Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Little Hugel, Hugel & Rufus
I left the NW coast at 4:00am, travelling to Cynthia Bay via the Highland Lakes and Marlborough Roads, hitting the track in the dark at 6:30am. At 8:00am I arrived at Shadow Lake just in time to see sunrise light up Mt Hugel which was beautifully reflected through a hole in the ice.
The track up Little Hugel has been wiped off recent maps but is still fairly easy to follow. The boulders were very icy in the shady climbing gully but I maintained steady progress, arriving at the summit around 9:30am. The views along the Cuvier Valley past Mt Olympus included Mounts Gould, Byron, Manfred, Cuvier and The Guardians.
Clear skies made the traverse of the plateau north of Hugel a simple off-track navigation task with some delightful tarns and patches of rock solid 2-week old snow making progress very quick. By 11:00am I had completed an extremely cold and windy climb onto Hugel's summit. Strong northerly wind gusts and a nasty drop on the summit rock's south side prevented any heroic standing up for my self-portrait. I stayed on the summit just long enough to enjoy the views west to the Eldons, Goulds Sugarloaf and Mt Gell before retreating out of the gale.
After an early lunch in a sheltered nook below the summit, I discovered why the traverse south to the Rufus saddle requires a head for heights according to the authors of The Abels. While the boulders aren't huge, they are large enought and, in contrast to the upright summit rigde, are consistently tilted at 45 degrees making crossing them awkward. As an extra challenge, many of them were still ice covered on sun-deprived sections of the ridge.
After a fun slide down a long snow bank on the final descent to the Rufus saddle, I commenced climbing southward with the assistance of the well made track at 1:00pm. 30 minutes later I had climbed past the curious sandstone outcrops and found myself ducking for cover behind the summit cairn on Mt Rufus as the northerly gale ripped over the mountain. This walk would easily be the coldest conditions I have ever experienced from a northerly!
A leisurely stroll down the eastern flank of Mt Rufus had me back at Cynthia Bay at 4:15pm. On my way home, sunset on the King Williams was a treat.
I must be getting a little sensible in my old age as I pulled over near Bills Creek in the Victoria Valley for a 30 minute snooze when I felt a little weary around 5:00pm. This was enough to refresh me so I could safely enjoy the wonderful drive over Mt Arrowsmith , 'Gormy Hill' and the Anthony Road back to the coast. I love those corners!
7 hours driving, 10 hours walking and 3 peaks in the bag. A satisfying day in paradise. I love Tassie!
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