Friday, July 29, 2016

Altar Room and cliffs above Newnes, Wollemi Nat Pk, NSW, Australia

2016 July: Day walk to:
   - Altar Room
   - Cliffs above Newnes
   - Mt Tricky West
   - and Cathedral Pass
in Wollemi National Park, NSW, Australia

Altar Room, Mt Tricky West & Cathedral Pass

If you can't find these names on the maps, it is not the fault of the cartographer. Altar Room is named by Yuri Bolotin; whilst Mt Tricky West is made up by me just now!  Don't know how the name Cathedral Pass originates.

Altar Room:
Despite Altar Room not being on the maps, it is a fascinating place to walk through ... It is a slot about 160 meters long, linking Little Capertee Creek from below to the crest above which divides the Little Capertee Creek from Canobla Creek. Scroll down to the 2nd map below ... it is between the 2 blue arrows on the left side of the map.

Cathedral Pass:
Cathedral Pass is the access from Little Capertee Creek Camping Ground to the east side of Mount Tricky West ... scroll down to the 2nd map below ... it is between the 2 blue arrows on the right side of the map.

Mt Tricky West:
Mt Tricky West is a hill above Newnes, between the top of the Altar Room and the top of Cathedral Pass. No view from its summit, too many trees around. But on some of the cliff edges there are very good views, for example, photos #62 and #63.

Our party

Our party of 14 is led by Yuri Bolotin:
   - Yuri Bolotin, leader
   - Michael Keats
   - Brian Fox
   - Thomas Ebersoll, ower of Newnes Hotel
   - DD
   - DW
   - HT
   - IS
   - JR
   - KB
   - NlC
   - RA
   - SA
   - Paul, me


- 1:25,000 scaled 8931-4S Ben Bullen
- 1:100,000 scaled 8931 Wallerawang

Here is the 1:25,000 scaled map of the relevant part of today's walk.

GPS tracklog file & Route

Our GPX tracklog file can be downloaded from:

The tracklog, red colour, clockwise direction, superimposed on the 1:25,000 scaled map.
- The 2 blue arrows on the left point to start and end of The Altar.
- The 2 blue arrows on the right point to start and end of Cathedral Pass.
- The red arrow points to Mt Tricky West summit, around 990 meters.
- Blue circle is where we start the walk, Grid Reference 417 261
- The walk ends at Newes Camping Ground.
As the staring point of our walk is different from the end point, a car shuffle is required. However the distance between the 2 points is not great, one could have completed the circuit simply by walking.

Satellite view of the tracklog, red colour, clockwise direction:
Refer to the above topographic map for explanations on the circle & arrows icons.

A summary of our route is:
- Start at a point 1.5km by car from Newnes Hotel ... blue circle in the above map, Grid Reference 417 261.
- Walk westward, on track for 600 meters.
- Then off track, then go north to Altar Room.
- To Mt Tricky West
- Return to Newnes Camping Ground via Cathedral Pass.

Timeline & Distance

09:17  0.0 km  Start at a point 1.5km by car from Newnes Hotel ... blue circle in the above map (GR 417 261).
09:25  0.6 km  Go off-trail
10:33  2.2 km  Enter Altar Room
11:02  2.4 km  Exit Altar Room
11:08  2.4 km  At a saddle point (GR 410 270)

Morning Tea

11:21  2.4 km  Morning tea over, resume walking
11:28  2.5 km  At a pagoda lookout (GR 411 270)

11:30  2.5 km  Leave pagoda lookout
12:33  3.6 km  Stop for lunch (GR 416 268)


12:52  3.6 km  Lunch over, resume walking
13:40  4.4 km  At Mt Tricky West summit
13:47  4.8 km  At a lookout (GR 419 275)

13:53  4.8 km  Resume walking
13:58  5.0 km  At a cairn (GR 420 274) where we proceed sharply downhill to go down Cathedral Pass

14:03  5.0 km  Resume walking
15:07  6.4 km  End at Newnes Campground


Total:  5 hr 51 mins  at leisurely pace
           6.4 km  Distance is from Google Earth
           8.0 km  Distance is from Garmin GPS

Pictures - Newnes Hotel

1)  Newnes Hotel - Built in 1907, the only remaining building of the former mining township of Newnes ~~~
Here, we pick up Thomas Ebersoll, owner of the hotel - he is joining us for this walk too !
By the way, since Thomas bought the place, he has vastly refurbished the hotel and added modern accommodation ... well worth a stay, and take the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Wollemi National Park.

