Ossa, Pelion East, Oakleigh and Pillinger: 3-5 February 2013

Pillinger on the way in

Pillinger on the way in

So I thought I’d write about another really nice, easy, but stunning little 57km walk done over yet another 2.5 day weekend (no maps again, as the track is very well marked, but email if you want directions or gps routes). This time I went in via the Arm River Track to New Pelion Hut, and was based there the two nights. I left Hobart Sunday afternoon after work, and set off walking at 4pm. After the initial climb, the walk levelled out and the 12.2km ended up only taking just over 3 hours, for which I was grateful as I was getting a bit tired. I was very glad I wasn’t walking into Pelion Gap!

Early morning glow and Pelion East

Early morning glow and Pelion East

I wasn’t tired enough to not consider an early morning start to beat the crowds of overlanders and to catch the sunrise on Ossa, so the next morning at 3.45am I set off, finding it surprisingly easy to stay on track (I’d never walked it before, so had no idea how easy it’d be to follow in the dark). I hung back a bit, not wanting to be climbing Ossa in the pitch black, but also not wanting to sit around waiting for it to get a bit lighter as it was pretty chilly. So a very easy hour and a quarter got me to Pelion Gap, where I had a bite of breakfast, and moved on as soon as I started to shiver.

Dawn colours over Pelion West

Dawn colours over Pelion West

I then took it very slowly up Ossa, at first to avoid slipping on wet rock and wood in the dark, later because I was stopping every few metres to take photos, especially when the sun really came out (I took 147 just on the way up)! It was 6.45am by the time I was sitting on the high point, thinking proudly to myself that just for once I was the tallest person in Tasmania!

Sun on rock and mist from Ossa, looking towards Pelion East

Sun on rock and mist from Ossa, looking towards Pelion East

I enjoyed the early morning sun on my face, and the surrounding mountains as I watched the low mist roll in around their flanks, but decided I’d better continue on as I had both Pelion East and Oakleigh planned for the same day. So I walked down into the mist, marvelling at how sudden the separation is between the top of the mist and clear sky, and at how all engulfing the mist is when you get down in it that it’s hard to imagine the blue sky overhead. By the time I was down and had started walking up Pelion East the mist had all but disappeared!

View from Pelion East summit

View from Pelion East summit

Pelion East was a nice easy walk, a tad disappointing for the rock monkey in me, as it gives the impression of being a nice little rock climb towards the end, but is in fact a steepish walk up a loose rocky ramp until all but the last metre or two, which is a very easy few step ups onto rock. The views of Cathedral, back to Ossa, and out towards Pelion West and the Achilles group were very nice though and I sat there and enjoyed a snack.

View from Oakleigh plateau

View from Oakleigh plateau

It was just shy of 9am by this stage, and I was making much better time than expected, but the sounds of overlanders making their way up Ossa and Pelion East spurred me into action, and I began the walk down and then back towards New Pelion Hut. Had a chat to a few people on the way back, including a Ranger who thought I was perhaps a bit unusual, and decided to eat lunch when I got back to the hut at 11am instead of lugging it up Oakleigh.

Oakleigh at dusk

Oakleigh at dusk

Realising I had all day to cruise up Oakleigh, I did just that, taking the full 4 hours of a recommended 4-5 hours (I think). Not only was I tired but it was also a tad warm. I think both those factors, and the big wow factor from seeing the sunrise on Ossa, meant I didn’t enjoy the walk up Oakleigh as much, it also required a little bit more concentration to follow the pad through the forest, as opposed to the blatantly obvious route of the overland track. That coupled with the fact that the pad on top leads you to the summit marked on the map, but not the real high point, which is some 600 metres north. Not that the walking was that difficult, or the scrub really much of a nuisance, I think I was just getting tired. The summit was also slightly less impressive, and in fact the map summit was more enjoyable, offering nicer views out towards Ossa, Pelion West and the Achilles group, as well as straight down the sheer drop off.

Mist coming down off Ossa

Mist coming down off Ossa

I was back by 3.30pm, and had a very nice relaxing afternoon and early night at the hut. The next morning was another earlyish start, on daylight, because I wanted to head up Pillinger on the way home, but still be back by early afternoon. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t quite as nice at the day before, but the pad proved easier to find than expected (the start marked nicely with a cairn) and to follow (marked with a variety of markers throughout its length). After a climb that seems to take you away from the summit, you hook round and make one final climb, approaching the summit from the north. Unfortunately there were no views that day, but I wasn’t too upset given my luck with the day before. I headed back down, found the pad back to the track, and was surprised to feel like the walk out was much shorter and faster than the walk in!

It was another beautiful walk, with tempting views particularly of Pelion West, the Achilles group, and Cathedral – all must dos :).

All up: 57km, 7906m ascent.

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3 thoughts on “Ossa, Pelion East, Oakleigh and Pillinger: 3-5 February 2013

  1. What’s the scoop on camping up there instead of using the hut? After searching the NP website I can’t find any details on whether that is allowed or not.

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