DAY WALK TO MT ANNE©
To drive to the Condominium Creek Car Park on Saturday afternoon (25/7/98), camp there overnight, then walk to Mt Anne and return on Sunday 26/7/98.
Bearing in mind that I had the car overnight Saturday I didn’t need to be too careful in restricting sleeping gear, dinner and spare clothes. However, the only “luxuries” were a fold-up chair for dinner and two cushions for pillows.
I left Lauderdale at 1.30pm on Saturday and had an uneventful drive to Condominium Creek, listening to football on the radio. On the Gordon River Road one car passed me going in the same direction, otherwise nothing. When I reached the car park I found that the car that had passed me was already at the car park. The driver (male) was changing into walking gear. We said hello and I asked where he was headed for. He said he was going up to the Hut (High Camp Memorial Hut) that afternoon then to Mt Anne on Sunday. He had a large pack obviously with a sleeping bag and mat (at least). I asked him if he had been up to Mt Anne before and he said that he had.
I told him what my intentions were.
As it was now about 3.45pm in the middle of Winter I was keen to get the tent set up so didn’t spend much time talking.
I found a sheltered spot on a small knoll amongst some tall shrubs and set up the tent. As I was doing this he (maybe Winnie - the last name in the registration book when I looked later) passed me and wished me good luck. I said to take care and I’d see him up there.
I had parked the car as close as I could, about 20m from the tent, next to the bushes in the car park. With the tent set up and sleeping gear organised, about 4.30pm, I started to think about dinner. The air was cool but no wind to speak of, not sunny but quite pleasant really. The only sound was the gurgling of the creek a few metres away.
I went along the track a bit to the registration shelter and had a look at the latest entries. Not many recent trips to Mt Anne I thought! That’s when I saw the last reference to “Winnie”.
I walked along another track to the toilet and checked it out. Not too bad really. Not as foul and evil-smelling as some on the early parts of the Overland Track.
I decided to cook dinner at the creek so found the flattest rock I could, about knee high and set up the cooker. First made a cup of tea then cooked up the Continental Spicy Tomato and Pasta meal. Trangia cooker worked beautifully, but was just a bit too fierce so had to hold the pan about 20 cm above the flame so that it simmered properly. I’ll have to use the flame controller lid in future maybe. Anyway, the meal was delicious and the fold-up chair made it all very comfortable. Finished off with one of the Milo desserts.
By the time I had cleared everything away it was getting dark (maybe 5.45pm) so I decided to get a good night sleep because of the big day on Sunday. It was too cloudy to see any stars, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Got changed into bathers and thermal top and into the sleeping bag to read a newspaper article about the Abt Railway by small torch-light.
At about 6.30pm I turned off the torch to get to sleep. My watch hour signal seemed louder than normal. I woke at 9-something and found I needed the balaclava as my neck/head were beginning to feel the cold. Apart from that I had a very peaceful night. The sleeping mat is excellent. I expected to hear bush animals but they either respected my need for sleep or just weren’t around that night.
The watch alarm went off at 5.00am - this was the signal for me to get going!
A slow start with me getting dressed in the close confines of the tent. Clothes worn were: thermal underpants, 2 x thermal tops, 2 x pairs of thermal longjohns, nylon shorts, two pairs of socks, thin and thick, bush shirt, boots, gaiters, balaclava, cap, thermal gloves. When I got outside the sky was clear with stars everywhere. It was very cold but no frost that I could see. I thought the clear sky was a good sign.
I packed the tent and other gear untidily away in the car, hidden as well as I could, and had a couple of mouthfuls of milk. I didn’t feel like eating anything or even boiling water for a cup of tea.
While at home I had tied an orange nylon rope to the back of the pack as the notes I had read indicated that “some parties may find a rope useful as a safety line high on Mt Anne”. As I packed the backpack (see list at end) I wondered what I was going to do with this rope by myself. When no answer came I untied it and left it in the car. I put all the things I wasn’t taking on the walk into the spare backpack for storage during the day.
