Sunday, August 19, 2018

Lawbeck Pass & Gladstone Pass & Gladstone Mines, Blue Mts, NSW, Australia


2018 August: Lawbeck Pass in Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

More specifically, a circuit walk:
    - Gladstone Pass
    - Lindeman Pass
    - Gladstone Mines
    - Lawbeck Pass ... Main purpose of today's trip


Prolog - a photograph

Photographer: AC

Lawbeck Pass is best remembered by the above picture:
- You go inside a narrow cave, the red oval.
- Chimney up from inside the cave to the lower yellow dot.
- Follow the short yellow arrows to the upper yellow dot.
- Then scramble up a long steep ramp, the longer vertical yellow arrow.


More on Lawbeck Pass

By this day and age, one would have thought that every inch of the Blue Mountains have already been walked over by bushwalkers, especially the popular areas around Katoomba / Leura / Wentworth Falls.

And yet it was only in November 2016, less than 2 years ago, that a guy called Mitchell Lindbeck made the first known ascent from Lindeman Pass to Fairmont Resort via Lawton's Creek. He subsequently named his route "Lawbeck Pass".

The most memorable passage of the pass is inside a very narrow cave. Inside, one needs to chimney up the vertical walls. It looks impossible and impassable. It was a wonder that Mitchell Lindbeck thought it worthwhile to scale up in 2016. No one with a sane mind had tried it in all the past centuries !

More information on Lawbeck Pass is in this web page:
http://www.jamisonproject.org/index.php?pageid=3&subid=91


Today's trip

3 of us:  AC, YM and I

When in Lawbeck Pass, we follow the track notes given in the above link.

Thanks to YM's superb climbing skill, and helps from AC, we make it through to Fairmont Resort !  (YM did all the climbing, and let down a climbing tape for us to climb up.)

Just to recap:
Today's trip is a circuit walk:
    - Gladstone Pass
    - Lindeman Pass
    - Gladstone Mines
    - Lawbeck Pass ... Main purpose of today's trip


A month ago

A month ago, 4 of us, AC, James, PL and I, also tried to climb through Lawbeck Pass.

We failed at chimneying up from inside the narrow cave (photos #46 and #47) ... which explains why today, AC, YM and I are here again to have another go.


Maps

- 1:100,000 scaled 8930 Katoomba
- 1:50,000 scaled Blue Mountains South by Spatial Visions Innovation, 1st edition
- 1:25,000 scaled 8930-1S Katoomba

Below is the relevant part of the 1:25,000 scaled map.


Below is a sketch map in Jim Smith's book "The Blue Mountains Mystery Track: Lindeman Pass".
Lawbeck Pass is not marked on the map as the pass wasn't discovered when Jim Smith wrote his book.


GPS tracklog file & Route

The GPX tracklog file of our walk can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xQaIe--nIqV1bqe0CpmSIOgee5_CBy9p/view?usp=sharing

Here is our tracklog, thin red line, anti-clockwise circuit superimposed on the 1:25,000 map.


Satellite view of our anti-clockwise circuit:
- Yellow oval: Lawton's Creek and Lawbeck Pass
- 2 arrows outside yellow oval:
       • Upper arrow: Fairmont Resort entrance at the northern end of Sublime Point Road
       • Lower arrow: Gladstone Coal Mines, GR 547 647
- 4 arrows inside yellow oval, from left to right:
       1: 1st obstacle, GR 546 649
       2: Almost dry waterfall of Lawton's Creek
       3: Narrow cave, 2nd obstacle, GR 547 650
       4: 5th (and last) obstacle


A summary of our route:
-  Start at Fairmont Resort / Leura Golf Course entrance at the northern end of Sublime Point Road
-  Go down Gladstone Pass
-  Then walk along Lindeman Pass
-  Down to Gladstone mines
-  Up Lawton's Creek to a narrow cave
-  Chimney up from inside the narrow cave
-  Keep climbing up to Fairmont Resort


Timeline & Distance

Park my car at Fairmont Resort / Leura Golf Course entrance at the northern end of Sublime Point Road

08:35   0.0  km  Start walking
08:37   0.1  km  At top of Gladstone Pass (just inside Fairmont Resort entrance)
09:23   1.0  km  At junction of Gladstone Pass & Lindeman Pass (It is also the end of Gladstone Pass)
09:38   1.4  km  At junction of Lindeman Pass and Lawton's Creek; start to descent Lawton's Creek
                          (Keep to the west side of the creek.)
09:45   1.45km  At 1st entrance (that we can find) of Gladstone coal mine adit

09:46   1.45km  Resume walking
09:48   1.5  km  At 2nd entrance (that we can find) of Gladstone coal mine adit

Explore a foot track which extends further away in the south-west direction.

