Thursday, 18 June 2015

Marriott's Falls and Growling Swallett

Marriott's Falls
Thursday 18th June 2015

The weather had been grim all week, so rather than waste time doing an alpine walk where we would just get cold, miserable and probably no views, I thought a few short trips around Mt Field would be more appropriate.

First stop was an attempt to do Brown Mountain (Ellendale) which is one of the more obscure peaks on the peak baggers list.  But I had some information from another blog which made it sounds relatively easy and short.  We followed the instructions I had, turning left onto Holmes Rd just outside Ellendale.  We drove for about 5 km before coming across 2 forestry workers and a digger machine of some description.  We stopped for a chat and asked them about Brown Mountain and whether they knew where the track started.  They seemed bemused with us and informed us that we were on the wrong road, and it was unlikely we would be able to access the correct road as there was a lot of forestry operations going on at the moment.  We decided to skip Brown Mountain and instead turned back and towards Marriott's Falls.

The Falls close up.
Marriott's Falls is located just past the turn off from Mt Field near the small town of Tyenna.  There is a sign indicating the turn off.  Follow the dirt road for a while until the parking area by the river,  A relatively short walk of approximately 40 minutes brings you to the base of the falls.  It's quite a spectacular site!  Similar to Russell Falls as the water falls like a veil.  However, it's much less developed and free from the crowds that tend to congregate around Russell Falls. It's a nice spot for a lunch break and you can explore the base of the waterfall.

The river that flows into Growling Swallet.
Next stop was Growling Swallet.  We had to drive back to Mt Field to pick up the key to access the road to Growling Swallet.  It would make more sense to pick up the key on your way to Marriott's Falls to save back tracking.  The national park office at Mt Field take a $300 key deposit.  However, the money doesn't actually come out of the card, they just take an imprint of the card and only take the money if you don't return the key.  They also give you vague instructions on how to access the track. Basically drive through Maydena and turn off onto the Florentine Rd.  Follow the Florentine Rd for approximately 16 km until you come to a small side road on the right called 'F8 East Rd.'  The road is locked with a gate (hence the key).  Follow F8 East Road til it ends, approximately 2km.  Florentine Rd is in relatively good condition and easily used by 2WD, however F8 East Rd is not in very good condition but still passable in a 2WD.  If you are precious about your car, you may chose not to take it on this road, instead leaving it parked on the side of Florentine Rd (then you needn't bother with the key). As it's only 2km to walk it wouldn't take that long.  We however got the car all the way to the end with just a few bumps.  There is a small parking area at the end, but you wouldn't want to have too many cars.  The track starts at the end of the road and is marked with coloured tape.

Cave Entrance
Cave Entrance
Top of Cave

Follow the taped track for approximately 30 mins until you can hear the 'growling' of the water.  A steep climb down takes you to the river bank and to the entrance of the cave.  The water drops straight down into the cave and its quite a dramatic and remarkable spectacle!  The entrance of the cave looks like the entrance to some sort of temple.  Photo's don't do it justice. The water drops into the cave and then reappears at Junee Caves, at Maydena.

Both Marriott's Falls and Growling Swallet are perfect walks for mid winter and rainy days as after heavy rains both become more spectacular and dramatic.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Grey Mountain Mishap/Top of Pelverata Falls Surprise

Top of the Falls

Nine of us met on a dreary Tuesday morning to either celebrate finishing exams or procrastinate from actually studying.  The plan was to summit the mighty Grey Mountain, located in the Snug Tiers.  However, some navigational errors resulted in a last minute change of plan and saw us reach the top of Pelverata Falls instead!

Some of the road art encountered
Access to the walk starts at Van Morley's Road, Margate.  Just past the primary school in Margate turn right onto Van Morley's Rd and basically drive along until you no longer feel comfortable driving.  The road is initially in very good condition, but deteriorates rapidly.  We made it 7.5 km along the road until a convenient  parking spot was found.  We jumped out of the cars and continued to follow the road.  We were glad we left the cars where we did as the road got particularly bad, full of pot holes and boggy.

