January 1, 2000

Seven Summits Expedition: Lake Gordon - The Spires - Mt Curly

Allan Wise and Samuel Thomson

Peaks

Conical Mountain - Height: 1124m, Grid Reference: 305909, Map: spires 1:25000, Peak-bagging points: 2
Shining Mountain - Height: 1106m, Grid Reference: 298913, Map: spires 1:25000, Peak-bagging points: 2
Flame Peak - Height: 1089m, Grid Reference: 287934, Map: spires 1:25000, Peak-bagging points: 2
The Spires - Height: 1122m, Grid Reference: 285935, Map: spires 1:25000, Peak-bagging points: 6
Innes High Rocky - Height: 1083m, Grid Reference: 292968, Map: spires 1:25000, Peak-bagging points: 4
North Star - Height: 996m, Grid Reference: 369907, Map: spires 1:25000, Peak-bagging points: 2
Mt Curly - Height: 1065m, Grid Reference: 329910, Map: spires 1:25000, Peak-bagging points: 4
Bonus Mountains : The Camel (2 points) and White Pyramid (2 points)

Introduction

I was told trackless walking in the South-West is the same as bashing your head against a brick wall. When I asked why, I heard the reply, "Because it feels good when you stop". I now agree with this statement. After nine days of track less bush-bashing, It feels so good to stop.


Day 1: Lake Gordon - Ridge, hard scrub bashing 6 to 9 hours

An early start and a bad nights sleep always do the body wonders. the night before was in the best of terms a complete disaster. Dinner did not seem to agree with me, and at about 12:00am I broke into a feverish sweat. The gentle lapping of the waves of Lake Pedder where not the only thing to disturb the cool night air that night, as one would-be trekker broke the silence with a mighty "George !!"
We rose about 4:30am, I staggered to the car and we traveled to the boat launching site. Which is located at Lake Gordon, close to the intake tower. From here it is about 25km's almost due North to the walk start, right at the end of the lake.
Heading up the right hand ridge it took about 6 hours to clear the scrub and the top of the ridge line. It was a further 2.5 hours along the ridge to our camp site. There is little water to be found just the odd yabbie hole.
There is no guaranteed water till the tarn on the summit of Shining Mountain, which isn't till day two. I carried 4 litres of water. After one of my worst walking days my stomach began to settle in the afternoon and I enjoyed 12 hours sleep.

Day 2: Ridge - Conical Mountain - Shining Mountain, easy to medium walking, 4 to 5 hours

It was not long after breaking camp that we hit very bad scrub, a little tip "try always to stay on the ridge line" It took two hours to clear the scrub but if we had have stuck to the ridge it would only taken half an hour.
From here there is a short steady climb to the peak opposite, then it is an easy traverse west to the summit of Mt Conical (2 points) and further 40 minutes to the summit of Shining Mountain (2 points). A short distance below the summit is a good sized tarn, and a good camp.
The summit of Shining Mountain is like a paddock, so the frisbee worked a treat. The boys managed to fashion a cricket bat out of a stick which also added to good camp morale.

Day 3: Shining Mountain - The Font - Spires Summit, easy to medium walking, 4 to 5 hours

Five of the party bivvied on the summit last night, (I had the tent all to myself, hooray no snoring !) they said that the views at morning sunrise where spectacular.
From the camp it took us 1.5 hours to reach the valley floor, there is a meandering creek at the base of Shining Mountain, plenty of water. A further 1.5 hours up a ridge leading to The Spires brings us to The Font. There is a pad leading up the ridge. The Font is this delightful little tarn nestled under the shear cliff face of The Flame. It provides a great tent site for a maximum of 4 tents. The tarn also provides a welcome swim for me (nude of course) but the water was freezing.
The Spires summit was not far, so grabbing our day packs, we head off. Sticking as close as possible to the right hand side of The Flame, we begin climbing till we reach a saddle. Descending down the valley for a short while, we see a gully that heads straight up towards the summit, the valley is littered with scapara bushes. Scrub gloves would have been handy but we made it to the top of this section. How comes the trickiest part of the climb, the next section is rock climbing. Strong climbers will find it fairly easy. There is a short section that is straight up, then a knife edge ridge which has terrible exposure to any winds in the area. But having navigated it successfully we all make it to the top !! bobby dazzler ...

