Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Loddon Bluff

15th - 16th May 2017

Loddon Bluff

Day 1
After a month of not Abeling, it was time to get back into the hills! I have had one previous attempt at Loddon Bluff (it was going to be my 1st Abel in 2015), but poor weather turned us around beneath Mt Roland Cross. And this was the 4th time that Shelly and I had put the dates aside to set out on this mission, with the previous 3 being cancelled due to bad weather; this is Tasmania! It was worth the wait though, as it exceeded both our expectations!

We met at Derwent Bridge at 8am (we were headed in different directions post walk, hence separate cars), piled all the gear into one car and drove the 20 minutes towards Queenstown to our starting point. This is where my previous attempt proved handy, as I knew of a semi taped route. Just beyond Squires Creek we found the piece of pink marker tape on the side of the road and parked near it. Scrub gear on and we headed enthusiastically into the rainforest. After the first piece of tape, we didn't see any more, but it was just a matter of heading straight down towards the Surprise River some 400m away. Half an hour after leaving the car we had crossed the river with minimal fuss and were headed for the ridge of Eucryphila Lead; our access to the Loddon Range. Steady uphill took us through magnificent stands of Man Ferns, with smaller Mother Shield ferns beneath, and scattered fungi all around. It was about here that we picked up the taped route again, although we didn't necessarily depend upon it, as the ridge was easy enough to stick on. The tape acted as our occasional reassuring friend, with both of us yelling 'Tape!' when we spotted some. Once we had gained a few hundred metres in elevation we entered Myrtle and unsurprisingly, Leatherwood (Eucryphila) dominated forest. It was steady going for a few hours, but around 11:30am we had emerged into the scrub line, and had a view to the leading ridge of Mt Roland Cross.

We had to push through some more scrub in order to get to the clearer alpine area on the main ridge of the Loddon Range, but this wasn't too bad, and the nearer we got to our goal, the more pad-like the going became. Eventually we ended up on a reasonable pad, marked by odd bits of tape and occasional cairns. A smidge after midday we were sitting on Mt Roland Cross, looking along the range to where we were heading; not a bad place to stop for lunch! From our lunch spot we could spy Needle Rock Tarn, nestled beneath the main ridge, and confirmed that it would be our camp spot. We headed along the range, negotiating a few rocky knolls and a few scrubby patches. A little over an hour after lunch we reached a saddle between a knoll and Church Peak where we opted to leave our packs. This would be an ideal place to come back to before dropping down to the tarn, only a few hundred metres away. We shoved some gear into day-packs and kept going along the range. At 2:30pm we arrived at the summit of Loddon Bluff! Treated to a great view, although the valleys and hills to the south were hidden from view with large clouds gathering. We spent a pleasant 30 minutes on top in the calm weather before re-tracing our steps back to the packs. We had one deviation on the way back to look at the Needle Rock beneath Church Peak. We had camp set up by the tarn at about 5pm. A very satisfying day was had by both of us, and we were stocked to have finally climbed Loddon! I was asleep by 7pm.


Of course that's the start of a walk!

SURPRISE! River.

A sweet colony. Couldn't I.D with my fungi-flip...

A very Jurassic lookin' environment. 

Stocked to nearly be out of the scrub! King Williams in the backgroud.

Looking along the Loddon Range from Mt Roland Cross.

Church Peak.

On the summit of Loddon! Looking back to where we've come.

Day 2
We awoke with the morning light and started to venture out of our tents at around 7am. The clear sky had left everything frozen, but the view was gorgeous. All the valleys to the north were filled with thick fog and the peaks were standing tall above it. When the sun started to throw colour on the fog it was a sight to behold. We had breaky, packed up, and were walking by 8:20am. More or less re-tracing our steps from the previous day, we stopped occasionally to ooh and aaah over the fine views. When we were back on Eucryphila Lead we made good pace, and we arrived back at the car at 1pm. Back to Derwent Bridge for a good feed at the Hungry Wombat.

It's great to be back in the hills!

The fog filled valleys, delightful.

Morning frost on Needle Rock Tarn.

