Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mount Pelion West

Here goes! My first attempt at blogging.

Normally I would avoid computers like the plague outside of work but blogging seems to be all the rage and I have a bucket load of Tassie trekking tales to tell.

I am passionately proud of this island state, Tasmania. I grew up on the north west coast and the world heritage wilderness surrounding Cradle Mountain was my back yard.

Now I have moved to another part of the island where I am IT Manager for a factory owned by a large US-based multi-national company.

The first trek/bushwalk/ramble I want to describe was a trip to Tassie’s 3rd highest peak, Mount Pelion West. The following text and pictures are from an article I have just written for our company magazine…

Tasmania is one of the most mountainous islands in the world. A book called “The Abels” lists 155 mountains over 1,100 metres above sea level. When the IT Manager (tastrekker: that’s me) and Chemical Research and Development Manager (tastrekker: my walking companion on this trip) looked for a mountain to climb earlier this year, there were plenty to chose from.

tastrekker tells the story…
The chosen candidate was Tassie’s 3rd highest peak, Mount Pelion West at 1,560 metres above sea level. The highest mountain, Mt Ossa is climbed by many people who walk the Overland track and we had both ‘been there, done that!’. The second highest, Legges Tor has a road up it with the Ben Lomond ski village perched on top - not much challenge there!

We approached our objective from Arm River in the Mersey Valley on Saturday 4th March. As a warm-up, Mt Pillinger (1285 metres) was climbed after a steep ascent from the car park. The views were stunning with clear sky and dozens of mountains in every direction. Tarns and Lakes on February Plains sparkled to the north while the upper Mersey River meandered its way through the native grasslands of Lees Paddocks. 600 metres below our sublime lunch-spot, every shade of green imaginable was present in the rain forest lining Wurragarra Creek.

From Pillinger, a gradual descent took us down to the shores of Lake Ayr where we met the Overland Track at Pelion Hut. In the past, anything up to several hundred campers could be found in and around Pelion Hut on a fine summer night. A new permit and fee system limiting the number of walkers during the peak season has made such overcrowding a thing of the past. On this balmy afternoon, a mere 30 to 40 walkers were making this their accommodation for the night.

While the ‘luxury’ of Pelion Hut was tempting, Pelion West beckoned. If we were to make it back to the car the next day, a little more progress would be needed before stopping for the night.

An hour north along the Overland track brought us to Frog Flats where the infant Forth River lazily trickled by our grassy campsite.

Next morning, with breakfast dispensed with, we left the tent to dry and set out towards our goal. The gradual climb through rainforest revealed occasional glimpses of low cloud filling the valley. Pelion West brooded silently above us. Even after climbing above the tree line, the clouds only briefly parted to reveal the cliffs surrounding the base of the mountain.

Upward, ever upward, the climb continued over house-sized boulders precariously perched atop towering cliffs. Careful route selection was needed to avoid the cavernous gaps in between.

Finally, the summit was reached. A finger of rock jutting skyward from the edge of a south-facing precipice marked the highest point. Any concern about heights had to be ignored to climb the obelisk beside a 250 metre drop to the scree below.

The cloud came and went during our summit stay. Views opened up in most directions with peaks from Cradle Mountain to Frenchmans Cap and Mount Murchison to the Walls of Jerusalem presenting themselves in turn. The Overland Track could be seen, threading its way to the north between the tarns of Windermere Plains.

Bushwalking in Tassie is a great past time. This walk was a little on the ardous side with 50km covered in 2 days and 1,500 metres vertical climb. The good news is there are many walks to choose from for every level of ability where spectacular scenery and a sense of isolation can be achieved. If you have never tried getting into the bush before, it’s never too late to have a go!

1 comment:

Cutmasterchard said...

Tasmania is indeed a special place. I enjoyed reading about your adventure to this behemoth of a mountain. The house size boulders at the top are enough to put me off. Great photo of the summit.