To Altar Room

2)  The starting point of our walk is about 1.5km by car from the Newnes Hotel.
Here Yuri is briefing us on the walk.
- Upper pic, left to right: IS, Yuri Bolotin, DW (blocked by Yuri), HT, RA, JR
- Lower pic, left to right: RA, JR, NlC, KB, SA

3)  We walk on a track westward for about 600 meters, 8 minutes; then it is off track to climb up the cliffs above Newnes. The vegetation is quite thin ... easy to walk through.
- This pic is looking backward. IS is leading, followed by HT.

4)  Then we come to the cliffs and walk along side the base.
- Right pic, left to right: Michael Keats, Yuri Bolotin (consulting map), HT (consulting GPS), RA

5)  - Left pic: The yellow arrow points to a gap through which we are going to climb up the cliff.
- Right pic: We are inside the gap, and need to climb to the top of the cliff. An interesting feature of the climb is a short tunnel we need to go through, the red oval ... see next pic. (Left to right: IS, HT, NlC, JR)

6)  Entering the short tunnel - red oval of the previous pic ~~~
Left to right: DD (nearest the camera, head down, climbing up), NlC (in red), JR, RA, IS

7)  Inside the tunnel ~~~
Left to right: Michael Keats, HT, JR, IS, DD

8)  Yuri Bolotin entering the tunnel

9)  Straight after the tunnel, there is a short vertical climb.
- Left pic: RA is climbing up. JR is already at the top.
- Right pic:
    • RA is taking photos of the vertical climb of the left pic ... where he has just climbed up.
    • Michael Keats is in the middle
    • HT with his red backpack

10)  After the climb of the previous pic, we are in a more sunny area ... it has a sort of magical tranquil atmosphere ... I like it !
- Yuri Bolotin is leading, followed by DD. At the rear is HT with his red backpack.

11)  Passing by this interesting rock formation

12)  We come to the cliffs ...

13)  ... and we hug along it.
The bottom pic is the red square of the upper pic.

14)  Going to Altar Room, passing by this large cave/overhang ~~~
In both pics, the guy nearest to the camera is Michael Keats.

Altar Room

15)  Entering Altar Room, it is a long narrow slot, most interesting !
Here, we need to get up some rocks, either by brute force climbing (call it the high way, yellow arrow) or chimneying up through a short tunnel (called the low way, yellow circle).
Brian Fox, Yuri Bolotin and perhaps one or two other guys choose the high way. The others go through the low way.
- Left pic: Brian Fox is already on top of the rock, RA is inspecting which option he should take. NlC is at the rear.
- Right pic, left to right: NlC, RA.

16)  I go through the tunnel.
- Upper pic: NlC is well inside the tunnel.
- Lower pic: I've chimneyed up the tunnel and looking down at KB emerging out.

17)  Straight after the tunnel, a short climb up a rock - NlC is showing us how to do it ... grab onto a vine.

18)  The Altar Room ... isn't it a fantastic slot !
- Left pic:
    • DW is at the bottom left corner. RA is at the bottom right corner.
    • Between them is KB in red.
    • JR is in front KB; and Yuri Bolotin is in front of JR.
- Right pic: DW is nearest to the camera.

19)  The magnificent Altar Room !
- In both pics, DD is nearest to the camera.

20)  Looking back down the slot ~~~
RA is taking photos.

21)  It is a beautiful place, just magic !
RA is taking photos.

22)  Looking back at the slot ~~~
Left to right: Thomas Ebersoll, IS, HT

23)  Looking back ~~~
- Left pic: HT. Further back is Thomas Ebersoll.
- Right pic: SA. Further back is Thomas Ebersoll.

24)  Forward we go.
The red square is photo #25.
Brian Fox in red cap is on the left. Closer to the camera and on the right is DD in short sleeve blue t-shirt.

25)  This is the red square of the previous pic.
- Clockwise from the top: Yuri Bolotin, DW, JR, DD, IS, NlC
- Just like photo #15, there are 2 ways to climb to where Yuri is:
    • Brute force scaling up the rocks (right yellow arrow)
    • Chimneying up through a tunnel (left yellow arrow points to the entrance of the tunnel - NlC is blocking the view to the entrance.)

