April 7, 2006

Mt Hopetoun

Brandon Lee

Introduction

After a night of frantic shopping and packing, I managed to wake with enough time to down a bowl of nutri-grain before leaving to pick up Brendan. Departing from Launceston, we headed south for a four day frolic in Tasmania's remote south-west. It was to be a TAS.SAT first, climb Mt Hopetoun, a 4 point start to a new year.

A late start

We arrived at the start of the walk at 5:00pm. Normally this trip would take four hours, but we encountered car troubles and it took ten! Despite this set back, we started walking. At least four hours of daylight remained.
The target was South Cracroft, we made it in three hours. Two other hikers where camped there also. They where on a fourteen day trip over Federation Peak to Melaleuca.

First camp to part way up the lead

At a reasonably early start we headed for the West Cracroft and the old VMTC camp where we were to find the old track, but having no luck finding the ford used to cross over the river, we crossed on a log and left our excess gear hidden behind an old myrtle stump, ie: tent, last days food, extra clothing, etc. We then bashed our way through th scrub till we found the old track, which was in surprisingly in good condition. We followed this track for about two kilometers before we decided to leave the track and cut across on to Lancaster Lead, a long easy ridge that runs from the valley right up to the base of the mountain. From where we stood, on an open section looking across at the lead, it didn't look too bad, a bit of scrubby forest but nothing too major. How Wrong We Were! Over an hour and a lot of lost energy later, two tired trekkers looked back at what they had just come through from their vantage point on the Lead. If only we could have seen it from this angle before.
We continued on up the Lead as the sky started to cry, giving us no hope of a nice night out under the stars. We came to the end of the easy walking on the lead and wondered whether to keep going or call it a day, we had to toss up between more scrub-bashing with full packs, or sleeping with snakes as we had just seen a couple of white lip whip snakes in the last 60 metres. The scrub didn't look nice so we decided to set ourselves up for a long night as it was only about 4:00pm.
After quickly changing into our dry set of thermals we slid into the warmth of our sleeping bags, protected from the wetness by Gor-Tex bivvy bags. I started reading the book I had bought to inspire me, Joe Simpsons 'This Game Of Ghosts' whilst Brendan shuffled uncomfortably, trying to get into a position that didn't hurt but gave up after about two hours and began cooking our tea. Having eaten we pulled the bags back over our heads and let the Pat, Pat, Pat of the falling rain put us to sleep.

The Summit

A clear morning and an early start saw us on our way, pushing through copious amounts of Boughrah and Cutting Grass and scrambling over and under fallen trees, slipping with every second step on the steep ground, with the state of the fallen trees such that we lost the pad after just some fifty or sixty metres. We came out on top of the first high point, it had been hard work, but the worst was yet to come.
"If Maurice was here he'd keep on going til the turn around time..." Brandan said "we should at least try". I had almost given up, I had the burn in my forearms that you get when you've been hanging on for too long, trying to summon up the energy for that final move to safety. We had spent the best part of an hour clambering up an invisible cliff, invisible in the sense that this seemingly almost vertical drop was covered in hanging Boughrah so that we couldn't even tell there was rock behind it. We were dreading the thought of comming back down. Eventually we made it to the rock band at the base of the steep ridge leading up towards the summit plateau where we found a little respite from the grueling challenge that now thankfully lay below us. We were now back on a pad and making good progress towards the summit.
What a view! Momentarily poking it's head out of the clouds was the impressive massiff of Federation Peak. Brendan, afraid of not getting to the top before our turn around time, continued on while, I stoped to take a photograph or two of 'Fedder' from this great vantage point. Not too long later, when I had packed my camera away and started heading off after him, I heard a shout "I'm there...". There was Brendan, silouheted in a star formation, just two more high points away. I put on a spurt of energy and raced over towards him, dropping down a steep gully before sidling back up and around the first of the high points to the saddle between it and the summit. We'd made it, right on the turn around time.
Quickly we took our summit shots, had a bite to eat and rang home to let them know all was well, before heading back down. We made good time back to the bivvy site and so decided to continue on to towards the old VTMC camp. There was little water on our way back and brendan started showing signs of dehydration, slowness, loss of balance, but we eventually came across a small creek crossing the track and rested there for a while to re-cooperate. I watched the sun set behind Federation Peak as I continued walking towards the river, it was a spectacular sight.

The Summit

A clear morning and an early start saw us on our way, pushing through copious amounts of Boughrah and Cutting Grass and scrambling over and under fallen trees, slipping with every second step on the steep ground, with the state of the fallen trees such that we lost the pad after just some fifty or sixty metres. We came out on top of the first high point, it had been hard work, but the worst was yet to come.
"If Maurice was here he'd keep on going til the turn around time..." Brandan said "we should at least try". I had almost given up, I had the burn in my forearms that you get when you've been hanging on for too long, trying to summon up the energy for that final move to safety. We had spent the best part of an hour clambering up an invisible cliff, invisible in the sense that this seemingly almost vertical drop was covered in hanging Boughrah so that we couldn't even tell there was rock behind it. We were dreading the thought of comming back down. Eventually we made it to the rock band at the base of the steep ridge leading up towards the summit plateau where we found a little respite from the grueling challenge that now thankfully lay below us. We were now back on a pad and making good progress towards the summit.
What a view! Momentarily poking it's head out of the clouds was the impressive massiff of Federation Peak. Brendan, afraid of not getting to the top before our turn around time, continued on while, I stoped to take a photograph or two of 'Fedder' from this great vantage point. Not too long later, when I had packed my camera away and started heading off after him, I heard a shout "I'm there...". There was Brendan, silouheted in a star formation, just two more high points away. I put on a spurt of energy and raced over towards him, dropping down a steep gully before sidling back up and around the first of the high points to the saddle between it and the summit. We'd made it, right on the turn around time.
Quickly we took our summit shots, had a bite to eat and rang home to let them know all was well, before heading back down. We made good time back to the bivvy site and so decided to continue on to towards the old VTMC camp. There was little water on our way back and brendan started showing signs of dehydration, slowness, loss of balance, but we eventually came across a small creek crossing the track and rested there for a while to re-cooperate. I watched the sun set behind Federation Peak as I continued walking towards the river, it was a spectacular sight. 

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