Trestle Mountain 2021 Apr

The forecast was horrendous: gales and sleet – not anyone much’s idea of fun. Gussy and I had hoped to climb Mt Mueller with HWC, as then we could get past the locked gate barring cars from a decent entry point, but, perhaps not surprisingly, we were the only two who turned up. The leader bailed out, and so I decided to take young Gus (9) to climb Trestle Mountain instead. We’d approach via the Mountain River track, which I find to be very beautiful: I love the mossy greenness of its path, and the fact that it is more a pad than a highway, which all too many Tassie paths are becoming these days. The forest would protect us from the wind right up until the final saddle, I decided. The light rain cum snow, we’d just take on board as we went.

Climbing Trestle

The other thing I like about this path is that it is very, very steep: almost unrelenting, and I just love the act of climbing. Perhaps the steepness is what has saved it from highway status. We would warm up nice and quickly.  (The temperatures were not, at this stage, exactly appealing.) Looking up into the thick mist, I told Gus we only had about 20% chance of making the summit, but we’d at least have a workout.

Climbing Trestle

Up we climbed, Gussy doing very well indeed, and the saddle between Trestle and Collins Bonnet getting ever nearer. I had already increased our chances of summiting to 75%, but no higher, even though the summit was very near now, because I feared the blast across its wind-tunnel might be prohibitive, and we were only in this for enjoyment, so if Gussy found it unpleasant, we would immediately about-turn. He was, at this stage, worried about gusts and ice on top, which was another reason for the low percentage so high. I pointed out the rocks ahead that lie under the summit, and said if we made it that far, I’d increase our chances to 90%, but I wasn’t committing to a sure summit before I could see it close by.

Descending

The day before, I had had a hard knock in the head with a soccer ball, playing goalie for five primary students who were shooting two balls at me (or the goal), and suddenly felt a little wave of slight, yet passing, dizziness. I asked Gus what he would do if I actually fainted. He said he would phone his parents using my phone (and rattled off their numbers), and, if he couldn’t raise them, then he’d call emergency. He thought his parents would deal better with authorities than a grade 4 student. Good answer Gussy. On we went.

Descending

The conditions in the saddle were much milder than we had anticipated, but not pleasant for a rest. On we forged. I was delighted to see tree coverage going up the slope until quite near the summit. I thought we’d definitely get to the 95% point, but may yet be fouled out by gusts and ice on top. Gus liked our odds.
As it was, there was a brief lull in the fighting force of the wind, and we got to the summit, took a brief couple of shots and descended before the fury began again. Gus was not a scrap interested in snacking up there. In fact, he held off having food until we reached the car over two hours later. And there, we refuelled mightily! His mum had packed us a veritable feast, originally planned as a forest or summit one, but now had under more clement conditions down low. It was still lovely there.
Data; 23.63 km equivalents, comprising 14.02 horizontal kms + 961 ms climb.

Altitude graph. The climb is pretty relentless.

Ben Nevis 2020 Dec

The last time I climbed Ben Nevis, it was in June (2013), and my report was pretty negative, as the memory of all the prickles we had to fight to get there dominated my thinking.

Olearia lirata Ben Nevis. This was one of three varieties of Olearia we saw this day. Down near where we parked, the tall, tree form, Olearia argophylla, filled the moist valleys. Up in the alpine zone, we encountered Olearia ledifolia. All have white daisies.

This year, my feelings are entirely different. It was December, and an abundance of colourful wildflowers decked our way: reds and yellows and creams and whites. The bush was a mass of waving colour. The temperature was quite possibly the same as in that June, as there had been snow down to 800 ms overnight, and the wind was strong and felt like it was straight off the snow. I had already seen a lovely photo of white Mt Wellington that morning.

Pultenaea juniperina. The lower, drier section of the walk was a mass of yellow and white, the yellow being provided by this plant here.

