Having pulled the pin on a previous attempt to summit Mt Snowy due to blizzard-like conditions, we were determined to reach the summit; even if the weather was less than ideal. The plan was to reach Arthur and Emily Tarn, then head up to Snowy returning via Hartz Peak. Unsure of how much snow would be around the other side of Hartz, we packed snowshoes and set off along the main track- the first visitors for the day according to the logbook. Heading out along the well maintained track, we made quick time over the duckboards and had no need for our snowshoes or rain gear. Once we found the turn off to Arthur’s tarn, we didn’t stay dry for long- the track was pretty overgrown and boggy in places.
We reached Arthur’s Tarn an hour after leaving the carpark, but didn’t spend long as the wind had picked up and was howling down the valley. We continued uphill for about 100m, passing through some nice alpine gardens before heading back down towards Emily’s Tarn, which was surprisingly sheltered from the wind. We stopped briefly here before looking for the pad up to the Hartz/Snowy saddle, still hoping that the cloud would clear and we would have at least some views or a break in rain.
From the saddle we followed a rough pad for 15 minutes up to the summit of Mt Snowy, where we found the wind was too strong to stand up straight. On the way back we chose to follow the high route across Mt Hartz – though this proved quite slow and challenging as the large dolerite boulders were icy – but we made it to the summit in just under an hour. For the first time that day we chucked on the snowshoes as there was just enough snow on the north-western slopes of Hartz to warrant them. On our way down we passed a number of very cold and seemingly unprepared walkers post-holing their way up in blundstones and jeans.
All up 10.3kms in 3hours and 35 minutes with 698m ascent.
The aim for the day was to climb a few Abels on the eastern side of yingina, starting with Sandbanks Tier. We had contemplated climbing this peak a number of times on the way through Poatina, but never ended up stopping. We parked at the small carpark just off of the highway and began our walk up the gravel road. A large number of rocks and dirt from this area was taken to build the Miena Dam and the area has since been fenced off to allow rehabilitation. We then followed a small creek up towards a large rock scree, which had the remnants of an old fence at the bottom and followed it as long as possible before hitting a couple of scrub bands. The next 20 or so minutes were spent alternating between slippery scree that had been in the shade all morning and the odd patch of scrub throughout. The occasional cairn was more confusing than helpful, as it was pretty obvious which way we had to go.
As we approached the summit from the south we had to zig zag a bit to avoid large patches of scoparia and slippery rock ledges. We arrived at the summit in just under 60 minutes and found some shelter from the wind on the eastern side. From here we had good views in all directions and could make out the summit of our next Abel just across Arthurs Lake…
All up 4.1kms in 2 hours and 30 minutes with 310m ascent.
Getting there: The walks starts at a small carpark by Poatina Road, just past the turn off to Cramps Bay. Link here
Handley Peak is not a particularly high mountain, and at ~850m it is far from an Abel. On satellite imagery it is just a bare grassy patch to the Southern side of Blue Tier that has been on the receiving end of sheep grazing over the years. We wanted to climb it as it was named after Emily’s great great great grandfather James, a pioneer from nearby Pyenganna. In the past there has been confusion surrounding the name of the highpoint, and in 1990 what was previously called Mt Littlechild was renamed Mt Handley to reflect James’ past ownership and a Mt Littlechild was named slightly further northeast.
We parked in the carpark of a small lookout next to the intersection between the Tasman Highway and Lottah Road. Across the road there was a clear vehicle track in the paddocks between the bracken fern that made its way up the hill, which we followed up through the paddocks and small patches of forest. We then entered some very unexpected myrtle forest with the ground and tree trunks covered in a vibrant green moss. The occasional old ribbons tied to myrtle were present, though for the most part navigation was very easy as the forest was open and only a few hundred meters long.
Once out on the other side, it was a quick scramble up some rocks to the Handley Peak highpoint where the remains of the large stone circle were scattered around the summit cairn. As it only took around 45 minutes to reach the summit, we decided to continue up towards Mt Littlechild. We continued in a north easterly direction and followed a saddle through some more impressive myrtle forest with large rocky outcrops, and the occasional small creek. We reached what according to the GPS was the highpoint and spent some time looking for the large boulder that marks the true highpoint-however, we were unable to locate it. We arrived back at the car an hour and 25 minutes after leaving Mt Littlechild.
All up 8.8kms in just over 3 hours and 407m ascent.
Getting there: The walk starts here , opposite the carpark.
