With a fine forecast for the next 5 days, I excitedly jumped into October with a visit to one of Tasmanian's iconic walking destinations. The Frenchmans Cap area has 5 Abels and I hoped to get them all in one trip. I left the car park on the side of the Lyell Highway at about 10:30am for the 17km walk into Lake Vera. The weather was dull and rained on me most of the way in, but that was as I expected, the good weather was to come. The walk was beautiful, and having been a few years since I'd been up Frenchmans there was more new track work to admire. The track has been receiving attention and funding from Dick Smith and the state government, and the money has been well spent. The walk in took me about 4 hours, which offered me a pleasantly relaxed afternoon of chatting with others at Lake Vera hut.
|Crossing the Franklin River.|
|Great new track, ay?|
|Watering the valiant steed.|
|Lake Vera hut.|
I left the hut at about 8am and headed back up the track about 500 metres to a point that offered me a good lead up towards Agamemnon. There is no formed track up to the summit, so scrub bashing was in order. Firstly I was walking up an open buttongrass slope, which turned into thicker tea-tree scrub as I gained altitude closer to the craggy quartzite outcrops of the ridge line I was aiming for. I found a reasonable pad as the terrain funneled me into the obvious place to go, but the going wasn't too hard anyway. Once I was on the ridge it was more open, although one more gully of scrub had to be dealt with before I was on the higher ridge that offered open walking to the summit of Agamemnon. Again, not too bad and after an hour of walking I was through the worst of it. From that point there was cairns to follow occasionally, but the walking was open and easy so it wasn't necessary. The clouds that shrouded me all morning began to offer signs of lifting, but didn't in time for me to reach the summit. I would come back via this route, so I didn't worry with a foggy photo and instead turned my attention on Philps Peak. The peak was only a few kilometres away, and the walking was mostly wonderful, involving alpine herb fields and craggy features. Only one section of scrub at the lowest point between the Abels caused any annoyance, and that was short lived. About 4 hours after leaving the hut I was on Philps Peak, with a fine view (although Frenchmans and Clytemnestra never showed their heads) just in time for lunch. I spent well over half an hour on the summit before re-tracing my steps back. By the time I was back at Agamemnon, I had a wonderful open view. A White Goshawk flew beneath me as a Wedge Tailed Eagle soared above. A truly acrobatic performance.
|My Buttongrass lead.|
|Some scrub, looking down to the track.|
|I found a battery in the scrub :/|
|Misty mountains cold.|
|The ridge up towards Agamemnon.|
|Look at that geology! Extra points if you can tell me why it looks like this (I hold the answer...)|
|The ridgeline towards Philps Peak, and the best view I had of Frenchmans the whole trip.|
|Atop Philps Peak.|
|Slushy Spring snow.|
|A snowmelt fed creek.|
|Back on the summit of Agamemnon.|
|A watchful eye.|
Waking up to bad weather when the forecast suggested otherwise is always unfortunate, but I planned on heading to Lake Tahune for the night, via Sharlands Peak, so I packed up and moved out. Lugging my big pack up Barron Pass wasn't too bad, as I made many stops to take photos. The forest was popping with colour as the rain soaked in, and Vera Creek was pumping. After a few hours of walking I was over the pass and seeking shelter in a small cave beside the track for an early lunch. I prepared myself for a short side trip in the unforgiving weather by donning scrub gear. Sharlands Peak towers above the main Frenchmans Cap track at Barron Pass, and I was excited to climb it. The best approach is from behind, so I waded through some scrub first before quickly gaining height on a very fun climb. Sheer cliffs began to loom in the mist as I closed in on the summit, and soon I was on top, fighting against pelting wind and rain. I took shelter behind a rock; a good place to check the forecast on my phone. The forecast told me that the situation had deteriorated, and my chances of having views the next day from Frenchmans and Clytemnestra were next to none. It was at this point I decided that I would rather enjoy those particular summits in better weather, so after heading back to my pack I walked back down Barron Pass for Lake Vera hut. The time constraint of climbing the Abels is becoming a less important thing to me, as I would rather have a great walk instead of bagging for the sake of it...
|Native Laurel... Loo-roll! Hahaha.|
|What a pretty place I live in.|
|The track up Barron Pass.|
|Looking towards my route up Sharlands.|
|Unfortunately you can't see what the drop was like on the summit, but it's pretty steep|
With the weather doing what I expected, I high tailed it out to the car in just a smidgen over 3 hours. Not too bad timing I reckon! The new track certainly helped with that.
As I was passing over the Franklin Range near the highway, the Frenchman group was firmly in the cloud as the rain began to fall.
|The track out on the new Laughton's Lead.|