VK2/ST-022 Wyanbene Caves Mountain 1055 metres ASL, Deua National Park VKFF-138
15 January 2015. Today Al VK1RX and I plan to activate three VK2 SOTA peaks, the first Wyanbene Caves Mountain in the Southern Tablelands and the second and third peaks Bald Mountain and Big Badja Hill are in the Snowy Mountains region. Possible summit to summit (S2S) opportunities may include Paul VK5PAS activating Mt Lofty VK5/SE-005 and Russ VK2BJP activating Mt Benambra VK3/VE-041.
The purpose of this post is to share our experience, trials and tribulations at Wyanbene Caves with potential SOTA activators or keen bushwalkers. The climb to the summit is not trivial, the mountain has a commanding presence with very steep approaches, a formidable challenge to anyone who wants to take it on. Will Al and I be back for a repeat activation in 2016?
How to get there? From Canberra drive to Captains Flat and take Captains Flat-Braidwood Road to Cooma Road. Turn right into Cooma Road, continue along Cooma Road for 20 km. Turn left into Wyanbene Road be careful not to miss the T intersection, the junction is on a rise adjacent to 15 roadside letter boxes. Sorry forgot to get the photos. Continue along Wyanbene Road, cross the Shoalhaven River ford, stay on Wyanbene Road for a further 6 km to the campground.
Previous and first activators: Andrew VK2MWP and Mark VK1EM 1 January 2015. Andrew and Mark took a different approach following a 4WD trail 4 km from the west.
After studying AUS Topo contour maps and Google Earth, Al and I knew we were in for a tough ascent. At the car park the sign posted route to the Trig station (1 km) is misleading. If you are planning this ascent, my recommendation is to avoid this route. Al and I followed the route only to find ourselves at a dead-end near a cave entrance. (red GPS track log) I recommend you plot a route similar to the blue GPS track log along a dry creek bed.
My assessment of any summit’s ‘degree of difficulty’ to climb, will be judged by that of Mt Tennent VK1/AC-025 a 780 metre ascent over 6 km taking 2 hours designed to break human spirit. The ascent to Wyanbene Caves Mountain Trig is 284 meters over 2 km yet the climb took 1 hour and 30 minutes. I am happy to say the descent was 259 metres over 1.6 km, 400 metres shorter and no boulders/tors to navigate around or climb over.
Don’t take this route, unless you are keen to follow in our foot steps or you are interested in looking through the first cave.
Contour lines show a steep approach. Our first target was the ridge line at 950 metres ASL. That choice proved to be a major challenge. On the positive side the view from the ridge is spectacular and made for some awesome photos.
Ascent 2 km, duration 1 hour 30 minutes, avg speed 1.4 km/h
Descent 400 metres shorter, duration: 45 minutes 🙂
Red track, note the changes in direction as we navigate around or in some cases over obstacles
Very steep ascent to the ridge line, avoid this area by following the blue track.
Seriously tough climb, now a very steep approach to the ridge line and easy to over balance when wearing a heavy backpack1 hour later – on the ridge line with amazing views of Deua National Park. Sent a SMS to Paul VK5PAS stating ‘400 metres to go, bloody hard!’ Paul is activating VK5/SE-005 Mt Lofty overlooking Adelaide. 🙂
After a short rest we continued climbing the ridge line for a further 100 meters where the terrain leveled off close to the 4WD fire trail used by Andrew and Mark.
Head west along the ridge for 250 meters to the summit and Trig station
At the Trig for a well earned rest
On the summit at 10:05 local (23:05 UTC). I helped Al set up his inverted V dipole supported by a 7 metre squid pole. Al fired up his ICOM IC-706 at 23:20 UTC to work the main chaser group. For the planned S2S contacts we took turns working Paul VK5PAS/P on Mt Lofty VK5/SE-005 Mt, Andrew VK1MBE/2 on Livingston Hill VK2/SM-093 and Russ VK2BJP/3 on Mt Benambra VK3/VE-041. Thanks fellas for the S2S contacts. 😉
My fourth and last contact to qualify the summit was Gerard VK2IO mobile with a 5-7 signal report. Thanks Gerard, I definitely wanted to make the contact with you!
While taking photos I became the landing pad for a Stick Insect, or was it the orange T shirt?
With a new summit in the bag, it was time to tackle the steep descent. We decided the best approach would be to descend the north face, this would avoid the ridge line and the associated obstacles – follow the blue GPS track log
Although the terrain is steep the ground underfoot is stable. The steep face is covered by a native grass and the occasional small boulder.
Continue with the descent using a switch-back or zigzag approach across the face.
Descent passing Bushrangers Cave. On the ascent take a route to the left of the cave as shown in the picture. On the descent stay to the right of the rock formation to avoid the cliff edge.
On my next visit I might check out the cave.
At the base of the mountain following a dry creek bed to the car park – visible on Google Earth
Back at the campground and car park.
Track overlay on Google Earth. I will be back in 2016 for a second shot at this mountain. Thanks Al for the cups of tea, good company and sense of humor, we did it!