Friday, September 16, 2005

The Waring ledge

Brisbane-based Bob Waring had climbed Mt Barney several times by 1949 and his friend Jon Stephenson mentioned a possible route to the summit of Leaning Peak along a steeply-sloping ledge which ran out across the top of the 500 metre north face. Waring recalls: ‘I decided to check this out without delay, and was soon there by myself inching along the ledge, initially quite wide, but decreasing to a foot or so directly above the sheer wall down to the distantly whispering creek above the Portals. I was then confronted by a short vertical pitch, with a 15 foot high pile of thick slabs on its right side, appearing solid enough to chimney up against to the summit. I pushed against them with my right hand to confirm this, and had to immediately flatten against the wall as the whole lot collapsed and engulfed me in a large cloud of acrid rock dust as they jack-knifed out into space and spent the next 10 minutes thundering down into the gorge. I then climbed the wall and was on the summit of Leaning Peak, exactly 14 minutes since stepping on to the ledge. Rapelling down about 80 feet to the small saddle, I joined my bushwalking (only) companion waiting there, and we returned to camp.’ Although Raoul Mellish accompanied Waring on the trip to Mt Barney, he believed it would have been ‘madness’ to follow him along the ledge. Following this achievement, Waring gained a reputation for being a bold climber and later repeated the route—known as the Waring Ledge—with John Comino.

Picture: Pat Conaghan collection.

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