We followed the road ignoring minor side roads.  We thought that it was best to just follow the main road all the way to the top....turns out this wasn't quite right.  We should have made a left turn at one of the intersection.  However, not really paying attention and just blindly following the leader we ended up at swampy area that seemed to be a dead end.  Confused, we eventually found another road with 4WD marks, so decided to follow that.  After a while we realised that we were off track.  We eventually got out a GPS and realised that we were in the completely wrong spot.  We discussed about whether we should go back and find the turn off, but that plan was dismissed as it was unlikely we would have enough day light to get to the top of Grey Mountain and back to the cars.  We then thought about going off track and cutting through to the road that would take us to Grey Mountain, but given how boggy the area was this seemed like a bit of a ridiculous plan.  Instead we saw that Pelverata Falls was marked on the map and was just at the end of the road we were on, so that became the new plan!

Bridge to the swamp

The track leads you right to the top of the Falls and its quite a dramatic drop!  Reminded me of the top of Cathedral Rock.  Given the amount of rain we have had recently the falls were full.  We took a lunch break at the top and explored the area at the top of the falls.  We also spent some time trying to get the attention of people at the viewing platform at the base of the falls...but to no avail.

More Road art.
We wandered back to the cars happy with our discovery of a way to the top of Pelverata Falls.  It started to rain on our way back, so we were glad that we skipped trying to find the top of Grey Mountain. Anyone planning on doing this walk may find using a GPS that shows the roads useful. And of course carry a map and do a bit of research online first. Also be aware that you do need to turn off the main road.  Gaiters are also a good idea as the area is very muddy!

All up it took about 5 hours including a leisurely lunch break at the top of the falls.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Mount Field Waterfalls and Glow Worms by Night

Thursday 30th April

We met as usual at 6.30pm at the TUU carpark and I was expecting 19 people. We managed to pick up a few more people which brought the group up to 23. We met the post grad society and their group of 15 at Mt Field, but walked ahead as to not get the two groups confused and keep track of everyone. First stop was the glow worm grotto just before Russell Falls. In order to see anything the sign tells you to switch off all lights and hold the hand rail and slowly walk, keeping an eye out to your left. It took a while for our eyes to adjust to the dark but eventually we started to see the flicker of electric blue among the trees. Perhaps not the most impressive glow worms you will ever see, they were pretty good considering it was free and so easily accessible.

Moon gazing

Next stop was Russell Falls, our states most iconic waterfall. Many of the international students hadn't seen Russell Falls yet, so were pretty eager to see that. We then walked up the stairs to the top of Russel Falls and kept going to Horseshoe Falls. We ran into the post grad society here and had the fun task of trying to keep everyone separate and with the correct group.

Traffic Jam on the viewing platform
On we walked through the Tall Trees walk, crossing the road to Lady Barron Falls. On the way we saw some big trees (no surprises), insects and a few possums. I had never been to Lady Barron Falls before, so it was good to see something new! We then had a short trek up a large staircase which gave everyone a good work out before getting back to the car. 

Lady Barron Falls
Walking at night meant that we avoided the crowds, saw the glow worms and enabled us to see the forest in a very different light. The moon was also particularly stunning that evening for the enthusiastic TUBC moon gazers.

Total walking time was approximately 2 hours and drive time of 1 hour each way from Sandy Bay.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Mt Field Death Crack Micro-Adventuring

Mt Field's aptly named (by me) Death Crack is a prominent feature on the slopes above Lake Seal. Is it a fault line? An eroded slot canyon? A freaky bit of geological weirdness? As far as I'm concerned it's a crack, and a damn fine one.

