CAPTURE MT. BARROW (4644ft.) WITH EASE
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We (i.e. my previous colleague and myself) left Launceston at 7.40 a.m. on Sunday, August 28th. 1932, on our second attempt to scale Mt. Barrow. At the time of starting the sky was clear except for a few isolated clouds but, as the weather is far from settled at this time of the year, we expected to be troubled with a few clouds. As we had not been in a mountaineering exploit for some time, we were in poor condition but, nevertheless, we pulled through satisfactorily. We rode along the Mt. Barrow track for a little over a mile and then forsook our bicycles as the grade became steeper.
At 9.20 a.m. we set out along the track to cover the three and a half miles or thereabouts to bring us under the shoulder of the mountain. The place at which we secreted our bicycles lies to the west-north-west of Mt. Barrow but in order to ascend the mountain by the true track we had to detour around the northern end until we came to the south-east of the highest peak. From here, which is as far as cars can approach, the real ascent commences but the climb presents little difficulty as a well-formed track winds up the mountain-side at an easy grade. We entered the plateau after passing a jagged eminence on our left and set out towards the loftiest peak. Snow was met with in small quantities on the plateau and upon ascending the main peak it became much thicker while the ice on the steeper rocks often barred our progress. It was 1.40 p.m. when we first stood upon the small cairn of stones that mark Mt. Barrow's highest point and we felt well satisfied with our performance.
The clouds were hanging very low obliterating the outside world from our view, but after we had lunched the clouds thinned somewhat and we were able to secure a fair view of the distant landmarks. Close at hand to the south lies the gigantic bulk of Ben Lomond with its snow-covered heights showing plainly. Turning towards the east, Ben Nevis is next to appear and, passing by, a glimpse is obtained of the distant Mt. Saddleback with Mt. Victoria a little farther north. The smaller eminences of Mts. Maurice and Scott are next in the picture and then away to the north is the sea with its wide sandy beaches easily discernible. In the north-west, near at hand, lies Mt. Arthur and, farther west, Launceston and the River Tamar present a pleasing spectacle. In the extreme west the giant form of Mt. Roland looms up above the surrounding country, but the low-lying clouds in the south-west gave us but a hazy view of the Western Tiers. Such an extensive view as this would be second only in range to Ben Lomond (i.e. of the peaks we have scaled to date) but, unfortunately, on both visits clouds have marred our view.
We left the mountain summit at 2 p.m. and in descending the snow-covered rocks to the plateau my hands became numb with the cold, I having unwisely dispensed with my gloves, and it was quite quarter of an hour before I restored them to their natural warmth. We retraced our steps by the way we had come and soon after 4 p.m. were back with our bicycles and at 5 p.m. we entered Newstead. It seemed hard to realise how we made such a poor display at our first attempt to reach this mountain peak and, although we were hindered throughout by the rough climbing and thick undergrowth, I must attribute inexperience as our main handicap.
Upon the same day as we succeeded in reaching Mt. Barrow's summit, a little incident occurred which may be well worth mentioning. A large party of W.R.A. hikers journeyed to Englishtown to feature in a walk to the plateau over the route we had taken in both our Ben Lomond trips. Although one, at least, of their number had been over the route before, the party lost all trace of the track and had to make their way through the bush and over the rocks until, owing to the encroachment of time they were forced to relinquish all hope of reaching the plateau and return. This is no doubt a fine tribute to our bushcraft for, although we had received no information about the track, we had located it and followed it throughout.
Also of passing interest was the temporary loss of three of the male
representatives. This unfortunate trio, eager to penetrate the plateau
to Legge's Tor, separated from their fellow-enthusiasts and, climbing
the plateau, were soon out of sight. As they did not put in an appearance
that night, the remainder of the party returned without them, leaving
the "rescue" of the marooned ones in the hands of a few members
of the Alpine Club. However, the lost ones returned to the camp late the
next morning with their tale of woe. They claim to have reached Legge's
Tor and, upon returning, had taken a route through the valley somewhere
near that by which the ascent was made. Late in the afternoon they sighted
the charabancs at the camp about a mile away but, in making a detour,
had lost their bearings and at dusk they were lost. Rain fell heavily
during the night and they spent their time in somewhat the same circumstances
as we endured on our second expedition to this area. They found their
way after some difficulty back to Englishtown and entered the camp suffering
slightly from exposure, but I cannot understand how they could go astray
when in sight of and in such close proximity to their camp, especially
as one of the trio claims to have previous mountaineering experience.
Also, if their claim of reaching Legge’s Tor be true, they are certainly
mountaineers of unusually high calibre as it would have taken me more
than twice the time to perform it. It is more probable that they climbed
one of the small peaks near the plateau’s edge, possible Magnet
Crag, taking it to be the highest peak on the plateau as Legge’s
Tor is quite three miles away and on a cloudy day may have been obscured.
I remember when first we came in sight of Legge’s Tor we were within
about two miles of it on a clear day but the peak appeared to be quite
five miles off.
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