Morning light; yet to thaw the tents.

Some kind of mycena?

Again, maybe a kind of mycena. Very sweet little things. I love Autumn.

30 left.

Peace,
Zane.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Things are looking up...

This is only going to be a short update on the progress of my Abel climbing, but it is a very important one!

As you may well know, I have been feeling the pressure over the last few months on trying to complete the Abels in the time frame I set myself. At first I thought the main reason was I was falling out of love with solo walking because I'd been doing so much of it, and felt like I wasn't bushwalking for the real reasons I love it. I began to tee up people to head bush with in order to keep to my schedule, but that still left me feeling strange. Until I sat down to really reflected on why I am doing this.

As silly as it sounds, it was never about peak bagging. Ever since I was small I always saw the Abels as a list of amazing adventures to go on, not so much as a list of peaks I need to bag. And with the desired deadline (June 16th) fast approaching, things are getting tighter. That results in me feeling like I am being more of a peak-bagger, and less of a bushwalker walking for the love of it.

For this simple reason of "Peak Bagery-ness" I have decided to add some more time to my challenge so I can appreciate it more. I climbed my first Abel of this challenge on the 26th of November 2015. I will strive to have them climbed before 26th of November 2017. Two years to summit the Abels is still something I will be very happy to have done, but it also allows me to enjoy the last part of this journey infinitely more. I was anxious to make this decision before, as I felt like it might make me regretful for not pushing though it. The factor that made me made this choice so easy now is figuring out exactly what the root issue was.

So, I'll still be climbing mountains and I'll still be writing about them. I would like to thank everyone who has been so supportive!

Things are looking up!

31 left.

Peace,
Zane.


Mt Hobhouse

14th - 15th April 2017

Mt Hobhouse

Day 1
With kayaks in tow, Chevi and I headed for the southern end of Lake King William. We arrived at Guelph Basin by 9:30am and organised the kayaks for our trip. We were in the water a bit after 10:00am and started following the eastern shoreline. There was a considerable wind up causing white caps on the lake, but with the kayaks laden with gear we felt very solid and powered through. About 1km into the paddle we veered away from the shore and headed straight for a point of land on the southern side of the basin (approximately 2kms away). The clouds were sitting thick and low on the King William Range, but Mt Hobhouse had sun shining on it and promised of a good day. After we pulled the kayaks ashore the daypack was filled with our gear for the day and we set off between the fill level and water-line; easy walking.

A short time of that pleasant walking was had before we found an open Buttongrass field to head into on the right direction to the ridge that leads up to the summit. The Buttongrass was quite large, and actually made for harder walking than usual (we both took several falls). Whenever we could we headed for the isolated patches of Eucalyptus forest, which had surprisingly open under-story and abundant bird life. We had a quick lunch in one of these, and kept linking up patches of similar forest until we reached an open forest dominated by Myrtle at the bottom of the ridge. This was marked on the map, along with the next feature we found, an old survey road from hydro times gone by. The overgrown road provided some easy walking for a few hundred metres and it was here that we picked up a taped route. We followed the tape as it shot away from the road into rainforest and up the crest of the ridge-line. As we gained altitude the track became more and more obvious and it was very appreciated as we headed through a thick band of Bauera and Tea-Tree just below the rocky outcrop leading to the summit. Once the final steep push had been made atop the outcrop, it was easy walking for 500m to the summit which we gained at 2:15pm (3 hours of walking). We had quite nice views, especially to the north and east, but the views west and south to the King Williams, Prince of Wales, Spires, and the Denison were hampered completely by low thick cloud.

After some summit time we headed back the way we came, only differing our route for a more straight forward approach to the lake when we reached the buttongrass flats. This cut some time and it was just over 2 hours for the descent. Once we were back at the kayaks we had a bit over an hour of daylight to set up camp on the edge of the forest. A lovely evening was spent playing cards by lantern light.

Pulling ashore at First Bay.

Drift wood and mountain tops.

Pandani in the forest.

Buttongrass stompin'!

A beautifully tied piece of tape.

Getting high!

The rocky outcrop leading to the summit.