Death Crack in Winter

Unable to resist it's supremely rad gnarliness, I organised an expedition-style investigatory trip. Emmanuel (the only other crack cadet) and I set off from the carpark at 11AM, in weather awful enough to make a damp, dripping crack seem an inviting place to be. We navigated to the top in about an hour and a half and made an abseil anchor out of stunted King Billy Pines. The crack wasn't as steep as I had anticipated, but the combination of slippery footholds, flowing water and very loose rocks justified the rope.

Crack Addict

Into the manky depths we go...


The way back up.
A must-do for any crack enthusiast. Well worth the effort of finding.

Being dirty, dirty tourists at Russell Falls on the way back.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Mt Snowy South

Sunday 30th November 2014

Lake Skinner

Mt Snowy South had been on the list of day walks I wished to complete for quite some time now.  But for whatever reason it was one I still hadn't a free Sunday this week meant it was time to tick it off the list.   I had done its sister peak Nevada Peak nearly 18 months ago as a club trip, so it was nice to be going back to the area.  I thoroughly enjoyed Nevada Peak as upon arrival at the summit we were greeted with fairly spectacular South-West views!

We agreed to meet at the TUU car park at 8am and I was expecting 10.  Dr Alex was a last minute addition to the group and a couple of new members to the club had signed up to the walk as well.  However, by 8.15am it was apparent that Dr Alex would not be turning up, so we left without him as a group of 9.  We stopped at Huonville for some snacks and to fill up with petrol and then we were on our way to Judbury.  At Judbury it was my time to shine as I was suppose to be navigating a rather complex set of roads to the start of the walk.  As usual I failed dismally at this task....I blame the bizarre instructions I had printed from the internet.  After re-reading them a few times they actually made sense....just an early start meant I was a bit slow this morning.  The instructions said we were meant to pass the Snowy Range Trout Farm....well I never saw it....!  The instructions here are as good as you are going to get:

Anyways....eventually the signs on the forestry roads indicate the correct route, just look out for "Lake Skinner Car park."  The roads deteriorate somewhat, especially towards the end...but at the moment are still manageable in 2WD.  Just take it slow...

Boulders galore!

We arrived at the car park at about 10am and started walking at about 10.15.  No one else was at the car park, so it was nice to have the track to ourselves!  The track is very obvious at least initially and even appears to have had some work done to it, with new duck boarding at the beginning.  We climbed through the forest and it became very humid....everyone except Emmanuel shed a few layers early on.   Onwards and upwards we climbed to Lake Skinner, chatting away.  After 1 hour and 15 minutes we reached Lake Skinner.  I had been told that Lake Skinner was a very beautiful part of the state and this view was affirmed upon arrival.   The water was incredibly clear and the trees surrounding the lake gave it a very eerie feel.  More than anything its size astounded me! We stopped for a break at this point and a few members decided they would go for a swim on the way down. 
We found the track that crosses over the river and followed that knowing it would lead to the summit.  The track becomes less obvious but still easy enough to follow....just know that you have to cross the river and follow the cairns as they lead up hill.  We reached the plateau and continued to follow the cairns until they eventually stopped.  I had expected this and we decided to make our own way to the summit from here. We initially headed straight up the boulders but then moved to the left and followed the pineapple grass up to the summit.   It took a little longer than expected but eventually we made it!  We ate lunch at the top and were greeted with stunning views in most directions (there was a bit of cloud hanging around).  I decided that it wasn't the best idea to linger at the top too long given the cloud looked like it was coming our way and I was conscious we needed to re find the cairned route further down. 
Lunch at the summit
South-west views!

Down we went following the pineapple this point the cloud was really starting to roll in...making it difficult to know which way would take us to the cairns....Pierre and Emmanuel found cairns....but Dan and myself thought we were too far right to be on the same route we came up on....Mackenzie volunteered to go on a bit of a wild goose chase across the boulders to see if there were cairns elsewhere....but couldn't seem to find any.  After a while of standing around debating where we were...we decided to follow the cairns and it proved to be the correct route anyways!  A lesson learnt in how fog can disorientate you and why carrying a GPS is probably a good idea! :P 

Down the mountain
Negotiating a few tricky bits

The fog setting in
Back at Lake Skinner we stopped for a to be expected the water was rather cold!  The fog had really closed in now, so swimming was unappealing and a few of us decided not to go in!
We then made our way back to the cars...Emmanuel kept us all entertained with his endless chatter and controversial topics!

