2013 Grampians Queen’s Birthday trip Part 2

Hi all,

This is a continuation of 2013 Grampians Queen’s Birthday trip Part 1.

Warrburra/Middleton Peak VK3/VW-006

An early start on the Sunday morning, with what was expected to be the hardest day of this trip. My plan was to head up towards Middleton Gap and access Middleton Peak from there. I would then proceed back to the gap and traverse along the Sierras through VK3/VW-001 and VW-003. The traverse would be where the hardest terrain could be expected.

I made an early start in the dark and first found that the creek crossing across Fyans Creek had not been repaired. The creek could still be crossed getting feet wet, or across a large log, and I did the latter. The walking track to Mt Rosea pulls off to the right quite quickly, but the old vehicle track continues, generally to the west.

Here’s a track log:

Sierra Range traverse from Middleton Peak to Mt Rosa

Sierra Range traverse

The current Forest Explorer map shows the track ending at a T intersection about 800m from the start. Oziexplorer maps show the track continuing to the west, so I pushed through, and this was quite easy to find, even on torchlight. The track was generally easy to follow, although because of the darkness, I lost it briefly one or two times. The absence of grass is a key indicator that one is still on the track.

The track actually continues further than what is indicated on the maps that do show it. There is also some flagging tape in the higher sections as well. It climbs almost level with Middleton Gap, and then a reasonably distinct footpad, plus flagging tape, gradually climbs from there over to the gap. This happens about the point shown on the tracklog as the path changes direction to the right towards the gap a few hundred metres away from the gap.

From the gap, the first flagging tape can be seen to the right of the gully heading off to the east, so it can be picked up if you are going the other way.

It is a reasonably straightforward access from here up to Middleton Peak. Once at the summit, I set up the trusty end fed once again and operated on 40m. My plan now for the rest of the trip was to basically work the pile until it ran out, and then head on to the next summit. This maximises my daylight time, especially with the plan of getting three summits in during the day in mostly off-track walking. It was pleasing to get a summit to summit contact with Marshall VK3MRG from here as a bonus. This is how I have to think of it, as there are other ways of operating, and even picking better summits, if I really want to maximise summit to summit contacts.

Of course, there are great views from up top. This is certainly a fringe benefit of activating these summits:

Looking west from Middleton Peak

Looking west from Middleton Peak

There are many uses for backpacks, but perhaps the designers did not have this in mind:

Rig and "shack desk" at Middleton Peak

Rig and “shack desk” at Middleton Peak

The end-fed at Middleton peak:

End-fed antenna at Middleton Peak

End-fed antenna at Middleton Peak

Gurdgaragwurd/D’Alton Peaks VK3/VW-001

It’s only a little more than twice the distance from Middleton Gap to D’Alton Peaks as Middleton Peaks. That should mean it should only take little more than twice the time, right? Fortunately in my planning, I presumed that this leg would be hard, and I was not to be disappointed.

After heading down to Middleton Gap from the peak, I started climbing to the north. There is a line of cliffs blocking direct access, but heading off to the left gives a path through. Being aware of the land is quite important in traversing the Sierras, because this happens quite a lot. I got caught in some large boulders near the first major knoll up from gap, keeping further west would help here.

After gradual progress, I eventually got up to the major rise before D’Alton itself. There is a large drop to the saddle, but then two cliff systems on the northern side, which block access to the summit. Seeing these, I resolved to head west and drop more height than just to the saddle. The cliff systems are still present down there, but there are paths through, and through slow but steady progress, I was able to get up to the top. The final few hundred metres to the summit was easy going.

I set up the end-fed and operated on 40m, while munching on bread and tuna for lunch. There were a lot of guys out doing SOTA activations at this time, I picked up seven summit to summit contacts on six other mountain tops. SOTA is certainly gaining strength.

With that, it was time to pack up and keep moving on towards Mt Rosea, seen below:

Mt Rosea from D'Alton Peaks

Mt Rosea from D’Alton Peaks

There is a large cliff system to the north of D’Alton Peaks, heading north west. My plan was to head along this, past two knolls, and then head north east towards a saddle just underneath Mt Rosea, and join the track there. Before the first knoll, I saw that the cliff system had backed off a little, and there might be a way through. There was a drop of about 2.5m. I was able to slide down this, but it could be difficult getting up here. Nonetheless, it shaved a few hundred metres off the trip, and the forest underneath the cliff line was much nicer. It made for faster progress to the saddle, where I joined the Mt Rosea track up to the summit.

The tracklog died a few hundred metres short. I had been using the default battery in the Samsung Galaxy S2 phone the previous day. It was able to last the whole day, with a little bit of solar panel recharging. I was using some clone batteries for today, and I brought two of them. The first flattened out about now, as expected. It might have the same labelled capacity, but it really only has about 60% of the juice. The second might be faulty. It gave very little life. This meant no more phone for photos or GPS. I think I might just cut to the chase and always use the 3500mAh beasts (with replacement backs that stick out so the phone is not so slimline any more) that I got for the phone a while back. I’ve used them on other trips and they work well. I had brought them on the overall trip, but for now, they were still in the car.

I got to the summit and set up the end-fed and worked the pile about 4pm. It takes about 15 minutes or so to get through the pile each time.

After that, I packed up and decided to head north, hoping to get in Sundial Peak VK3/VW-009. The track that way is much longer than marked on the maps as the alignment has been changed. It drops off the western side of the ridge and loops around, rather than going up the eastern side like marked on all the maps that I have seen. Also, the track that heads up to Sundial Peak from the Mt Rosea carpark is currently closed, presumably along with the track that goes down to Siverband Falls. The falls carpark lower down has also been moved as a result of the large rain event a few years ago. So I missed one of my planned activations, but I had already activated Sundial Peak VK3/VW-009 accessed from Sundial carpark the previous year.

So, it was a long 2 hour walk back to the car to have dinner and rest for the next day.

This is continued in 2013 Grampians Queen’s Birthday trip Part 3.

73, Regards, Wayne VK3WAM

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One comment on “2013 Grampians Queen’s Birthday trip Part 2

  1. vk3hra says:

    You make it sound so easy. Activating three summits is a great acheivment. Walking along the ridge must have been a real buzz. Well done !

    Allen

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