At the start of last week I thought I’d be climbing Mount Mueller on Saturday with the Hobart Walking Club, as I hadn’t done it and it would save me organising the key. But on Thursday, part way through my work week, I received an unexpected and very exciting message.. was I interested in having a crack at Mount Ida, with a boat ride over? Hell yes!!!
After checking that I would actually be able to make it (I had to work the Saturday morning, but could shift my hours so that I started at 10.30pm Friday night and finished at 6.30am), I started to get VERY excited. The weather was looking great, and this was a mountain I’d thought I wouldn’t get to climb for quite a few years due to not having my own kayak, or boat for that matter. Yet it’s a mountain that stands out every time you visit Lake St Clair, and it’s a real mountain, one that stands proud and high and gets my blood racing with the desire to test myself against its defences. And it was no disappointment!!
The 4 of us set off at 7, were in the boat by 10, and on the shore below Ida and ready to start walking at 10:50. We followed the Abels description, heading off through open forest up the obvious ridge, occasionally skirting round some impressive sized rocks. Though the first 500m was flat, we were then straight into the climb, still in open forest. Over 1.5km we climbed steadily from 760m to 1140m, and found ourselves standing under 100m cliffs, an illusive 60m away from the high point!
We’d been going just over an hour with a few breaks, and we knew the main leg work was done. We now had the fun sidling and scrambling to come, however this last bit was to take us just as long as the walk up. The sidling was probably the scrubbiest bit of the trip, but nothing major, just annoying to pull up through. The described gully was easy to identify, and we headed up, with one little rock scramble as a taster to make it to the ridge. You could sense the summit was near, but we were actually no closer, and still had a bit of work to do. Interpreting the Abels’ “drop over the other side a little and head left” took a bit of work, but we found the path to take, lamenting a lack of cairns that would have made things a lot easier (we did erect the occasional one).
So we sidled around taking a few educated guesses as to where we should be going. I scouted ahead, checking out a possible route, calling out when I spotted a rare cairn, but continuing up to make sure it was good.. Then came the scrambling over the kind of rocks I love, enough of a challenge to paste a big smile on my face and drive away any tiredness from having worked all night. There was no restraining the anticipation now, and once I made the ridge line again I bounced across, enjoying that moment when you first make a summit and take everything in. All alone in the world, and what a beautiful world it was..
I couldn’t savour it long though, as I had to head back down and let the others know it was definitely a way up. So I scrambled back across, slightly slower and with more care (funny how sensibility kicks in once you’ve reached the top), and started to head down, stopping when I heard voices. I hadn’t been sure they’d heard my cairn call, but they must have because they’d come a fair way, with just the last scramble up onto the ridge line and then the walk along it to do.
15 minutes later and just short of 2.5 hours walking, at 2:15, we were all enjoying the top, a fitting reward for the effort to get there. The clouds above Mt Olympus were particularly spectacular. I can’t have imagined a better day for it.
In fact, we all saw the sense in not attempting Ida in weather other than perfect. Route finding across the last bit (from the top of the gully to the summit) would have been interesting and rather a bit of trial and error in whiteout (hopefully slightly easier now), especially without a GPS route, and any moisture would make the climbing difficult, if not dangerous. Definitely not worth attempting in snow or ice. Oh, but in fair weather… :D!!!
This one will go down as a favourite, first and foremost because it fulfilled my desire for a challenge over rocks, the climb being as good as it looked. It did also have all the other necessary elements: the spectacular views from the top, beautiful weather, good company, and the added bonus of a boat ride (my bum can still feel it two days later though)!
All up, just shy of 5 hours, 5.3km, 570m ascent. Back to my car 12 hours after having started, ready for a good night’s sleep and another walk to go on when I woke!! Ah, what a spoilt life I live.. pity this is the only way I know how to share just a bit of it..