26)  Most people and I take the tunnel option:
- Left pic, The low way, through the tunnel: RA is in front of me. IS (???, not sure) is ahead of RA.
- Right pic, the high way, this is where you climb up if you don't take the tunnel option: DD is helping to put someone else's backpack over the rock. He himself may have taken the tunnel option too.

27)  I have chimneyed up the tunnel and is now on top of the rocks and looking back down at the Altar Room.
- DD is close to the camera.
- Yuri Bolotin in red is helping people to get up the tunnel.

To Saddle Point

28)  Once we have climbed up the rock (previous pic), it is then less than 5 minutes to climb up to a saddle point where we'll have morning tea.
- Left pic: RA on the way to the saddle point.
- Right pic: Looking back at SA.

Morning tea at the Saddle Point

29)  Morning tea at the saddle point (GR 410 270)
- Upper pic, clockwise from bottom left corner: KB, Thomas Ebersoll, HT, SA
- Lower pic: DD sitting on top of the rock, IS is below him.

To lookout on top of a pagoda

30)  After morning tea, it is off to climb Mt Tricky West. This pic is taken very near where we had our morning tea ... in fact it is taken just behind the rock where DD was sitting in the previous photo.

Lookout on top of a pagoda

31)  200 meters and 7 minutes after we get off our bums after morning tear, we come to this nice lookout on top of a pagoda (GR 411 270) ...

32)  ... it has a nice view.
Towards east is Mt Tricky West's western slope.  We are going to climb this hill ... it is a small one and doesn't deserve to be called a mountain  :-)   We won't climb it by going directly ahead; rather we'll hug along side the cliffs towards the right until we reach its southern tip, then we'll turn north to climb up.

33)  Still at the top of the pagoda ... looking back towards the west at where we came from ~~~
- Altar Room runs from behind the hill on the right side of the pic towards bottom left corner.
- The yellow arrows are how we reach this pagoda lookout.
- The 2 small figures are HT and IS.

34)  Now going down the pagoda of photo #31 ~~~
- The 3 guys from left to right: RA, Yuri Bolotin in red, DD

Along the southern slope of Mount Tricky West

35)  Hugging along the southern cliffs of Mt Tricky West

36)  Hugging along the southern cliffs of Mt Tricky West ~~~
Brian Fox is the star here :-)

37)  Still hugging along the southern cliffs of Mt Tricky West.  

38)  We come to a lookout with a marvelous view towards south across Little Capertee Creek ~~~
The little figure somewhere near the middle of the pic is Brian Fox.  (You can click on the pic to enlarge it.)

39)  (Continuation to the right of the previous pic ... sort of)
- Altar Room is just behind the hill pointed to by the red arrow.
- The red oval is where I was standing when taking photo #38.
- The small figure on the left side of the pic is Brian Fox.

40)  At the same spot where I take the previous photo, I snap this one.
Just don't misplace your foot when crossing the cliffs ... see photo #41 as well !
Left to right: DD, RA

41)  These are the cliffs of the previous pic.
Upper pic, Left to right: JR IS
Lower pic: NlC

42)  We are still at the southern side of Mt Tricky West and its cliffs.
Left to right: NlC, RA

43)  A tree with weird growth

44)  Still at the southern side of Mt Tricky West and looking at its cliffs.

45)  Going into a short gully, the end of which is banded cliff ... see photo #46.
Left to right: JR, NlC, Yuri Bolotin, DD, Michael Keats

46)  Banded cliffs at the end of the gully of the previous pic ~~~
We are going to climb up the cliffs, not directly ahead, but beyond the right edge of these photos.

47)  Brian Fox kindly climbed up the cliff and dropped down a climbing tape for us.
- Upper pic:
    • On the right is Yuri Bolotin
    • Along the fallen trunk, left to right: NlC, Michael Keats, DD, ?, Brian Fox
- Lower pic, left to right: JR, NlC, Michael Keats, DD, Brian Fox

48)  I've climbed up and looking back down at SA grabbing onto the tape. Brian Fox is behind her, and IS is further back.

49)  Straight after the tape, it is climbing up another cliff like a Spiderman.
- Upper pic:
    • KB is the Spiderwoman  :-)
    • The way up is indicated by the yellow arrows.
    • Yuri Bolotin (on the right) and DW are watching.
- Lower pic: Yuri Bolotin is pushing KB up.

