Have you ever heard of Mount Barney?
For most of us I think that’s a clear “No”. I know for me it was up until a few months ago, and I decided I have got to climb this big arse mountain. Standing at 1354 metres above sea level (5th highest in QLD) it’s not exactly your typical school camp hike – far from it in fact as I was about to find out.
So Saturday 8th September came round and I had four mates coming on the expedition. But how’s this for luck – four out of four either are sick or were sick within the past 24 hours. Not the ideal way to kick off a weekend requiring physical stamina.
But pushing on, Josh and I arrived at camp in awe of the sheer size of the mountain looming over the campsite. After finding a stackload of firewood, Josh lighting it flamethrower style, and jumping into a freezing cold waterhole that was “tinglingly refreshing” we met Paul – the climber (and 39 year old astrophysicist). We quickly discovered that if you want to know anything about climbing up big scary mountains ask Paul. He plans his holiday destinations around what big peaks are in the vicinity, and ascends them both with and without ropes…..yes roped climbs = scary stuff.
Saturday night my other two “sick” mates Rory and Scottie arrived (Jay, the most experienced mountaineer of us all unfortunately couldn’t make it, classified as Too Sick To Climb – TSTC). So with the wind blowing an absolute gale and howling like a pack of wolves we all proceeded to have a dreadful night’s sleep.
At long last Sunday morning arrived and at 4:30am we were up and well…..ummm not quite raring to go for our 10 hour hike. Following more sausages it became apparent that we had lost two more adventurers to the dreaded TSTC disease.
And then there were two. Not to be disheartened Josh and I marched off spritely at 6am sharp pondering over whether we would be the two highest people in Queensland when we made the summit? An hour later we were off the beaten track and going very steeply skywards. As we were to find out the steepness did not relent and no matter how high we got Mt Barney’s peak always appeared soooo far away. The views began getting more and more spectacular and the phrase “Let’s have a breather” more and more common.
At 9am we could just about see that the peak was within reach, but yet again Mt Barney attempted to throw us back to where we came from. With spikey shrubs, massive slabs of steep igneous rock, spine tingling drops and “What If?” moments the trail was all but gone and it was literally a matter of bush bashing and rock scrambling your way to the top.
The summit appeared before us unexpectedly and well what can I say? The views from East Peak were “mind bozzling” as Jay had rightly predicted. 360 degrees, 1100 metres up on a perfect cloudless Spring day. After spotting a deep blue dam and haze way out in the distance we snapped a few precarious photos on rocks near the edge and headed for home.
The way back was faster but required more concentration, as Josh found out dodging snakes and goannas and I found out falling headfirst down a rock face (the bush was hiding the rock ok).
After eight and a half hours on the mountain we made it back, tired but content and conjuring up ideas for the next adventure.