Mt Inglis. 6 May 2014
This is where I feel the start of the route to Mt Inglis begins – at the rocky part of Barn Bluff, where you first leave the track up to the Bluff, and start contouring around its belly instead.
Summit day for Mt Inglis delivered thick mist, but no rain, so off the seven of us set, some with more enthusiasm than others on what promised to be a very demanding day, and one that would be more of an endurance test than a pleasure if it began to rain again. Group momentum prevailed. I think I heard Rupert later report that his gps data indicated that we covered 23 kilometres with 1200 metres total climb – giving us a 35 ‘kilometre equivalent’ day. It was certainly a long one, beginning at 8.10 a.m. and finishing at 5 p.m. (later for some; I rushed the last bit to get out of the icy wind on the Cirque – and because I felt like a stride-out after all that goose-stepping).
The first (and last on the rebound) part of the route is on the track, firstly up to the Cirque and then part way up Barn Bluff until one hits the rocky face, when it’s time to contour, either on the rocks or a bit lower in the scrub. We began on the rocks, and everyone was following me on my route, so I stayed there until the rocks finished, and a scrubby spur led down to another cirque. The others voted for the scrub on the return journey, however. It actually took a fraction (just a couple of minutes) longer, but they preferred it to the slip factor of rock rubble covered in slime that was growing moist again, and were very happy with their choice. In the mist, we could see little, and I hadn’t had a good look at the map. I was silly enough to think that the next thing we climbed was Inglis. Ha ha. There was still a very long way to go and we were not yet half way there. We had been underway (not counting morning tea and waiting breaks) one and a half hours at this stage.
Ahead of us lay not only our hill, but also a large moor area that looked fine from above, albeit rather expansive in its proportions, but which was a bit tiring in reality, as it required high lifting of the legs. The others were moving well, and when I stopped to fill my husband’s drinking bottle for him and then carry two packs, it took me at least ten minutes to catch them. I was sweating when I at last joined onto the tail end, just as we all began to negotiate the next patch of over-headhigh scrub that offered stirling resistance to our best efforts. Relief came when we happened on a beautiful patch of myrtle forest that was not only delightfully green but also open enough to allow easy passage.
Up until this point in time, Mt Inglis had kept running away from us, and remained a matter of faith based on a belief in map accuracy. At last as we emerged from the myrtles onto an open table top, we could see the summit, although we were now too close to see the overall shape of our beasty. I never did see it as a whole mountain.
Our turn-around time was now a mere 45 minutes away. Not seeing the height of the scrub that lay ahead and thinking the green was nice ankle-high alpine vegetation, I guessed at 20 minutes to the top from there. Another fast walker reckoned 30. Either way, we could do it if we hurried. Off we set as quickly as we could so as not to be timed out of our mountain. Neither of us was quite correct in our guesswork, but four of us were on the top in 24 minutes, and everyone was at the top before we all turned into pumpkins. We even got time to sit up there and photograph, survey the view and appreciate the sense that we had the whole world laid out before us while we took a rather hurried lunch break. The mist even obligingly cleared. It was truly beautiful up there, and, due to the vast stretches of low moorland separating us from the other mountains of our purview, it seemed as if we could see forever.
Again on the descent, everyone worked hard and well, and we made the rocky section below Barn Bluff in good time considering the terrain. It was getting dark quickly, so it seemed much later than it was, but the darkness rising was in fact due to the louring mist rather than the lateness of the day. Despite the freezing conditions, I think all of us were sweating from the toil. The wind was really beginning to rip up a frenzy and the temperature was dropping, but we also knew we were on target to be back before night fell. The wind was so strong as we hit the final tracked section that I started to get a headache, so dashed ahead to get myself out of it (with permission). As I cleaned my teeth by the tank after dinner, light sleet was falling: white drifting sago against the blackness of the night.
Next morning, the first words I heard were: “Be careful going to the toilet that you don’t slip on the snow.” That got me out of my warm sleeping bag; I wanted to see the sight of Waterfall Valley with a light dusting of icing sugar. Beautiful.