There’s a half way ledge that can be seen in the photo below (taken from Perrys Lookdown). The far right end of the ledge touches the plateau, while the left disappears into the shadows before re-appearing near the Northern slopes.
The aerial view - clockwise from the car park at the top.
It starts of with thirty minutes of jogging along the fire trail from the car park around the back of Mt Banks to where the 4wd track gets to within 20m of the cliff face - thats at the extreme right of the photo.
There are good views to the South of the Grose Valley and West towards Govetts Gorge.
And also back towards to summit of Mount Banks.
A further 150m along the trail to the next dip, and it’s over the edge and onto the face.
There’s a faint but usable trail for the first fifteen minutes that passes a couple of caves where climbers had set up camps. There was little exposure up till that point as you keep to the contour. The overhangs are often deep.
And the ledge fairly steeply sloping in a few spots.
Some sections need a bit of extra care, the ground underfoot is occasionally loose.
But some sections stay close to the cliff face and are a lot better protected from any mis-step.
One of the more exposed parts - the vegetation below is a bit sparse.
Mount Banks is 500m high, interspersed with ledges every 50m or so. The next ledge above is a good indication of the distance to the next ledge below.
Staying on roughly the same contour eventually the ferny cave is reached. There’s often a drip in the centre of it.
And then the cliff face tends more Westwards giving views of the ledge just traversed.
Soon afterwards an unusual rock juts out into the valley.
From around this point there are options - finding the right ledge becomes harder. Keeping an eye on the ledge ahead and how thin it gets is a good indication that the correct ledge is lower.
After resolving that navigational error, the lower track leads to a dry forest with no sign of cliff either above or below. The track braids into vagueness with options higher and lower. Through the spindly trees a large butress dominates the slopes above - it needs to be passed on the right ascending steeply for vertical 40m. Only then continue Northwestwards to a high ledge where the log book can be found.
The grassy ledge then gets thinner over a drop with only a little protection 20 months after the fires. Continue for a couple of hundred meters til it rounds a corner to the right. Here the track at the same level leads to impossible narrowness, however the correct track descends for 5 meters towards the crux of the traverse.
There are maybe three seriously exposed parts in the whole traverse. Two of them are in the gully over a 30+ meter drop. To get into the short gully there’s a good but sometimes slippery ledge about 60cm wide that’s maybe 5m long with a banksia in the middle. Prior to the December 2019 fires there was a bit more vegetation to provide protection. However, there are better photo opportunities post fires.
Then immediately a 5m ascent under the overhang to the exit ledge that is almost directly opposite. The narrow ledge visible between the ferns is about 30cm wide. There are three options -
- sit on it and shuffle sideways for 3m while facing outwards
- take a big step across to the small foothold on the ledge below and climb it
- crawl across under the overhang and reach for the two adequate handholds that prevent you from being pushed outwards and into the abyss.
They all work - do what works for you.
Once we exited the gully and looked back it looked a lot worse than it was - the ledge is slightly above the middle of this shot starting at the right and disappearing into the ferns. One mis-step here and there’s a drop of thirty meters.
This gully is only a few minutes from the end of the face - all that’s left is a short easy walk along the contours to the northern slopes of Mt Banks and up to the walking trail & back to the car park.
And finally looking back - we exited just below the crag near a cairn. Perrys Lookdown & Orang Utan Pass are distantly visible across the valley.
The total trip time was slightly less than three hours with a brief stop for morning tea and numerous photos. Anyone doing it for the first time should probably allow double that time - finding the right ledges for the 2nd half is tricky.
After a 7:15 start, we got to the Mount Banks descent track before 10AM. Keeping to the cliff edge, there were various interesting rock formations and caves visible below us. The Gods Eye formation is just visible below centre. In the distance are Anvil Rock, Brownes Path, Burra Korain and Hanging Rock pointing directly towards the lens.
A short day -
200m of ascent
This is a route that has a few significant route-finding challenges on the traverse.
All of the party should be comfortable with exposure and be especially sure footed, particularly when traversing the sections of steep, narrow and loose ledges.
A tape is optional, but may provide some comfort for the two thin ledges.