I had grand aspirations of doing the Pelion West Traverse, and when a few days of good weather presented itself I was off. However, as will become apparent, I only got as far as the beautiful Mt Thetis.
With the Maggs Road open all the way to the Arm River carpark, I started walking up the Arm river track at about 1:00pm. The track has had some more work on it over the last few months, and is now more or less as clear as it was before the major flooding event in winter 2016. As always it was a beautiful walk, winding up through Eucalyptus dominated forest into alpine moors of low Coral Ferns, Scoparia, and Snow Gum. Walking in I could hear the sound of helicopters, which proved to be doing provisioning to the Tas Walking Co. huts, and they were a constant over the next three days. As the track descends the flank of Mt Oakleigh through some beautiful rainforest, intermittent snowfall made for a magical experience. Once I reached the far end of Lake Ayr it wasn't long to the Pelion Plains Hut where I would spend the night. A pleasant 3 hours of walking in total. The hut was busy that night, as the TasTAFE guiding students were all at Pelion for the evening (2 groups of 10, one heading north, one south).
|Would you look at the size of them Pepperberries!|
|Mt Pillinger looking lovely.|
|Gorgeous ancient rainforest.|
|Pelion East's little bump.|
|Helicopters dwarfed by Mt Ossa.|
|A moody Mt Oakleigh.|
Breakfast was had by 7:00am, and after slowly packing and yacking to some others, I was off at 8:00am sharp. I planned to get to the saddle between Mt Achilles and Perrins Bluff that evening, having gone over Mt Thetis first, so I was happy for the early start. 15 minutes after leaving the hut, walking north along the Overland I got to the point where I should turn south off the track and follow the roughly taped route onto the broad moor around Snarers Hut Creek. Easy going through some lovely forest before I broke out onto the vast shoulder of Coral Fern and Scoparia. The walking here was delightful and the fine weather offered amazing views of my destination, as well as Mt Ossa looming overhead. A few bands of thicker Snow Gum forest had to be pushed through before I reached the saddle between Mt Ossa and Paddys Nut, some of which I used my snowshoes for easier going. I was beneath Paddys Nut by 10:30am, looking up at Mt Thetis. The snow levels weren't as thick as I would have hoped, but I charged onward. I changed out my snowshoes for microspikes as they offered better traction going up the slope of Mt Thetis. Eventually I reached the top of the narrow ridge that offers the least steep access to the summit. By then it was 11:30am, (I was disgruntled with my pace) and the snow conditions had deteriorated considerably in the warming day. Especially with my pack on it was very sketchy going. There are a lot of big holes in Dolorite scree, and they aren't obvious when covered in snow. I knew it could be an issue for Pelion West, but I was already struggling. It was then that I decided it wouldn't be safe for me to continue, as I was sinking into some pretty deep holes. I knew I wouldn't be able to get to where I wanted that night, so I chucked on a day pack and slowly headed for the top. Even with 18kgs less, I was still sinking a lot, but I eventually made it to the summit. Some huge drifts of snow, shaped by the wind were the foreground to an amazing view. It was stunning, and silent. A Wedgetail Eagle swooped over-head, so close I could almost touch it. I spent 45 minutes on top, relishing being on a mountain again.
I then slowly made my way back down to my pack, and then descended the ridge. The going on my way back to Pelion Plains was very tiring and slow in the slushy snow, but at the end of a long day, I was happy I chose the safer option.
|The way forward.|
|Pelion West framed.|
|Looking towards Paddys Nut in front of Mt Thetis. Mt Achilles to the right.|
|Too much snow for it to handle.|
|I ate a mandarin next to this Pencil Pine.|
|Pelion East keeps a watchful eye on me.|
|Approaching the summit.|
|The small summit cairn.|
|Pelion West, the monolith.|
|The sun sets beyond Barn Bluff.|
I headed out back to my car, a beautiful walk on the Arm River Track as usual, but uneventful. I believe it took me 2.5 hours to get out.