Friday, 23 December 2016

Snowy Range

21st - 23rd December 2016

Nevada Peak
Snowy North
Snowy South

Day 1
I approached the Snowy Range via the Nevada Peak track, which is currently accessed differently than the Abels book describes due to winter flooding taking out a bridge on Russell Road. I followed the directions to the Lake Skinner track as per the Snowy South entry and drove a little further beyond that track to reach the appropriate forestry spur road. The drive down took me around 5 hours, and I was walking by 12:30pm. The walk passed through an old forestry coup before entering lush rainforest. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the track, making for swift going. After an hour I left the giant Myrtles behind in favour of tall alpine moorland, dominated by Pandani. Soon that gave way to low alpine heath and I stormed through the gale force winds to Snowdrift Tarns. The collection of tarns sit in the lee side of Nevada Peak, making it a reasonable spot to set up camp. After a late lunch, I headed up Nevada Peak, which took all of 10 minutes to the summit. The view was wonderful and made me feel grounded in my position on the range, with both other Abels in sight. Dark clouds were on the horizon, so I made my way to camp where I was promptly tent bound for about 17 hours in fierce winds and pounding rain.

A spiffy new lookin' sign.

Mmmm... Rainforest <3

Wetpants Peak through some gum forest.

Wetpants, Scrivens Cone, and Snowy North.

AH! So this is why it's called the Snowy Range!

Home sweet home neath Nevada Peak.

Half way up to Nevada. My tent is just visible! Can you find it?

Looking south towards Snowy South, from atop the summit of Nevada.

Looking north.

Pandani and Pineapple Grass.

Day 2
I awoke to thick fog with less than 10 metres of visibility. So I waited. And waited. All of a sudden at 9:30am sharp the clouds began to rapidly lift as the sun grew warmer. I was prepared for this moment, and within 2 minutes I had boots and gaiters on and was strolling north along the range. I descended and then went over the shoulder of Wetpants Peak, within an hour of leaving camp I was a kilometre north of Scrivens Cone.The cloud was lifting, but a view of Snowy North still eluded me. The next hour and a quarter of similar low alpine moorland gave me the odd glimpse of Snowy North, but when I reached the summit I had no view from the trig point. I sat around for 20 minutes before slowly the clouds lifted to give me a reasonable view to the west and east. Mt Anne was visible, albeit with a head shrouded in cloud. The walk back to my camp took a similar time frame and I was rewarded with a hot lunch in the sun.

The edge of the world.

Westpants?! More like Cloudypants Peak.

A good representation of the terrain.

Alas, there be no view from the summit.

YES THERE IS! That's Mt Anne over there!

Looking south along the range.

It was just after 3pm and I had rested at camp for nearly an hour. I decided that I should go to Snowy South too, as I still had lots of daylight and it was a beautiful afternoon. I also didn't want to risk another foggy morning ruining my chances for a fine view the next day. The few kilometres of walking were pleasant, a lot of large scree with a patch of moorland in between. It only took me 50 minutes to the summit. I lingered atop Snowy South longer than both Snowy North and Nevada Peak combined. The view was amazing; Mt Weld, Mt Anne, The Denison Range, Snowy Range, Mt Field, all crystal clear. I was also kept amused by the small gum beetles who occupied the summit cairn, watching our over their kingdom. Another 50 minutes back to camp where I rewarded myself with a swim in one of the larger and quite deep tarns (I'd call it a lake to be honest).

Beautiful cushion plant.

Piles of scree.

Looking towards the second Abel to the day.

On the summit looking north.

These guys a keeping an eye out from their cain atop Snowy South.

Day 3
I woke up quite early to a beautiful day. I could have easily done Snowy South instead of the day before, but I was glad of my decision, as it also meant I could get the driving done with a fresh mind. The walk back to my car was lovely and took me a bit over an hour and a half. By the time I reached the car at 8:30am it was already 18 degrees in the shady rainforest. A part of me was glad to not be doing a big day! Soon I was in Huonville with many potato cakes (they have the best potato cakes in Tassie! Only $0.80! Get 'round that, people!)

Stunning morning.

Looking back towards Snowy South along memory lane.

Remnants of the well cut track.

75 left.


Friday, 16 December 2016

King William 1 and the Olympus Range

14th - 15th December 2016

Mt King William 1
Mt Othrys
Mt Olympus

Day 1
I picked up Peter (a companion you may recall from Mt Picton and Hartz Peak) at 7am from his house in Launceston, and then we promptly made our way just passed Derwent Bridge to the beginning of the Mt King William 1 KW1 walk. We set of in rather dreary weather, with rain showers hitting us periodically, but it added to the beauty of the snow gums as we walked the 4km dirt road to the base of the mountain. After an hour of strolling we reached the path proper, which imitatively heads up a steep incline. Within a few minutes the weather started to clear and we were rewarded with a fantastic view of KW1 and the surrounding plains. From that high vantage point it really wasn't too much farther to the summit, through some lovely high alpine plants. The clouds and howling wind came in again within a few minutes of the top, so we found refuge in a Parks and Wildlife observation dome among the many towers atop the mountain. Our original plan was to push down the range and camp at the base of Slatters peak to climb the other 2 Abels on the King William Range, but after 40 minutes of hunkering down in the shelter we decided to pull out of that plan and continue our adventure elsewhere. We had a small window of 30 seconds with a partial view from the summit, but a good view still eludes me. Being such a short and easy walk, I will come back one day.

