Loddon Range: Loddon Bluff, Ronald Cross and Church Peak 23-4 Feb, 2013
The Loddon Range that we were to climb, as seen from the highway.
One of the advantages of being in a club is that you get to go to places that you would not have gone to if someone hadn’t indirectly (by putting the name on the programme) said: “Come here with me”. I read the name “Loddon Bluff”. I hadn’t been there, so signed up for the two day expedition that would see us climb every highpoint on the Loddon Range over two days.
The bush was thick. Very, very thick. The distances we covered were hilariously minimal given the time we took to do it, but with impenetrable walls of well-armed scrub, that’s what happens. I’m delighted to have done it.
We began with a descent – very short – a creek crossing, and then a long climb up onto the ridge. The going was not too bad in the rainforest, but awesomely shocking once we emerged from it, and from there to the top of the first of the peaks on the range (Ronald Cross). From that point on, however, the scrub – still thick – did not do as much damage to our progress (which was now ‘slow’ rather than ‘armoured fight’ stuff), and the views became extensive and impressive.
We could see Frenchmans Cap just across the Loddon valley below, had a new view of Slatters Peak, Diamond Peak, Mt Anne and more.
It was fabulous being up so high with the world stretched out below. Most of us followed the ridge line over each high point until we were directly above Needle Tarn, which we dropped down to once we’d regrouped. Two took a shortcut – less scenic, but also, of course, less fighting – as one of them was suffering a bit from heat exhaustion. We all met at the tarn where almost everyone (not this wuss) went for a dip.
Needle Tarn in the evening.
The evening light after dinner was wonderful. I went off and climbed a bit around the place, sometimes photographing, sometimes just sitting on something and singing, enjoying the atmosphere. The others had retired so I had the known (or visible) world to myself.
Here is the evening light on Mt Gell
Mt Gell a bit earlier in the day
Here was our view back to the Acropolis, Geryon, Byron and more.
The grand Mt Anne was a pimple on the horizon, but a lovely one.
The next day we got a very early start (in which I discovered, or rather re-discovered, that I am a slow eater). This was good, as the day was a very hot one, and we went about twelve hours without water (other than what we carried). At least we got in some work before the sun began attacking. It wasn’t far to go to get to the end of the range, but it took a very long time thanks to the rugged nature of the various lumps and bumps. We climbed Church Peak and Loddon Bluff before turning around. Already by about ten o’clock, we were hot and bothered. We dropped down to a tarn, but it was merely a mud slosh, and utterly uninviting as a source of drinking water. The leader didn’t want to drop four contours to return to our overnight tarn, so we stayed high. I hid behind small bushes in the breaks to keep the sun away. We all husbanded our water very carefully – except one person who drank his supply early and then wanted to “borrow”.
The route yet to be undertaken, stretched out towards the bluff
The others approaching the Bluff itself, endpoint of this excursion
Looking back along our travels
Despite needing to guard our water and hide from the worst of the sun, the trip was wonderful. How lucky we were to have two days so clear and views so grand. We fought the scrub some more until we at last reached the respite of the rainforest below the other end of the ridge. We all enjoyed the refreshing creek at the bottom, of course, trying not to drink it completely dry.