10:05   1.65km  Leave 2nd coal mine and retrace steps back to the 1st coal mine
10:07   1.7  km  Back at 1st coal mine entrance, same spot as at 09:45

10:08   1.7  km  Resume walking
10:15   1.75km  Back at Lindeman Pass
10:16   1.75km  Start to climb up along the west side of Lawton's Creek (Keep higher up the slope.)
10:27   1.9  km  At 1st obstacle, GR 546 649, a 2 meter high rock face to climb up.
                          To climb up, I need to take off my backpack, and also need a hand from YM to help me.
10:37   1.9  km  Resume walking
10:50   2.05km  At entrance to narrow cave, GR 547 650

Lunch and explore up stream of Lawton's Creek to the bottom of an almost dry waterfall.

11:22   2.15km  Enter the cave and chimney up from inside (2nd obstacle)
12:55   2.15km  We are all out of the narrow cave

12:57   2.15km  Resume climbing up
12:58   2.15km  At a small platform above where we emerged out of the cave
                          It is also the bottom of a long steep ramp filled with loose leaf litter.

13:01   2.15km  Start to climb up the steep ramp
13:36   2.2  km  All out of the steep ramp (just below its top is the 3rd obstacle)
13:38   2.2  km  At bottom of 4th obstacle
13:58   2.2  km  All climb up to top of 4th obstacle; which is also the bottom of 5th obstacle
14:40   2.2  km  All climb up to top of 5th obstacle

14:42   2.2  km  Resume waking ... no more obstacle from now on  :-)
15:07   2.5  km  At Grand Cliff Top Track at the south side of Leura Golf Course
15:18   3.4  km  Back at my car at Fairmont Resort entrance

==============================================

Total:  6 hrs 43 mins
           3.4 km  Distance is from Google Earth based on an idealized plot of our route


Pictures - Fairmont Resort / Leura Golf Course

1)  Fairmont Resort / Leura Golf Course entrance ... northern end of Sublime Point Road ~~~
- Park my car just outside the entrance.
- Lower pic: (Continuation to the right of the upper pic)
       • Yellow arrows: Direction of our walk


Gladstone Pass - upper section

2)  Start of Gladstone Pass at Fairmont Resort / Leura Golf Course


3)  Further into Gladstone Pass


4)  Climbing down a rocky embankment ~~~
- AC is taking pictures of us climbing down ... See photo #5.


5)  This is the photograph that AC took ... Refer to previous pic.
- Top to bottom: Me, YM


6)  I've climbed down the embankment and looking back at it.
You should be able to match some of the features in this pic with those in photo #5.


Gladstone Pass - rope section

7)  Approaching a section of Gladstone Pass where there are ropes to assist us ~~~
- In Jim Smith's book "The Blue Mountains Mystery Track - Lindeman Pass", this section is labelled as "Stone Staircase".
- Upper pic:
       • Left to right: YM, AC
       • Red square: Enlarged in the lower pic
- Lower pic: Zooming into the red square of the upper pic
       • Yellow arrow: Direction of our walk
       • Red ovals: Ropes


8)  YM walking on the wet Gladstone Pass ... This is the section shown in the previous pic.


Gladstone Pass must be the wettest of all dry passes in the Blue Mountains. By now, I have walked through the pass a few times. Every time it was dripping wet even though it hadn't rained for ages.

Fortunately some kind soul had installed ropes on the cliffs for us to hang on. As otherwise one slip on the wet rocks and you are dead.

Wonder who installed the ropes? I don't think it was by the National Parks authorities.


9)  YM going down Gladstone Pass


10)  Going down Gladstone Pass ~~~
- Left pic:
       • Left to right: AC, YM
       • Red oval: Rope
- Right pic:
       • Red oval: Rope
       • Yellow arrow: YM holding onto a rope


11)  The rope goes a long way down.
- Upper pic: Facing backwards
       • The rope is on the left side of the pic.
- Lower pic: Facing forward ... I am standing at the same spot as the previous pic.
       • The rope is on the right hand side.
       • Red circle: The fallen log here is the one in the right half of photo #12.


