Bartle Frere

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by DidSurfNowSki, Jul 23, 2016.

  1. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Has anyone on the forums climbed Bartle Frere, the highest peak in QLD ? I'm looking at doing this climb from the eastern approach around Christmas. I wouldn't mind some 1st hand knowledge of what to expect as the State 8 guide says it's 'hard'. If I'm successful it'll be #5 of the State8 having done Kosciuszko (NSW), Bogong (VIC), Bimberi (ACT) and Ossa (TAS).
     
  2. whether

    whether Active Member

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    Hi DSNS, wasn,t sure if you were aware but around Bartle Frere is the wettest part of Aus where they measure their rain in metres. I think in driving to Cairns 20+ times I have seen the massif of Bartle Frere free of cloud maybe 2 times and that includes every month of the year. Make sure you have a good weather forecast before trying it.
     
  3. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Yeah I lived in Queensland for a bit. Beautiful one day, pissing down with rain the next. 8m of rain a year in those parts.
     
  4. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Actually, wikipedia has a nice write up on the climb that I hadn't seen before...

    Climbing
    The summit of Mount Bartle Frere, when it is not covered in cloud, offers the chance to view both the coastal lowlands and the Atherton Tablelands.[3] The climb can be quite steep in places with some rock scrambling required. Sudden weather changes have been known to occur in the area. The ascent to the summit can be quite treacherous and many tourists have become lost, some for several days, while climbing the mountain.[3] The main reasons for this are the unpredictable weather, poor preparation and occasionally obscure track markers. Nonetheless, an experienced climber should have no problem summiting after an early start from the Josephine Falls car park.

    The total distance from Josephine Falls is 15 km return and would normally take between 10–12 hours. The vertical elevation gained is around 1500 metres. This area of Queensland records several metres of rain every year, so it is not unusual for the peak to be covered in cloud. The best time to climb Bartle Frere is during winter when the weather is cooler and likelihood of rain is lower. There are orange markers every kilometre along the trail although several of these are difficult to spot.

    An easier alternative is to approach from a small camp site at the western side. It is reachable by car via Topaz Road and Gourka Road. From this starting point (at an altitude of 700 m), it's relatively easy to complete the climb and descent in a day. It is a favourite with local bushwalking clubs and is best attempted in the dry winter months, from June to October. Walking during the wet season (December to April) brings with it the risks of torrential tropical downpours, poor visibility and leeches. Rock slips occur occasionally.



    May be better off doing it straight after the end of the ski season, hiring a 4WD and doing it from the western approach.
     
    #4 DidSurfNowSki, Jul 23, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
  5. whether

    whether Active Member

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    Topaz Road should be fine without needing a 4wd. Have not been down Gourka Road. I am sure there would be a bushwalking club in Cairns you could email and ask them re Western side approach and 4wd required or not. Still check your weather forecasts though as it can still pour at that time of year as well even though it is dry season.
     
  6. whether

    whether Active Member

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  7. StuckinQld

    StuckinQld Active Member

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    Yep, climbed it many years ago. We just took a quick trip up, great weather so took a tent without fly and slept beat the top. I just carried a light day pack, my hubby carried the rest. We were a ranking up using tree roots to grab on to, to get up. Think I've got a snap or too somewhere I can add. Wasn't that easy from memory.
     
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  8. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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  9. Seafm

    Seafm Dedicated Member
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    I think it would be a brave soul that attempts something like that in December. It's the cyclone season plus coming off the back of El Nino and into a possible LA Nina it could also be an early wet season. If none of that actually happens you would be contending with 30+ temps and very high humidity. It's not a nice experience mowing the yard in those conditions let alone hiking up a mountain.
     
  10. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Yeah, October looks to be a better bet. All I need to do is get on a plane and hire a car for this one. Not going to book anything until the weather forecast is favorable, ie it will be a last minute call. As much as I like VMs, I'm not swimming uphill for a k.
     
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  11. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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  12. whether

    whether Active Member

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  13. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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  14. ladycamper

    ladycamper Dedicated Member
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    It'll be a long, hot climb if done around then. The difference with the others is its still cool if you start early and if making good pace you'll be at a decent elevation once the sun is right up. Try much earlier.
     
