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Trip Report Mt Clear Traverse Nov 24th to 25th 2017

Discussion in 'Backcountry Trip Reports' started by Total Whiteout, Dec 2, 2017.

  1. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Decided to take my girlfriend, Catherine, and two mates from uni, Tim and Travis, hiking and figured the Mt. Clear traverse would be a great circuit to do over one weekend.

    We were a little unsure about about how Travis' Nissan Pulsar would go on Brock's Rd, and despite assurances from the Mansfield Parks ranger decided we'd borrow Trav's girlfriend's Forrester instead.

    Plan was to leave Melbourne on the Friday after work, drive to Mansfield and thehn camp by the car at Sheepyard Flat. That way we'd be close to the start of the track without killing ourselves with super early start on Saturday morning. Yes, we we'd been told there were better campsites, but we'd be arriving after dark anyway and leaving early, so we didn't really care.

    Frustratingly, we didn't get away until about 8pm on Friday night, meaning we arrived at mansfield about 11pm (enough time to have a quick pint at the Delatite Hotel). We didn't have much petrol which was a worry. My mate had assumed we could fill up in Mansfield, not realising the petrol station closed around 8pm. Luckily, the manager at the pub informed us there was an after hours eftpos pump at the Caltex. Absolute life saver!

    Arriving at Sheepyard Flat around midnight was interesting, the place was swarming with little gnats, which make life rather difficult for anyone holding a torch. Putting up the tents was something of an ordeal and many gnats were accidentally swallowed.

    Beyond this, some local kids were camped next by. They were making a hell of a racket, and then turned things up by blowing up a gas bottle in their fire. It was a hell of an explosion. We assumed it was a drunken mistake, but when the second explosion went off about five minutes later we decided it was likely deliberate. Anyway, we decided to take refugee with a glass of shiraz next to the Howqua before turning in.

    The late arrival meant were all pretty stuffed, so we arose later than planned about 8am the next morning. The car handled the road fantastically and the drive to the trailhead was quite thrilling (awesome views, windows open, Dylan's masterpiece 'Bringing it all Back Home' blaring). Road is largely in great condition, though there is a tree blocking half the road on the last 1km to Nobs track.

    We didn't actually get walking until about 11.30am, and we soon discovered the first 1.5km up the Nobs track 4WD track was much steeper (and harder) than I had expected (and told the crew).

    Anyway, with assurances it would all be over soon and with multiple breathers, we did conquer the beast. At the top of the track were were rewarded with panoramic views, snow gums and lush alpine grass.
    We found the turn off to the AAWT easily enough, but the sign is easy to miss if you're not keeping an eye out. It's a little food pad from then on, but quite well established. We decided to stop for lunch (cheese, tomatoes, salami and crackers) in a little meadow just before the final climb up to the Nobs.





    The climb after lunch up the Nobs wasn't too bad, we decided to drop packs and climb to the very top. Here's a group photo I took using the Om-2’s self timer.



    From the Nobs it’s then a pleasant walk following a ridge line to High Cone. We decided to walk around High Cone rather than taking the route over the top.


    During this part of the walk we got a little ahead of ourselves, think we’d gone a lot further than we had. Anyway, as Mt Clear appeared in the distance, we suddenly realized we still had a long way to go and might not make the suggested campsite in a saddle on the other side of Mt. Clear.





    Still, we decided we’d give it a shot, if we didn’t make it, so be it (would just mean we’d be on water rations for the night – there was no water source until this campsite, Tim had lost 1L due to a faulty water bottle and Travis hadn’t got the memo to carry 4L).

    Not far from High Cone we were surprised to encounter another walker, a young woman named Elly who’d come from Low Saddle and been hiking from 7am. She’d read there was water near High Cone camp, but hadn’t had any luck. We said we were hoping to find water in the saddle on the other side of Mt. Clear.

    She only had 1L left, so reluctantly decided to take off towards Mt. Clear as well. I had to replace my camera batteries not far down the track, and she overtook us at this point. For the rest of the trip we noted the little indents she’d made along the track with her walking poles.

    As time ticked away and sun began to sink, we arrived at the base of Square Top. It looks quite imposing, as not as square as I’d expected (it actually seemed rather pointy!). Surely we wouldn’t be walking over the top of it. But as it turns out the walk was rather gentle, despite going right over the top.

