Saturday, November 8, 2014

Etheridge Ridge & Kosciuszko & Rams Head peaks, NSW, Australia


2014 November: One day climb of:
  - Unnamed peak in Etheridge Ridge
  - Mt Kosciuszko
  - North Rams Head
  - Rams Head
  - South Rams Head
in NSW, Australia

Prolog - 27 highest peaks in Australia - called A2K Peaks
Australia doesn't have high mountains. Nonetheless there are many ways to challenge ourselves ... like climbing the x-number of highest peaks in y-number of days.

In a private communication with Simon Bignold, he showed me this list he compiled of the 27 highest peaks in Australia that are above 2000 meters - called A2K peaks. (Data from 1:50,000 scaled Kosciuszko Alpine Area map, 1st edition, by Spatial Vision Innovations Pty Ltd)

Rank Name               Elev  Easting Northing
   1 Mt Kosciuszko     2228 m 613205  5964733
   2 Mt Townsend       2209 m 612840  5968410
   3 Mt Twynam         2196 m 617925  5971630
   4 Rams Head         2193 m 612825  5960825
   5 Etheridge Ridge   2180 m 614050  5964450

   6 North Rams Head   2177 m 613790  5961810
   7 Alice Rawson Peak 2167 m 613280  5969210
   8 Byatts Camp       2159 m 611830  5967680
   9 Abbott Peak       2145 m 612295  5967800
  10 Carruthers Peak   2142 m 615750  5969800

  11 Mt Dubious        2136 m 616650  5971910
  12 Mt Northcote      2131 m 614670  5967650
  13 Muellers Peak     2125 m 613810  5967325
  14 Little Twynam     2120 m 618500  5971140
  15 Mt Lee            2105 m 615280  5968825

  16 Mt Clarke         2100 m 615475  5967280
  17 Rams Head Range   2077 m 618220  5964470
  18 Mt Tate           2068 m 621475  5976000
  19 Gungartan         2068 m 625850  5983580
  20 Mt Jagungal       2061 m 624840  5998725

  21 Mt Perisher       2054 m 624330  5969780
  22 Mt Stilwell       2054 m 618730  5965900
  23 South Rams Head   2052 m 611675  5958790
  24 Kerries Ridge     2040 m 626250  5985190
  25 Watsons Crags     2023 m 616150  5973325

  26 Back Perisher Mtn 2014 m 624760  5970840
  27 Mt Anton          2010 m 619190  5972750


( In 2013, Simon completed climbing the highest peaks in every State/Territory in Australia. I met him that year when climbing Mt Woodroffe in SA ... refer to my blog http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/woodroffe-sa-australia.html )

Simon intends to climb the 27 peaks in a 5-day backpacking trip in 2015. This sets me thinking ... maybe I can do it too ... not the physically challenging way set by Simon, perhaps just leisurely weekend day-trips over many many months.

Today's climb: Unnamed peak in Etheridge Ridge + Kosciuszko + 3 Rams Head peaks

Adam & Daniel from Canberra/Queanbeyan region also have the same idea as mine to climb all these 27 A2K peaks. So today, we team up together to climb:

Rank Name               Elev  Easting Northing
   1 Mt Kosciuszko     2228 m 613205  5964733
   4 Rams Head         2193 m 612825  5960825
   5 Etheridge Ridge   2180 m 614050  5964450
   6 North Rams Head   2177 m 613790  5961810
  23 South Rams Head   2052 m 611675  5958790


Other A2K climbing trips

2015 March with Adam, Daniel & Saf
Rank Name               Elev  Easting Northing
  19 Gungartan         2068 m 625850  5983580
  24 Kerries Ridge     2040 m 626250  5985190

Photos and write up of this climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/gungartan-kerries-ridge-nsw-australia.html

2014 December with Adam & Daniel
Rank Name               Elev  Easting Northing Comment
   1 Mt Kosciuszko     2228 m 613205  5964733
   2 Mt Townsend       2209 m 612840  5968410  Abbott Range
   7 Alice Rawson Peak 2167 m 613280  5969210  Abbott Range
   8 Byatts Camp       2159 m 611830  5967680  Abbott Range
   9 Abbott Peak       2145 m 612295  5967800  Abbott Range

  10 Carruthers Peak   2142 m 615750  5969800
  12 Mt Northcote      2131 m 614670  5967650
     wrong Byatts Camp 2110 m 611650  5967150  Abbott Range
  15 Mt Lee            2105 m 615280  5968825
  16 Mt Clarke         2100 m 615475  5967280

Photos and write up of this climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2014/12/lee-northcote-clarke-abbott-range.html

2014 April with David
Rank Name               Elev  Easting Northing
   1 Mt Kosciuszko     2228 m 613205  5964733
   2 Mt Townsend       2209 m 612840  5968410
   3 Mt Twynam         2196 m 617925  5971630
  10 Carruthers Peak   2142 m 615750  5969800
  14 Little Twynam     2120 m 618500  5971140

and incidentally bagging 3 highest peaks of Australia in one day. Photos and write up of this climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/kosciuszko-townsend-twynam-carruthers.html