Day 4 - The Font to Innes High Rocky, medium to hard - by Samuel Thomson

Departed 8:00am and climbed steeply from The Font for 5 minutes before traversing between several gullies covered with scaparia. After gaining a button grass ridge, we skirted around some rocky out crops, after which the easy to follow pad dissipates and self-navigation in necessary. The ridges leading to the peak crisscross deep valleys. But this can be minimized in poor visibility by the use of a GPS and the 1:25000 spires map.
After getting to the top of a rocky peak we get a glimpse through the fog of the next ridge and the seemingly sizable valley between. After some conjecture about the best route, we ended up heading straight down the hill and in what seemed like the blink on a eye we were over a small creek and heading up to some rock out crops above. They looked a fair distance but the fog was Deceiving and in the end it was as easy as a tadpole drinking.
There were two more valleys to be crossed before the summit ascent. By sticking to the higher ground, the annoying lumpy button grass is minimized. After finding the obvious ramp near the right hand side of the moraine, a pad will take you to the summit.
Two of the peaks at the top are almost identical in height, while only 10m apart so it is worthwhile hopping to both to ensure the 4 points. Summit time was 12:48pm but could be done easily in 4 hours in good weather.

Day 5 - The Font, White pyramid return, medium to hard walking / climbing, 9 hours

From The Font, climb towards the Spires summit. It is basically a ridge line walk / climb over the Spires / False Dome to a large flat open area at the base of False Dome. Passing the camel on the left we reach the shear cliff face of White Pyramid, It looks a hard mountain to climb. But here is the trick; traverse around the right hand base of the mountain you will find a wide gully that leads to the tippy top.

Day 6 - The Font, Lake Curly, easy to medium walking - 5 to 6 hours

From The Font we head back the way we came up. From the creek at the base of the descent, climb the ridge on the right. There are two creeks to cross before reaching Lake Curly, they are both in the early stages of the day. We made a bad mistake of descending off the ridge too early. I still bare the scares on my arms from the thick scrub that torn at my arms, face and legs for an hour. There is also a lake that we passed on our right named Windy Lake, It too has a campsite.

Day 7 - Lake Curly to North Star, easy walking, 6 hours

Light scrub and a few creeks along the way make this an easy mountain to climb. One member of our party was very glad to finally climb North Star. Since a few years earlier and a different approach had found him lost and half the Tasmanian police looking for him.
Day seven is also the last day of the century, I can't imagine a better place to be, a good 4 days march from "civilization".
The beach at Lake Curly proved to be very relaxing. If not amusing, Ha the things you see when you should be wearing dark glasses. A well weighted throw of the Frisbee by me found it sailing straight up the beach, soaring in the air, around the corner, and into the lake. We all run to the end of the lake, and what do we see? .. nudes .. Two walkers, one male, one female who arrived earlier where taking a skinny dip. To make it worst the girl saw us all run to the end of the beach and she waved to us !! And guess who had to swim out to retrieve the damn Frisbee .. yeah me.
We bivvied on the beach that night to welcome the New Year in. There was not a soul around, except for our party and the two naked hippies.

Day 8 - Lake Curly, MT Curly, first nights camp, Lake Gordon, medium walking, 10-11 hours

Awoke on the beach of Curly with ice on our sleeping bags.
What a day it turned out to be. Like hounds with the scent of home, we put a huge day in. Coming out of Lake Curly, up to the summit of MT Curly across to the high point south of Mount Conical. Then traversing west to where the ridge that leads to Lake Gordon is. We had originally planned to take this section over two days, we did it in one, which did our tired legs no good. Once again there was no water the entire length of this leg. I carried 4 litres with me and used it all.
We pitched camp on the shores of Gordon. The lake looked like a nuclear waste area, due to the lowering of the water level. Dead fish, dead trees, dead bushes and live snakes every where.

Day 9 - Boat trip out, Lake Gordon, easy, 1 hour, 25km's

Joy, the boat pick up came earlier that expected 8:00am instead of the 3:30pm time that was arranged a few days earlier. Gav, the boat man wanted to do a spot of fishing.
A climbing buddy and me, waste no time in heading straight to Hobart. Where we welcomed a shower. As you may guess nine days without a proper wash makes you smell, to put it mildly, foul. After washing away all the pain, I feel a million dollars with a fresh set of clothes and a shave. Good food and a bottle of fine Tasmanian wine soon complete the picture. "Ahh" I think to myself. "what an adventure."


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