BACK PEAK AND MT. BELL
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On Good Friday morning, April 12th. 1962, Mollie and I left Launceston in the hope of reaching Mt. Remus during the Easter weekend. We had an uneventful drive through to where we parked the car on the Cradle Mt. Road near Pencil Pine Creek. We had lunch and set off at 12.10 p.m. up past Connell's house and through a break in the trees to the left where we followed up a long open lead to the north for quite a mile to the crest of the ridge.
Here we swung to the left through a narrow gap to reach open button grass where we halted at 1 p.m. to check the map and compass, Cradle Mt. lying at 150 deg. mag., Mt. Mayday at 220 deg. and our clearest course at 165 deg.. Resuming at 1.10 p.m., we soon encountered some forest but found an old track leading into it. After following it for half a mile, we lost it as it emerged on the west side of a ridge and, though I scouted around, we had to continue at 1.40 p.m. on a roo pad southwards.
We encountered mixed growth from then on and only one small opening, but we sighted open button grass ahead at 2.10 p.m., crossed the Pencil Pine River at 2.15 p.m. and halted on an open rise beyond (4m. - 2.20 p.m.). Resuming at 2.30 p.m., we climbed up to the timber edge but were obliged to return to the Pencil Pine and cross a small southern tributary and halt for a snack (2.55-3.15 p.m.). Continuing upstream along the right bank of the Pencil Pine for about a third of a mile, we crossed it again by a large log in a gorge and ascended a steep hillside. Continuing westward, we halted over the top at a small tarn (5½m. - 3.45 p.m.) for a check on bearing.
There was plenty of open ground around us now but all features were unfamiliar and consultation with the map was not so enlightening. A near peak, which we thought may be Back Peak, lay at 262 deg., its nearest neighbour at 278 deg. and a further substantial peak at 290 deg.. Resuming at 3.57 p.m., we descended to cross a tiny creek which flows into the Pencil Pine and then passed over a clear, steep rise and down to a creek flowing to the Pieman (6¼m. - 4.20 p.m.).
We elected to camp a little further upstream as good shelter, firewood and brush was there and may not be so readily available higher up. The high peak ahead was now quite close at 275 deg. and there was a further peak showing on its southern side. We made good progress with our camp duties and, as it became rather cold after sundown, we were in bed at 7.15 p.m. The moon was shining brightly and clouds were few - much fewer than at any time during the day when there were occasional light sprinkles.
A very cold night presaged a bright clear morning. We were astir at 6,30 a.m. to find the tent stiff with frost and a thick white carpet around us. We breakfasted and warmed up by the fireside and, underestimating the nearness of Back Peak, decided to continue without food or gear and return to camp for lunch. At 8.12 a.m. we set off and were soon ascending the high hill ahead. From its summit (¾m. - 8.40 a.m.), our horizon widened with Cradle Mt. (132 deg.) and Barn Bluff (149 deg.) coming into view, but we were just as much in a quandary regarding the identity of Back Peak, the key to Mt. Remus. The nearest peak and higher lay at 198 deg. and a still higher peak (perhaps this could be Back Peak) was at 212 deg..
Making the latter peak our objective, we descended S.W. to a gully, climbed up onto a shoulder attached to our nearer peak and then descended westward to a valley between the two peaks, followed the valley up to the S. through dwarfed ti-tree and clear leads to the base of the higher peak. Then we swung westward and climbed up through an old "burn" to the top of the peak (3700’ - 2m. - 9.56 a.m.). The view had widened tremendously. Barn Bluff (142 deg.) and Cradle Mt. (118 deg.) were still the dominant features but ahead lay higher ground attached by a clear open ridge with autumn tinted fagus on the edge of the cliffs and myrtle at their base.
Resuming at 10.17 a.m., we descended a little and then swung along the clear ridge, locating a straight line of stakes and filming the golden fagus. A gradual ascent brought us to a broad level summit with a huge stake in a rockpile a little to the south of its true summit (3850’ – 2¾m. - 10.55 a.m.). A check of the map at last brought clarity to our position. We were astride Back Peak, the highest in the area, and Mt. Remus was about 2 miles further westward. It was quite definitely lower than Back Peak and too far off to permit us reaching it that morning and regaining camp for lunch. The weather was still good with only a few clouds floating around. We called our previous peak "Front Peak" and the one farther east “Outer Peak” in keeping with the local nomenclature. The line of stakes is obviously the National Park boundary line.
We commenced our return at 11.10 a.m., following a course close to the stakes, bypassing Front Peak, but swinging along the eastern ridge to climb Outer Peak (3550' - 4m. - 11.50 a.m.). Descending N.E. along the gradually tapering ridge-crown until the descent steepened, we turned eastward and down towards: the creek gully from which our camp creek emanated. It was then straightforward going to our tent (2900’ - 5m. - 12.53 p.m.).
After lunch we packed and set off at 2.10 p.m. under warm conditions. We passed close by the tiny tarn at 2.30 p.m. and had a rest at 3 p.m. on open button grass approaching a narrow lead through the gums. We followed this through to higher button grass, although the alternative high ridge going would have been just as easy. A little farther on, we located the open lead descending southwards with a small watercourse in its trough, and followed it down into an old timber track which ran out onto the road alongside the Pencil Pine bridge. We were back at the car at 4.5 p.m. and drove about 3 miles homewards to an old mill site where some huts still stand. Our tent was pitched alongside the timber mill on a good open area with ample wood and water. The sky remained clear and it became cold after sundown. We retired at 8.30 p.m..
The following morning was fine with early clouds which soon vanished. At 10 am. we drove eastward, turning south at the turn to Quaile Falls. From the parking point, one mile in, it is 1¼ miles' walking to the Falls. The main fall is 170', a very impressive fall into a densely forested gully. Back at the car at 12.15 p.m., we journeyed farther homewards, lunching beyond Daisy Dell. At 2.15 p.m. we parked the car under Bell Mt. and picked our way through light scrub to the recently constructed trig. on its quartzite summit (2633’ - 2.40 p.m.).
An extensive view included Pelion East, Ossa, Thetis, Pelion West, Cradle, Stormont, Jacob, Black Bluff, Dial Range, Roland group, Mother Cummings and Western Bluff, Clumner Bluff and Rogoona, a view well worthy of the short climb. We closely studied possible ascent routes for Stormont which was earmarked for later attention. Leaving the top at 3 p.m., we found a cut track and followed it steeply down to reach the road at 3.10 p.m. alongside an inconspicuous signpost on the roadside. Continuing homewards, we spent a little time at Forth Falls and finally reached home at 7.30 p.m..
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