Saturday, 25 February 2017

Lake Oberon

21st - 24th February 2017

Mt Hayes
Mt Sirius
Mt Orion

Day 1
Jeremy; a friend of Nick's from The Netherlands, was visiting Tasmania after hearing many tales of her beauty. Nick suggested that we all head to the Western Arthurs, they would do the traditional Moraine A through to Moraine K loop and I would spend an extra few days heading up the Eastern Arthurs to grab my remaining Abel there, The Needles.

We woke up nice and early at the Huon campsite near Scotts Peak Dam so we could set off early and make the most of a good day ahead. The first few muddy hours were spend walking south to the junction of the McKays Track and the Port Davey Track, at the aptly named Junction Creek. We had a quick rest before heading on towards the notorious Moraine A. It is a large glacial moraine with a defined edge, making for a very user friendly access to the Western Arthur range which looms some 900m above the plains. Around half way up the moraine we stopped for lunch and watched a helicopter drop in new toilet pods at the campsites along the range. Exciting! An hour after lunch we made it to the ridge where the terrain and path become ever so joyous. Beautifully laid stones made for a gorgeous stroll all the way to out first camp at Lake Cygnus, nestled beneath the twisted Capella Crags. We spent the evening enjoying the beautiful, but cold surrounds. Having some great chats while eating dinner. I went to bed in my new Mountain Designs tent early, feeling a bit under the weather...

Couple of larrikins. 

Them plains.

Nick looks so happy to be wallowing in the mud!

Jeremy crossing Junction Creek.

Heli-ops! New loos for us!

Nearing Moraine A.

Half way up the moraine.

Such a beautiful path!

Snack break!

That geology! So cool!

Get up, come on get down to Lake Cygnus.

Day 2
BUGGER! I woke up with a full on virus. Horridly bad throat, headache, joints aching, the works. It was a beautiful day, and I was in a quandary. I thought it would be best to either have a rest day, or head back to Junction Creek. But, the option of the short walk to Lake Oberon and 3 Abels along the way was too tempting. We left camp around 9:30am, and within an hour we were at the base of Mt Hayes, a short 10 minute side-trip off the main path. We shot up and were rewarded with a glorious view of the day to come. Once back at the packs it was onward towards Square Lake where we had lunch. The deep glacial lake sits below Mt Orion and offers a fantastic view to the next two Abels on the traverse. After lunch it was an uphill push to the saddle between Square Lake and Lake Oberon (the iconic photos of the lake are taken from this area). I was absolutely knackered by this point, having never felt like I'd struggled this much on a walk before, but the short return trips up the two nearby Abels pulled on me. We first went up Mt Sirius, which has one of the best views along the range. With Lake Oberon below and the view stretching towards Fedders, this was a good place to show Jeremy. Once back at the saddle, Nick and I went up Mt Orion, while Jeremy went down to camp for a swim. Orion was, again, an easy side trip with a spectacular view. Nick and I stayed atop him for a while, talking and enjoying the sun. We then slowly made our way down to the lake, where after a quick swim, I promptly fell in a heap. Worth it.

Mt Hayes in the morning sun.

Let's go up there!

Jeremy's first Abel! 

The next goal, Mt Sirius.

Looking back up towards Hayes. 

Nearing Square Lake.

Oberon from the summit of Sirius. A great vantage point.

The timeless Lake Oberon.

Mt Orion summit has an amazing view, too!

Day 3
The weather report suggested that we were in for a few bad days. The track conditions beyond Oberon do become more difficult, and as I felt I was worsening I gave myself two options. Have a rest day at Oberon, or start heading out. I decided to start heading out, as the weather in the morning wasn't as bad as we expected. We said our goodbyes as Nick and Jeremy headed along to High Moor and I went back along the range in the mist, cloud, and rain. I took it slowly, and eventually made it back down off the range and camped at Junction Creek. I got in my tent and did nothing but read and drink water.

Day 4
I awoke feeling the worst yet, so I smashed some pain-killers and some water and plodded out. It was an uneventful and muddy walk out. I was on the track early, and didn't even see anyone! I felt really upset that I didn't achieve what I had set out to do, but I believe it was the right decision and I am keenly looking forward to getting back in the Arthurs.

48 left.