Sexy, twisty looking snow gum.

A fine view to Lake George.

King Willy One peeping through the cloud.

Looking towards Slatters Peak and KWII. Another mission for another day.

The small bauble we hung out in atop the summit.

The best view we got from on top - Looking at Milligans Peak.

It cleared on top just in time for us to get to the car...

We drove to nearby Lake St Clair via The Hungry Wombat cafe for lunch. Our next goal was Mt Othrys and Mt Olympus. We started walking around the edge of the lake at 1:30pm and kept a solid pace for about an hour and a half. By that point it was around a good place to start heading straight up to the side of Mt Othrys, so we jumped off the track and into the rainforest. Steady uphill for a few hours was in store for us, navigating around a few cliff lines and into some lighter scrub before we placed ourselves on the forested ridge about 1.5km south-east of Mt Othrys. We headed along the ridge, finding intermittent paths along the way and a few blazed trees, but nothing great. We contoured underneath a rocky outcrop (that in hindsight we should have gone over to avoid some thick scrub), until we were in a small, flat saddle between Othrys and the rocky outcrop. By this time we were pooped and ready to set up camp. The weather had started to lift, and our outlook for the next day looked promising.

Walking through the rain forest around Lake St Clair.

Beautiful Tiger Snake.

Some fun cliffs that had to be negotiated.

Peter loving a good mushy rainforest walk.

Mt Ida looking FULLY-SICK!

Our tents nestled under the ridge up Othrys. 

Day 2
A big day would be an understatement. We woke up at about 6:30am to the sound of sleet on the tents and decided to wait it out for an hour or so before figuring out if we should push on over to Olympus, or just drop back to the lake. By 7:20am the sleet had stopped and the clouds were thinning, so we decided to pack up and push on. We were walking by 7:30am and soon heading up the semi-vegetated scree leading up to the summit of Mt Othrys. Along the way we had some fun negotiating a few sections of cliffs, but within an hour we were sitting atop Othrys. What a view! We had a good vantage point towards the southern side of Olympus, but figured it would be best to continue along the range before deciding how to tackle it from this direction. We walked 20 minutes further before finding a very pleasing looking saddle with a fine view of our chosen direction, on the western side up a scree slope that lead to the plateau and looked to avoid much scrub.

A small amount of snow fell overnight.

Golden colour on the way up Othrys.

The Cuvier Valley with Rufus and Hugel in the background.

On top of Othrys and well pleased to be there!

...But Olympus still looms above us.

Gaining a good aspect on our route up Olympus.

The back side of Othrys was a wee bit cliffy.

The saddle was wonderful walking, and took for less time than we imagined. It was very open and within 20 minutes of dropping off the back of Othrys we were at the base of the scree going up Olympus. The assent started nice and easy, but soon became harder closer to the top as the boulders became the size of cars, on odd angles, with snow still on them. A bit of slow going, but we made it to the plateau safe and sound. Surrounded by cloud we headed north-west along the plateau towards the high saddle that joins the two massifs of Mt Olympus together; passing the high point of the southern massif along the way. The saddle was slow going, but the promise of ever clearing weather pushed us along until we were on the northern plateau. 20 minutes later and we were at the high point of Mt Olympus, just in time for more cloud! We waited for 20 minutes and then the weather cleared to reveal an amazing view! We soaked it in for a while before heading for the moraine that leads off Olympus towards the hanging Lake Oenone, and then followed some pads down towards the lake. The pads weren't great, and the bush bashing was easy, so we didn't worry too much. A few more cliffs to negotiate, but all good fun. Once at Lake St Clair, we were back on the Overland and it was a quick 2 and a half hours back to the car. We were driving by a bit after 6pm after a long but great day!

The beast above from the valley below.

A nice angle to walk up! (That's Othrys in the background, too).

Some very nice cliffs on the side of Olympus.

Atop the southern plateau, some great rock features.

The large cairn of the southern high point.

Looking over Lake Oenone towards the northern plateau.

Walking along the ridge that connects the two.

Mt Byron and Mt Cuvier trailing off behind Olympus.

The outstanding view from the summit!

The wee little summit cairn of Mt Olympus, looking down the range.

A quiet little waterfall exiting Lake Oenone.

78 left.