Mt Mayson. Freycinet National Park. July 2016.
Angela stops for lunch after we have been to the summit of Mt Mayson.
What a messy, untidy mountain is Mt Mayson! Such a huge and daunting amount of giant-sized rubble with scrubby bush in between. I felt like a mouse in an elephant’s maze – assuming that such mice feel not only small and overwhelmed by the size of the blockades, but also frustrated. The scrub was only a little bit of a nuisance as the far bigger problems – posed by our inability to see what lay on the other side of the humungous boulders – kept us quite fully occupied.
After the summit we rewarded ourselves with lunch at this view of Wineglass
Progress was stunningly slow and my plait a total mess. Why do I mention my hair? Have I become very girly all of a sudden? No. It’s just that I’ve discovered that the state of disintegration of my plait after a walk is a very good indication of how horrid the scrub was. I emerged looking like a Very Wild Woman. As I was also wearing hideous orienteering pants that the Swiss team thought funny about twenty years ago (they are white with cow patterns on them. I keep wearing them in awful scrub to try to rip them so I can throw them out, but they will NOT be destroyed), I looked decidedly odd. It’s surprising that Angela was not too embarrassed to be seen with me in public. She is very tolerant. A man asked me about my outfit in Zeps in Campbeltown, and I told him I had been terrorising all the cows between there and Freycinet. He believed me and only wanted to know why. Fortunately my panini was ready at this stage, so I didn’t have to be creative and furnish him with a daft reason.
Looking towards Mt Amos – nice mountain with a track. What a difference a track makes!
As the crow flies, it is only about 500 ms between an internal saddle on Mayson and the summit. We had gone really well to this saddle, but it was this final 500 that was so slow it made the waddle of a fully pregnant pig look speedy. We took over an hour to cover that horizontal distance. At that stage you only have 160 ms left of vertical progress, so the steepness of the terrain is not to be blamed. The pattern of movement went something like: sigh, here’s another wall of rock in our nose. We suss out left and right and take a vote. Sometimes there’s a chute, so we also vote on whether to go up it or around. The danger, of course, is that you can haul yourself up, grabbing tiny bushes to save you from bone-breaking falls, yank yourself further up with a mighty heave, only to discover it’s a dead end. You can also go left or right and find yourself faced with a twenty metre drop to a rocky death below as a different kind of dead end.
In addition, there was the problem of runaway summits.
“Angela, this is it”, I call excitedly, eying up the shape of the land and the extreme height of the rock pile in front of me.
I crest the rise. Dashed. “Na. Forget it. There’s a higher bit over there.”
On we .. well, I was going to write “trudge”, but you can’t even trudge in territory like that. This made scampering up 2,000 ms of height gain in Europe seem such a wonderfully easy thing to do. You just put one foot in front of the other, dream and sing a bit and you’re there. Not so in this stuff!
Behind where Angela is standing, near that precariously balanced rounded boulder on a boulder, we really could see the summit, so dumped our packs to make things easier. We decided, without yet seeing the summit view, that this spot was where we would return to to have our well-earned lunch. It was overlooking Wineglass Bay at just the aspect we fancied for a luncheon view. Sitting there munching, we decided that we were really quite over this mountain.
The way back down was way quicker, not just because it was down, but you can actually see far more going down, and also, of course, you can remember this and that chute, so you feel far more heartened, as you know it will work. I found all the trial and error to be psychologically exhausting. I would need a very huge bribe to tempt me to go back.
I can’t resist adding this to the blog, as Angela and I both got such a huge laugh out of it. Here is Stu Bowling sitting on top of the summit rock that no one else climbs. Stu and Martin Doran carted that ladder through all that jumble of boulders and heavy scrub for hours, so that they could touch the actual tippy top while the rest of us are content to touch some part of the stone that connects to the top. Thanks for sharing Stu :-), and for giving us a good laugh.