12)  Further down Gladstone Pass ~~~
- The rope is on the left half of the pic ... Part of it is along the stairs.
- The fallen log on the right half of the pic is the one in the red circle of the previous pic.


Gladstone Pass - lower section

13)  Still at Gladstone Pass, but off the rope section ~~~
- Lower pic: Same scene as the upper pic
       • AC leading, followed by YM


Lindeman Pass

14)  Cairn at the junction of Gladstone Pass & Lindeman Pass ... This is also the end of Gladstone Pass.
- Yellow arrow: Direction we'll be walking along Lindeman Pass.


15)  Typical scene along Lindeman Pass ~~~
- We are now travelling in a south-east-ish direction, toward Lawton's Creek.
- AC leading ... followed by YM


16)  Some unusual sections along Lindeman Pass ~~~
- Upper pic: These stones seems to be newly placed here.
       • Yellow arrows: Direction of walk
- Lower pic: The only place along Lindeman Pass where there is rope to assist us hikers.


17)  Cliffs along Lindeman Pass ~~~
- Upper pic: Facing backwards
       • Yellow arrow: Direction of walk
- Lower pic: Facing forward ... AC leading followed by YM


18)  (Continuation to the right of previous pic)
Gladstone Lookout is somewhere on top of the cliffs on the left half of this pic ... towards east.


To Gladstone Coal Mine

19)  We've left Lindeman Pass, now climbing down towards Gladstone Coal Mine.
- AC is leading, followed by YM


Gladstone Coal Mine

20)  The first coal mine adit that we encounter ~~~
- It is wet inside, and so we just take a look from the entrance.


21)  AC leading us down to another coal mine adit ~~~
A Soft Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica) has fallen, but keeps growing like a caterpillar  :-)


22)  Entrance to the second coal mine adit (about 50 meters from the first mine adit)
In this trip, we just peek into the adit from the entrance ... Because ...


23)  ... Because a month ago, in an earlier trip with AC, James & PL, we went in to explore. Nothing much inside ... This was the pic near the end of the adit.


24)  From inside the adit, looking back at the entrance ~~~
- The 2 pics below were taken a month ago in an earlier trip.
- Upper pic, left to right: James, PL
- Lower pic: AC at the entrance
After the second coal mine, we explore around the area to see if there are more of these adits. There is a foot track leading away in the south-west direction. We walk on it for a little while. Nothing much along the track ... In particular, we can't find any more coal mine adits; and so we turn back.

The foot track is not marked on the maps, and we don't know where it leads to.  Probably worth exploring in a separate trip.


25)  Now retracing our steps ... climbing back up towards Lindeman Pass ~~~
- YM is the guy in the pic.


Going up Lawtons' Creek

26)  After crossing Lindeman Pass, we start by walking higher up on the west side of Lawton's Creek ... easier than walking close to the creek.
- Upper pic: AC
- Lower pic: AC leading, followed by YM


27)  By contrast, a month ago, we walked along the course of the creek. It was slightly harder that way ... more climbing to do.
- Both routes will meet up about 50 meters north of Lindeman Pass.
- In the pic, James is leading, followed by AC.


28)  Climbing up along the course of Lawtons' Creek ... This pic was taken a month ago.
- James leading, followed by AC, then PL


29)  Both routes (the one we took last month and the one we are taking now,) meet up around here, at where AC finds a metal bracket. In the pic, the metal bracket was lying on top of the large rock next to him. He is now going to haul it all the way to the first obstacle ... Refer to photos #33 and #35.


To 1st obstacle

30)  Climbing up Lawton's Creek towards the first obstacle of today's trip ~~~
- Red circle: The first obstacle
- The 2 pics here were taken last month.
- Left pic: James leading, followed by AC, then PL
- Right pic: James leading, followed by PL, then AC


31)  Closer to the first obstacle, the red oval
- Upper pic: YM
- Lower pic: Taken a month ago ... James leading, followed by PL


1st obstacle - photographs from last month

I don't have any close up pictures of the first obstacle from today's trip. Photos #32 to #35 below were from last month's trip.

32)  At the first obstacle, GR 546 649 ... picture taken a month ago.
- Left to right: Me, PL, James (Photographer: AC)
- It is not easy to climb up this rock face. Although AC and YM have no problem in doing so.


