Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mt Gillen, NT, Australia


2015 July: Climb Mt Gillen near Alice Springs, NT, NSW, Australia

Prolog

Three years ago, when Ricky, Jeremy and I flew into Alice Springs in NT (Northern Territory) to climb Mt Zeil, we had planned to climb Mt Gillen as well. For one reason and another, Ricky and I went to Ormiston Gorge instead ... see my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/ormiston-gorge-nt-australia.html

Ormiston Gorge is a fascinating place, so no regrets there. But still, I missed Mt Gillen. Hence this trip with David to NT's red centre is for Mt Gillen, and a few other places that I missed going to three years ago.

Mt Gillen

- Located near Alice Springs, in the Macdonnell Ranges.

- 944 meters high

- 340 meters in elevation from the trailhead at Flynn's Grave to the summit.

- By car from Alice Springs city centre to Flynn's Grave carpark is 6.5 km; 10 minutes drive.

- Although it only takes about an hour to walk to the summit, the trail is steep, with a short section of bare hand vertical rock climb. Hence it is not for the unfit nor for the faint-hearted. But the 360 panoramic view from the top is well worth the effort.

- Not many people outside of Alice Springs are aware of this little gem. If you are visiting or passing through Alice Springs, you really must must and must make the 2-hour round trip to climb Mt Gillen !

Map

Our route is in brown.  (To enlarge the map, click on it.)

GPS tracklog

The GPX tracklog file of our climb can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSUmlNY211MUd2ZGc/view?usp=sharing

Timeline & Distance

12:18  0.0 km  Start at Flynn's Grave carpark
13:11  2.2 km  At the bottom of vertical cliff

Climb to top of vertical cliff
Admire scenery

13:15  2.2 km  Resume walking
13:32  2.6 km  At Mt Gillen summit

Lunch

14:18  3.0 km  Leave summit
14:34  3.5 km  At top of vertical cliff

Wait for 2 woman to climb up
Then we climb down

14:46  3.5 km  Resume walking
15:38  5.7 km  At Flynn's Grave

==============================================

Total:  3 hrs 20 mins  at leisurely pace.
           Excluding lunch, 2 hours should be sufficient for most people.
           5.7 km  Distance is from Google Earth
           6.5 km  Distance is from Garmin GPS

Pictures

1)  Flynn's Grave carpark, trailhead for the Mt Gillen climb ~~~
- Our hired car is the red Hyundai.
- There are more cars than I had expected. Considering the small size of Alice Springs, almost everyone of their residents are here  :-)


2)  Still at Flynn's Grave carpark ~~~
The red arrow points to Flynn's Grave.
Who is John Flynn? Here is an extract from: http://www.nt.gov.au/westmacs/places/flynns-grave

"For Outback Australians the Reverend John Flynn is an iconic figure. Working as a church minister in Central Australia a century ago, Flynn gained an understanding of the vast distances and special needs that outback living entailed. Aspects of daily life that city people took for granted, such as communication and basic medical services, were often unavailable to residents of remote areas. Illnesses and injuries that would be quickly dealt with in a town, could prove fatal in the Outback. Flynn's tireless lobbying of church and government authorities brought about significant reform, including the establishment of what we now know as the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This pioneering service gave the men and women of the interior what Flynn called a 'Mantle of Safety', and, just as importantly, a firm sense that their needs mattered. Flynn's Grave therefore stands not just as a memorial to a man, but to the ideals of bridging the gap between urban and Outback Australians."


3)  This is Flynn's Grave.
- The red arrow points to Mt Gillen summit.
- Where we will climb up the mountain is behind the cliff pointed to by the yellow arrow.


4)  From where Flynn's Grave is, go west for about 75 meters and you will come this gate.
It is the first time I encounter this type of gate ... seems to be designed to allow a bike to go through but not a motorbike.


5)  On our way to climb Mt Gillen ~~~
- The red arrow points to the summit. You can just make out a white dot at where the summit is ... it is the pane of the top of the summit trig. (The colour of the pane is actually black. As it is made of metal, from a distance, the reflection makes the pane look white.)
- The yellow arrow on the right points to where the path leads to. Behind the cliff there is where we'll be climbing up the mountain.


6)  Closer to Mt Gillen - it is a steep climb.
Again, you can just make out a white dot which is the pane of the top of the summit trig.


7)  Half way up the slope, we can see Alice Springs spreading out below.


8)  Further up the slope ~~~
- Alice Springs is on the right.
- The desert is quite green ... global warming seems to be bringing more rain to central Australia.


9)  This handsome looking cliff is where the yellow arrow was pointing to in Photo #5. We'll go around it (to the right). Where we'll climb up to the top of the cliff is behind it.


