Well today was to have been one based around a canyoning trip near the Kanangra Wall but with thunderstorms forecast for the Blue Mountains it just wasn’t safe to back ourselves with that option.
Instead, Hugh and I descended down the Furber steps and struck out west along the lower levels of the cliff line toward the Ruined Castle – a rock formation that bears a small resemblance to it’s name.
The pace was on from the outset and I’d estimate we were moving at around 4-5kmph. The track was in great condition, and flatter than I’d expected so we made good time. Our original plan had been to make it through to the Ruined Castle and then find a passage up the cliff face so that we could return via “The Neck” (marked as Narrow Neck on the map). Our plans fell to bits here because there were no obvious routes up the cliff line that would be successful unless ropes, and climbing equipment were at hand so in the end we exited up on to The Neck via the traditional “Golden Stairs” route and back home, just in time to miss being exposed to the hail storm.
And tomorrow ? … a rest day I think with the possibility of a gym session thrown in for good measure.
I’ve moved up to Katoomba for the week with the intention of getting some longer and harder walks under my belt. Here’s the outcome from day 1 – Furber Steps to Giant Staircase and home via the Cliff Top walk. All finished in 1 hour 55 minutes!
I’m now in Katoomba and enjoying my New South Wales version of altitude training. Wikipedia has confirmed for me that Katoomba is at 1,030 metres altitude, falls within the criteria of subtropical highland climate with summer daytime temperatures in the low 20’s with a few rare days extending into the low 30’s.
So today was on one of those “rare days” that I ventured out to. I’d walked into the Katoomba shopping area with Bridie earlier in the morning and we’d discussed some options for longer walks around the area.
One that grabbed my attention was the Katoomba Falls to Three Sisters via the Furber Steps (downward) and Giant Staircase (upward direction). I’ll be honest here – the reason it grabbed my attention was because Bridie put a time on it. She had completed it in just under 2 hours was her recollection. So there it was – an informal challenge on the table.
Down the Furber Steps seemed relatively easy, as you would expect and contouring around the edge of the valley went without a hitch. It was warm but not unbearable. And then I hit the Grand Staircase and maybe I was over confident and went at it a little fast at the outset. Now 900+ stairs zig-zagging up the side of a vertical wall is going to take it out of you – of that I’ve no doubt but I’d hoped there would be less grimacing and heavy breathing involved.
And the outcome – I completed the circuit in … 1 hour 55 minutes and I’m pretty pleased with that.
I know that I’ll continue to develop some hill strength over the remaining 6 days I’m in Katoomba so I’m feeling a little more confident about Aconcagua now.
I’ve added a short video from the day out in the next blog post.