50)  I've climbed up the cliff of the previous pic and now looking back down at IS climbing up.
Left to right: Brian Fox, RA, HT, IS

51)  After the excitement of the above, we come to a lookout with a marvelous view:
- Here, it is towards south-east at the confluence of Little Capertee Creek (turquoise arrow on the right) and Wolgan River (the other 2 arrows).
- Newnes is behind that good looking pagoda at the centre of the pic, hence we can't see it.

52)  Continuation to the right of the previous pic ~~~
- This pic is similar to photo #38 and is towards the south and south-west, across Little Capertee Creek.
- The red square is repeated in photo #53.
- From left to right: KB, Brian Fox, RA, Thomas Ebersoll
Thomas has already decided to sit down and have lunch (GR 416 268).  Some, including me follow suit. Yuri Bolotin, Brian Fox, Michael Keats and a few other go a little further and have lunch at another lookout spot.

53)  The two photos below are of the same pagodas in the red square of the previous pic, but viewed from different angles.

54)  After lunch, we come to this lookout with a view towards east.
- Wolgan River flows along the red arrow.
- In the red oval is Cathedral Pass, between the 2 cliffs. Later on, we'll go down the pass (from left to right) to return to Newnes.
- We are still at the southern slope of Mt Tricky West. But from now on, we turn north-ish to climb towards the summit.

Climb to the top of Mt Tricky West

So far, we have been walking in a easterly-ish direction along the southern cliffs of Mt Tricky West. Now we turn north-ish to climb up.

55)  About 500 meters from the lookout in the previous pic, we come to this spot.
To climb to the top of Mt Tricky West means climbing up these cliffs. The way to do it is by going into the gap pointed to by the yellow arrow.

56)  At the end of the gap is this vertical cliff.

57)  To climb up, we chimney up through a hole on the left.
- Left pic, top to bottom: Thomas  Ebersoll, Brian Fox, IS, NlC, Michael Keats
- Right pic: Brian Fox drops a tape down for us to use, but most of us go through the hole instead.
        Anti-clockwise from upper right: Thomas Ebersoll, Brian Fox, ?, IS, Michael Keats (yellow cap), DW

58)  I am at the top of the cliff and looking back down.
Left to right: HT, Brian Fox, Yuri Bolotin, SA

59)  Near the vicinity of the previous pic and watching our group climbing up ~~~
- Upper pic: SA
- Lower pic, left to right: Brian Fox, KB, RA

Top of Mt Tricky West

60)  After the previous climb, we are now walking along the top of Mt Tricky West. It is quite flat at the top.
Left to right: Yuri Bolotin, NlC

61)  Walking through Mt Tricky West summit, around 990 meters ... you hardly notice here is the summit.

62)  Still at the top of Mt Tricky West ... we come to a wonderful lookout (GR 419 275).  This view is towards north-west ... actually from west to north.
- The red arrow points to Mt Canobla.

63)  Zooming into Mt Canobla of the previous pic - I would like to climb it one day.

To Cathedral Pass

Ever since climbing to the top of Mt Tricky West, we have been walking in a north-east-ish direction. After the lookout of the previous pics, we turn sharply to south-south-east-ish direction, heading towards Cathedral Pass which will take us back to Newnes.

64) We come to an interesting descent:
- Left pic: Michael Keats
- Right pic: I've climbed down and watching HT coming down.

65)  Plenty of cliffs (upper pic) and caves (lower pic)

66)  We come to a cairn (GR 420 274) marking the start of the steep Cathedral Pass which will take us back to Newnes.
- Upper pic: The cairn as we find it.
- Lower pic: Brian Fox has added a few small stones to the top of the cairn. The idea is to see whether they will be blown down by wind ... obviously not today as it is a perfect blue sky windless day. But, if another party come to here at a later date, they can check against this photo to see whether the small stones are still there  :-)

Descending Cathedral Pass

67)  Descending Cathedral Pass

68)  It is like inside a rainforest.

69)  We are at the end of our walk at Newnes Campground at the confluence of Little Capertee Creek and Wolgan River.
The campground is like the inside of a bowl with cliffs all around it.
- Upper left: Towards south-east
- Upper right: Towards north-west is the southern tip of Mt Tricky West.  Where we had our lunch (photos #51 to #53) and the lookout of photo #54 are further back behind this cliff. Cathedral Pass is beyond the right edge of this pic.
- Lower left: Towards north-east
- Lower right: Towards south-west


The Altar Room is a fascinating passage. You must walk through it one day !

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