Keith Lancaster 

Home to Index  

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.

On Friday, 2nd. Nov. 1951 at about 7 p.m., I joined a L.W.C. party bound for a long week-end trip to the Walls of Jerusalem. The sky was lightly clouded and the barometer fair but falling slowly. Travelling via Deloraine, Needles and Western Creek, the bus reached the end of the timber road at the abandoned mill site at the commencement of Higgs' Track (1600’ - 9.45 p.m.). The sky was clear and starry and the remainder of the party soon was under way with the objective of camping for the night at Lady Lake Hut. Using the best of the huts, I retired at 10.10 p.m. and had a very comfortable night during which the wind gained considerable force.

On the Saturday morning I was astir before 6 a.m. and was away with a 40-odd lbs. pack at 5.52. a.m.. It was my first trip since my back injury and it received considerable punishment on the ensuing steep climb but ultimately settled down and gave no trouble as the journey progressed. I reached the Lady Lake Hut (3500’ – 3¾m. - 6.57 a.m.) to discover that the others had set off at 6 a.m.. A cold south-westerly wind blew strongly as I set off after them at 7.1 a.m.. The track was marked very weakly in the area near the Connecting Lakes, but I managed to keep on course and gain the divide between Weston’s Lake and Lake Lucy Long (3650' – 7m. - 7.55 a.m.). The track then showed up quite clearly and I left it at the Lake Nameless outflow and worked around clear of its western edge to avoid the intervening rise. Approaching the chain of lakes to the southwards, I caught my first glimpse of the party ahead on the isthmus between Lakes Harold and Chambers. They were still there resting, after a delay in finding the bridge board which had been washed away, when I came up (3750’ - 9m. – 8.45 a.m.) and we resumed together at 9.5 a.m.. We passed through the Forty Lagoons via Stake and Fox Lakes, the Little Throne and around the eastern side of the First Lagoon. At the long lagoon to the southward the party split in two sections, reaching Dayala heights some distance apart. Whilst one party moved down to a tarn in the basin beyond for lunch, the smaller party with which I was associated swung off to the right and climbed Dayala bluff ' (4600’ – 13¾m. - 11.55 a.m.).

After dinner we were off at 1.6 p.m., making down the southeastern slopes towards Halfway Ridge near where we united with the other section of the party. Crossing the intervening
gully of the Chain of Lagoons, we ascended to the crest of Richea Ridge (16½m. – 2.15-3 p.m.), but continual delay in awaiting the stragglers made the pace slower and slower. Prospects still looked fair when we reached the windswept summit of Dead Gum Hill (4350’ – 17½m.) as the Walls were showing up close, but it was 3.35 p.m. when the party started descending to Lake Thor. From then on slow pace and general lack of condition made prospects of reaching the Tyropoeon Valley hopeless that day and, with the arrival of the gathering rain-storm as we shouldered the rise ahead, a scramble for a camping site followed. A spot was selected on the leeward side of the wooded rise near the outflow of a small lagoon lying N.E. of the Lake of Islands and south of Lake Thor and the various tents were pitched and fires lighted under difficulties (3750’ – 18m. – 5.30 p.m.) The cold rain showers were superseded by light hail, sleet and snow and as little time as possible was spent over culinary arrangements prior to settling down in the tents.

Next morning the wind and rain was still in evidence and low clouds moved fast around the various peaks. Nobody stirred until about 9.30 a.m. when the weather eased and soon it was learned that most tents had shipped some water during the night. When Jim and I were almost ready to start off for the East Wall after breakfast, John Daniel arrived out of the blue to keep his appointment with us after an overland trip from Bronte Park and camping the previous night in the Tyropoeon Valley. He left on return as we departed at 11 a.m., our course being the natural one to the eastward through the gap in the low hills. Immediately the lagoon outflow was breached, more or less flat going across button grass ensued to the foot of the East Wall where a natural easy route led upwards towards a gap in the wall. Beyond this, a brief rock scramble brought us out on top of the East Wall (4650' – 2½m. - 12.18 p.m.).

The cold south-westerly, which continued to hurl a steady stream of unfriendly clouds around the peaks, sent us scampering for shelter amongst the rocks and we took advantage of the respite to have our dinner. Apart from attractive glimpses of the other constituents making up the Walls of Jerusalem and the numerous lakes and tarns extending away to the eastwards, little could be seen. We resumed again at 12.45 p.m. southward ho! towards the Jaffa Gate, the saddle linking the Temple to the East Wall. We forsook the high ground when immediately above the Gate and descended to the lush green grass covering the saddle where evidence of recent cattle visitation abounded. A short steep climb up the other side of the Gate brought us out on top of the Temple (4600' - 4m. - 1.46 p.m.).

