the top….
It was a hard, 15 minute climb… but I did make it…
Thankfully… before the sun…!!!!
Being that we were so cold and that we were not really concerned with taking pictures of the climb at this point, only with making it to the top, I have not pics of the climb up or down… however, I did a little research on the web and found a few that I will add at the bottom of the page with other interesting resources

We made it to the top!

Richard
Me

however, we were not sure when the sun would actually be able to be seen…
sunrise was forecasted to happen at 6:20 am.
so while we waited for the sun, we took some pics of the pre dawn!

here’s one of them

The wind was terrible… gusts were some 70-100 miles an hour!
Needless to say…even though our wait was only about 30 mins before the sun really made its appearance,
it seemed to take forever!
But when it finally did…
It was splendid!!!

I then preceded to take pics of the surrounding areas…finally I could see the view
we were sooooo high up!

On the east side where the sun was rising, the wind was
fierce, but as I made my way to
the west side, it was like being hit in the
face with a bat. You can see that while the
photo is in focus, all the bushes in the
foreground are not. They were being whipped
about like a blender on high speed!

And how spectacular to see the shadow of the mountain stretching
for miles and miles behind us!
the view was stunningly breathtaking!

What few clouds that did dot the sky
were taking on the soft pastel pinks from the
morning glow!
It is an experience I will never forget!

Well it was cold, like I said, and we knew that we had to get off that mountain top!
Some of the people that had joined us up there were foolishly dressed in shorts and even a few of them made the climb in Crocs!!! And without socks!
One poor bloke was huddled up with his sweat shirt pulled down over his bare legs… his feet, that had gotten cold enough to start turning white…were tucked into his beanie cap!
So it was time to climb down!
While it was light enough to see, and the chain was there to help… we were no longer warm from our climb up and our own hands were stiff from the cold.
Gripping the chain was like trying to hold on to a pipe that was filled with dry ice!
Your hands were so cold that it was painful all the way to the bone…
And yet you dare not let go of that chain…
I had my sweatshirt sleeve pulled around my hand so that I could have some kind of barrier between me and that metal. And to shield me from the ever present wind!
Going down backwards, you feel blind, trying to find the next foot hold, wrapping your arm over the chain to steady your balance, and levering yourself with your other hand against the rocks to lower yourself as quickly as you can safely…anything to get out of that cold wind!
I would love to say that I was brave
And that I just kept going…. but in truth, I got scared at one point, and froze…
I was not able to see the next foot hold, and when I lowered my leg down, I could not feel it either.
Richard had to come back up a bit so that he could help me find some of the holds…my legs were a bit short to reach some of them, and so he braced his arm so that I could stand on him to reach the next step down.
It was a hard climb.
I did make it….but it is a climb that I will wait a bit to do again.

Miscellaneous photos of the way back down

photo 1
photo 2
photo 3

By the time you have hiked back down the mountain, and you hit the first set of stairs, you are thrilled!
Never before did you think that you would look forward to them again, especially after the long hard trek up them…
However… when you finally hit the stairs, you know you are getting close to the end…
not at the end yet.. still some 30 mins! But closer!!!

Photos of the Information board at the beginning of the trail

one
two

View of the mountain from the road below

I CLIMBED THAT!!!!

Map, web photos and other resources

map of trail

warning sign

web photo of chain climb

Journal Comments

  • Martice
  • Jennifer Ellison
  • Linda Ridpath
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  • Jan Stead JEMproductions
  • Jennifer Ellison
  • Jan Stead JEMproductions
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  • Paul Cotelli
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  • Faith Barker Photography
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