Mt Hyperion March Long Weekend 2016
What is it about a mountain like Hyperion that demands our respect and makes it impossible for us to take it for granted? Sometimes it’s the shape, sharp and steep, where no easy way seems possible from afar. Other times, it may be the stories we are told of it, or warnings we are given. I had received plenty of these with regard to Hyperion: “Don’t do that one solo, Louise”; “Don’t climb it in mist. You want to be able to clearly see the dangerous drop-offs”; “It’s very airy up there”; “Hm. You and Angela are very short, I’m not sure you can do it. Maybe if you help each other you can”. Some people give a slight (very reassuring for me, the listener) shudder when they recall the exposure. I was certainly not going to take this one lightly.
I set out a little in awe of what might be my fate on this mountain of the stories and warnings, and rather anxious. Rock chutes, and reaches that are challenging do not scare me, but the possibility of toppling to my death from a ledge in a moment of carelessness does, and not just because of the recent accident of Feder. Ledges bother me. Could I summit this mountain? I don’t usually doubt my ability to get to the top, but with Hyperion, I was unsure, AND I certainly did not welcome the last-minute change in the weather forecast that now promised us rain and mist every day of our possible attempt.
The first day was so wet and gloomy that we, a group from NWWC plus the Fairfaxes, stopped short at Pine Valley Hut, thus allowing us to keep our tents dry (and lighter) for a bit longer before the climb. Any excuse to spend time in this valley is a good one, and Bruce (my husband, still with us at this stage) and I enjoyed wandering and photographing in the light drizzle of the afternoon.
Next day, we climbed in mist and rain, up through glorious forest and onto the Du Cane Range, ultimately descending to Lake Helios for our campsite, pitching our tents shortly after 3pm. We all expressed astonishment and pleasure while we set up camp at the brief appearance of the sun. Our leader, Greg, announced that if we were to make a summit attempt, as soon as our tents were up was probably the best moment, as we did not know what the morrow would bring. This was a great call. The next day, we now know in hindsight, would not have been suitable.
The group gains height on the Du Cane Range
I didn’t find any particular moment of the climb itself (the manoeuvres involved) to be scary. What concerned me was the weather, which closed in and fogged us up so that good routes up the next stage were harder to sight. I feared the unknown that lay ahead, and I was anxious about the time, as it was getting later than I liked should we have trouble getting back down. I think we all probably harboured our own little anxieties as we forged on upwards, hoping it would work.
When anticipating summitting Hyperion, I always thought I would be joyous and whoop with delight when I reached the top. In fact, all I did was heave a sigh of relief, grab a few photos in the icy wind, and clear out of there, back down to safety. Tempered joy would come later. Relief is still the dominant emotion.
We exited through the Labyrinth, making an attractive circuit, and descended to my husband, who had climbed the Acropolis while we were away.