33)  (Photographer: James ... from last month)
- AC was climbing up.  (He was standing on a log which was just beyond the bottom-right corner of this pic.)
- Red oval: Don't put your weight on the Grass Tree as its roots are shallowly anchored.
- As one can't hold onto the Grass Tree in the red oval, it becomes quite difficult to climb up.  AC and YM are able to scramble up without aid; whereas I require a hand from YM (this trip) and AC (last month) to pull myself up.
- Incomplete red oval at bottom-right corner: In today's trip, AC places here the metal bracket he hauled all the way from photo #29  :-)   As this pic was taken last month, hence the metal bracket is not shown here. But if you visit this place now, you'll see it (unless someone has since removed it.)


34)  - Left pic: Last month, AC took this picture of me climbing up to exactly where he was in the previous pic. I found it not easy to push myself up.
- Right pic: Last month, I needed a hand from AC ... Photographer: James
- (Today, when in the same position, YM provides his hand for me.)


35)  (Sidetrack)
Last month, we went all the way to the narrow cave (photos #43 to #46). But we were unable to chimney up from inside its walls. And so we turned around and were back to here to climb down the first obstacle.
- Small figure near top of pic: Me ... Letting down a climbing tape for others to climb down.
- Centre of pic: James in action.
- Red arrow: When we were here earlier on, we stepped on this log to climb up the rock face.
- Upper red oval: Grass Tree which cannot be relied on to pull yourself up ... Refer to photo #33.
- Lower red oval: Today, AC places the metal bracket here ... the bracket he hauled from photo #29. As this pic was taken last month, hence the bracket is not shown here. But if you come here now, you should see it, unless it has since been removed by someone.


To narrow cave

36)  After climbing over the first obstacle, we are now on our way up Lawton's Creek to the second obstacle, a narrow cave.


Lunch by the narrow cave

37)  We come to the start of Lawbeck Pass ... a narrow cave, GR 547 650, where we'll go inside and chimney up its walls.
- But first, we have lunch.  Left to right: YM, me  (Photographer: AC)
- Red oval: The narrow cave ... on the east side of Lawton's Creek.
- Lower yellow dot: From inside the cave, we'll chimney our way to there.
- 2 smaller yellow arrows: The way to climb up to the upper yellow dot
- Upper yellow dot: I'll be standing there in photo #49.
- Long vertical yellow arrow: A long steep ramp


38)  At the lunch spot of the previous pic, looking down Lawton's Creek


Lawton's Creek waterfall

39)  While having lunch, we explore around ... go upstream towards an almost dry waterfall. There hasn't been much rain for a long time.


40)  Closer to the waterfall


41)  At the base of the waterfall ~~~
- Only a few drops of water dripping down from the top.
- It is very dark here even at midday.


42)  Retracing our steps back out of the waterfall.


Lawbeck Pass - narrow cave entrance

43)  Back at our lunch spot and about to enter the narrow cave ~~~
- Red oval: Entrance to the narrow cave
- Yellow dot: From inside the cave, we'll chimney our way to there.  From there, YM will be helping AC and me to climb up (photo #48).


44)  Similar to the previous pic and also photo #37.
- Red oval: Entrance to the narrow cave
- Yellow arrows: The way to climb up
- Lower yellow dot: From inside the cave, we'll chimney our way to there.
- Upper yellow dot: I'll be standing there in photo #49.


45)  Similar to the previous pic and also photo #37 ~~~
This pic, taken by AC, has an overall view of the cliff above the cave; in particular, the long steep ramp we have to climb up (the long vertical yellow arrow).
- Arrows, dots, oval: Refer to photo #44.


Lawbeck Pass - 2nd obstacle - chimney up the narrow cave

The second obstacle of this trip is inside the very narrow cave.

Inside, one needs to chimney up the vertical walls. It looks impossible and impassable. The genius of Michell Lindbeck was he thought it worthwhile to scale up in 2016. No one with a sane mind had tried it in all the past centuries !

46)  Now inside the narrow cave ~~~
- Left pic: AC goes in.
- Right pic: YM has stepped on AC's shoulders to reach where he is now. Even with the help of AC's shoulders, it is a very difficult climb.