However, although the wind was strong, we managed to find sheltered spots for a snack and then lunch, and enjoyed the views.

Olearia ledifolia Ben Nevis. This is the species of Olearia we encountered once we entered the alpine zone. It’s not even half the height of of the lirata.
Euphrasia gibbsiae Ben Lomond. One web source I consulted said this is threatened. I am pleased to report we saw six or so bushes, just beside the track.
Westringia rubiifolia Ben Lomond. This was also in the alpine zone.

The plants are just as prickly as they were seven years ago, but they are a tad taller and this makes them more comfortable to negotiate. In addition, kind people have thinned them somewhat. Even so, I would not take a small child up this pleasant mountain, as I fear the prickles would be at a child’s face level. For us, they were often chest high. In 2013, they hassled our thighs. The prickly offenders were mostly Pultenaea juniperina and Leptocophylla juniperina, with a few specimens of Hakea lissosperma and even fewer Richea scoparia along the track. One forgives them for being prickly when they are colourful.

Olearia ledifolia enjoys the summit views
Lichen Ben Nevis
Hakea lissosperma Ben Nevis. Luckily, the prickly mountain Hakea did not protrude over the track, so its needles stayed where they belonged and didn’t attack us.
Ben Nevis gpx route

The walking (as opposed to talking ) time of our ascent was a bit over an hour. This included a few photos where I forgot to stop my watch. My gps says we spent a lot less than that moving, but the gps is always quite insulting, accusing you of not moving when you are. Possibly more to the point is that the exercise, which included stopping for drinks, lunch on the summit and the odd bit of track clearing, took us 3 hrs 46 minutes. The day was thus still young, so I went off and bagged a waterfall on the way home, the Cornwall Falls. (Hm. Rather a circuitous way home, but the countryside was very beautiful.)

King William 1 2020

We had finished our epic (for us) three-day expedition into Pine Valley with the children only the day before. Surely they would be too tired to go adventuring today – a day that seemed quite gloomy as we sat in the warmth making plans. However, despite the fact that the odds were stacked against us, Kirsten and I suggested with enthusiasm that we do a snow climb of Mt King William 1. Almost unbelievably, the kids said they’d like that. Once more packs got filled with clothes and food and of we set, with the proviso that Abby really shouldn’t try to make the summit. Enough is enough: she is only four, and a very tiny four at that.

Nearing the top

I gave the others a head start, and by the time I caught them, Gus and Abs were deeply involved in a game where Keith gave them points for spotting interesting things while they walked. Abby was trying to gain points for a leaf, but Keith seemed to draw the line there, until she explained it had a hole in it, so he relented and gave her a single point.

Up he climbs

We reached a fallen log which seemed to be raised about 20 cms off the ground. Adults stepped over it; Gussy went around; Abby dived under with ease.
Fun as all this was, we realised we wouldn’t reach the summit if we kept going at this pace, so reluctantly separated, leaving Keith and Abby to continue walking and earning points, while we remaining three tried to give the summit a decent attempt. The first snow was spotted within metres of our surging ahead.

Beautiful snow

The real snow, however, began where the smaller path goes directly up the steep section to the summit. Gussy, in shorts, found that knee deep snow and scratchy bushes were not the most comfortable things to experience, but toughed it out to a more level and open spot with a rock, where we popped thermals on him to help protect his skin (and keep him warmer. Gloves got added at this stage).

Getting nearer

It was good that we did, as the snow got thicker and steeper from then on, with some drop-offs to the side that challenged Gussy’s nerves. On he pressed, however, making great pace for the top.

Foggy scenes on top, but I like them like this

Soon enough, we spotted the weather equipment that signalled the summit. Doing it in the snow not only added to the beauty of the scenery, but also enhanced the feeling of having had a great adventure.

More …

As the wispy clouds floating around us revealed and concealed aspects of the expansive view 500 ms below us of lakes and other mountains, we lingered on top to enjoy all it had to offer, being eventually turned around by a combination of the cold and the knowledge that we’d better at least get the snow part done before darkness descended.

