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Sharps Pass into Upper Grose
Sharps Pass into Upper Grose

Sharps Pass into Upper Grose

The Upper Grose has a many ways through the clifflines. A few are named - Victoria Falls Track, McKenzies Pass, Brownes Path, Surveyors Gully and Engineers Track Narrowneck. A rarely traveled Pass is Sharps Pass close to Valhalla Head. Sharps Pass doesn't require tape or scrambling ability, just surefootedness on steep talus. The optional alternate Pass used for the exit from the talus has 3 easy scrambles.

The Upper Grose has a many ways through the clifflines. A few are named - Victoria Falls Track, McKenzies Pass, Brownes Path, Surveyors Gully and Engineers Track Narrowneck. A rarely traveled Pass is Sharps Pass close to Valhalla Head.

Sharps Pass doesn’t require tape or scrambling ability, just surefootedness on steep talus. Most groups would either return back up the Pass or continue to the Grose and exit upstream towards Surveyors Track and Darling Causeway or via Ikara Head track, or downstream to McKenzies Pass or Burra Korain and then Victoria Falls Track.

The optional alternate Pass used for the exit from the talus has 3 easy scrambles. None are especially exposed or require rope.

The route synopsis -

  • park at Ikara Head trailhead on Victoria Falls Road
  • follow good 4WD track for 1600m to cairn
  • turn right and continue downhill along ridge on pad for 1km
  • watch for pagodas on right just past the last knoll, then leave track and descend towards them
  • pass pagodas and head due North to cliff edge, then stop
  • find the pass and descend 45 degree slope to talus & beyond
  • return the same way or continue to Grose

The alternate return -

  • from talus contour West for 100m keeping close to base of cliff
  • locate easy yellow 3m scramble in a corner
  • follow ledge North past an awkward tree to 1.5m ascent onto platforms
  • attempt easy 2.5m ascent to plateau
  • return to pagodas and retrace steps back to car

Route

Aerial view of the whole route. Note that the GPS tends to bounce around when close to cliffs, so some of this route needs to be treated with caution. It’s often impossible to tell which ledge the route is actually on.

GPS route of Sharps Pass

Route Description

After parking on Victoria Falls Road follow the disused 4WD track for 1600m to the cairn. It’s steep (though runnable) for the first 150m, then undulates pleasantly northwards and then more easterly along the ridge.

Shortly after it turns north again, a (currently) demolished cairn and fainter footpad leads downhill and east, before turning north and levelling out.

This excellent footpad along the ridge is easily runnable for the most part. There’s good views North, East and West.

Sharps Pass

Spring came early in 2021, there were plenty of wildflowers worthy of a pause.

Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers Sharps Pass Wildflowers

And later an early waratah overlooking the Grose Valley.

Sharps Pass Waratah

The pagoda is a familiar landmark. From here head due North for 200m to the cliff edge.

Sharps Pass

This prominent outcrop has a reasonable sized cairn. If you find it, you’re 150m too far East.

Sharps Pass

Possible grinding grooves on the edge of the cliffs. Again, if you find these, head further West.

Sharps Pass

Sharps Pass is just a consistently steep gully starting at the plateau and ending at the talus. The top of the pass has a 25m radius of catchment - it can’t be found by following a gully or watercourse. It’s all plateau then when you’re right on top of it the gully appears - so follow the cliff edge.

The gully sides become vertical cliff as the descent continues, eventually narrowing to 6-7m apart close to the talus.

Looking down the Pass from the plateau, it’s possible to see that it ‘goes’.

Sharps Pass

An optional side trip East along the base of cliff is particularly steep, with a drop-off developing after 100m. Earlier investigation from the top revealed possible alternate routes down that required an initial 4-5m of tape-assisted descent. Further investigation may be conducted at a later date.

Sharps Pass

Returning up the Pass and retracing your steps back to the car park is the easy option. The even (albeit steep) gradient is apparent.

Sharps Pass

A round trip from here could include a decent descent down the talus to the very overgrown Engineers Tracks alongside the Grose.

Upstream options include Surveyors Gully and eventually the Darling Causeway or up to the Ikara Head climbers track and back along the ridge to the carpark.

Downstream leads to both McKenzies Pass or Burra Korain and then Victoria Falls track. Note that McKenzies Pass is particularly onerous between the coalmine and the Grose.

The more adventurous option is the alternate pass 100m further West. It can be found by leaving Sharps Pass shortly after starting the ascent of the talus.

Sharps Pass

Proceed along the cliff base until this jumble of rocks comes into view. The route is an easy scramble up the jumble for 5m, turn right and then with some difficulty bash through the tree and along a 1m wide ledge atop the wall.

Sharps Pass Rock Jumble

After ascending the rocks and negotiating the tree, this wide and level but exposed ledge is followed for at least 5m. It’s possible to climb up to the rock platform on the left from almost anywhere on the ledge, but it’s easiest at the far end by the tree.

Alternate Sharps Pass

The rock platform is spacious with excellent views.

And the final 3m scramble has good hand and footholds with minimal exposure.

It would be hard to find this route from above - the ledge isn’t obviously visible and the dense tree hides the rock jumble.

Alternate Sharps Pass

Looking down at the spacious platform - the holds aren’t apparent from above.

Alternate Sharps Pass

Ikara Head is visible from much of the route.

Ikara Head

A more detailed GPS view of the route from the pagodas to the Pass, and the alternate exit.

Detailed GPS of Sharps Pass & alternate Pass

Stats

7.0km
300m of ascent
Elapsed 3:00

Care

This is a route that has little route-finding and navigational challenges. The pass is steep and loose, but no scrambling or rope is required.

The alternate exit requires basic scrambling ability and has a degree of exposure over an 8m drop.

  • 16/09/2021