Looking north to Lake King William from the summit.

Day 2

The original plan had been to head up Slatters Peak and Mt King William II, but the range was firmly in the cloud as we woke and began packing up camp. By the time we had the kayaks packed, nothing had changed, and considering that the previous day they had been in cloud all day we formed a decision. The weather and a painful hip (sustained from the Buttongrass stomping) lead us to opt for a long paddle on the lake, and then heading back to the car. We paddled through the Guelph Narrows and looked at a little island in the main body of water that is Lake King William. Then on our way back to the car, we looked at an old fisherman's shack on the lakes edge. Once back at the car we headed to Lake St Clair for a coffee and then sussed out the recently completed Wall in the Wilderness.

31 left.

Peace,
Zane

Friday, 7 April 2017

Mt La Perouse

3rd - 4th April 2017

Mt La Perouse

Day 1
With high hopes for completing the Southern Ranges with beautiful weather, I set off on the walk in the far south of Tasmania after the 4.5 hour drive to the start of the track. The Beginning of the track up Moonlight Ridge follows an old train line to a quarry site near Mystery Cave. There was plenty of signs of old building sites, peppered with old bits of iron, boots, and glass jars. By 9:30am I left the quarry behind and was walking up the track, gaining elevation steadily and listening to the cries of many Lyrebirds. The track headed through wet Eucalyptus forest, with a base of Lime Stone, studded with small caves and interesting features. After a few hours I poked out on the broad, somewhat flat, ridge near Bullfrog Tarns. The area around me had been burnt out a few seasons ago, and the going from there was easy. It was at this point that the first views of the range came into focus, and it looked wonderful.

Another hour of steady going and I was sitting underneath the crest of Hill 1 for lunch. Some wonderfully made track took me along the south-west facing ridge for the next few hours, passing Hill 2, 3, and 4, before finally delivering me to the splendid camping at Pigsty Ponds. As I was coming through one of the scrubbier areas around Hill 2, I broke one of my boots pretty dramatically... I had plenty of time to sit around camp, having arrived just after 2:00pm. I had a swim, brewed a coffee and read as the sun began to slowly go down. Unfortunately, I was also having those recent feelings of anxiety as I went to sleep.

A bygone era.

The ground looked quite beautiful.

Heading up the ridge.

A fire-swept landscape.

Dead.

Looking along the Hills towards the Southern Ranges.

Mt La Perouse.

My home.

Day 2
I awoke to a beautiful sunrise. But still was struggling with my head space. I packed up and moved out by 7:00am, and within 15 minutes I was at the junction to Mt La Perouse. From here I headed up, which only took about 40 minutes. The summit was spectacularly flat, having not lost its sandstone cap from glaciation like so many of our Dolorite peaks. I walked to the eastern side of the summit and looked down at the amazing Swallows Nest Lakes, and then took shelter from the brisk morning wind behind the huge summit cairn. From here, due to my emotional issues and my (now even more) broken boot, I decided to turn around. I do hugely regret this move, but it felt right at the time.

I headed back down Moonlight Ridge to my car.

Morning over Pigsty Ponds.

La Perouse.

The wind is powerful. Natures topiary.

The iconic summit cairn. Looking to Pindars Peak... Another time.

32 left.

Peace,
Zane.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Du Cane Range

17th - 21st March 2017

The Acropolis
The Guardians
Horizontal Hill
Mt Gould
Mt Hyperion
Du Cane Range
Mt Massif
Castle Crag

Day 1
Justin (a friend who I met in my guiding life) and I arrived at Lake St Clair around 8:00am in preparation for our 9:00am ferry up the lake to begin our adventure around the Pine Valley/Labyrinth area. We had a coffee to kill the time and before long we were hooning up the lake. We arrived at Narcissus at 10:00am (the ferry incorporated a scenic tour, so it was a longer ride than usual) and hot footed it north along the Overland Track. An hour later we were at the junction to Pine Valley and stopped for our first rest break. It is worth mentioning that I had never been to Pine Valley before, so I was very excited! New territory. We were soon walking up the track, through beautiful stands of ancient King Billy Pines and Myrtles. The walk up to the hut was stunning, especially as the hut is reached and the Cephissus Creek meanders it's way through the valley floor. A smidge after midday we were setting up our tents on the tent platforms and then went down to the heli-pad to enjoy lunch in the sun.