Friday, 17 February 2017

Mt Sorell

16th February 2017

Mt Sorell

Mt Sorell is well known as a tough nut. With the reputation of thick scrub, steep cliffs, and a long walking time, I was both excited and nervous to be heading there. I started driving at 3am and arrived at the start of the walk, south of Queenstown, by 7am. The walk commences on an old survey/quarry road that winds up to the Darwin Plateau. I was meeting my friend Shelly up there after she had spent the night near the area we start the 'walk proper'. To save time, I rode my mountain bike; and after navigating the cluster of roads that was woefully described in the Abels book, I met Shelly around 8am. We headed off shortly afterwards, leaving from a rocky knoll with a fine view across the Clark River Valley and to Mt Sorell (which rises around 1,000m above the valley floor).

Shelly had gotten some info on a 'decent' track most of the way, but as we weren't prepared to rely purely on hear-say, we took care to make a sensible decision into the scrub. Soon after descending from our start point we found one of the old survey lines that had been cut into the valley; straight as an arrow. We followed this for some time until it became inundated with scrub, and a bit of bashing was to be done. We came out into an open Buttongrass field close to the river, and found another survey line, running perpendicular to the previous. We followed this and soon enough it changed direction to head due west. The line took us to the river, and presented a suitable place to cross. The river was gorgeous, thick with tannin stains, and studded with small Huon Pines on the banks. Once on the other side the line wasn't obvious, so we bashed up until we made it into the open Buttongrass leading up the slopes of Sorell. Once again we found an old line, and followed that straight up. It took us to a forested section right at the base of the cliff lines, and with no other feasible looking option, we headed into the scrub. For the next hour, the was a lot of swearing, and a lot of frustration, as we faced the thickest and worst scrub either of us have ever encountered. We had to haul ourselves up near vertical slopes, clad in slippery moss and near impenetrable vegetation. Finally we arrived at the top of the ridge, and heaven oh my; "Cairns!".

Once we found those cairns and we were on the ridge-line heading for the summit, the next 1.5km to the top absolutely flew by! The cloud had never risen from the summit as we walked up, and we had some light rain here and there. We reached the summit, complete with a trig destroyed by the wind, after 5 hours and 20 minutes of walking. We took shelter from the wind in the lee side of some rocks and had lunch, hoping for a view. The view never came, and after 30 minutes of summit time we headed back. Once we were at the point were we first found cairns, we took care to try to find a better way down. And sure enough, we found a path! Literally 5 metres from our bash-route up too! In fact, our entire journey back to our start point on our rocky knoll was pretty much on cut track and only took 3 and a half hours.

When we arrived on the summit, both of us were firmly in the camp of "never doing Sorell again", but now I know of the track, I would do it again. I want to see the view and it is an impressive place, regardless.

Shelly is ready for a big day.

There it is, the beast, Mt Sorell.

Suitably broody.

Shelly summing up our feelings!

A whirling pool in the Clark River.

"Tape!" was always a pleasant thing to hear. (Note the pink tape on the tree).

Just above the scrub of doom.

Beautiful and open, the ridge of Sorell is stunning.

Fine views to Macquarie Harbour.

There's the summit!

Pretty distinct trig point. That's the Roaring 40s' for ya! 

A beautiful little White Lipped Whip Snake.

Soaking up as much sun as it could, but I don't think it was very warm...

51 left.


Saturday, 11 February 2017

Mt Murchison

11th February 2017

Mt Murchison

Known as one of the great mountain day walks of Tasmania, when the forecast said the weather should be alright, Chevi and I jumped at the opportunity to drive the 2.5 hours to the Mt Murchison track. The mountain was shrouded in cloud, but the temperature was warm as we started on the beautiful track. Initially in thick rainforest, the open path made quickly uphill following a very defined ridge-line. The forest started to get lower around us and soon our heads poked above the tops of the low scrub. We were greeted with a fine view to the un-named glacial lake nestled beneath the brooding spires of the Murchison summit range. From there the track became steeper and rocky underfoot. We scaled one face that had a rope to assist those on their quest to the summit. Once we were at the top of that scramble we were surrounded by thick cloud which stuck with us all the way to the top. The summit was windy, but we nestled down beneath the trig point, out of the wind, and enjoyed our lunch. The walk had taken us 2 hours up, and after some summit time (hoping the weather would lift; it did not) we headed down. The walk down took a little over an hour, and was mostly cloudy all the way to the car. West coast weather can be notorious, and it was worse than we expected, but it was still so beautiful and atmospheric! I can't wait to return for the view that I can only imagine would be incredible.



