2010 August: Climb Walshs Pyramid - Qld, Australia - half-day hike
Walshs Pyramid at Gordonvale (near Cairns in north Queensland) is 922 meters high. It is a free standing mountain with a distinct pyramid appearance. There is a claim that it is the highest freestanding pyramid-shaped mountain in the world. I don't know how true this is.
Information on how to climb it:
From a small carpark in Moss Road, hike up the north side of the Pyramid.
To climb it, best is to follow the description in Tyrone Thomas' book "50 Walks in North Queensland World Heritage Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef".
You don't need a map. The track is clearly defined. You can't possibly get lost. But if you insist, the 1:50,000 topographic survey map is "Gordonvale, Sheet 8063-1". The track is not marked on the map. It follows a spur on the northern flank of the Pyramid, all the way to the summit.
To get there:
At Gordonvale, on the Bruce Highway, less than 1 km south-east of a bridge over the Mulgrave River; turn south into a small paved road which is supposed to be called Moss Road. However you won't find the road sign. Instead, you should look for the sign "Pyramid Walking Track". Once you are on Moss road, follow a parking sign which will lead to a small car park with spaces for a few cars only. This is the start of the Pyramid climb.
(From Bruce Highway to the carpark is about 200 meters.)
Return trip to the summit and back is 6.6 km.
Don't be fooled by the 922-meter elevation. It doesn't seem high, but then you are climbing from virutually sea level height; and it is steep all the way. In his book, Tyrone Thomas said a return trip would take about 4.5 hours with minimal breaks. Once a year, on the 3rd Saturday of August, competitors from all over the world come to Gordonvale to race up the summit and down. The best runners can do it in less than 1.5 hours.
For the record, our return trip is 3 hours 20 minutes.
Ricky and I start the climb at 8:05am. True to its reputation, the track is steep from the word go. Ricky set a fast and furious pace. He seems hell bent on wanting to break the race record. I have to keep on reminding him we are not in the race. We are 3 days late for the race.
We reach the top at 9:45am. This has to be the fastest time I ever ascended an elevation of 900 meters. Beat that if you can!!!
Except for a large granite rock, otherwise there is nothing to mark the top. But the view is good.
On the north, we have a clear view of the Gordonvale township and the patchwork of sugarcane fields around it.
Further north we can see Cairns.
On the south is Bellenden Ker Range where Queensland's highest mountain, Mt Bartle Frere is. We'll be climbing Bartle Frere tomorrow. I shudder at the tought of it because I am not sure whether my tired legs can recover from this climb by tomorrow.
We stay at the summit for a while ... hopping onto some of the large boulders to get a better view of the plain below.
50 minutes later, at 10:35am, it is time to return to the carpark which we reached by 11:25am.
Total time for the trip is 3 hr 20 min which includes the 50 minutes loitering around the summit.
Here are some photos:
1: Walshs Pyramid taken near a small town called Edmonton (about 10 km north of Gordonvale).
2: Closer up view of Walshs Pyramid
3: This is the junction of Bruce Highway and Moss Road at Gordonvale; about 800 meters south-east of a bridge over Mulgrave River. You won't find a "Moss Road" road sign. Instead, you'll find this sign at the juction. By the way, Moss Road is paved ... well, at least to the carpark at the start of the climbing trail.
4: It is a steep climb.
5: I thought I was almost at the summit. But ...
6: ... But it was only halfway, and I'm tired. And tomorrow we still have Bartle Frere to climb!!!
7: At last, almost there ... the summit is at the centre of the picture.
8: The summit is just this rock.
9: Ricky and I at the summit. This picture is taken by a big tripod which I carried all the way up here. I am not going to make the same mistake again tomorrow for the Bartle Frere climb!!!
10: View from the summit: Looking towards the north is a patchwork of sugarcane fields around the small town Gordonvale. You can just make out the city of Cairns - at top right of the picture.
11: Looking towards the south-east - cane fields and more cane fields!!!