Keith Lancaster 

Home to Index  
I have kept Keith's original spelling:

Note: The reports have been scanned in as written. I have included the height and distance indications, e.g.:
(1000'- 12m.- 4.45p.m.)
which read as follows: height in feet - miles for the day - time.

The Culmer Bluff enterprise introduced two new members to our mountaineering band which now comprised Jack and Doug. Daniel, John Davis and myself. Saturday afternoon, Aug. 30th. 1941, was overcast and devoid of wind, but the barometer was sufficiently high and steady to warrant the trip.

Leaving Launceston at 2.45 p.m., we traveled via Deloraine, Chudleigh and Caveside, reaching the deserted house at the end of the road to Westmoreland Falls (1200' – 52½m. - 4.30 p.m.) where we parked the car. While our new companions explored the falls, Jack and I essayed locating Parson's track by which we had climbed in 1933. We managed to locate the first tram track but thereafter found the track hopelessly overgrown. On enquiring at the 'red house' the nearest habitation to the track, I elicited that the track was not used now, although a new track, from the direction of Parson's house, united with the old track about a mile uphill from where it was again quite usable. As it was our plan to start out on the track before daybreak in the morning, strong advice was given against such a plan as, owing to the general overgrown state of the entire track, daylight would be essential to ensure a reasonable chance of success. We were all disappointed with this unexpected news when the matter was discussed after regaining the camp by the car just after dark. However, there was no recourse but to try a new route as we deemed it expedient to gain the plateau by daybreak in order to afford ample daylight for our long plateau journey to Culmer Bluff.

Accordingly, we arose early on Sunday morning, breaking camp and departing at 4.7 a.m. for Western Creek. We took several wrong turns and lost considerable time but are able to record, for future reference, that the telegraph poles mark the direct road from Caveside to Western Creek. Higgs’ Track was gained and the car was brought to a halt at the usual parking spot (1300’ - 5.5 a.m.) and, with torches aglow and only light packs emburdened, all were under way by 5.15 a.m. along the fam¬iliar mountain path.

Excellent time was made in the ascent and I was able to claim new record figures for an ascent to the plateau when I appeared on top in broad daylight (3470' – 4m. - 6.20 a.m.). At 6.30 a.m. we were under way again, vacating the track just short of the Connecting Lakes (3780’ – 5¼m. – 7 a.m.), skirting one of the half frozen lakes and climbing the heavily snow-laden eminence in the S.W. by W. (4100’ – 6½m. - 7.30 a.m.). [Panorama Hill]

From the summit of this elevation, a generous sample of winter in the Tiers lay unfolded with snow-clad peaks and frozen lakes on all sides.
• Lake Balmoral (1½-2m.) lay slightly N. of N.W.;
• Western Bluff (8m.) was N.W. by W.;
• The Devil's Gullet (6m.) occupied the west;
• our objective, Culmer Bluff, was visible in the W. by S.;
• Lake Lucy Long (1m.) extended from W.S.W. to the S.E. and was half frozen;
• Blue Peak (5m.) appeared in the W.S.W.;
• the Walls of Jerusalem rose in the S.W. by W.;
• South Buttress lay S.W. with Hall's Buttress slightly to the south;
• the Forty Lagoons (5m.) occupied the south;
• Forty Lake Peak (4m.) came to view at S. by E.;
• Lake Nameless (3m.) extended from S.S.E. to S.E. by S.;
• Weston's Lake (2m.) stretched from S.E. to E.S.E.;
• with Ironstone Mt. lending a high background in the E.S.E.;
• the Connecting Lakes (½m.) nestled on the east with the northern end of Bastion Bluff rising beyond;
• Stack's Bluff formed a pale blue skyline in the E. by N.;
• Ben Nevis ascended in the E.N.E.;
• with Mother Cummings’ Peak and Mt. Barrow just to the northward;
• little Mt. Arthur was visible slightly E. of N.E..

Leaving this height behind at 8.4 a.m., we descended towards Culmer Bluff, passing close to the western end of Lake Lucy Long and ascending again through a convenient valley. As we progressed snow again became thicker but the early morning frost had formed a hard surface on the snow and facilitated progress. We had the unusual experience of crossing streams on snow-bridges, lakes and tarns on solid ice, whilst the snow had immersed the plateau shrubs and provided us with a faster means of locomotion than if summer had reigned on the Tiers. Crossing a high ridge about a mile northward of the Blue Peaks, we descended to a frozen lake (12m. - 10.15 a.m.), crossed same on heavy ice and a long gradual ascent across a large snow-field brought us to the top of Culmer Bluff (4450’ - 14 2/3 m. - 11.25 a.m.).

