Walford Peak and Marble Bluff 2024 Feb

I have often stared at Walford Peak and wanted to climb it. Last year I organised to do so, but problems cropped up at the last minute.  And for some reason, Marble Bluff seems to have bad street cred (it is rather a scrubby beast), so it has also been on the to do list, but to no avail. I looked down on it from the summit of Eldon Peak in 2018 and very much wanted to see its view, but was told it was very hard to reach. Well, it wasn’t a piece of cake, but neither was it overly taxing. Let the actual adventure begin ….

Spicer Track crossing Anthony R, a bit over an hour into the trip.

Here we were, all keen for time in the wilderness and these two mountains in particular. It was to be a five-day trip, as we were also going to explore the Sticht Range. I knew I was running-fit, but last week in the Jubilee Ranges made me question whether I was also pack-carrying fit. That ingredient was gong to be rather essential on this expedition. I set out with uncertainty.

Lake Spicer Track over Anthony R

The plan for day 1 (begun after lunch because of driving time) was to walk along Lake Spicer Track until we arrived at just the right place to camp for the first night. The aim was not to go all the way to the lake itself, as we were expecting rather a hefty storm the next night, and the level of the lake might rise enough to turn tents into cute islands in the lake, if the strong winds didn’t blow them down first. We needed a sheltered spot that neither wind nor rain could mar.

Walford Peak view to Mt Murchison, Lake Plimsoll and Lake Rolleston

There was no sign right now of the storm to come. The sky was blue; the day was glorious. Crossing the many creeks and puddles was picturesque and enjoyable, and gave plenty of drinking opportunities. Thus, when we reached the high point on the track just below Walford Peak in just a tad over two hours’ walking time (on the agenda for a later day on the rebound), it was decided not to waste such beautiful weather, and climb it right now. I was thrilled. We dumped our packs and up we went. The bush was pretty thick, but it yielded to energetic shoves, and in a shade under forty minutes, we were at the top. Everything looked glorious from up there. The many lakes in our purview shone with sparkling blue iridescence; countless well-loved peaks towered above with clarity.

Walford Peak view to the Sticht Range (Right) and Lake Plimsoll and Mr Murchison (Left).

Back down on the track once more, descending to our eventual campsite was fun, as said track turned into a creek with cascades that were rather pretty. Soon enough we were beside Lake Dora, and agreed that a point on the road that was a bit of a knoll would be a great place to stop. We had been on the track for about three hours, and had also done eighty minutes without packs to climb Walford Peak, but for some reason that wasn’t quite enough for me, so I went and explored the track further after dinner, and climbed a small bluff for kicks. The view was excellent. Maybe my problem was that I had just eaten the worst dehydrated meal I can remember. The packet said it was vegetarian shepherd’s pie, but it was sickly sweet and made me feel very dissatisfied.

Descending back to the track. Lakes Rolleston and Plimsoll, and Mt Murchison behind.
Ultricularia dichotoma near our tents.

By the dawn of day two, you could tell that the weather was changing. The air had mood and attitude, and clouds were assembling. We finished off the Lake Spicer track quickly enough, and then began the somewhat long climb up onto Unconformity Ridge. That ascent contained probably the thickest scrub of the day. Once we reached the ridge itself, the terrain varied from patches of thick scrub to long areas of smaller bushes with button grass, both knee to waist high.  Only the very last bit was easy going. The actual moving time (ie, breaks not included) was around 3 hours 40 minutes total in each direction, from tent to summit and back (3 hrs 10 off-track). On top of that time, we had a few breaks so everyone could be comfortable, often eating, or just chatting and looking at the view.

Lake Spicer Track. Yes, this water is the track.
Another watery view of Lake Spicer Track

Luckily, we got to inhabit the summit area without rain, but the wind was so strong that hats went flying, and we all huddled for shelter on the leeward side of rocks to have our lunch. The view was disappointingly hazy, not just from approaching bad weather, but also from fires in the Central Highlands. I didn’t take many photos.

We reach Lake Spicer. From here on, it’s all bushbashing

Half an hour after summitting, we were off on the descent, trying, but failing, to beat the oncoming rain. By the time we hit the track, it was raining properly. I was pretty wet on arrival back at the tent. We tried to dry wet garments in the breeze while we had dinner, but things remained quite damp, although no longer dripping.

Marble Bluff view to the north. Eldon Peak towers behind

That night, as I lay in bed, I enjoyed the sound of very angry wind howling above me, often lifting me off the ground as if I were on a magic carpet. It was rather fun. However, a toothache that had been brewing over the preceding days was particularly painful, so I didn’t get much sleep.

Marble Bluff view to the to south: Lake Burbury, Mts Lyell, Owen, Huxley and Jukes

On day three, the rain had settled in. I decided I needed to attend to my tooth as soon as possible, so bailed out of the rest of the agenda, and dashed back to the car. I made it in under three hours, not bothering with any breaks seeing’s I was alone, and find no particular pleasure in sitting in the rain to rest. I drove to where I had reception, made an appointment to see my dentist and bought the strongest pain killers I was allowed (I don’t usually use such things).  Right now, it is the middle of the night, but my pain is so great I can’t sleep. I sure made the right decision to come home. The Sticht Range, object of today’s agenda, will just have to wait for another day. My gear was saturated when I reached the car, but I arrived home to a desperately dry Launceston.
Next day (today as I write) I had to have my wisdom tooth extracted. Leaving early was more than a good idea!

One Reply to “Walford Peak and Marble Bluff 2024 Feb”

  1. Such a beautiful part of the world. Thanks for sharing your photos. It’s such a shame that you didn’t get to do the whole planned trip but gives you another excuse to go back!

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