To celebrate Emily submitting her PhD thesis we were treated with a few nights at the Eagles Nest Retreat in Sheffield; this provided the perfect opportunity to bag the peaks of the Fossey Mountains. After our first night there, we organised a lift to the start of the Mt Claude track with the owner Des, and left our car at the end of the face track below Mt Roland. The route we chose to take is the same as the Triple Top Mountain Run that takes place each year-and having walked the ascents, is something that I have no intention of joining.
The track starts off on a steep gravel road that provides vehicular access to radio communication towers. There isn’t much to see until you climb a little higher and the many peaks of the central reserve come into view. We reached the last radio tower and the end of the road in 20 minutes and headed towards Mt Claude, our first peak for the day. We continued up following a relatively clear walking track, and before long had reached a junction by a large boulder below the summit of Mt Claude. I had assumed that all three summits would be well marked-however that was not the case. We continued along the trail for about 10 minutes before realising we had gone too far, so instead of returning along the track we decided to scrub-bash back towards the summit. This however was a big waste of time-we spent 30 minutes crawling through scrub and around boulders, before we decided to just backtrack and find the normal way up. Eventually I made it to the summit by traversing a precariously placed chockstone above a rather large drop. Emily on the other hand was not so keen on the initial drop and scramble, and decided to sit this one out. We later found out that there is an easier route to the top that follows a cave just below the summit, so Emily can come back to bag this one.
After wasting an hour or so claiming 1 measly point, we carried on towards the saddle between Mt Claude and Mt Vandyke. The track was pretty boring and consisted mostly of winding down through the forest; however the cliffs on the northern side of Mt Vandyke were impressive and reminded me of the mountains along west coast.
During the steep, long climb out of the saddle we passed a couple of Dutch visitors. They had planned to stay around Cradle Mountain for a few days, but were put off by the masses of people and wanted a genuine wilderness experience. We provided a few options, and they told us that they had to climb Vandyke as it was also their surname. After a quick chat, we finished the climb and were back walking through the alpine scrub. We reached the junction that leads to the Vandyke summit 60 minutes after leaving the saddle, including a brief stop for lunch. The pad up to the summit was difficult to follow, so in the end we just found our own way up; thankfully getting to the top of Vandyke was a bit easier to reach than Claude. At the summit, we found a discarded pair of broken hiking boots that unsurprisingly, were found to be from Target.
The next leg involved a short drop down to the saddle between Roland and Vandyke. We passed along the top of a small waterfall called Reggies Falls, and as this was the first source of running water we had passed in 5 hours we made the most of it. Shortly past the falls, we came to the junction for the more commonly used Mt Roland track. It was significantly more developed and made for quick walking on the way to our final summit. Rain had started to fall as we approached the summit, and by the time we were on top we were robbed of a view. The final part of the triple tops track was a very steep descent down the notorious face track; passing through nice forest and interesting rock that was hard to appreciate when trying to keep your balance. We lost 700 meters elevation in just over 2kms, and by the time we had reached the car we had almost lost the ability to bend our knees. Unlike most walking trips where we then spend hours sitting in the car, we still had another night at the Eagles Nest Retreat and were able to drive a few minutes up the road to relax in the spa over looking Mt Roland.
All up 19.7kms in 7 hours and 40 minutes with 1307m ascent.
Getting there: Access to the start of this track is on Olivers Road (C138), off Claude Road (google maps). Plenty of parking is available. Access to the face track is on Kings Road, also off Claude Road and is well marked (google maps).