The first sectionIt was a fine to cloudy morning when I awoke with an ambition to climb once again Queenslands highest mountain, this was relieving as I had been planning it for a couple of days and didnt want to wake dreading my decision lol. This was my 3rd time up the mountain only this time camping overnight at the top by myself. At 1622m above sea level its not normally recommended as a day hike but can be done however I wasn't wanting a full 10-12 hrs exertion in one day so I packed all my best gear including luxe habitat tent, 5 litres of water and my lightweight down sleeping bag. All up with food, clothing ect my pack weighed around 20kg and I set off for the 50 minute drive to the base at around 9am.
The Summit is 7.5km away and each km is marked with a bright orange markers bolted or glued to the frequent large granite rocks. The first 3.5km was relatively flat with about a 300m altitude gain (~1000ft). This only took an hour and It was pleasantly surprised by the small amount of leeches on the trail. If this was summer it would be a far different story and in fact my first venture up this beautiful mountain was in the monsoon and I and my climbing buddy must have been bitten into over 100 times. This time the weather was fine and cool at around 20C
After crossing a number of clear freshwater streams I arrived at a place called big rock camp. Not much of a place to camp or write home about but it does serve as a place to fill up your water bottles and take a breather for what is about to come. Big rock is also the trailhead for the Broken nose summit climb which is a slightly shorter but still a grueling hike.
The Middle SectionOnce you cross Majuba creek at Big rock camp the next 2km offer a very steep gradient along a ridge of a huge valley with the sound of flowing water and birds evident for the next hour or 2, this is at least a pleasant thing to occupy your mind when your slugging your guts out up the trail.
After some steep elevation gains there is a 30m scramble up what seems like a 70 degree slope however this section I made somewhat safer by grabbing a hold of the various roots and saplings on either side of the steep narrow rut in what is almost a cliff.
After another 3 hours of climbing the rain drizzled a little but at no stage did I really get wet. It got a great deal colder when I made my way through in the cloudy haze covering dense forest close to where I remembered the emergency hut and helipad to be. By this time I has massaged the leg cramps away and there was no rain. There were a few steep rock ledges to scramble over before I finally reached the emergency helipad. It was near here, the 7k mark, that I called it a day with about 300m altitude and 500m of distance left to dash across the large granite boulders which speckled their way up the summit pyramid amongst frail white clouds being whipped in by the wind. I couldnt help but feel like I was slacking off by setting up camp but at the same time I wanted a break.
I pitched the tent In the fog and was cursing the mountain for again not providing me with a clear and sunny day to view the expanses below. Was I third time unlucky? Surly not as I knew that the early morning would probably be very fine indeed. I found that I didnt drink as much of my water as expected and decided to use a bottle of water as a shower and clean myself up along with a change of clothes. I almost felt half half human again.
I crawled into the tent and dozed off for an hour and awoke to find a surreal environment outside my tent. The wind had virtually dropped off to zero and the clouds and fog had vanished all together. It was like 4 seasons in a day.
I took some amazing photos of probably the best sunset I have laid eyes on and once the sun finally went down a chilling cold breeze reminded me that I was up rather high and on my own. After the sun set the temperature dropped to single digits. I decided to crack open the pasta with bacon and cheese and some choc bars. By 8pm I was asleep in my sleeping bag on the thermarest. 8pm is an unusually early time for me to be going to sleep however I thought with such an early nod off I would be able to take some awesome photos of the sunrise over the neighboring peak bellenden kerr as an added bonus. It felt like around 5 degrees when I briefly woke during the dark early hours
Summit DaySo after a very cold night and some of the best sleep I have ever had I woke to find it 8am with the sun beaming down on me. Oh well no sunrise photos I thought as I sprung out of bed. I setted off for the summit. It was an hours boulder scrambling with an altitude gain of 300m over 500m actual distance so its rather steep. It is made easier with a series of hand rails with thick rubber hose in the middle to act as step between on the trickier sections. In fact you probably dont need to use them at all but they were quite handy. Some are in odd places though. Passed Top Easton camp I realised there were plenty of other good flat places to have pitched the tent. Passing well adapted rainforest including numerous rhotodendrons I summited before 9am and took some more photos before looking for a rock I had left years ago lol Now it was time to head down to eastern camp and the hut,pack up the tent and sort my load out which was now about 5kg lighter to my liking. I also left an unopened bottle in the hut in case the next person arrived dying of thirst :P
The descent took about 4 hrs which included a very cold and refreshing bath at Big rock cam in Majuba creek. I was relieved to find minimal leeches again (3 in totalk) and even better was the sight of my unadulterated car at the bottom. The following day my legs felt like they had been pumbled with a meat tenderiser. The day after that it felt more like they had been through a mincer and stuffed back into me. Happy days, I'll be up there again next year im sure :P