Sunday, 11 September 2011

Cold, Windy but Beautiful at Girraween


Date: 10 - 11 Sep 2011

Day 1:
Main Range at Sunrise from the Highway
Maree and I decided to get away for the weekend to Girraween N.P. near Stanthorpe. We got away to an early start on the Saturday morning which meant we got to the camp site by about 8:30 in the morning. There was a moderate number of people camping in both the Bald Rock Creek and Castle Rock Campsites and we chose the latter as we hoped there would be more exposure to the sun.

By 10:00 we were set up and ready to go. The plan for the day was to head out to The Sphinx and Turtle Rock to investigate the climbing opportunities there. The track heads off from the Southern End of the campsite and is also the starting point for the Mt. Norman and Castle Rock walks. The walking was extremely pleasant with the clouds clearing to a beautiful day and the good quality track providing easy walking up a gradual incline for most of the way. The only downside was the wind which was gusting to around 30 to 40KM/H.


Before long we arrived at The Sphinx which is a natural rock formation named after the famous man made one in Egypt.

The Sphinx from Turtle Rock
The climbs were fairly easy to find however it was becoming clear that I would definitely need removable bolt plates to do anything that was within my range. A fact that was alluded to but probably not emphasised enough in the guide. Not to worry though, carrying 15kg of climbing gear for the day provided a good test for the new pack which performed very well.

Investigating the climbing behind The Sphinx
Vagabond
Alex in Wonderland
The Chimney behind The Sphinx
The Sphinx
After wandering around the rocks for a while we continued on to Turtle Rock where we had lunch on the large rock slab below the summit. The view from here was really good and provided a good view of The Sphinx and all the way across to The Pyramids. After lunch we investigated more climbing routes much to the same result. We also started up the thin gulley that leads to the summit before deciding that it was way more trouble than it was worth. The route on the Northern side of the main rock was much easier.

Before long we headed back to camp where we did some more scrambling around on the ridge above the campsite and then set up for dinner and a cold breezy night.

Day 2:
Overnight it reached a low of 1degree but we stayed warm and cozy inside the tent. Once we did emerge the sun was peaking through the trees and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We packed up camp and headed off to start The Pyramid walk. This would be my third time up but was eager to show Maree the fantastic views from the top.

The track starts from the day use area and crosses Bald Rock creek just downstream of the swimming hole. Photo's pinned up on the notice board in the campsite showed the state of the creek earlier in the year during the floods. This large area was completely underwater and would have been amazing to see. There has been a lot of rebuilding of tracks through the park since then and overall it is looking back to normal.

We took the detour past Granite Arch on the way which is always good to see. The track continued through the lowland swampy areas for another 20 minutes or so before it reached the ridge which lead up to the base of the first Pyramid. The climb to the base was moderately steep with numerous steps but before long the track opened up to the large rocky slopes of the Pyramid.

Maree heading up the Pyramid
The first section was probably the steepest but even this didn't last long before the track sidles up to a large rock slab that long ago came loose and now sits running length-ways down the main rock. We continued following the white dots up the rock and soon came to a narrow walk way.

Narrow Walkway heading diagonally up The Pyramid
The track then skirted around some more huge boulders before heading straight up one more section of flat rock before the amazing peak of the Second Pyramid came into view.

Myself admiring the view of the Second Pyramid next to Balancing Rock
Cave on The Pyramid
We explored the boulders around the summit for a while before we chose a spot to have lunch in the sun. While we sat eating, a large and very inquisitive skink appeared out of a big crack in the rock and began to investigate our back packs. Eventually though, we set off back to the car and onwards to home.