That forest <3

Native Laurel.

The glacial lake, that remains un-named...

A lady from Melbourne who was enjoying the sights Tassie had to offer!

One of the steep climbs.

Who loves cloudy summits? Me. I do. Summits.


52 left.


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Tyndall Range

6 - 7th February 2017

Mt Tyndall
Mt Geikie
Mt Sedgwick

Day 1
I arrived at the car park at the foot of this beautiful mountain range on the west coast of Tasmania around 10am, threw on my boots, gaiters, and pack and headed for the hills. There were many cars, and the log book was chock-a-block with names. The Tyndall range is a popular climbing spot; I didn't see anyone where I went to though. After signing in, 500 metres of elevation had to be gained, first through a small scrub band then on an open Buttongrass ridge, all on a beautiful cairned track. A smidgen over an hour later I was on the rolling plateau, covered in conglomerate boulders, Fagus, Cushion Plants, and various small alpine grasses. I found a suitable spot to dump my pack and then headed north off the track for the summit of Mt Tyndall. A very short walk lead to the summit which had no discerning features as the top other than my GPS co-ordinates and altitude reading saying I was there. A well trodden path lead to the more interesting smaller summit a few hundred metres away. This point is 4 metres lower, but had an old survey mark as well as a remnants of a log book container. I frolicked back to my gear after 20 minutes of summit time.

A little after 1:00pm I reached Lake Tyndall, where I set up camp and had a relaxing lunch in the sun. I then decided to head for Mt Geikie, a few kilometres south of where I had set up home. The walking was glorious; open easy grassland with sections of conglomerate slabs made for delightful going, and only 40 minutes after leaving the tent I was sitting next to the old trig-point. The summit was super still, and had a marvelous view north along the range, as well as to the east. The main highlight being the goal for the following day; Mt Sedgwick. It was also the only Abel I've been on that has a whisk on it... I spent almost an hour on the summit before strolling back to camp in a similar time frame for an afternoon of reading and cups of tea. A great way to wrap up a day.

I laugh in the face of danger.

Whitham Bluff

Looking south along the beautiful range.

On top of Mt Tyndall, looking to Mt Murchison.

The trig point on Mt Tyndall.

Alpine daisy looking lovely as pie.

Mt Geikie - such an amazing looking thing!

5 star accommodation.

You can just see the trig on Geikie.

Check out that geology. It rocks!

The summit view looking towards Mt Sedgwick.

Summit whisks.

The moon over the Tyndalls.

Day 2
I left camp quite early (just after 7:00am) to head towards Mt Sedgwick, the Abels book states that it is around 6 hours return from Lake Tyndall. A few minutes of easy open walking before I had to drop down a hundred metres in altitude to an undulating ridge heading towards Sedgwick. The decent was quite easy, with only a few small sections of scrub to contend with, and towards the narrow ridge I even found some cairns navigating through the boulders and Scoparia. Once on that ridge it was again easy walking for a few kilometres to a point where the ridge is broken by a small saddle with a creek running through it. I went a silly way through it and got caught in some scrub, but when the ridge was gained on the other side it was smooth sailing all the way to the base of Mt Sedgwick. The climb up to the peak didn't take long. 5 minutes was spent in some cutting grass before an open dolorite ridge could be followed to the summit, which I reached after exactly 3 hours of walking. I spent half an hour on the summit, admiring the peaks to the south, Mt Lyell being a huge eye catcher, as well as The Eldons to the east. On the walk back I found a more sensible route through the scrub, and was back at camp after 2.5 hours of walking (making it exactly 6 hours return)!

I had a cup of tea and slowly packed up my tent before heading back for the car, over the moon at how beautiful a place it was to be in. My next visit will have to be in Autumn when the Fagus is changing colour. The place would look amazing.

Early sun on Geikie.

Strolling towards Mt Sedgwick,

Easy to see why climbers like this place.

The dolorite ridge to the top is pretty obvious.

But first, a wee bit of scrub.

Near the top!

That view though. So great!

A wee friend on the way home.

53 left.