All in all it was a great day walk.  Ended up taking approximately 7.5 hours but you could do it a bit faster if you didn't stop for a swim.

Lake Skinner on the way back




Friday, 21 November 2014

Deep in the Woods: Eldon Range Traverse

“Where are you going?”
“The Eldon Range.”
“Oooh. Where’s that?”
“Kind of west of Lake St Claire.”
(Blank look)
“North of the Lyell Highway?”
(Unconvinced half-nod)
“Basically right in the middle of nowhere.”

The Eldon Range and the vast sprawl of rocky, scrubby, trackless wilderness that surrounds it, is a mecca for the slightly deranged: from the salted-meat chomping, tweed-wearing pioneers of old to the obsessive peak baggers and scrub warriors of today.

Between the three of us, I think we just managed to scrape together the requisite amount of madness and masochistic tendency to qualify.

Organising the trip was Jared, the club's former Vice-President, hoping ten days of the nastiest walking Tasmania has to offer would be enough to compensate for his long exile in Melbourne. He somehow convinced me, the current Vice-President, to come along for the ride. The third nutter involved in the scheme was Mark, who is not affiliated with the club, but as a retired Army adventure training instructor and freelance tough guy, he was a handy person to have around. And in front. Ripping through the scrub with his bare, bloodied arms.  
The adventure began before we had even Velcroed of gaiters on. Getting to the start of the route involved a 5am wake-up, a dubious breakfast at New Norfolk, a specially charted minibus from Lake St Claire to Lake Burbury and a bouncy ride in an aged tinnie helmed by an equally aged fisherman who can be described, fairly uncontroversially, as a “character”. Our ferryman dropped us and our obscenely heavy packs on the far side of Lake Burbury - two days walk from the road – and motored off into the distance. 

Second thoughts could not be easily accommodated.

We set off, heavily-laden but sprightly, buoyed by Jared’s insistence that the first day would be “a cruisey three hours.” Eight and a half hours of poor navigation later, we waded out of the Eldon River into a beautiful campsite in the rainforest. Dinner was eaten out on the shingles.

Pictured: Shingles. Not Pictured: Dinner
 The destination for day two was Eldon Peak: 3 km east of us and nearly 1.2 km above us. The morning’s other daunting statistics included: the dry weight of my pack (24kg), the number of litres of water I needed to carry (3) and the number of scrub free routes to the summit (0). Upwards was the main motif of the day, at first through open rainforest, then thicker stuff, then proper, bona-fide scrub (Mark offered to lead – we graciously allowed him to) and finally boulders to the summit. I decided to complement the views with a 50ml bottle of Bacardi I bought specially for the occasion. It was good. We pitched tents just below the summit at what must be one of the best campsites in Tasmania.

The route ahead was manky. The main ridge connecting Eldon Peak to Eldon Bluff could be accurately described as a spine, assuming of course, that the owner of said spine had a hunchback and  a severe case of disc herniation. It did not look like fun. 

We got up early on day three, packed up and pushed on. The dolerite mayhem began.  Car-sized boulders jutted phallically in all directions, leaving big leg-breaking, person-swallowing, skin-scraping holes between them. A fairly uniform pattern emerged: When the boulders got too hectic we would drop down low into the scrub, and after half an hour or so of squeezing packs under dwarf myrtle and scorparia realise that actually, no, anything is better than scrub. So we would climb back up to the ridge-top, see the gaping holes and towering pillars and begin the cycle again. After six hours of inching our way forward over the spine’s seemingly infinite number of “vertebrae” we reached a saddle, and collapsed for lunch. Afterwards the fun continued. More boulders! More scrub! More agonising little hills!

