30 March 2010

Western Arthurs Jan 2003 - Day 6

High Moor to Lake Vesta

We started early to give ourselves lots of time to get through this section, as we didn't know how difficult it might be. As it was, the Beggary Bumps weren't really that much of a problem. However, there was the odd treacherous spot, one offered by the "Tilted Chasm", a scree-strewn gully which, because of its width and steep sides, could only be negotiated one at a time, otherwise cascades of loose rock could be sent down on the poor gauntlet-runner before you. It was begun with a pretty ugly, handholdless clamber, before the fun began. Think of a bowling alley where you are both the ball and a skittle. Here, Glen is making his way down (almost directly in the middle of the picture). The whole thing made for quite slow progress, as it took about ten minutes each to get down, and we were a party of five.

Next before us was the dramatic, though pretty basic, Taurus Spur. As described in yesterday's view, we traverse from left to right before curving back leftwards. The unmistakable gap "between the horns" of Taurus are in the middle of the picture. We then cut down below the face of the eastern horn to the broad saddle to its left before dropping to Haven Lake. At the back is Mt Aldebaran.

So we got to our evening goal, Haven Lake, in time for lunch. It is a pretty spot, though many point out that it is not such a Haven in bad weather. However it looked sheltered enough for us in the good weather whilst we were there. It is the last platform and dunny spot before descending Moraine K. It has some beautiful King William Pines about the place.
Those getting here early enough could probably have a go at Mt Aldebaran in the afternoon. However, we decided to press on past the gorgeous Lake Serona and Mt Scorpio to Lake Vesta.

Looking back at what we had done already today, we see, from left to right, and ignoring the miraculously unnamed tor in the foreground, Haven Lake, ridging back to Mt Taurus, ridging down the right behind the tor to the Dragon, the Beggary Bumps (with Lake Mimas in front and Mt Shaula to the right), and Mt Columba in the background.

Glen Joseph, Ls Prom, Juno and VestaOur final high spot was Mt Scorpio. Most things felt dramatically "down" from here, especially eastwards, as shown here with Promontory Lake, Lake Juno and a snatch of Lake Vesta. I believe the boys were safe, though this photo will never help me think so. That stomach lurching effect has nothing to do with the camera lens - which is your average lens - it's to do with looking down from a height!

So our final campsite was snuggled down at Lake Vesta, adjacent to Lake Juno, pictured here. It was an extremely pretty site, but not encouraged for use as it is less able to deal with campers than the more prepared sites. As usual the "bath" water was freezing, and we left it to the boys to spend a ludicrous amount of time splashing about in it, pretending to be ice breakers. An apparently appealing way to spend the end of a long day.

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

29 March 2010

Western Arthurs Jan 2003 - Day 5

High Moor

Mt Columba East and High Moor Saddle above High Moor camp site. You can see the trackworker's hut as well as the camping platforms with our tents on them. Being a more recently upgraded site, you could see how years of use with folks walking and camping anywhere had degraded the alpine environment. Whilst "artificial", the value of the camping platforms was obvious.

We ended up stuck here for one day, cloud bound in high wind. We probably could have walked that day, but it would not have been much fun, and considering that negotiating some of the Beggary Bumps is tricky, not much of a good idea. We had planned lots of spare time - many folks do the traverse in four days - so made today a rest day.

Our next day's work was all ahead of us here. We follow a ridge on the left to the ridge running left to right above Lake Callisto, called the Beggary Bumps. Three quarters of the way along that ridge is "The Dragon", and Tilted Chasm. All of these obstacles needed traversal either over or under, and were to make for a really fun day! The ridge then swung left up to Mt Taurus (not very clear here), past Lake Haven (obscured) before continuing left to Mt Scorpio.

Whilst we were stuck cloud bound at High Moor, 900 kilometres away in our home town of Canberra conditions were very hot, very windy and bone dry. That day lost 500 houses razed by bushfires in a firestorm that raced in at up to 200 km/h. Four people died, two more are still in hospital six months later, and countless hundreds, probably thousands of animals were incinerated in the bush. A disaster.

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

28 March 2010

Western Arthurs Jan 2003, Day 4

Lake Oberon to High Moor

The next morning dawned bright and sunny and the day rapidly became warm as we headed up Mt Pegasus, the first of two significant climbs/traversals today, to take us to High Moor. Looking back, we see Mt Sirius rising sheer above Lake Oberon. You can see the faint track crossing the flat at the bottom to the campsite.

Up to now, our campsites have been on lake edges, traditionally about 200 metres below where we traverse, which is mostly along the ridge line. This makes for an extremely interesting, but very "uppy downy" day's work. Nothing like Nepal, perhaps, but the best that an old continent like Australia can do.

Descending from Mt Capricorn, the second peak of our traverse today, is remarkable in how steep it is. It would be quite treacherous in the wet, and looks like it will crumble away in the next decade. It was definitely not wet on this day, however, and we were left desperately thirsty after two climbs and some good Tassy highland sun (see picture of a thirsty Joseph below...)