2011 April with Ricky
Rank Name               Elev  Easting Northing
   1 Mt Kosciuszko     2228 m 613205  5964733
   2 Mt Townsend       2209 m 612840  5968410
  13 Muellers Peak     2125 m 613810  5967325

Photos and write up of this climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/kosciuszo-muellers-peak-townsend-nsw.html

Paper map

1:100,000 8525 Kosciuszko
1:50,000 Kosciuszko Alpine Area map, 1st edition, by Spatial Vision Innovations Pty Ltd
1:25,000 8525-2S Perisher Valley (South Rams Head is not in this map)

Interactive map

< Under construction >

Route & GPS file
- Park car at Dead Horse Gap Carpark.
- Walk on Dead Horse Gap Track.
- Then Koscisuzko Walk - the steel meshed walkway.
- At a point northeast of Lake Cootapatamba, leave steel meshed walkway and go off-track towards unnamed peak in Etheridge Ridge.
- Then to Mt Kosciuszko.
- Afterwards, retrace Koscisuzko Walk to a point northeast of North Rams Head.
- Leave track and go off-track towards North Rams Head.
- Then to an unnamed peak at south west of North Rams Head. (My Garmin GPS wrongly labelled this one as Rams Head.)
- Then to Rams Head.
- Then to South Rams Head.
- Then bushbash in a roughly south-east-east direction towards Dead Horse Gap Track (but I suggest you head southeast towards the Alpine Way instead ... see Photo #47)
- Walk on Dead Horse Gap Track to Dead Horse Gap Carpark

The corresponding GPS file can be downloaded from:
  GPX file: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSRkNMelM3RWlZd1U/view?usp=sharing

Timeline & Distance

06:48   0.0 km  Start at Dead Horse Gap carpark
08:39   5.0 km  Meet up with Kosciuszko Walk (the steel meshed walkway)
09:52   8.6 km  Leave Kosciuszko Walk, head towards unamed peak in Etheridge Ridge
10:00   9.0 km  At summit of unnamed peak in Etheridge Ridge

10:11   9.0 km  Leave summit of unnamed peak in Etheridge Ridge
10:18   9.5 km  At highest toilet in Australia

10:21   9.5 km  Leave highest toilet in Australia
10:55  11.3 km  At Kosciuszko summit

Lunch

11:23  11.4 km  Leave Kosciuszko summit
12:15  14.9 km  Leave Kosciuszko Walk (the steel meshed walkway), head to North Rams Head
12:38  16.0 km  At North Rams Head

13:08  16.1 km  Leave North Rams Head
13:53  17.2 km  At unnamed peak at south west of North Rams Head

14:00  17.2 km  Leave unnamed peak at south west of North Rams Head
14:19  18.0 km  At Rams Head

14:28  18.0 km  Leave Rams Head
15:41  20.3 km  At South Rams Head

15:55  20.3 km  Leave South Rams Head
17:18  22.4 km  Bushbash to Bogong Creek and cross it
17:26  22.6 km  Meet up with Dead Horse Gap Track and an end to bushbashing

Rest

17:41  22.6 km  Start walking
18:10  24.0 km  At Dead Horse Gap carpark

-------------

Total  24.0 km in 11 hrs 22 mins
(Above distance is from Google Earth. However my Garmin Montana GPS gives 25.3 km)

Pictures

1)  The start of the walk is at Dead Horse Gap carpark. First thing is to cross the Alpine Way, then cross this Thredbo River. There is a new foot bridge over the river now ... brings back memories when I was last here in April 2011. At the time, the only way to cross the river is by stepping on stones jutting out of the water. I slipped, and had both feet landed in the river. For the rest of the day, 10 hrs, I walked with wet shoes ... yeeek !!!



2)  This is the start of of Dead Horse Gap Track after crossing Thredbo River.



3)  Scene on the Dead Horse Gap Track ... The mountain on the left side is South Rams Head. We'll climb it this afternoon. The mountain on the right is unnamed.



4)  Today is very windy and beetles are blown around all over the mountain range. Does any one know the name of this beetle?



5)  About 2 hours later, the Dead Horse Gap Track gives way to the Kosciuszko Walk trail which, as can be seen in the photo, is a steel meshed walkway.



6)  You can see the steel meshed walkway leading towards Mt Kosciuszko (2228m) which is the dome-shaped mountain in the middle of the photo. On its right is an unnamed peak on Etheridge Ridge at 2180m. We will be climbing both these peaks soon.



7)  Zooming onto Mt Kosciuszko ... near the bottom left corner, you can see a person in red walking on the steel meshed walkway.



8)  On the way to the foothill of Mt Kosciuszko is this beautifully blue lake called Lake Cootapatamba, the highest named lake in Australia.



9)  At a point north east of Lake Cootapatamba, we leave the steel meshed walkway and go off-track towards the unnamed peak in Etheridge Ridge ... Adam is pointing at it.



