Terreo - frighten / terrify
It entails loose thin ledges over long drops, route finding through clifflines, a lot of elevation a long walk in and out and a fair bit of bush bashing, some of it over steep talus.
Aerial view of the relevant parts of Mount Solitary. 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 usually impossible to tell which ledge the route is actually on.
The route was anti clockwise from Kedumba.
More detail of the route taken down Terreo Pass. It includes a couple of failed attempts further South of the final route.
A close up of Terreo Pass taken from the hairpin on Kedumba Pass. Descend the wide gully at the far right, traverse the mostly treed ledge in the centre, descend through scattered bluffs just left of centre to the wide lower ledge and more easily navigate through the bottom cliffline to reach the talus.
Park at the gate on Kings Tableland Road and follow the firetrail into Kedumba Valley, a descent from 800m down to the river at 160m. The first hairpin offers a stunning panorama from Leura in the North around to Lake Burragorang.
The Eastern face of Mount Solitary including the planned route down the face close to Point Repulse.
The Eastern Col of Mount Solitary is visible from the track close to the Kedumba River, it’s a 600m ascent over around 2km up a good track.
After crossing the Kedumba River and slogging up to the Eastern Col, a short break at the logbook is highly recommended. Then, it’s a further 100m of ascent before taking a shortcut South West over Singajingawell Creek. This would have resulted in wet feet but for a couple of well placed fallen branches near the outlet of the swampy section.
And then more Southerly up the next ridge over light vegetation and down to skirt the upper reaches of Rayfrandell Creek through much denser bush. From there it was following the ridge South to within 200m of the gully that leads to Point Repulse Pass.
A hour was spent exploring a couple of improbable gullies on the Eastern side that remained frustratingly 30m above the upper ledge.
And so, retracing steps 120m North found a longer and wider gully that more promisingly started much further from the cliff edge. This wider gully was filled with fallen trees which made progress slow, but descended for the required 50m or so to get to the level of the upper ledge. The long range photo shows it clearly, as well as the blank cliff faces further to the South.
The ledge to the South passed several pretty sandstone layers.
The ledge started off steeply angled towards the cliff edge with loose dirt and leaves to contend with. However, most sections were a few meters wide with a few small shrubs to arrest any mis-step.
It didn’t take long to come across some sections where it got a lot narrower with no second chances.
The drop off is around 40m.
After 200m the ledge started to become less vertical offering some options to get to the level below.
The first viable option was a steep and leaf strewn descent. An achievable route wasn’t visible from the top, only after descending part way could a non-vertical option to the base be seen.
It was soon followed by more pass finding. Generally speaking the next route down is within 30m horizontal meters of the one just descended.
This slot looks easy from the base, but it is deceptively vertical from above.
A longer scramble with good steps for much of the way down… until it gets closer to a controlled slither.
This slot didn’t strictly require a handline, but the lack of high footholds over a 2-3m drop made it safer.
This was one of the longest descents. Getting to the top was via slippery and loose three meters then a narrow, loose and then crumbly ledge. There’s no viable anchor point close by, but a small climb up to a good tree above provided the necessary. The 2m step down in the middle of the descent had a crack between it and the wall, but it was slightly to wide to be a useful foothold. That was really the only section that really required much weight on the tape.
And eventually the talus was reached. It was steep, with scattered lawyer vines, but after 300m became more gentle with some runnable sections. The contours on the topo indicates a continuous slope, but the ground has several terraces and dry gullies, so keeping an eye on the heading is wise.
The fire trail was a welcome sight - it’s all downhill to the Kedumba River. A brief top-up of water (avoiding the tadpoles) where Singajingawell creek was just about flowing was the only pause before the Kedumba River is reached. At low water a convenient log floats in well over a meter of water providing a dry but slightly wobbly option.
For those with (understandably) wobbly legs there is a ford 30m downstream which was only ankle deep.
After crossing the log, passing the wallablies and ‘roos in the campsite and crossing Waterfall Creek it was 2km of firetrail to reach the turnoff to the Goat Track.
The lower part of the Goat Track exit is long and steep with a few fallen trees to bypass. The only break in the steepness is a 4m step up. About half way up there are chains installed to assist with this impost. It also offers a view back across to the topography recently encountered.
And after reaching the halfway point of the Goat Track the firetrail appears and the second part of the Goat Track begins. Crossing it immediately, a faint track heads just as steeply up towards the first hairpin. Keeping to the left of any bluffs along the spine of the ascent leads to denser tea trees and some Cassuarinas. Eventually a short rope assists with an ascent and twenty vertical meters later the hairpin is reached - the signal that it’s only a further 2km back to the car park (all of it uphill).
This descent route is possible by particularly competent bushwalkers. The scambles are doable with care and tape assistance. There is a pair of descents with very little usable space between them, so at least two tapes, one 30m and one 12m for a small group would be the minimum required to provide a degree of safety.
An alternative to starting at Kedumba, is to start at the Golden Stairs and approach Mount Solitary from the North as the total descent along the Ruined Castle Ridge is around 300m. The downside of this is that it leaves you badly placed for the return trip. However, this is not an unreasonable option as it’s possible to -
- traverse under the cliff North to ascend the Eastern Col to retrace your steps over Mount Solitary
- traverse South to ascend Point Repulse and retrace steps
- reascend Terreo Pass and reverse the whole route
- descend to the talus after a car shuffle to Kedumba
- descend to the talus and return to Golden Stairs via Sublime Point firetrail - although probably an overnighter
A long day -
1700m of ascent
This is a route that has significant route-finding challenges through precipitous terrain. Good judgement is required - don’t expect to find any acceptable route down easily.
All of the party should be particularly comfortable with exposure and be especially sure footed. There is a long traverses often on steep, narrow and loose terrain over significant drops.
Particularly good proficiency with scrambling is also required. A tape is mandatory for most parties. Any scrambling or use of a tape will inevitably result in bottlenecks, larger parties can expect lengthy delays at numerous pinch points.
The timing is for small experienced parties, jogging the firetrails and not stopping on the ascents or for rest breaks - expect to take longer, possibly much longer.
This route has no fallback options. However, early on in the long ledge traverse and descent it may be possible to reverse.
There is almost water to be found on the plateau, exceptions are at known locations - Singajingawell Creek crossing and a tiny pool high on Rayfrandell Creek. Sometimes the exit firetrail has flowing water (with not too many tadpoles) where it crosses Singajingawell Creek and also the Waterfall Creek near the Kedumba River campground where the ‘roos tend to congregate. There are no drips or waterfalls below the clifflines.
This is probably not a route to consider ascending for the first time, there are a few hard and committing scrambles as well as route finding difficulties.