Similar weather conditions prevailed on the Temple but we managed to see enough to realise that this was one of the best points from which to study the intricacies of the Walls. Away again at 1.55 p.m., we descended to the S.W. and soon reached the plain under the West Wall. Parting with Jim here at the base of the Great Couloir at 2.25 p.m., I watched him speed up the rocks. He reached the summit of the West Wall (4775’ - 5m. - 2.55 p.m.) and was back again in time to leave with me at 3.35 p.m. for Zion, the only remaining eminence of any magnitude for us to climb. An easy ascent route past the Pool of Siloam and the Gate of the Chain brought us out on top of Zion (4400' – 7½m. - 4.10 p.m.) where we erected a small cairn. Apart from our camp and route homeward (upon which we gained ideas for improvement over our outward route), there was little of fresh interest to see from the summit. Resuming at 4.22 p.m. we descended towards the camp and soon regained it (3750’ – 8½m. - 4.50 p.m.). About half of the remainder of the party also journeyed to the West Wall and a few of that quota also climbed the Temple. The south westerly continued to blow strongly and coldly into the night although the clouds thinned a little. We retired about 8 p.m..

Monday morning was quite bright with few clouds around and no wind. All were astir early and Jim and I trailed the field out at 7 a.m.. We all took a new course homeward - farther to the eastward. We skirted the eastern side of Lake Thor and Daisy Lake and gained the crest of Richea Ridge farther eastward close on the heels of the party. Here I parted from Jim to climb the high crag near the western end of the ridge. Traversing along the top of the ridge through the usual low alpine growth was quite easy. The ridge broadened as I advanced and numerous small tarns were met along its summit. Swinging away to the left, I dumped my rucksac and made the final ascent up the rocks to the top of my objective - "K. Crag”, highest point of Richea Ridge (4450’ 4m. - 9.7 a. m.). [Mersey Crag]

This crag occupies a most advantageous position from which to examine the surroundings. There is a steep fall westward and southward into the Little Fisher Basin. The northern and far western view was obscured by cloud, a steady stream of which surged unceasingly from the west across the plateau north of Dayala Bluff. The cliffs of Dayala Bluff showed out to great advantage to the northward. Eastward – lakes dotted the landscape away towards Great Lake. Southward – the view was quite extensive, portraying the set-up of the Walls of Jerusalem in fine array and the intervening
lakes whilst, in the far distance, the Field plateau, Wyld’s Craig, the Denisons and King Williams showed clearly.

After constructing a small cairn on top, I hastened away at 9.23 a.m. in the wake of the others. In the basin under Dayala Heights I had rather an unusual experience with a small lake which I think could be very aptly named "Lake Octopus". In order to avoid some pencil pine on its western slopes, I descended to the lake and decided to skirt its eastern shore. Soon I encountered a long narrow arm of water swinging eastward across my path and, as it was just a little too broad to find a dry-foot crossing, it was necessary to swing right around it. Shortly the same procedure had to be repeated as a further tentacle appeared, followed by yet another tentacle so tantalisingly narrow but yet the merest trifle too wide to permit a crossing. At the final arm fortune favoured me with an easy bridging and, although the whole skirting of the lake occupied but a few minutes and produced no significant delay, its peculiarities seem worth recording. I reached the edge of Dayala heights about 11 a.m. to look down upon a swirling sea of cloud which, obviously, would make navigation in the Forty Lagoons area rather ticklish. I made good progress down to the First Lagoon and elected to follow my previous return route via the western side of Lake Halkyard to the isthmus. Beyond the Little Throne, I was soon in difficulties with visibility alternating from 20 to 50 yds..

After swinging this way and that for better going or being deflected by lagoons, I soon reached unfamiliar country and at length a lake showed up down hill on my left with a substantial outflow. I followed this down-stream and soon more lagoons appeared with a few recent footprints along the shores. The compass indicated I was too far west and logic argued that the substantial stream could be no other than the main stream of the Fisher River. At the end of the small chain of lagoons, I heard voices ahead and soon rejoined the remainder of the party who had just crossed the stream from the western side. The course continued down-hill along the river bank for some distance until the suggestion to swing to the right was adopted in the expectation of finding Snake Lake or some familiar landmark in that area.

Soon we reached the shores of what appeared to be a substantial lake but investigation revealed it was not Snake Lake but much larger and its size and shape supported a forecast that it may be Lake Explorer. The remainder of the party took advantage of the rest occasioned by the exploration of the shores to have a bite of lunch. The day was too moist and cold for anyone to favour a halt for a rest and it was pleasing to see the lesser experienced walkers standing up well to both the walk and the anxiety which many must have felt. We resumed and followed up the lake's inflow to the eastward. A temporary lift in the clouds revealed a further lake ahead and a couple of minor eminences but nothing recognisable and soon visibility slipped back to just a few yards again. Gaining the lake-shore, we heard the welcome sound of a voice hailing us to the northwards and soon we made contact with Eric Newman who had come out to meet us. It then transpired that we were at Snake Lake and had really been at Lake Explorer.

Within a few minutes, we were at Lake Nameless and on the track homeward. Reaching the Lake Weston - Lucy Long divide (3650’ - 14m. - 3.35 p.m.) we journeyed on to Lady Lake Hut (3500’ – 17¼m. - 4.30 p.m.), where the party split up into sections - some carrying on straight away to the bus and others lingering a while for a warm, drink and rest. I left with a small party at 4.40 p.m. and had a leisurely walk down to the bus (1600’ - 21m.), where we all prepared and ate tea. Leaving in the bus at 7.25 p.m., we reached Launceston at 10.45 p.m..



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