We finished our final half-hour of the day's walk dragging our tired and thirsty selves over the saddle above High Moor. Arriving at the High Moor campsite, we were delighted to find a reliable water source, and surprised to find a track worker's hut - dropped in there like a lost and lonely caravan-without-wheels. However, no-one was about and indeed we didn't meet anyone from Lake Oberon until Junction Creek three days later.

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

27 March 2010

Western Arthurs Jan 2003, Day 3

Lake Cygnus to Lake Oberon

You can see the track meander towards the sandy shore of Lake Cygnus. The campsite is to the right of the lowest section of track, set amongst the edge of the scrub.

From cave towards Square LakeSquare Lake is an extraordinary ... well, cirque is not the right word ... "squarque".
Surrounded by sheer walls (mainly rock) on three sides, it sports a cave up the north-western side, which is quite explorable. I took this interestingly framed pic from just inside the cave, the roof creating an artificial mountain range, the true skyline being reflected in the lake, and imitated by the near "shoreline".
The approach was filled with scratchy pandanii, which dot the lower section of this photo.

From Mt Sirius (just "upwards and right" from Square Lake), you can look eastwards and see a lot of what you need to do the next day. Here are Lake Oberon, with Mt Pegasus behind it and the ridge to Mt Capricorn and Dorado Peak behind that (but we don't go over Dorado, we continue to the right, into the misty High Moor).

Lake Oberon dusk ... er ... dawn.Lake Oberon was another particularly pretty lake. Honestly, the Western Arthurs is full of 'em. It is one of - if not the - largest lakes in the area. And they're all really cold, even in mid summer.

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

Western Arthurs Jan 2003, Day 2

Junction Creek to Lake Cygnus

Well, one good thing about climbing 600m up Moraine A in the rain and drizzle, is that you don't get as hot as you would on a sunny day. Even so, if we weren't already saturated by brushing past so much wet foliage, we'd have probably been saturated by our own perspiration. It is very strange feeling so hot when all around you is so cold. Clouds clinging to the top of the range reduced visibility to about 50m, and at times the whole party ahead of me would disappear from view.

"Ah!", thought I. "This is the Western Arthurs weather people tell you about!"
Actually I was wrong. It's not, because it wasn't a blizzard.

The creator of these steps was either an engineer or an artist. They are remarkable either way (both up and down!). Lake Cygnus was down there somewhere. We had purposefully made each day short so that there lots of time to rest, eat, avoid whiteouts, and so on. Tassy Parks and Wildlife have been working hard on the traditional campsites up the top of the Western Arthurs. There are camping platforms at Lake Cygnus, Lake Oberon, High Moor, and Haven Lake. Whilst they take the wildness out of camping, they certainly help keep the place from deteriorating. It is such a delicate alpine environment that "wild camping" is just not appropriate.

In fact, whilst walking to Lake Cygnus, you can see some fenced trial areas where they have been measuring the wear and tear of traffic on alpine meadow. And actually you can see the traffic damage all along the track wherever they haven't done trackwork. It is a real paradox. The place is being loved to death.
After the cloud cleared, we climbed back up to get a clearer view of what we'd missed in the bad weather earlier that day. The trial areas are near this view.

Mt Hesperus is a beautiful peak. Moraine A is beyond the right hand spur. The couloir on the right drops down to Lake Pluto, which is adjacent to Lake Neptune. The picture above of Helen and the Lakes in the background gives and idea of how far that gully drops.

From couloirs and long drops to boudoirs and short ones. One thing about the "developed" campsites is that they (and Junction Creek) each had these "atomic" dunnies. They are fantastic! Just unscrew the lid, turn around without looking down, do your business, and then screw the lid back on. Net time taken, about one minute with the right sort of diet! These things alone have done much to reduce the incidence of giardia and similar bugs up in the mountains, and certainly reduce the incidence of poorly buried paper all over the place (witness some of the emergency huts around Dove Lake at Cradle Mtn).

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

Western Arthurs Jan 2003


Well, having warmed up with our Frenchmans Cap walk, we next embarked on a wonderful traverse of the Western Arthur Range.

Located south of Lake Pedder, the Western Arthur Range stretches south-east then east before turning south to become the Eastern Arthur Range, with Federation Peak acting as the full stop. Whilst less than thirty kms end-to-end, the Arthur range is one of the most spectacular and memorable parts of Tasmania to walk in.
We did the traverse of the Western Arthurs from west to east (right to left as seen from this photo), ascending at Alpha Moraine and descending at Kappa Moraine, two of many (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, and Kappa) lateral moraines created during the last glacial period which scoured the area to form most of the features seen today.

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

Western Arthurs Jan 2003, Day 1

Huon Campground to Junction Creek

Junction Creek, about 8km south from Huon Campground, is a designated scrubdown area, to prevent phytophthera cinnamomi ("dieback" - a root-killing fungus) spreading into uninfected areas. So having just successfully navigated several muddy or wet pools, you have no option but to stand in the freezing stream with a scrubbing brush getting all the mud off your boots whilst they fill up with water.

The weather was undecided as to whether it was going to be fine or not, leaving the approaching range looking rather formidable in grey cloud. Shown here is Mt Hayes (behind the tree) and Capella Crags. Moraine A is rightmost, ascending off-camera to the right to Mt Hesperus.

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.