I HAVE BEEN TO THE MOUNTAIN
There was something clicking in the clothes dryer. There were only a couple of towels left, why was there a click?
I took my mind off it by reflecting on the day. The weather, for a change, was compliant. A beautiful morning encouraged me to tackle the mountain I’d come to scale. People knew it could be climbed but I couldn’t find anyone who’d actually done it and whether or not the track was clear.
The National Parks literature said it was a 2.5 hours walk, but didn’t specify whether that was return or straight to the top; they also said take a topographical map and compass, experienced bushwalkers only need apply. I felt I rated about 5 out of 10 on the latter and wanted to achieve something so I was determined to give it a go.
I initially drove in the wrong direction but worked out where the road should actually be and returned there, all the way out to the lovely picnic area beneath the mountain. I packed up my gear, put my hat on and went to check out the map, but there wasn’t one. At that very moment, a car arrived and out jumped two women.
I learned that their names were Lucinda and Karla. Lucinda had legs like sapling tree trunks and stood six foot tall; Lucinda had been up to the top before; how lucky was I, a guide!
Karla had been conned into the hike to get some exercise and have a break from the kids, who she’d clearly been advised not to bring. They agreed to show me the way and we set off, following the National Parks track for the first 300 metres until there’s a sign that basically says you’re on your own and to be careful of slippery rocks.
We pushed on; the track got steeper, the girls stopped. I still felt reasonable so I walked past them and kept going. They started again and I waited for a bit but then continued, slowly moving upwards. The track was noticeably steeper now, going was slow and arduous; this was definitely a workout but, realistically, one we’d been expecting.
I continued till I reached the rock face, here it got tricky and I waited, and waited. Apparently I’d left the girls some way behind so I started checking the rock face for a lead after I’d had a drink and a rest. I couldn’t find one so waited until they eventually arrived. They tried a lead off to the right, I had gone to the left and they eventually came to where I was.
I thought I could see a way up, but it was serious stuff, reliant on finding grip and the occasionally footholds; perhaps even a hardy plant or two to grasp; and that is what we did for the next 10 minutes, slowly grafting our way up, Karla saying she was quitting on three separate occasions but Lucinda urging her on kept us focused. Karla was afraid of heights, this wasn’t a good place to be if you were even slightly acrophobic.
We worked our way up until finally we reached the “track”; merely a small worn trail that you could make out but didn’t reassure.
Now we climbed through a series of fissures, hand over hand in places, using rock holds and stumps of vegetation to haul ourselves up. It was certainly a good workout, I’d long ago taken off my shirt and sweat trickled off my brow as the summit seemed near.
Eventually we came to a flatter region, but Lucinda knew this wasn’t the end; we had to cross to the other side of the summit to really say we’d made it. From where we were we hardly had to climb any more but there were belts of vegetation that were difficult to find a way through but we managed and then felt rejuvenated that we had made it. Karla felt redeemed and was pleased she had gone the extra, ever urged on by Lucinda, and achieved something; for this was a mountain climb that gave you a sense of achievement.
Mount Walsh had been climbed by another three people and we all felt exhilarated but were amazed when we looked across at the adjacent rocky bluff and there was a figure on it and we exchanged waves. We never did work out how they had reached the summit, it looked like only rock climbers with ropes could achieve it, but, maybe not.
Our time had come to descend and usually descents aren’t all that much quicker but this one was. Bum sliding and bouncing from rock to rock I soon left the girls far behind after Karla showed a reluctance to take any risks.
All up it was probably around 4 hours, bearing in mind we’d spent at least half an hour at the top, and you couldn’t help but feel like you’d done something worthwhile on the day.
The clicking continued; I opened the dryer and found a Wurther’s original, now quite warm and runny on the outside but I peeled off the wrapper and dumped the barley sugar into my mouth, devouring the taste and recalling how the caretaker lady had told me about a cyclist whose wife had died so he jumped on a pushbike, packed his panniers and simply rode off into the sunset. He’d been doing it for six years, all over Australia, living the simple life, sometimes in caravan parks, sometimes out in the bush; an existence as basic as can be. He was over 70. That put the Mount Walsh climb into a different perspective.
- Getting closer
- Mount Walsh 022 (640x430).jpg (301.92 KiB) Viewed 6729 times
- Lucinda climbing
- Mount Walsh 044 - Lucinda climbing.jpg (296.41 KiB) Viewed 6729 times
- View across the plateau
- Mount Walsh 061 (640x406).jpg (292.57 KiB) Viewed 6729 times
- Made it - 66 and still going strong!
- Mount Walsh 049 (430x640).jpg (216.39 KiB) Viewed 6729 times
- Karla descending
- Mount Walsh 080 - Karla Descending.jpg (248.55 KiB) Viewed 6729 times