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Celebrating Mountains - Hartz Peak

The Goal - Hartz Peak 1455 m. It didn't look too difficult a climb when we were here a couple of weeks ago.

I may have been late for Environment Week, but I am way ahead for International Mountain Day on December 11. Though I didn't make it right to the very top and can't yet claim peak bagging rights, we did have a lovely day and I should at least be awarded an “E” for effort.

This is my real reward

The weather was superb. Those incipient waratahs we saw a couple of weeks ago were now in spectacular bloom and we found ourselves walking between fields of wildflowers. The landscape itself is remarkable.  Hartz Peak is the highest in the region and its craggy cliffs rise up over mountain tarns and look out over row upon row of mountains. To the West you can see Federation Peak directly opposite and other famous peaks such as Precipitous Bluff, the Eastern Arthurs, Mt Weld and Mt. Snowy, as well as being able to look into the South West Wilderness. To the North East there are glimpses of settlements bordered by farmland while to the South East the Huon River snakes its way to the sea.

Waratah lit up the bush like Christmas trees

... and we passed through valleys of wildflowers.
Ladies Tarn

Cushion plants

Lake Hartz is a proper ice - carved cirque, hence its smooth rounded edges

Mountains to the North
Mountains to the West and a glimpse into the forested valleys of the South West Wilderness
Those boulders didn't look as big from below

As I was admiring these views from the saddle just below the summit, a few wispy clouds began to drift across. Not a problem I thought. A few clouds had come and gone throughout the day. Bad weather usually came from the West - courtesy of the Roaring Forties, but the sky was as clear as a bell in that direction. Then we started on the short sharp climb to the top. This requires much rock hopping and scrambling over large boulders.

These are the rocks you have to climb over
 My friend being so much fitter and long of limb reached it well before I did. “Don’t bother, “he called back when he reached the top. “You can’t see a thing from here.”  The cloud had become quite thick and was now engulfing the summit. As the sky grew darker and the wind became stronger he was most anxious for us to be heading down. Such is the fickle nature of Tasmanian mountains. They go from delightful to treacherous in a few moments.

How quickly things change
I hate to admit it, but I wasn’t overly sorry at having to turn back so close to the top.  My legs already felt like jelly each time I launched myself up and over another rock. On the pretext of studying the lichen I had a few rest stops on the way down but was quite relieved when we finally reached the duckboards which started near Ladies Tarn.  Looks like one for another day. You could say I am a mountain appreciator - a visual peak bagger, if not much of a mountain climber.

For fast facts, the science of mountains or more about the International Day of the Mountain, take a look at some of the clips below: