Hyperion 2016 Mar

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.

It is now cool enough for fungi. Yippee. 

If you want to see quaint, tasteful bridges like this in the Lake St Clair area, you’d better hurry. Pukes and Wildspite are ripping them out and replacing them with monsters made of synthetic material, a metre or more wide and giant handrails, of course, because if we fell into the water we might get our tootsies wet and sue them. I weep for the loss of the rustic, picturesque and natural. They are even thinking of replacing darling Pine Valley Hut with something bigger – perhaps something as utterly unsuitable, chilling and unwelcoming as the Bert Nichols Hut. Who knows? If they think it will get more tourist dollars, that’s what they’ll do.

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.

En route. I have dubbed these “Geryon Base Camp Falls”

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.

Russula sp coloured the forest

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.

Climbing to our base camp at Lake Helios.

The group gains height on the Du Cane Range

The beautiful Lake Helios, perched under Hyperion, our goal.

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.

The final stage lies ahead. We can get there.
Six happy summiters. The group minus me. I was too cold, and in too much of a hurry, to use auto timer and find a rock to balance my camera on.

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.

Clouds await us below.
An aspect of the ascent that interested me was that I was hit by (another) falling rock, this time on the thumb. I have always thought that if this happened, I would lift my hand in pain, lose my grip and possibly fall from my position. I am delighted to report that the worst that happened was pain and that I did not let go. This is quite a comforting thing to know. I had to keep moving so the pain didn’t overwhelm me, and the others understood. Movement took my thoughts away from my thumb onto things I could control, like making the next climbing step. I was fine for now.
Sunrise next day. I hope you like this shot. I had nearly as much hand pain taking this as I had from the falling rock. Temperatures were sub-zero while I took this tripod long exposure with no gloves on.
The next morning, it was so cold we had to wipe sheets of ice from the tents. Rocks were slippery. Climbing Hyperion would have been treacherous.

We exited through the Labyrinth, making an attractive circuit, and descended to my husband, who had climbed the Acropolis while we were away.

Mt Ossa and Pelion East from the northern end of the lake shortly after dawn.

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