At about 6.10am I was ready to go. I filled in the trip details at the registration shelter (not easy because I had packed my glasses) and set off.
As I walked along the boards I quickly noticed the frost under foot and this immediately slowed me down. The head torch gave a good light even on the low beam. Orion the Hunter was directly in my line of sight and seemed to be guiding me towards the immense black bulk of Mt Eliza and the hills in front of it (and me).
I soon reached the upward trail and deliberately made sure I walked slowly upward, ignoring the feeling of wanting to hurry now that I was at last making progress towards the top.
By 7.15am the sky was lightening so I was able to turn off the torch and allow my eyes to become accustomed to the gloom. I glanced back from time to time and saw only darkness – not a solitary light from any source.
At 7.45am I reached the Hut and put the torch away, put on my jacket and the waterproof gloves (over the thermal gloves). From past experience when thermal gloves get wet from clambering over wet rocks they don’t keep my hands warm. As I was doing this I heard a movement from inside the Hut and “Winnie” came out to get water in his billy. We said hello – neither of us immediately recognised that we had spoken the previous afternoon until we realised that we had already met. We both looked different from the day before.
I didn’t go into the Hut but decided to eat one of the Ryvitas. Because I had spread the cheese on Saturday the crispbread felt and tasted like damp cold cardboard. I ate it anyway. I also had another drink of water and ate the banana. While I was standing round Winnie came out of the Hut again and said his choofer took a long time to get going and that I shouldn’t wait for him. I said that I would head on up. I also said that I was a bit nervous about the final climb on Mt Anne with snow and ice. He said that if the first ledge has ice on it, forget the climb. Those words stayed with me. I said I would see him up there, and headed off.
The climb up from the Hut to Mt Eliza trig point was uneventful, if steep, and passed without any problems. Mt Anne looked reasonably clear although there was some snow (and maybe ice as well) on the peak itself.
The Eliza Plateau is exposed. High winds greeted me straight away and I was glad I was fully covered in several layers (except my eyes, nose and mouth). The cairns across the plateau were easy to follow and went across occasional snow patches. I followed the footsteps of an earlier walker. Sometimes, however, the ice crust on the snow gave way and I went down to the knees. At other times by actually stepping in the footprints where there was water at the bottom of the hole I quickly got wet, cold feet.
The notes I took (but thought I didn’t need to use them) mention a track off to Shelf Camp. I suppose because I was concentrating on watching Mt Anne I didn’t see the turn off. But then, I wasn’t looking for it either.
The boulder field was reasonably OK but looking for the next cairn was a bit like “Where’s Wally?” The rocks were all a uniform speckled brown/orange lichen colour – so were the cairns, obviously.
Now and again I looked back, sure that Winnie would have caught up with me. I did not see him and wondered if he had changed his mind, maybe knowing more about Mt Anne than I did.
At the final hill (unnamed) before Mt Anne I was becoming a bit concerned about the fog/low cloud/mist. It was swirling up vertically from a deep gully to the east of Mt Anne and sweeping ominously across the peak itself. In a matter of a few minutes the entire summit was obliterated. I got a photo just before the southern face disappeared entirely and took another looking across, east to Lots Wife. The whole scene had an ethereal, dramatic look about it, clothed as it was in swirling mist. I decided there was no way I was going to attempt to climb Mt Anne that day!
I thought that even if I scrambled up the southern scree slope I might be sucked in to thinking I could do it after all. This would have probably been a big mistake. The way I rationalised it there and then was that Mt Anne would still be there in a few weeks or months but if I was stupid I wouldn’t be. Anyway, I turned round and retraced my and the other person’s tracks until I came to an open track leading to the boulder field. I followed the track but just as it stopped at the boulders I realised there were no cairns to be seen. I stood still and searched for a cairn. Then I realised I must be off my route because there were always cairns on the way in. So I retraced my steps (200m – 300m) to the last cairn and found I had taken a lower level fork to the right of my intended track. I told myself I was a stupid bastard and promised to be more careful in future.
