Twin Spires (almost)

With almost perfect conditions forecast for the weekend, we decided to head up to the Upper Mersey Valley and bag a few peaks in the area.  We had thought about returning to the Walls, but in the end chose to head to Cathedral Mountain and avoid any potential crowds that may have also been encouraged by a favourable weather report.  Car access to the end of the Mersey Forest road had reopened a few weeks prior, and the large carpark made for a descent home for the night.  The beginning of the track follows open and recently burnt forest before reaching a decent sized suspension bridge that spans Jacksons’ Creek.  A few minutes later, you reach a walker registration booth and a track junction. The left side of the booth goes towards Lake Bill and rejoins the Lake Myrtle Track, while the right hand side heads towards Chapter Lake and Cathedral Mountain on the Moses Creek Track.

Ten minutes later, another small creek is crossed before climbing up through nice open Wattle Forest.  The track then flattens out before passing by some of the biggest myrtles I have seen, followed by a steep climb up towards Chapter Lake. The first sign of snow was observed about halfway to the lake- and should have been taken as a sign of what was to come.  We reached Grail Falls 1 hour and 45 minutes after leaving the carpark, sticking to the right at the other heavily taped junction that continues on to Cloister Lagoon. We quickly found the pad on the left hand side of Grail Falls and continued up along the Chalice Lake outlet creek.  The pad was hard to follow given it was a foot under the snow, but we did find a number of cairns and were able to cross safely about 550m past Grail Falls.

This is where the soft snow really started to slow us down, and we had to reconsider our initial plan of heading to Bishop Peak.  We continued around the northern shores of Chalice Lake, occasionally passing a snow covered cairn and tried to pick out the large dolerite slabs instead of the deep scrub; not always successfully, sinking into snow. We found a nice flat spot and set up camp next to Chalice Lake, before continuing further west to pick up the pad towards Tent Tarn with the intention of summiting Cathedral Mountain. Walking got progressively easier as we neared the tarn and we were surprised to see it fully frozen over. After spending far too much time walking on the tarn we continued west again. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to pick up the pad and ended up walking through some very deep snow covering scrub, only managing to cover 900m in an hour.

We reached a highpoint a few hundred meters east of Twin Spires summit but decided to turn back due to time. On the way back down we managed to find the pad just south of where we were; it was significantly quicker, but still would have been hard work to make it all the way out to Cathedral Mountain.

After what was initially a clear night, we woke to find a snow covered lake and little chance of the weather improving so we headed straight back to the car. The way back down was a bit quicker as the snow was slightly harder than the day before, making it back in just under 3 hours.

All up 19.7kms with 1040m ascent.

Getting there: Follow all directions to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park but continue straight along the Mersey Forest Road instead of turning left to the WoJ carpark. The carpark and start of the track is at the end of this road. As at July 2018 the road is suitable for 2WD drive cars.

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Suspension bridge over Jacksons Creek
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Jacksons Creek
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Frozen bracken
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Heading up through the wattle forest
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Huge myrtles
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Myrtle tops
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Grail Falls
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Approaching Chalice Lake
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Chalice Lake outlet
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Found our campsite
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Northern end of Chalice Lake
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Heading up to Tent Tarn, Ragoona behind
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A frozen Tent Tarn
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Slowly making our way up through soft snow
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Looking at Bishop Peak
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Mt Ragoona and Chalice Lake
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Snow Gum

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