While I hate to use it, I think the word "gnarly" can be justified in this context.
We reached a high plateau and pitched tents. Jared’s fanatical peak-bagging nature overcame his exhaustion and he decided to do Eldon Bluff that evening. Weirdly, I agreed to go with him. For some reason I wasn't tired anymore; perhaps it was delight of finally taking my pack off, perhaps the “Growling Dog” energy bar I had for lunch was laced with something, or perhaps (more likely) the unending repetition of boulder after boulder had wreaked so much psychological havoc that I had come to enjoy it. We got up there in a bit over an hour, and what was left of my mind was blown by the views. Jared’s sedentary Melbournian lifestyle made itself apparent on the return, but I was still in state of boulder induced mania and bounced my way back to the tent, climbing in and crashing almost 13 hours after beginning the walk.

On day four we awoke to rain, hail, cloud and tent deforming wind. I don’t think the call to have a tent day was actually formally made, we just kind of lay there and waited. I stunned myself with my daytime napping ability.

Day five was marginally better: the wind wasn’t as bad, but it was still wet, and freezing. We packed up soaked gear with numb fingers and slipped on down to the saddle where the ascent of Eldon Bluff starts. It is generally advised to climb over the Bluff and drop down the other side, but we decided to sidle the bluff instead. We were sidling like pros that trip. Wet, steep, slippery scrub ensued as we stuck close to the cliffs that are potentially the highest in Tasmania.

Textbook sidling.

A couple of hours later we came to a grassy plateau that led to a ridge out to Dome Hill, a fairly unassuming, no-nonsense little lump that Mark and Jared were set upon climbing. Getting out there was the easiest walking of the whole trip, and while it wasn't a particularly exhilarating climb, it was quite something to think that there was not a single road, walking track, man-made object or human being for 20 km in any direction. The views back to Eldon Bluff were also quite something. Eldon Bluff is big.

Pictured: Big

We bashed down through a grove of pandani whose serrated fronds were just looking for an eyeball to slice, and reached Lake Ewart. For some reason, Parks have installed a log book at Lake Ewart (evidently, I lied a bit about the man-made object part before) which, since 2010, has had a grand total of three entries. To reach our campsite there was a climb, and more scrub. It was bad. I was tired. Mark described the mood rather succinctly: “This is quite shitty.” However at the top after nine and a half hours, things turned around:

Warmth, food, drying gear and a minature bottle of Jagermeister.

On day six, Mark and Jared - like good little peakbaggers - rose early and climbed the nearby Castle Mountain. I stayed in bed. I did not regret it. They returned and told me what a great climb I’d missed out on (I strongly suspect it was shit). As we packed up camp Jared discovered that some unknown creature had chewed halfway through the handle of his knife, which had not been used to prepare food. That’s the thing about the Eldon’s: even the animals are nutjobs. 

The weather was nice but the scrub was shit. Just shit. We encountered many different types of scrub and it was all shit in subtly different ways. I found that vague, manly sounding grunts helped when it got really bad. Sometimes it would feel like I was getting the hang of it and almost even having fun, and then my foot would get caught on something and my pack would swing forwards and I would end up with my arse in the air and a twig up my nostril. If scrub bashing is character building I should be wonderful person by now. We made it across a series of ridges and knolls to High Dome and camped on a saddle, climbing to the summit just before dark. That night the weather happened.

Good morning!

Day seven greeted us with serious cold and virtually every possible form of precipitation. We abandoned our plans to reach Lake St Claire and decided to scamper down to the Lyell Highway. Tragically, Mark had to give up on his dream of summiting another of his obscure little lumps: the famously underwhelming and difficult to reach Tramontane. We went south, scrubbing it up past Five Duck Tarn, and down into a valley. The going got steep, the forest got thick and things began to look a bit nasty. Then someone said: “Hey, this has been cut!” It was true. There was a branch, a whole bush, sheared off cleanly by a very un-wildernessy force, one most probably associated with a power tool. Someone had cut a track. There was no tape marking it, no real signs of use and no foot pad leading into it. Just a reasonably wide track cut in the middle of nowhere. Was this an attempt to recreate the historical Ewart track? Someone’s secret route into the Eldons? A maniac with a brush cutter and a deep hatred of native vegetation? Despite its illegality and dubious wilderness ethics, we were grateful.


