January 24, 2005

Mt Byron

 Marian Harradine
Monday 24th January,2005
We were camping at Narcissus Bay and planned to climb Mt Byron, starting out on the Overland Track at 9.30. We had a good look at Mt Byron in the distance before we left, checking out the north face as that was the way we were going up. We filled up our bottles at a small creek 15 minutes later and another 15 minutes later at 10am we took the Byron Gap Track turnoff enjoying the cool rainforest which was undulating but gradually ascending. There were quite a few places for drinking water in the next hour and then the track became steeper for 10 minutes or so before coming out of the forest into the open light bush.
We reached the top of the gap at 11.15 with a great view of Frenchman's Cap, and had a rest and a snack. Mt Byron was quite close by, to the west of us. Then we descended for about a hundred meters where there was a small log across the culvert beside the track, the starting point for going up Byron. It has not got a track officially. I took a bearing with the compass to the northern face of Mt Byron (due west) and we crossed the log and headed off up into the rainforest at 11.25. The beginning had a track visible in the mud, but as we started climbing that disappeared. Following the compass bearing up we followed a route that in parts had obviously been used by others. It was fairly easy to find clear walking in the forest and eventually, as the forest became scrub, at about 11.50 we noticed a definite track with the odd cairn starting to appear. It was warming up and at 12.15 we had a 5 minute rest in a shady spot.
At 12.25. an hour after leaving the main track, we started climbing up boulders, well cairned, no problems there. The views became impessive too, with Lake St Claire and Lake Petrarch on either side of Mt Olympus behind us.
At 12.45 we climbed up through some high columns and were surprised to suddenly reach the summit of Mt Byron at 1pm.
Again the views were spectacular in all directions. Frenchman's Cap looked dramatic to the south west with the Eldons west and the surprisingly close West Coast Range further west. Mt Gould and the DuCane Range and Mt Ossa, Mt Rogoona and Walls of Jerusalem. To the south we could see Lake King William and beyond the south west ranges. It was a perfect day, not a cloud in the sky and no wind. I laid the map on a large square rock and it did not move.
At 1.45, after some lunch we reluctantly left the top and headed back down initially boulder hopping for half and hour, and again using the compass once we got into the rainforest and off track. We got back accurately to the starting point at Byron Gap at 3pm, very surprised at how spot-on the compass was. This was my first time of using the compass and following a bearing.
We descended Byron Gap for 20 minutes before stopping for a snack near a small creek. We continued on after ten minutes and joined the overland track at 4.30. It was quite warm once out of the rainforest.
We got back to Narcissus Bay and our tent at 5pm.

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