It’s again time to climb Mt Barney. Two years since our last climb and two and half years since Peta’s passing.
There would be six of us and our guide climbing this year. Just like last year we would be ascending via the south east ridge and descending via the south ridge. Once the date was confirmed the training started in earnest. Well for some anyway.
I planned to be better prepared than the last climb. Knowing what I was up against and the prospect of being sore after the climb motivated me the push hard with the training. I was doing well until getting the usual winter bug associated with having a child in day care. Four weeks before the climb I was on antibiotics with a bad throat infection. Not the best lead up to the climb. On the day of the climb I still wasn’t one hundred percent heathy.
I wasn’t the only sick one. Nearly the entire group had either a cough, snots or sore throat. However there was one other problem that was totally out of our control, and could stop the climb. The national park being closed due to bush fires. We were in the hands of the weather gods and the national park rangers.
Alec and I were lucky enough to have the week off before the climb and spent the time camping at the lodge. We were joined by good friends Mick and Ange and there two children. During the week we were constantly keeping a eye on the weather and checking with the office for any news. Alternant plans were discussed as well.
The day before the climb we got the official go ahead. The park had re-opened.
Just like the first climb. We started before sun rise. But unlike last time we woke to a cold and windy morning. The wind felt like it was blowing straight through you. Extra layers of clothes were added as everyone ate breakfast and prepared for the climb.
We left camp in the dark. As we walked across the creek in front of the lodge we all picked up a stone. As the sun slowly rose we walked the three kilometers to the base of the mountain. A good warm up for a chilly morning.
A quick stop for a breather and a drink before we started the walk up. As we walked the sun shined though the trees. The heart beat of everyone started to increase and the muscles in our legs started to complain. We followed our guide through lightly wooded forest. The terrain changing as we continued pushing skyward. From traditional bush walking track to the light rock scrambling. We made good time. Even if there were the constant coughs and nose blowing from the group. Argh the peace and tranquility of the Aussie bush.
The wind did not subside and in the more exposed parts of the climb the wind seem like it was doing it best to blow us off the mountain. We made it to our morning tea stop and everyone huddled behind rocks to gain shelter from the wind. I wasn’t feeling the best. I started to feel light headed and had a lack of energy. I put it down to lack of fitness at the time. After a sit down and a bite to eat I was feeling better than ever. Still not sure what it was all about.
After our break we starting to get to the real exposed and rock scrambling section of the climb. The first time we climbed Mt Barney we were in cloud for most of it. This time we were treated to a clear sky and absolutely amazing views. We could also see the sheer drops on either side of us as we continued the climb up. At one point during the climb Innes our guide showed us another rocky ridge. He told us that this is another way up. Logan’s ridge. I think we might try that way next time.
As we got higher we had some drama in the group. One of our members started to feel sick and very weak. They were having a lot of trouble. At one point emptying there stomach contents in the bush next to the track. This slowed the group down and we were all worried as we weren’t even at the top and to far up to turn around. There was no choice but to push on. Even if it was slowly.
We were about 10 mins from the top when we notice the wind had disappeared. At first we thought it was getting blocked by the mountain as we swung around the side of it. This turn out not to be the case. We reached the top to absolutely gorgeous day with no wind and a amazing view.
In memory of Peta we stopped and added the stones we brought with us to the spot where we last made the cairn on the previous climb. Unfortunately the last one had been destroyed. Which is saddening, but it is the thought that counts. Maybe this one will stay a little longer.
We had some lunch and of course a cup of tea with Peta. With such a gorgeous day to be on top of the mountain. I am sure I wasn’t the only one thinking Peta must of had a hand in this. I would of been happy to stay up there all afternoon and admire the view. However our fearless leader and chief motivator had other plans.
We started to make our way down. It was going to be a steady walk down the mountain. Our sick companion didn’t improve during lunch and the going was slow. At least we had some amazing views to look at. The first part of the decent we had to navigate our way down sloping smooth slabs of rock. Innes suggested we trust the grip of our shoes. Not a easy thing to do when the result of your grip slipping meant a painful crash down the rock.
Once down the sloping rocks we were treated to a rest stop. Our patient using the time to muster as much energy as possible to tackle the rest of the walk.
After our break the terrain changed as we started to swing around the mountain. The track turning in more of a traditional bush walking track. There were some rocky sections which required sliding down on our bums. But generally it was a pleasant walk. Even if our legs were tired from stepping down constantly. A different kind of soreness than the climb up.
The going was slow. But once again just like the last climb it gave us plenty of time to talk, laugh and enjoy the views.
Bit by bit we descended the mountain. The sun was also descended. Light fading as we got to the base of the Mountain. The last couple of kilometers required everyone to use their head touchers. Close to 12 hours since we left camp and walking 16.70kms, we were finally back at camp. Another epic adventure completed.
As for our sick member of the party. I got word that on the Tuesday morning after the climb they were in hospital with a infected Gall Bladder. Surgery was perform a couple of days later.
What a beautiful read Peter, I’m so glad you could do the climb
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Wonderful writing of a wonderful story. Peta would be so proud
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