Just like the unpredictable weather in the high country my impulsive nature lead me to Charlottes Pass early one morning in March. Covered by a blanket of cloud I stood idle as the cool autumn air steamed through my lungs. Today was about exploring some key ski routes and preparing oneself for winter adventure. Exploring the Alps on foot at anytime of the year is as challenging as it is rewarding. Running, tramping, climbing, rappelling, walking, split-boarding and breathing are some of my favorite pursuits on the Western Faces. It is here that the rolling hills give way to a series of impressive peaks that fade away to the valley’s below. Up here there is a real silence that resonates in your soul. Your senses take over as you commit yourself to the wilds of the mountains.
The adventure begins.
Starting at Charlottes Pass I was keen to make an entry in the diary at Seaman’s Hut. This grand old establishment provides a secure shelter for alpinists in times of severe weather and is a great monument in an otherwise natural world.
Keen to claim my first true summit of all 11 of the world’s highest mountains (LOL), Mt Kosciusko provided an easy launch pad to this worldly endeavor. On reaching the summit my world was blanketed in cloud. The ceiling was around 1900 meters and winds were gusting at 40 knots. After nearly being blown off the trig i scrambled down and headed to Townsend to find some suitable rock walls for rappelling on good advice (Damien Gildea). A quick scramble up to Townsend trig and onto Alice Rawson Peak. I found myself looking directly into my winter objective “Watsons Crags”. Despite what our neighboring Victorians might say. Watson Crags is by far arguably the most impressive mountain face in Australia. It is here were my interest lies. The south face provides world class steeps and exposure that provide one of the most exciting ski descent’s on offer in Australia. Its appeal is even more enhanced by its location, as to access its chutes one must be prepared both physically and mentally to endure a lengthy stay. It is here that a person’s character is chiseled. Determination, endurance and perseverance rule out here.
After contouring a little I found some great rock walls. After setting up quick anchors (70% sure) down i went. Two rappels and a whole lot of fun i then swiftly descended into Lake Albina, across the head wall and up the spur flanking little Austria. Summiting Carruthers Peak I made a quick detour to pay my respect to another great peak “Mt Sentinel”. Like all good relationships in life I have developed a close friendship with this peak. We have had our fair share of ups and downs! Over the years but we remain the best of friends and I always take the time to say hello. At a less commanding height of 1900 meters the Sentinel stands tall in the shadows of its siblings. The gateway to the Sentinel is via a short but rugged razor back ridge which provides an exciting route that provides you with a real feeling of scale and isolation.
Moving on now, I found my way across to Tension Knoll and onto Watsons Crags. Standing tall I was finally able to look down into its long and narrow gullies and dream about a long and plentiful winter filled with physical challenges played out on a blanket of white. After assessing some great ski routes i shifted focus on Mt Twynem, my stomach and the run home. It is worth noting at this point my legs began to argue with me! After telling them repeatedly to “SHUT UP” I made a quick trip to the Mt Twynam then passing under Little Twynem and down into Blue Lake. Across the lake (some great rock climbing to be had here) and back into Charlottes Pass.
All in all a great afternoon had. Supplies and kit were: One 30 litre bag, climbing gear, Phone, GPS, camera, E-Purb, One ham and cheese snaga, two bananas, 4 muesli bars and a bottle of water. Stats for the day were, 35 km covered in 8 hours with 2000 meters vertical climbed and descended (http://www.movescount.com/moves/move27563297#.UyNev3nis_s.facebook). Two rappels and countless rock scrambles made for a great day spent sauntering in the mountains.