Ragged Jack 2014 Nov

We have crested the slope at this stage, and believe (falsely) that the summit of Ragged Jack is only a quick play along the rocks away.

It now seems to me astonishing that I have driven past Ragged Jack so many times without ever noticing its existence. I guess my eyes were always fixed on the more dominating Ben Lomond massif behind, which grabs the limelight due to its bulk, and yet, Ragged Jack is a much more interesting shape. Now that I’ve climbed it and know of its presence, I think it’s a wonderful mountain, and can’t imagine failing to register it. John Berger, in his excellent book Ways of Seeing, discusses how knowledge influences what and how we see, and certainly, knowing Ragged Jack as I now do, will forever influence the way I regard it in the future.

Having fun with the self-timer at the summit cairn.

It’s always wonderful when predicted bad weather moves through early (or fails to appear). Tomorrow was supposed to be the one sunny day of the week, but this morning, the sun was shining and the sky looked clear, so I suggested to my Swedish visitors that we go climb Ragged Jack after lunch. Of course, they readily agreed.

It works better with me at the button :-). Here is Salome jumping.
I have no idea why, but I was expecting very thick bush and a long section of bashing through it before emerging at a rocky section, final climb to the top. The actuality was far nicer than the expectation, and the girls and I enjoyed not only getting our two points (they’re now right into this points business) but we delighted in the climb itself, and the forest we went through.
As my car does not indicate decimal points of a km, as road RJ7 was not labelled, and as the gps said we were west of where we needed to be when we stopped, we were a little uncertain at the start, but decided to just climb anyway: the contours were self-evident and if the path we had was not the right one, we’d just go across to the real one through the bush at some other stage. As it was, the path did all the things I wanted it to, so we didn’t need to leave it.

Summit view, looking to the southern end of the Ben Lomond massif.

We climbed using it for 34 minutes, until we found the group of very obvious cairns that the book promised us. What we hadn’t been promised, but what made life easier, was a series of tapes and cairns that allowed us to chatter instead of concentrating on navigation as we climbed further through the terrain that was pretty open and nicely rocky. We were all enjoying ourselves, and playing “spot the cairn” like a treasure hunt with an obstacle course thrown in for good measure.

And my favourite summit view, to the other half of Ragged Jack and Mt Barrow beyond.
It took 30 minutes to climb from the path to a point where we had crested the main climb that lead to the summit. From there we just had to follow the cliff line to the highest point. That, however, was easier said than done, as it was here that we met thick bush that slowed us down as we tried to find less prickly paths through it (we were a lot more successful at that on the way back: such terrain is easier seen from above). The final part along the top took us 27 mins.

Up there we had our obligatory jumps and poses, a snack and a gaze at the surrounding mountains, and then it was time to descend, hoping to see the same wombat that Molly saw, but Salome missed, on the way up.

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