  15. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Yep, looking at Oct
     
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  16. William

    William Addicted Member
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    Second all of this. Also even if the wet season hasn't started you get storms building on the Tablelands that then roll towards coast, Bartle Frere is in the way and lightning is a serious concern, many times driving past and seen Broken Nose getting multiple hits. Its what caused my aborted climb attempt a few years ago with a mate. Just too risky at that time of year, we left in beautiful sunshine (well until we went under the canopy), got to Bobbin Bobbin detour in good time so did that little side track and kept on to the North West summit where it went from sun to storm in our 15 minute break, scary trip back down the track to where we started to get substantial tree cover again (its bouldery and low shrubs around the summits and cool).

    Gourka Rd is easily accessible by 2WD to the car park, unless its been really heavy rainfall.

    I'd still give it a go at that time but be ready to pull the pin if storms are forecast or popup on your trip. Its a steep track and when you think its getting better...it just gets steeper. Remember the Gourka Rd car park is at 500m and the summit is 1600m, so its still 1100m and it doesn't flatten till the summit, there is no break.

    Edit: Reverse park your car at the Gourka Rd end, its a tiny area and if a few other people rock up you will be reversing out a long way as the verge is usually mud.
     
    #16 William, Jul 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
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  17. William

    William Addicted Member
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    Of course. When you take a break if you sit for more than a few minutes you should see them start to inch your way. I used to use Bushmans with 80% DEET on my boots and socks, its enough of a deterrent.
     
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  18. snowduck

    snowduck Dedicated Member
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    Suggesting the most difficult on the list will be Mount Woodroffe in SA.

    Not physically challenging, but the mountain is on Aboriginal lands, and access without a permit is illegal. From what I have heard it is exceedingly difficult to gain an entry permit, and most 'outsiders' who come to climb the peak do so through a tour agency which has the permission to conduct group treks to the summit

    AFAIK
     
  19. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    1 climb at a time...
     
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  20. William

    William Addicted Member
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    I had connections to that community years ago (2001/2) and got permission to do Woodroffe with a few friends for our D of E Gold...then trying to organise the group was like herding cats and everything fell apart.
     
  21. whether

    whether Active Member

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    bartle frere.jpg Hiding under its winter coat today. Bartle Frere is up there in the clouds somewhere.
     
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  22. skifree

    skifree Part of the Furniture
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    There are clouds amongst that rain? Whoda thunk it?
     
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  23. William

    William Addicted Member
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    Saw it from Milla Milla area a few days ago. Broken Nose was visible but the rest was cloud. Temps seemed as good as they could be for the hike.
     
  24. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Not an issue here, I'm just reliant on a decent weather forecast. BoM 4 day rules.
     
    #24 DidSurfNowSki, Aug 1, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016
  25. AuroraAustralis

    AuroraAustralis Active Member
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    Hi dsns,
    I did the walk/climb from the eastern side in mid 2011.
    The track is pretty easy to follow, with markers every km. (I missed one and was worried until the next one appeared). Steep and slippery in places, would be treacherous in the wet. No stinging trees if you stay on the track...
    There is a hut near the top with a heli-pad. From there you start climbing over big boulders - there are handrails bolted into a couple to assist. Very close to the top is a short flat section, then the summit area is reached by pulling yourself up some tree roots.
    Definitely want an early start to avoid being out in the dark. Make a note of the sunset time and figure out a turn-around time from this.
    Take plenty of water - there isn't any once you start climbing.
    Enjoy!
     
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  26. whether

    whether Active Member

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    Hey DSNS photo from friend of a friend that climbed Bartle Frere this weekend. .facebook_1471165022426.jpg
     
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  27. skifree

    skifree Part of the Furniture
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    Could be anywhere.
     
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  28. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    I tend to follow the same pattern for each of these climbs.

    Camp overnight at the trailhead.
    Get up well before dawn.
    At first light be on the track, tackling the first of the climbs.
    Reach the summit and grab a bite to eat.
    Descend in daylight.

    I travel light and don't overnight on the climb.
     
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  29. JasonRomeo

    JasonRomeo Just Registered

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    Just a note that it doesn't take much rain to make the first crossing on the eastern ascent un crossable. I recently had a group ready to do the eastern climb but i had to call it off due to almost 200 mm of rain falling last week, rescheduled for the coming week with my fingers crossed that the creeks levels will recede in time.
     
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  30. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Welcome to the thread Jason. I'd love to hear about the conditions on the hill once you've been up there. :thumbs:
     
  31. stallie

    stallie Active Member

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    Did it in the wet season many years ago. Ranger said to turn around if it starts raining as the creek becomes difficult to cross.