10)  Getting close to it



11)  I am at the top of the unnamed peak in Etheridge Ridge 2180m, 5th highest peak in Australia.



12)  Daniel & Adam.
Mt Kosciuszko is to the left of Daniel



13)  We get off the unnamed peak which is at the centre of this photo, and are on our way to Mt Kosciuszko. Adam is checking his GPS.



14)  The summit of Mt Kosciuszko is in sight (centre of this pic).



15)  A few more steps to the summit



16)  We make it to the top of Australia - Daniel, Adam and me at 2228 meters. 2 peaks down, 3 more to go. (I must have been here more than 10 times in my life. It is still a joy to be up here again.)



17)  View from Kosciuszko summit - Mt Townsend (Australia's 2nd highest mountain) is the left red arrow. Muellers Peak is the right red arrow. Glad to see these old friends again as I've climbed both of them.



18)  View from Kosciuszko summit:
- North Rams Head is the dark coloured pyramid at the centre of the pic.
- Towards its right is the partly visible dome-shaped Rams Head (highest peak in the photo).
- The next dark coloured mountain top on the right of Rams Head is South Rams Head.
After lunch, we will be climbing all three of these mountains.



19)  Lunch is at the top of Mt Kosciuszko.  Afterwards, we retrace the steel meshed walkway to a point northeast of North Rams Head. Then go off-track towards it - centre of this pic.



20)  Getting close to North Rams Head ... although the slope on its right side seems gentler, we decide to walk towards the base on the left side instead. Paradoxically, there, we find an easy route up to the summit. On the GPS, this route is on the east side of the mountain.



21)  The top of North Rams Head, 2177m, 6th highest peak in Australia, actually consists of 3 mini-peaks - each is a stack of granite boulders. They all seem roughly of the same height. To be sure we are at the top of North Ram's Head, we climb all 3 of them ! Here is me at one of the mini-peaks.



22)  Adam & Daniel at North Rams Head summit



23)  From the summit looking back at Mt Kosciuszko which is the dome-shaped mountain, and also the highest peak in the photo. To its right, and also the 2nd highest peak in the photo is the unnamed peak in Etheridge Ridge which we climbed this morning.



24)  Getting off North Rams Head and heading towards a peak on the south west of North Rams Head. On my Garmin Montana GPS, this peak is wrongly labelled as Rams Head. The real Rams Head is directly behind it and not visible in this pic.



25)  Getting close to the peak wrongly labelled as Rams Head in my Garmin Montana GPS.



26)  Me at the summit - In the pic, the real Rams Head is behind me.



27)  View from the summit - looking back at North Rams Head which we had just climbed.



28)  We are heading towards the real Rams Head now.



29)  Getting close to Rams Head



30)  I am at the top of Rams Head, 2193m, 4th highest peak in Australia. The rocky mountain on the left side of the pic is South Rams Head. We'll be heading there next.



31)  Adam at the top of Rams Head



32)  Daniel at the top of Rams Head and pointing at Mt Kosciuszko



33)  View from Rams Head summit - The rocky pyramid-shaped mountain almost at the centre of this pic is South Rams Head. We'll be heading there next.



34)  We are off Rams Head and looking back at it.



35)  Heading towards South Rams Head ... On the left-side of the pic is a pile of neatly packed rocks.



36)  These neatly packed rocks remind one of the way the South American Incas built their monuments.



37)  Walking towards South Rams Head



38)  Close to South Rams Head



39)  Near the peak of South Rams Head, we walk through this interesting valley-like feature with stone walls on both sides ... as if we are in a mythical land. The peak itself is marked by a trig at the centre of this photo.  Of all the Snowy Mts peaks, South Rams Head is definitely one of the more interesting peaks to climb.



40)  Not far to the peak now



41)  I am at the summit of South Rams Head 2052m, ranked 23 of the 27 A2K peaks.



42)  Daniel & Adam at South Rams Head summit



43)  View from South Rams Head summit - directly north and at the centre of the pic is Mt Kosciuszko. To its right is Rams Head.



44)  View from South Rams Head summit - looking down at Thredbo Valley through which the Thredbo River flows. The Alpine Way from Jindabyne to Thredbo also meanders through this valley. Dead Horse Gap Carpark where our car is parked is also somewhere down in the valley.



45)  We've climbed down South Rams Head and are looking back at it.



46)  We head in a south-east-east direction towards the Dead Horse Gap Track. It is an unpleasant heavy-duty bushbashing to an otherwise magnificent day. In this pic we had just crossed Bogong Creek; and Daniel is climbing up its steep bank.



47)  From South Rams Head, instead of bushbashing towards Dead Horse Gap Track like the way we just did, you are probably better off to follow the dotted line in this map towards the Alpine way.



Reflection

- A rewarding clear blue day - we achieved our objectives!
- South Rams Head was the most fascinating climb of the lot ... see Photo #39.
- North Rams Head has 3 mini-peaks at the top - you need to climb up all of them to be sure you've been to the summit   :-)


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