We reached the bottom of the valley and the track stopped, reappeared for a short time, then ended completely.  We spend the rest of the afternoon bashing upwards towards Junction Hill. The wind was strong and it was too cold to stop for a break. The only sheltered campsite was underneath Rocky Hill and we had no idea how long it would take to get there. Remembering Jared’s time prediction on the first day, his suggestion of “maybe an hour” wasn't particularly reassuring. I caught a peek of the ridge between the two hills and I really felt like giving up there and then. It was already 4 PM and from the look of the scrub I could imagine it taking well over 5 hours. The others were keen to have a go and despite some mutinous thoughts I begrudgingly followed.

Cold and grim.

The chainsaw wielding saviour was back! Sometimes the destruction of untouched wilderness can be a wonderful thing. We followed Brushcutter Bob’s (Stan the Chainsaw Man’s?) path of carnage across the ridge, climbed another small hill and scrub-bashed down to a lovely, pine covered shelf to camp.  

Day eight probably had the worst weather of all, with more rain and tent flattening gusts of wind.  I was quite keen to get to the highway but Mark was not in a good way. The previous day had knocked him around and he was on the edge of hypothermia. Another tent day was the only responsible choice.   

Not bad.

The weather finally came right on day nine and we skedaddled out of camp and down a long bumpy ridge. It was mostly button grass and scrub, but as always, our power tool loving hero was there when we needed him most. Mark called his wife on the satellite phone and organised a rendezvous on the road. As we climbed over the last little knoll on the ridge we could see the car. The end - a shifting, abstract concept that had alluded us for the last few days – looked like it was finally here. We stumbled down the last slope, expecting to wade across the ankle deep Collingwood River and stride triumphantly out onto the sweet tarmac of the Lyell Highway.

We’d forgotten about all the rain. The river was almost flooded. This was problematic for a number of reasons: a) the bridge was a full days walk away, b) I was the only one could swim with any degree of proficiency and b) the Hungry Wombat CafĂ© in Derwent Bridge close their kitchen at 4PM. It was a race against time. I jumped in and swam across, leaving my pack on the wilderness side of the river. I headed towards the road, found Mark’s wife and the car, which (thanks to Mark's foresight) contained a rope and a life jacket. I took the rope back to the river, tied it to a tree and threw it across. It was too short. I adjusted the knot and tried again. Still too short. I swam back across with the rope and almost went into convulsions from the cold. It was just long enough to hook my pack to, but not quite long enough for people. I pendulmed back across with my pack. I tried a bit further downstream but I couldn’t throw the rope across. I tied my drink bottle to the end for weight. The drink bottle broke. I tied a stone to the end. The stone slipped out. I found a better stone. About eight throws later Jared managed to catch the rope with a long stick. We got Jared and his pack across. Mark, who can’t swim at all, refused to cross without the lifejacket. I couldn’t throw it across. Swim number four. Weird little jaw muscles I didn’t know I had went into cold induced spasms. Mark, shitting himself, life jacket clad, got hauled across with his pack. Swim number five. We were bedraggled and panting, but all across.

"Yeah, it's not too cold."


We picked up our water filled packs and bashed through our last bit of scrub towards the waiting car. I almost felt nostalgic.  

Thank God they kept the fryers working until 4:05 PM. Next time you're in Derwent Bridge, go to the Hungry Wombat Cafe. Buy a burger! Buy a souvenir t-shirt! Support this fine institution! 