The few early morning clouds had disappeared and an unres¬tricted view of mountain treasures resplendent in winter attire was procured. We have seldom been rewarded by a grander panorama and never such an exhibition of wintry majesty.
• Black Bluff appeared in the N.W. by N., its snowy garment belying its name.
• Cradle Mt. towered high above Mt. Brown which was slightly to the S. at W. by N..
• Barn Bluff was a glorious sight arising slightly N. of W. from a sea of snow with only its sheer cliffs free from a snowy mantle.
• The grandest gem of all was the massive snow-saturated Pelion West whose sparkling, white, stupendous bulk soared loftily between the W.S.W. and W. by S..
• Mt. Ossa, as white as any, peeped over the high ridge on the opposite side of the Fish River Gorge to the S. of W.S.W..
• Our own self-designated 'Table Bluff' (3m.) arose in the S.W. by W..
• The Du Cane Range, in glistening whiteness, occupied the S.W. by S..
• Looking up the Fish River Gorge, a superb view of the Rugged Mts., their black sheer cliffs prominent in bold contrast to their snowy summits was secured from S.S.W. to S. by W..
• Our ‘Conical Peak’ was conspicuous in the south,
• while the Walls of Jerusalem were magnificent in the S. by E., the great cliffs soaring high above the Fish River valley and its height generously garbed in a thick white cloak.
• Hall's Buttress appeared in the S.S.E.
• with the Blue Peak Lakes and the Forty Lagoons scattered in the S.E. and S.E. by E..
• Blue Peak rose in the E.S.E.
• and Ironstone Mt. stood out at E. by S..
• Slightly S. of E., Stack's Bluff formed a distant skyline with Legge's Tor in the E..
• Slightly N. of E, Ben Nevis was visible above Mother Cummings' Peak.
• Mt. Barrow was prominent in the E. by N.
• while Mt. Arthur occupied the E.N.E. with Lake Mc Kenzie (6m.) and a small lake (2m.) in the foreground.
• Sandy Lake (5m.) lay to the N.E. by E. with a half mile long lake (1½m.) in its foreground.
• In the north, the Devil's Gullet and Western Bluff contributed more ruggedness to the scene
• while the Western end of the Roland group was obvious in the N. by W..

A leisurely dinner over, a scramble around the cliffs ensued with photography in the fore and finally we crowned the summit with a small rock cairn. At 1.15 p.m., we bade adieu to Culmer Bluff and struck out to the E.S.E. with the northern neighbour of Blue Peak as our next goal. The journey across the plateau was uneventful and at 2.20 p.m. we were in occupation of the two near peaks (4300' – 17½m.).

Such is the capriciousness of mountain weather of this period of the year that, by this time, the sky was rapidly becoming cloudy. Time permitted only a brief view and the following is a summary thereof:
• Culmer Bluff, W.N.W.;
• Barn Bluff and Mt. Brown, W. by N.;
• Table Bluff, W.S.W.;
• Du Cane Range, S.W. by S.;
• Blue Peak Lakes, S.W. by S.- S. by W.;
• Hall's Buttress and Blue Peak (probably slightly higher than northern neighbour) W.;
• Forty Lake Peak, S.E. by E.;
• Lakes Nameless and others, E. by S.;
• Ironstone Mt. and Ben Lomond, E.;
• Mt. Barrow and Mother Cummings' Peak, E. by N.;
• Mt. Arthur, E.N.E.;
• Western Bluff, N.N.W.;
• Frozen Lake (1m.), N.W..

At 2.35 p.m., we were striding out for home. With the day's sunshine on the snow, the surface had become treacherous and progress had to be made with greater care as we often sank waist deep in soft patches. No serious retardation was entailed but we missed the propitiousness of the early morning snow conditions.

We crossed a tributary of the Fish River (20¼m. - 3.20 p.m.) and, sweeping too much to the southward, reached the southern shore of Lake Explorer (22½m.). Crossing this broad expanse of water via the thick crust of ice, we continued eastward, gaining Higgs' track just N.W. of Lake Nameless (24m. - 4.20 p.m.). Thence we retraced the old track homewards via Lucy Long and the Connecting Lakes, passing Lady Lake Hut (3500' - 27 7/8 m. - 5.23 p.m.) and descending the steep mountain path to eventually gain the car (1300' – 32½m. - 6.20 p.m.) as darkness was descending. After a change had been effected, the weary wanderers were able to relax in the comfort of the car which started away at 6.45 p.m. for Launceston, completing its journey at 8.15 p.m..

We were exceptionally pleased at the fine performance of our new companions on this all-day 32½ miles 'blitz', as they were able to maintain throughout the solid, continuous pace that is so indispensable to penetrate the more remote mountains in such a short limit of time. In searching for new peaks to climb, it is becoming increasingly obvious that few recognised peaks remain which can be comfortably accounted for in a week-end effort and, unfortunately, it is essential now to tackle most of these in true blitzkrieg style which, in addition to demanding a severe physical outlay, permits little time to revel in the beauty of the wayside or enjoy the ultimate reward of a long, unhurried study of the panorama. Nevertheless, work will continue to limit our exploits to such short periods and, doubtlessly, lack of time will account for many failures in the future.

Home to Index  
If you would like more information on Keith Lancaster's diaries, please feel free to send me an email.