Around 1:30pm we packed a day-pack and headed up the well trodden path towards the first Abel of the trip; The Acropolis. Making our way steeply up through rainforest, we suddenly emerged on the high and open ridge to the south of the peak, with stunning views looking up at it. The path made straight for it and a short time later we were clambering over the boulders beneath the cliff line. The final push to the summit was steep, but short and sweet. And we were rewarded with wonderful views! The mountains around the Labyrinth were all calling for attention, and a great feeling of excitement filled me for what the rest of the walk would hold. After a while on the summit, we headed back to camp, stopping on the way back at the beautiful Cephissus Falls. We were at camp by around 5pm, and decided to go cook dinner on the heli-pad under the watchful eyes of The Minotaur and Mt Gould.

Ida Clair!

On the shore near Echo Point.

We gonna climb them.

Woo! Parts unknown!

Justin strutting onward.

Rainforest is so green.

The Acropolis!

On the summit, surrounded by mountains.

Cephissus Falls.

Day 2
Strong coffee and thick porridge was the fare of the morning before we packed up and left Pine Valley at 8:30am. We took the track that heads up towards The Labyrinth for a while, until we reached the ridge that leads south to The Minotaur. From that point we followed a very good cairned track over a small knoll and then up over the axe wielding bull-man. Mt Gould was so close we could almost touch it, but we left it for the return trip the next day. From The Minotaur, we headed west towards The Guardians, and a little over an hour later we arrived at the beautiful lake situated just beneath the summit. We set up camp here and had some lunch, before making for the summit of The Guardians, only a casual 5 minutes away. The high point was pleasant, but we had bigger fish to fry and headed to the southern cliff line of the Abel to assess our approach to it's nearby neighbor, Horizontal Hill.

We found two chutes in the cliff line that looked to offer a good descent to the scree below. After a little while of route finding we chose the westerly one (slightly less vertical and more vegetated) and were soon in the scrub below The Guardians and heading to the saddle between it and Horizontal. With no great lines, we more or less made straight for the summit, and after a bit over an hour and a half from the cliff line of The Guardians, we were sitting atop Horizontal Hill. The view to nearby Mt Manfred (my 100th Abel) was great, and we spent close to half an hour on top before bashing our way back to camp in a similar time frame. We had a refreshing swim and then spent the evening looking towards the Du Cane Range being lit up by the setting sun.

Walking up the Lake Elysia track.

Mr G. Hopper.

A view to The Guardians.

Off track good times.

Looking to our camp and Mt Gould from The Guardians' summit.

Looking to Horizontal Hill...

Beneath the cliff line!

On the summit of the Hill, looking at the way we came.

I built a summit cairn!

Our evening viewing.

Good place for dinner, hey?

Sun set.

Day 3
Another stunning sunrise on another beautiful day. We packed up set off at 8:30am back the way we had come the day before. After an hour of walking we dropped our packs and headed for the small saddle between The Minotaur and Mt Gould, with the latter being the first goal of the day. We followed a decent path through the saddle and then sidled around the western flank to a scree filled chute taking us straight up! Once at the top of that chute it was a few minutes to the summit, only 30 minutes from the packs. The view was divine, and I could think of no better place to be on a Sunday morning. After some summit time we went back to the packs and continued back along the path down The Minotaur. Once we were back on the main track into the Labyrinth our pace picked up and we hooned deep into the maze of lakes, pines, and mountains. We arrived at Cyane Lake at around 12:30pm, perfect timing to stop for lunch. We relaxed in the sun for close to an hour before heading further along the track, passing the only other person we saw up there (and he knew of me from the paper)! We soon reached Lake Elysia and took the obligatorily photo of Mt Geryon before strolling onward.