Summit duo

This was another great effort by Gus (8): 10.8 kms with 505 ms climb, to yield 15.85 km equivalents. It was his fourth Abel.
I enjoy summiting in the snow. I need to redo a few more while it lasts.
For the Pine Valley walk of the days before this one, see
http://www.natureloverswalks.com/pine-valley-with-children/

Hartz Mountain 2018 Oct

Hartz Mountain 2018 Oct

Abby surveys the view from Hartz Mountain.
It has been six years since I last climbed Hartz Mountain: certainly time for a revisit, and what fun to be able to share it with the family. This would be Abby’s first Abel, Gussy’s second.

Hartz summit in view
Of course, with young children, the going is slower, and most unusually, our ascent was punctuated with a swim in Ladies Tarn. In fact, some of us swam there in both directions. Even Abby got brave enough to strip off all her clothes, but changed her mind about immersion once her toes felt the gelid water.  I didn’t even think about it.


Ladies Tarn
Hartz Mountain has a track the whole way, so is very easy for fit children to accomplish. Gussy, aged seven, fair bounced up the mount. Abby, two, took longer, and had to hitch a ride for part of the way. Porters and children needed a break at the tarn.

Both children took great pleasure in touching the summit cairn, and in having lunch on top of a mountain. Here are some photos of the journey to the top to give you an idea of what it’s like if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of doing this one. The actual walking time was about half an hour to the tarn, and a further half to the top (Gussy times, not Abby ones). The return was actually a little slower than the ascent. Gussy shares his nan’s summit fever (the two of us went on ahead of the others together) and is cautious on the downhill. I actually went on ahead on the rebound in order to check out Keoghs Falls – but they were a huge disappointment, and I didn’t even bother photographing them.


Hartz Mountain summit area Gussy


Hartz Mountain summit area Abby

Cuvier 2014, 2015

Mt Cuvier 2014, 2015


Arriving at dusk
Mt Cuvier is so remote that it is usually climbed in conjunction with other peaks, I have climbed it twice: once on the way to Tramontane, and once on the way back from Goulds Sugarloaf. Both times I slept on its shelf. I love it there so much I will go back just to sleep in that spot again, even if I don’t climb anything else. Probably the worst part of getting there is just before you enter the saddle between Byron and Cuvier on the Byron side of things. This saddle is watched over by a highly protective band of scoparia. It poses a mild delaying factor while one searches for a route through. It is not by any means the worst patch of this darling bush that one will find on any trip. The 2015 trip was in partial snow, and that made it really special.


Summitting at the end of a long day in which we climbed many mountains, the furthest peak being Goulds Sugarloaf.


This is from a different trip, when Angela and I climbed Pyramid Mountain. Here Angela is looking at Mt Cuvier from way out west in even more remote wilderness: from Rocky Hill in the Eldons. When I look at a photo like this, I realise with an almost overwhelming emotion what an incredibly privileged person I am to have been to these remote places while they are still wild. What will be left for the next generation? It seems no government cares.
Yet the need to be in truly remote places and lose ourselves in the grandeur of the natural world, to expose ourselves to the infinite nature of a realm beyond our tiny concerns is healthy for our souls and for the way we relate to other people and our planet. The ones who will cause harm are the ones who don’t understand our place in the wider scheme of things. If you listen to the Liberal government, you’d think there is no greater goal for a human than a full pocket at the expense of every other human on the planet, present or future. The only language spoken is that of economics. They know no higher goals or deeper meaning. Intangibles like beauty or sublimity – or goodness – are beyond their grasp. Honesty never was in their dictionary. Responsibility is a word for others. The problem is that Labor is no better, and the greens have decided to keep their battles tiny so as to claim a few minor skirmishes, and they seem to have lost sight of how they got their colour.