Today we set out to tackle the “Traverse of the Gods”, which got quite a write up about its exposure in The Bushwalker’s spring edition. This is a traverse along the middle ledge of the face of Mount Banks. A friend, who’d done it before, joined me. I took his advice and did the walk in the reverse direction to the magazine write up, so that we could attempt a traverse over Mount Banks at the end of the day, if there was time permitting. I had been particularly vigilant of who I allowed to sign up to my trip, as I needed everyone to have a good head for exposure.
We pulled up at Mount Banks Picnic Area and the door of the car almost blew off as we opened it. There were 65km/h winds whipping through! Well this was certainly going to make the day more interesting. A and I had arrived 1.5 hours early so we set out to walk the section to the start of the middle ledge to see how much of an issue the wind would be. We set off up the track along the ridge towards Mount Banks. As we came out of the trees it became a full body battle to stay on the track and not tumble off to the side. I was seriously hoping it would calm down once we got off the saddle, even though we’d still be fully open to the wind. Thankfully it did. That was a perfect lesson in aerodynamics. We scuttled around on the ledge towards our goal with some fun parts (e.g. going through a natural hole in the rock). There were some places where it was perfectly calm and other places where we were pounded by the wind. The wind was pushing us towards the cliff, which was ok by me. We made it to our destination with a bit of a wild look – this was fun! On the way back to the cars we took a route up and over, battled the elements once more and then waited for my participants to arrive.
The wind was howling so much at the cars that I had to move us closer to the picnic area to do the “pre-walk talk”. No one wanted to bail – phew. It was interesting watching the others reactions as we tackled the start of the walk and they were all relieved to hit the first sheltered part off the saddle. Now the fun could begin. We descended the gully onto the middle ledge and I enjoyed the bits of route finding along the way. The views were spectacular across the Grose Valley. Now to find these exposed parts so we could tackle them. There were sections of bare cliffs, rain forest, scrub (well lots of those), a trig plate, a log book, the descent through the “Devils Throat”. We managed to find a spot with reasonable views and a little sun for morning tea with a semi-howling wind. I was enjoying this. On we went. I was starting to be confused/concerned as to why we hadn’t come across the crux of the walk yet, we must we walking a lot slower than I thought…
Then we were facing in such a direction that the wind was pushing us along the ledge, it was time to really start concentrating. I was watching the group like a hawk to ensure everyone was ok. I was certainly reassured that A was at the back making sure everyone was managing just fine. Then, all of a sudden, I recognised that we were at the point north of Frank Hurley Head where the fire trail comes right across to the cliff. Huh? How could we be here? Where were the exposed parts ?!?! I had a quick chat with A and it turned out that I’d passed them without batting an eyelid! What was the magazine talking about !?!?! We pushed on underneath Frank Hurley Head and ascended to the top of the cliffs from the south of the head.
Now to see if we could find a safe passage up and over Mount Banks to avoid a long and boring (although wind free) walk along the fire trail. While trying to take a photo of the view I had to sit down, the wind was so strong. I really wasn’t sure if we’d get up Mount Banks, I was having trouble keeping my footing. Thankfully we did. There were a lot of great viewpoints but none inviting for lunch because of the wind (and chill) factor. So, after we reached the summit, we descended to the picnic area nearby for lunch before descending back to the cars once more. There was no dallying around. We all got in our respective cars after a quick goodbye and headed off.