By around 3:00pm we were on the broad open area just to the west of the Du Cane high point, looking to our next objective; Mt Hyperion. We left our packs here because we knew we wanted to camp right on top of the Du Cane range instead of near the beautiful Lake Helios (another time...). The next 45 minutes were spent getting to the base of, and then scrambling up Mt Hyperion. I have to say, an instant favourite! The final push up Hyperion is vertical, airy, and a few fun climby moves that really make for a feeling of mountain climbing! And what a view! The vast open valley behind Mt Ossa was amazing, and the drop down to Lake Helios was stunning. We spent some time on the summit (and made a phone call to Lake St Clair to book our return ferry) and then headed back to the packs. It was a short stroll up onto the Du Cane range, and we found a spot beneath the summit to spend the night. We were treated with another wonderful sunset to top off a great day!

This was the view from the loo.

Mt Gould!

Going up Gould and looking up Pine Valley.

Beast mode!

Summit flag of Mt Gould.

Hardcore guides.

Lake Cyane.

Mmm.. So pretty!

Mt Hyperion.

On the summit of Hyperion!

Pumped!

Das setting sun.

Day 4
With a view of the sun rising on Mt Ossa from my tent, I greeted day four of this adventure. Once again, we left at 8:30am and strolled 5 minutes to the first Abel of the day, the Du Cane high point! We didn't linger too long there, as we wanted to check out Mt Geryon North too. With a day pack we walked over to the cliffs near the iconic peak and yelled our good morning greetings to those camping at Windy Ridge, well below us in the valley. By 9:30am we had our packs back on and were descending into Big Gun Pass on our way around the Du Cane Traverse. A well cairned route made for good going, and we passed time solving riddles. By 11:00am we had come around the back side of Mt Massif onto the tarn studded plateau. We left the packs near a good tarn and made for the summit which was only 10 minutes away. Dodging the many cushion plants made for the most challenging aspect of this Abel. The view was good, but not as exciting as I felt like it would be. Looking further along the range to Castle Crag got us excited though, and we headed back to the packs for an early lunch.

After some food we headed off. The cairns were fewer than before, and we did start our traverse in a bad place. Some large cliffs meant we had to back track a small amount, and then decided to drop off the ridge to the smaller scree some 50m below. This made for easier going until we reached a small saddle on the range where we once again picked up a cairned route. We followed this on the north side of the ridge, with great views down to Kia Ora and up into Lee's Paddocks. The final push up onto Castle Crag was easier, and we made it to the summit around 4:00pm. I personally really enjoyed being on this mountain, and was pretty excited to see what the drop down to the Overland would be like. After a bit of time on top we headed for a suitable spot to descend to Du Cane Gap. A few tell-tale signs of use was good enough for us and we headed down at a good pace. The open nature of the scree made for easy navigation, and when we hit the scrub line it wasn't too hard to keep our bearing straight. We found occasional signs of foot traffic, but nothing path like. I took a fall on the descent and hurt my right hand, fearing it possibly broken (it is getting better though). We were back on the Overland at 5:30pm! We were both pretty tired, but the temptation of getting to Narcissus that night was too strong and we hot-footed it to the end of the Overland. We arrived just on 8:00pm, and jumped in the river to wash off a big day of sweat. There was no camping space left, and the hut had several people in it, so we opted to sleep on the veranda. I gazed at the stars until I fell asleep.

Mt Ossa in the morning.

The Du Cane high point.

Cliff!

Mt Geryon. One day I will traverse you!

Big Gun Pass.

Anything can be a track marker...

Mt Massif is massive.

Lunch o'clock tarn.

Summit view from Mt Massif.

Looking towards Castle Crag.

Kia ora, Kia Ora!

Infinity pool!

Big rocks.

Castle Crag summit view.

Our descent to the Overland.

Back in familiar territory!

Day 5
After a very peaceful night sleep, we spent the first few hours of the day enjoying the remainder of our coffee while talking with other walkers who were also at Narcissus. We caught the 9:30am ferry back to Cynthia Bay and headed straight to the Hungry Wombat Cafe to feed our hungry faces! It was a fantastic way to finish a completely successful trip!

33 left.

Peace,
Zane.