    Went up and OK views from the top, bit cloudy but could just see parts of the reef. Then a massive thunder crash... We ran down. Jumping from boukder to boulder. We made it out, sore the next day, could barely walk down stairs the following day.....

    A great day trip.
     
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  32. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Well, looking at this weeks forecast, I may be doing a Bartle Frere attempt sooner rather than later. If the triple banger of doom for the ski fields strikes, I may be looking at an ascent in a couple of weeks time. I'd rather be skiing, but if the snow is going to be rubbish, I'm sure I can find something else to do :)
     
  33. JasonRomeo

    JasonRomeo Just Registered

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    Hey didSurf, i did Bartle last weekend, once on Friday and again with some friends on Saturday. Weather on Friday was average, and i saw literally no one. So for safety reasons i'd recommend if your going alone to do it on a saturday just in case. On saturday saw about 8 people on the trail for comparison.

    As for times on Friday I attempted a speed run and took 2h 30m up, 30 m rest at the top and then 2h down. This is on the faster side though. Doing with friends on saturday it took 5-6h up and 4h down.

    Overall it's an awesome trail, and i hope you enjoy it as much as i do! Enjoy it!
     
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  34. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    As there is a distinct lack of snow forecast to fall over the next couple of weeks, I'm tentatively planning a Bartle Frere attempt. Temps look really good, just need some clear weather 24-25 Jun.
     
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  35. Seafm

    Seafm Dedicated Member
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    I think you will be safe this time round.
     
  36. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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  37. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    OK, penciled in Sat 24 as my attempt day, airline tickets are bought. I hope its not 10 hours of walking in the rain.
     
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  38. skifree

    skifree Part of the Furniture
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    It'll be warm rain will it not, just like piddle?
     
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  39. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Yep

     
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  40. Seafm

    Seafm Dedicated Member
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    It does cool down a little bit this time of year. Just don't go for a swim at the beach, it's comparable to bath water.
     
  41. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Showers are forecast this weekend.

    I'm still recovering from a cold.

    Discretion being the better part of valor, Bartle Frere will need to wait. It's not a trip worth attempting in the rain when you're not 100% fit.
     
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  42. chicski

    chicski Dedicated Member
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    Skiing then? It was the forecast dump of the season that did it wasn't it?
     
  43. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Luckily I had bought a 'flexible fare' so I've rescheduled this trip to the October long weekend.

    Ahh no. You won't even be able to hide out in the trees at Interceptor or Smiggs this weekend.
     
  44. chicski

    chicski Dedicated Member
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    I could be proven wrong but I don't think it will get really nuts for another week, or Monday at the earliest. It's Qld holidays but they have to get here first.
     
  45. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Mnnnn.... it could be on !

     
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  46. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    OK, I'm fully committed.

    Sat AM
    • Ride a Murrays Bus from Canberra to Sydney International Airport
    • Catch the train to the domestic airport
    • Fly Sydney to Cairns on Jetstar
    Sat PM
    • Pick up hire car
    • Drive to trail head
    • Hike to Junction Camp (start of the western approach)
    ***************************
    Sunday - Ascent Day !!!
    ***************************
    • Twilight 0538 / sunrise 0600
    • Climb Bartle Frere via western approach
      • start at ~700m
      • end at ~1611m
    • Walk is about 15km return with a 1:8 gradient
    • Sunset is at 1814, twilight is at 1836
    Once climb is completed, drive back to Cairns and overnight in Cairns. Beers by the pool.

    Mon AM
    • Drop hire car back
    • Fly Cairns to Sydney on Jetstar
    Mon PM
    • Catch the train to the International Airport
    • Ride a Murrays Bus from Sydney International Airport to Canberra
    • Complete trip report :)
     
    #46 DidSurfNowSki, Sep 23, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
  47. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member
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    Hope I can find the gondola ;)

    Western approach profile:


    Weather still looking good

     
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  48. skifree

    skifree Part of the Furniture
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    More importantly can you find the compressed & groomed track down?
     
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  49. skifree

    skifree Part of the Furniture
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    Rock hoppers or powder boards?
     
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  50. skifree

    skifree Part of the Furniture
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    Actually some big stiff GS rockets would the go.

    It's a BIG hill.
     
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