47)  YM has climbed up and dropped down a climbing tape for us to haul our backpacks up.
We then use the same tape to help ourselves up.
However, due to the narrowness of the cave, we can't manoeuvre our arms and legs to make much use of the tape. Most of the hard work is done by chimneying:
- Press your back against one wall.
- Press your knees/feet against the opposite wall (easier said than done due to the narrowness of the space available).
- With your hands pressed against the walls (and sometimes use the tape), slowly inch yourself up.
It is difficult. It takes us ages to get the knack of it. Eventually, we'll emerge out of the top of the wall ... which is the lower yellow dot in photos #37, #44 and #45.


Lawbeck Pass - above the narrow cave

48)  I've chimney up the narrow cave !!!
- Red dot at bottom of pic: Entrance to the narrow cave
- YM is helping AC to climb out of the cave. His position is the lower yellow dot of photos #37, #44 and #45.


49)  I am now at the upper yellow dot of photos #37, #44 and #45.
- Right pic: (Continuation to the right of the left pic) Looking down


Lawbeck Pass - long steep ramp

50)  The previous pics were looking down.
Spin around 180 degrees and looking up is a long steep ramp. This is the long vertical yellow arrow in photos #37, #44 and #45.
- Right pic: YM  (AC has already climbed over the big rock in the middle of the pics.)


51)  I've climbed over the big rock in the middle of previous pics.
- The ramp is filled with loose leaf litter, with loose rocks buried under the litter.
- Let one guy climb up first. Don't follow him as every now and then a rock gets dislodged and tumbles down. If you are behind him, you can be in trouble.
- YM is safe from the tumbling rocks as he is protected by a pile of rocks in the middle of the pic.


Lawbeck Pass - 3rd obstacle (for me only)

The top of the ramp (previous pic) is an embankment about 2 meters high. It seems to be the start of a landslide that filled the ramp with earth and loose stone. Then later on, leaf litter covered its surface.

AC and YM were able to climb up the embankment. When it is my turn, I have troubles.
- When facing the embankment, to my left is a thin juvenile tree that I'm not willing to put my whole weight on to pull myself up.
- There are some tree roots protrude from the embankment. But they don't seem to be able to hold my weight.

I could use the toe of my boots to dig some footholds in the embankment to help myself up. But as AC and YM have climbed up already, I ask them to let down a climbing tape ... easier for me that way  :-)


Lawbeck Pass - 4th obstacle

After the long steep ramp, just keep climbing up the obvious way. Very soon we come to an almost vertical place.

52)  This is an exposed climb.
- YM is able to climb up ... along the blue arrows. Most likely AC and I would be able to climb up that way too. But since YM is already up, he lets down a tape to make life easier for us  :-)
- Initially the tape was draping down the left side of the tree trunk (the tree across the lower part of the pic.) AC and I used the tape to help us to cross a short exposed ledge to the right side of the tree.
- The tape is then switched to the right side ... as is depicted in this pic now.
- Then we use the tape to climb up ... along the blue arrows.


53)  I have already climbed up to the top of the blue arrows of the previous pic, now taking a picture of AC climbing up.


Lawbeck Pass - 5th obstacle

Standing at where the previous pic was taken, we immediately face our fifth and final obstacle ... climb up another cliff.

Unfortunately I forgot to take some photographs of this area ... It is a slight recess/grove in the rock cliffs. There the cliff is made of loose earth and rocks. A mid-sized tree is nearby where, when climbing up, one can temporarily press one's feet on its trunk for a breather.

YM climbs up first. It is a difficulty climb even for him. He has two goes at it before succeeding at the third attempt. I hate to think what would happen if he fails ... don't fancy retracing our steps all the way back !!!


To Fairmont Resort / Leura Golf Course

After the 5th obstacle, we bushbash towards Fairmont Resort / Leura Golf Course.

54)  There are still some scrambles here and there. They are not difficult  :-)
- AC is the guy in this pic.


55)  We meet up with a foot track. One direction goes to Fairmont Resort / Leura Golf Course. We have no idea where does the other direction lead to as the foot track is not marked on the maps. Perhaps it goes to Gladstone Lookout?


Fairmont Resort

56)  We are passing the back of Fairmont Resort.

Then it is back to my car at Sublime Point Road.


Comment

There is not much view in this walk. But the challenge of climbing up many difficult obstacles in Lawbeck Pass is well worth the effort !

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