10)  Going around to the right of the cliff of the previous photo


The below photo is taken at the same spot as where the previous photo was taken.

11)  A long line of cliffs to the right of the previous photo.
- The left red arrow points to where we'll climb up the cliff.
- The right arrow points to Mt Conway near Standley Chasm. I have not climbed Mt Conway, but love to do it one day.


12)  Many people are climbing Mt Gillen ... here are 2 of them.
- The red arrow is where we'll climb up the cliff.


13)  This gap is where we'll climb up the cliff.


14)  David, my climbing companion for this trip, is starting the climb.


15)  It is vertical ! If you are afraid of height, Mt Gillen is not for you.


16)  View from half way up the cliff ~~~
The red arrow points to Mt Conway.


17)  These two are very happy to have climbed up to here  :-)  It is not easy.
As I've already mentioned, it is a surprise so many people are here to climb Mt Gillen ... I would have thought the bare hand climbing up the vertical cliff would deter many people from coming here.


18)  From the top of the cliff looking down the gap through which we climbed up ~~~
In the middle of the pic, you can see 2 more people on their way to climb Mt Gillen.


19)  This is the cliff by the side of the gap through which we have just climbed up.


20)  180 degree view from the same spot where the previous photo was taken.
- The red arrow on the left points to Mt Conway.
- The blue arrow on the right is where we'll walk towards the summit.


21)  Walking along the top of the cliffs to Mt Gillen summit, the red arrow.


22)  Very close to the summit now


23)  Almost there


24)  David and I make it to Mt Gillen summit, 944 meters.


25)  To appreciate the next set of 6 photos, take a look at Google Earth tilted satellite view of Mt Gillen. (Click on map to enlarge it.) ~~~
- Our GPS tracklog is in turquoise colour.
- Alice Springs and its suburbs are at the lower part of the pic.
- The Macdonnell Ranges runs diagonally across the pic, from east (bottom left-hand corner) to west (top right quadrant).
- The red arrow points to Heavitree Gap (Ntaripe in the Arrernte language). The Todd River cuts through it. The Gap is also the southern entrance to Alice Springs with main road and rail access to and from the south.
Heavitree Gap was a sacred site to the Arrernte aborigines and was thus avoided by them ... until white men arrived and bulldozed a main road and railway through it.

The Todd River is not showing up in blue because the river is always dry ... Alice Springs is in the middle of a desert.

If we have two cars, we could have done a car shuffle. Park one car at Heavitree Gap, another car at Flynn's Grave. Climb up Mt Gillen the way we just did. Then walk along the ridge top all the way to Heavitree Gap ... it would definitely be an interesting walk !

26)  Needless to say, the 360 panoramic view from the summit is fantastic.
- From the summit looking towards the east, ie towards Heavitree Gap, we can see the Macdonnell Ranges extending all the way to the Gap ... refer to the previous pic.
- Alice Springs is spread out on the left side of the pic (north side of the Macdonnell Ranges).


27)  Zooming in on the Macdonnell Ranges to the east of the summit.


28)  Towards the south-east are waste stabilization ponds - a great place to watch birds as the ponds attract many species which are otherwise quite hard to find in central Australia.


29)  Still at Mt Gillen summit ... now towards the west, towards where we climbed up the cliffs.
- You can see the Macdonnell Ranges extending towards the west, red arrow on the left; as well as on the horizon on the right side of the pic.
- The red arrow on the right points to Mt Conway.


30)  Another view of the magnificent cliffs of the Macdonnell Ranges ~~~
- You can see the Macdonnell Ranges extending towards the west, red arrow on the left; as well as on the horizon on the right side of the pic.
- The red arrow on the right points to Mt Conway.
- The yellow arrow points to where we climbed vertical up the cliff earlier on.


31)  Zooming in on the right side of the previous photo ~~~
- The Macdonnell Ranges extends towards the west, red arrow on the left; as well as on the horizon on the right edge of the pic.
- The red arrow on the right points to Mt Conway. The more I look at Mt Conway, the more I love it. One day, I'll return to climb it. Contact me if you wish to join in.


32)  Near the summit are plenty of these Solanum ellipticum, also known as Native Tomato, Potato Bush or Wild Gooseberry. Its fruit have a pungent smell, and the plant can be smelled from some distance away when the fruit are ripe.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy the climb. The Alice Springs tourism authorities do not seem to promote the climb to Mt Gillen. So I'm doing their job to promote it here. If you are visiting or passing through Alice Springs, you really must must and must climb Mt Gillen !


No comments:

Post a Comment