Friday, June 16, 2017

Yulludunida Crater: Skyline Traverse

East of Narrabri in northern NSW, Kaputar National Park preserves an eroded volcanic environment. There are deep valleys, steep cliff-lines and ancient volcanoes strewn across a mostly dry eucalpyt forest. A big chunk of the park is now wilderness, but, a sealed road leads all the way to the top of the Nandewar Range, and you can virtually drive to the summit of Mount Kaputar, the highest peak in the park.

Dusk over Kaputar

Not so Mount Yulludunida which is a rocky 1225 metre peak at the western end of the park.  A good but steep staired National Park track leads up to a pass about half a kilometre NE of the top of Mount Yulludunida. The track ends near cracked slabs below the summit ridge and a cairned route continues for a short distance before scrambling up cracked rocks and easy slabs covered with chicken heads and holds to the north-south ridge. Good solid scrambling along the ridge leads to the summit where there is a big cairn and lovely views with scattered old volcanic escarpments around. Continuing on, we scrambled down to a col on the ridge and up to a second summit.

On the Skyline Traverse

A short distance down from the second summit we got to a slightly tricky step that is best tackled by down-climbing steep rock on the west side for a short distance until you can traverse back along slabs to the ridge proper. We passed our packs down this section and some folks might appreciate a rope. The climbing is easy and the rock solid, but it is exposed. A bit further on there was another section where we took packs off to down climb a narrow slot.

A bit more scrambling and we were off the ridge below some more shorter buttresses this time on the east side. We scrambled back up onto two more tops, one separated by the other by a deep chimney that again required taking our packs off.

Kaputar views

Continuing along the ridge there are a lot more little steps to scramble over. We, however, opted to descend from this point and scrambled down into the flats to the east. There are a lot of bare rock slabs in the valley, so it pays to plan out your route back to the trail before you descend. If you pick it right, you can walk back to the access track on open slabs with virtually no bush-bashing.   

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