We left Launceston early on our way out to the Weldborough area and thought we might bag a quick Abel on the way. The easiest to get was Mt Barrow and neither of us had ever been up that way before. The drive up the side of Mt Barrow winds through some nice forest before reaching a large scree field that is reminiscent of Jacobs Ladder on the way to the Ben Lomond ski fields.
We then parked at a turning circle just below the large communication tower and proceeded up towards the ridge. There is a large metal and concrete staircase that provides access to the comms station which we followed to avoid walking through the scrub. The landscape was typical of any other mountainous region of jurassic dolerite and we were quickly rock hopping our way along the cliff top towards the summit that lay a few minutes further west.
A somewhat favourable weather forecast allowed for a short trip to the Southern Ranges. We arrived at the start of the track around 8am and were on our way along the old tram line shortly after. After crossing paths with a handful of lyre birds- one of which stood on a limb long enough for me to get a quick shot- we arrived at the Mystery Creek crossing. It was flowing, but not enough to cause any concern as we made our way across. We reached the junction at the old quarry and turned right, as the track starts climbing up Marble Hill almost immediately; before long we were overheating.
Once near the top of Cave Hill, the track flattens out briefly while passing through some nice rainforest (also full of Lyre birds), before another consistent and slippery climb. We reached a patch of tea tree forest contains a small clearing for tents around 1hour and 40 minutes in, popping out at the burnt edge of Moonlight Flats 25 minutes later. Visibility had dropped to about 15 meters as we passed along the eerie landscape, burnt following lightning strikes in 2013/14. The track was pretty overgrown with scoparia on the way up to Hill 1, as well as a few sections on the way down to the saddle between Hills 1 and 2. We stopped briefly on top of Hill 2 to have some lunch and to admire the wind blown shrubs growing across the dolerite.
From there on in the walking was a lot clearer as we walked along the open hill tops and we arrived at Pigsty Ponds after 5 hours and 40 minutes. We reached the small creek crossing and decided to drop packs before heading up to Mt La Perouse. About 10 minutes further along the track after a small ascent, the junction is marked by a very large 3 pronged arrow constructed out of small rocks. The track to La Perouse is indicated by the longest arrow and heads in an easterly direction, as you wind around the sides of the peaks. We arrived at the large summit cairn in just over 40 minutes; but unfortunately the cloud and the drizzle had not abated, and we returned to our packs damp and disappointed. The night was spent camping by the head waters of the D’Entrecasteaux River, hopeful of better weather the next day.
The morning of day 2 started with a nice sunrise and clear skies in all directions, and the jagged silhouette of the Cockscomb rising above our tent provided plenty of motivation to finish packing and get exploring. Our plan was to head back along Moonlight Ridge to Hill 3 and before detouring to follow the ridge down to The Hippo. On our way back up to Hill 4, we spotted a tent next to one of the small tarns at Pigsty Ponds- we later found out it was a friend who we had met a few months earlier at Lake Petrarch.
We reached the summit of Hill 3 in 1 hour and 40 minutes, and made our way down the dolerite ridge line towards Agnetes Garden. The walk out was easy open walking, and once at the base of The Hippo we followed a cairned route that made its way through some scrub, with a quick scramble up the eastern side before turning west to the summit. We reached the top exactly an hour after leaving hill 3 and took in the views over Mt Leillateah towards the ocean. Once back to our packs, we sheltered behind some boulders for lunch, and were battered by the infamous winds on our way out. The walk back along Moonlight Ridge seemed to take a lot longer than the walk in, and the knees were very grateful when we reached the car 4.5 hours later.
On the way back from our weekend away in Sheffield, we thought we would take the opportunity to finally get up to Projection Bluff. The walk starts on the Lakes Highway and quickly enters some stunning and unexpected myrtle forest. The cairned/taped track then climbs steeply through the open myrtle forest to the escarpment, which was reached in just 25 minutes. The true highpoint is roughly 1 km further North as the crow flies and can be reached by following a cairned route along the top of the escarpment. This pad provides good views of Liffey Bluff and Drys Bluff just across the valley.
We reached the summit in an hour and took a few snaps of Quamby Bluff before returning to the car. Although this is a very quick walk, the forest on the way up is well worth seeing and the summit does provide some good views of the other bluffs that make up the Great Western Tiers.
All up 4.7kms in 1hour and 50 minutes with 250m ascent.
Getting there: The start of the track is marked on the Lakes Highway at this location .
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).