All this time a high wind had been pushing me forward (thankfully).
Back on top of Eliza Plateau I noticed that the top of Mt Anne was still completely covered with fog but I could see the trig point of Mt Eliza in clear sky ahead. I thought what a good decision it had been to abandon the Mt Anne attempt. Relatively easy walk back to Mt Eliza. I saw two parrots (eastern rosellas presumably) and wondered why they were up there. They squawked because I had invaded their territory and flew off.
When I reached the summit I remembered the notes saying “Head on 240o Magnetic to make sure you get on the correct ridge and downward route. I didn’t get the compass out because I saw large cairns and followed them. Wrong route!
Eventually got down to the Hut (which was visible for much of the time anyway) after rock hopping on worse-than-normal-lichen-covered rocks) and a bit of bush-bashing. I eventually came out on the correct track 50m or so from the Hut.
The Hut was unoccupied. I relaxed for about 15 – 20 minutes, eating my second Ryvita and cheese and a Mars bar, plus plenty of water to drink.
I unpacked my camera as I wanted to get a few more shots of Mt Anne/Mt Eliza on the way down. No improvement in visibility around Mt Anne. Deliberately made a point of taking small steps and even when I could go down the steps with one foot on each I took two on each step.
Time was now about 1.45pm so I took my time and enjoyed the pleasant slow descent. I "discovered" an apple in my backpack and thought it the best I had ever tasted.
At the registration shelter I signed off in the book and noted that I had been beaten by Mt Anne. One column I left blank as I could not read it without my glasses. Too bad.
On arriving back at the car at about 3.40pm I was relieved to see the car still there, intact. No other cars in the car park so presumably Winnie had decided to give Mt Anne a miss this time. Slowly changed all my clothes for the dry normal things and found to my surprise a Milo dessert that I had forgotten about. Needless to say it didn’t last long.
Had a last look around and thought I’ll be back and have another shot at this sometime. Uneventful trip back home but took care due to being a bit tired.
EQUIPMENT AND OTHER GEAR TAKEN ON MT ANNE TRIP
Macpac daypack (Rockateer)
First aid kit
GPS & instruction book
1:25,000 Anne map
Typed notes about the walk from “100 Walks in Tasmania”
Flat plastic box with 2 x Mars bars, 2 x 2 Ryvita with Cream Cheese triangles spread
Plastic box with camera, spare film, camera batteries, 4 x used AA lithium and 4 x new AA alkaline batteries and camera booklet
Rescue space blanket
1 x spare filled 1 litre water bottle
1 x filled 1 litre water bottle clipped outside pack
1 x bag of mixed nuts and raisins etc
1 x pack of Trail Mix
1 pair of waterproof trousers
1 x toilet trowel
1 20m length of thin rope for pack-hauling (not taken on walk)
2 x small plastic bags with Swiss Army knife, pencil, pen, fibre tip marker, notebook, mirror, compass, Stingoes ointment, spare bulbs for small torch
Small plastic box with assorted strings, twine, elastic bands, matches, AA batteries, 2 candles
Small torch with 2 AA alkaline and 2 spare batteries.
Head torch with 4 AA alkaline batteries
Box with old glasses for map reading etc
Toilet rolls (nearly all gone)
Credit cards, licence and other cards
2 x pairs of thermal longjohns
2 x thermal long-sleeved tops
1 pair thin and 1 pair thick synthetic socks
CARRIED IN CAR - NOT TAKEN ON THE WALK
Matthew’s Macpac Minaret tent
Spare small backpack
2 x cushions as pillows
Blue plastic groundsheet
Bottle of methylated spirits
Water for use on Saturday evening
Teabags, Coffee, Margarine
Knife, spoon, wooden spoon and stirrer
300ml bottle of milk
2 x Milo dessert tubs
Orange nylon “anchor” rope
Spare dry clothes worn on Saturday, bathers
3 x bushwalking books
Newspaper article on the Abt Railway