Monday, 15 September 2014

Mt Anne in the Middle of the Night

13-14th September 2014

11:45 PM: I’m sitting on a ledge, above a cliff that my headtorch’s beam won’t reach the bottom of. It’s snowing. A finger sized alpine worm is crawling across a rock next to me. I can see the three lights of my companions waving around as they try to climb the rock chimney I just came from. My brand new invertebrate pal loses traction on a patch of snow and plummets into the darkness below. Nightwalking: why wouldn’t you?    

What we didn't see.

I decided to take the TUBC’s (newly established) tradition of nightwalking a step further than diurnal rhythms and common sense dictates, making plans for a dusk to dawn attempt on Mt Anne, the 1423m “Queen” of the South-West. Due presumably to my tempting promise of “moonlit views” and a “sunset over Lake Pedder” nine people signed up for the event, though this number was whittled down by second thoughts and sudden returns to sanity, to a more manageable four.

Views! Sort of.

We left the TUU at 4:00 PM and arrived at the Condominium “stand-in-front-of-the-sign-and-it-says-condom” Creek car park as the sun dropped below the horizon. Getting ready for a walk at dusk was slightly unnerving, and the dark clouds hiding the summit of Mt Eliza didn't help. With packs full of caffeine and fleece we hit the track, making the High Camp hut in a semi-respectable hour and twenty minutes. An enjoyable dinner was had by all and we seriously considered the ethics of playing cards in the hut all night and telling everyone we made the summit. We started “Phase II” as the rain began, making our slow and navigational error riddled way up the steep boulder field to the 1289m summit of Mt Eliza.

One of the better photos.

The wind suddenly picked up and we unanimously agreed it was glove-o’clock. Phase III consisted of a relatively flat and straightforward walk across the Eliza Plateau, however “relatively flat and straightforward” has a different meaning at 9:00 PM in a near gale. We hit a boulder field and played a round of “spot-the-next-cairn-with-your-head-torch”, a game that kept us entertained and lively for the rest of the night. The moon had set long ago, and the views were limited by horizontal precipitation and inadequate lumens to several meters in the direction we were facing.  We left the main circuit track and headed towards the summit block across a couple more frustratingly slow boulder fields. Reuben the "Cairnfinder General" led the way up Phase IV: the final mess of boulders and unexpected snowfields to the infamous ledge. Despite the onset of snowfall and freezing temperatures we were all keen to have a go, and lined up below the chimney that leads to the pants-browningly precarious ledge. We all got up alright and shimmied across the slippery and snow covered shelf. The last section was a bit too slippery and snow covered for my liking, so I made the call to bail. No-one disagreed. The turnaround marked Sarah’s third failed attempt on Mt Anne, but it was the furthest she’d got, so it wasn't all bad.

Just chillin' on the Ledge (worm not visible).

We climbed back down and shared a couple of cans of Rob’s bourbon (TUBC safety tip: alcohol should NEVER be drunk in the wilderness, unless it’s Saturday night and you need warmth and motivation). I’m not sure whether this aided or hindered my boulder hopping skills, but either way we made good progress down the rocks and snow fields (which required a few entirely NECESSARY Bear Grylls-esque glissades). Reuben’s cairn spotting skills proved a bit too efficient as he managed to find the route to the North-East Ridge, setting us wandering around in the dark until a nav masterclass by Your Humble Narrator set us right.

5:40 AM faces.

We reversed Phase III and Phase II as the temperature got colder and colder, and we got sicker and sicker of “spot-the-cairn”. We reached the hut sometime after 3:00 AM, and enjoyed the hot drinks and lack of rain for as long as we could fend off sleep. We virtually skipped down the 700 meter descent and arrived at good old Condom Creek car park as the grey sky began to lighten. The drive back to Hobart was a sleepy affair, but we were all satisfied and ultimately glad to have subjected ourselves to 11 and a half hours of wet, cold, self-deprived and unsuccessful mental anguish.

Who’s keen for the next night walk?