    Descending Square Top into a little valley, we realized we were not going to make it to Mt. Clear before sundown. The track was becoming increasingly faint at this point (we lost it once or twice) and we decided we did not want to be navigating in the dark. We decided to camp at the next suitable spot. This turned out to be the saddle between Mt. Clear and Square Top. The ground was relatively flat and an old campfire spot suggested this was a commonly used camp spot.



    It was water rations from here on in, though we hoped we’d find water early on the next morning. We had just enough to cook the pasta (agnolotti and pesto) and leave another 2L for walking the next day. We would, however, have to forgo the morning coffee (though we did briefly contemplate recycling the pasta water for morning coffees). The sun went down soon after we’d eaten and then the rain started. We decided to hang out in one of the tents for a bit (talk about cosy) and pass the whisky and wine around (slightly risky given the lack of water but we figured we’d take the risk).

    We arose about 7am the next morning, enjoyed a bowl of muesli (with UHT milk) and got walking a bit before 10am.






    The climb to Mt. Clear was enjoyable, though again the track became very faint. Soon we realized we’d lost it completely. Luckily though, in losing the track, we stumbled upon a little spring and bog somewhere on the North Western side of the mountain. This was a huge relief and allowed us to refill all our water bottles.



    Then, after a quick consultation of the map, we bush bashed straight up the hill to the summit.
    On the summit we had a little toast and took some photos.




    Tim and Travis also couldn’t resist some high altitude yoga / clowning around.



    Descending from Mt. Clear we follows an amazing ridgeline, before dropping quite steeply. At this point the track became very faint and then disappeared altogether. This proved slightly nerve wracking, but there seemed to be only one way to go, and soon I could see a 4WD track in the distance. I decided this had to be the Clear Creek 4WD track we planned to return along, and just plotted a course through the bush to where I could see the 4WD track began. No sign of the AAWT though, and there appeared to be no obvious junction between the 4WD track and the AAWT (the 4WD just sorted appeared).

    The walk along the 4WD track was very pleasant, undulating for some distance before finally dropping down into the valley. Again, the heavens opened up, but no one was too bothered by the rain.



    The 4WD was quite steep at times, and a few comrades had the odd stumble. Going downhill is always hard on the old knees and ankles. The great thing was watching the trees change, and the track was very overgrown in several spots. We all took particular delight in watching the mist and clouds dance through the trees in the valley below.



    Finally, we reached Clear Creek about 3pm, crossed the creek and walked the last few hundred meters to the car.



    This was something of a relief, I was fairly confident we’d taken the right track, but I will admit a small part of me was concerned we’d taken the wrong track and ended up in entirely the wrong location. So it was great seeing the Forrester right where we’d left her the day before.

    Would recommend this walk, but only so long as you carry plenty of water, do your research and are confident in your map reading and navigation skills. Very easy to get lost!
     
    #1 Total Whiteout, Dec 2, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
  2. neilmny

    neilmny Addicted

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    Great report and pictures Thomas thanks for posting.
     
  3. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    Well done. Now that I have a Toyota RAV 4 , I am doing this very same walk in April , Autumn 2018. I will carry 4 litres extra water just in case .It should not be too hard to navigate using a map and compass. Some people trek out there in white season.What is the potential for BC XC skiing up on the ridges like ?
     
  4. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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  5. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Probably not impossible but I think you'd struggle doing this trip on XC skis.

    The ridge line after Mt. Clear really doesn't last very long and then you descend quite rapidly into a little scrubby valley.
     
  6. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    I was not entirely serious about skiing it. I am more inclined to XC ski at Mt. Stirling.
     
  7. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Haha. Awesome. Made it up to Stirling twice this past season! Here's some pics from July.



    And here's a couple from August.





    Shame about the guy they found dead up there this morning.
     
  8. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    I was up there this week (28/11/17) when the search was on for that man. I was not aware that he perished and breathed his last on Mt. Stirling :-(
     
  9. The Bluff

    The Bluff Hard Yards Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks Thomas ...havent done that walk for a few years ............:)
     
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  10. The Bluff

    The Bluff Hard Yards Ski Pass: Silver

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  11. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Very sad indeed.
     
  12. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    I am re reading this trip report. Yes, the NOBS track is a very steep route up . I would not wish to walk down it while carrying a heavy multi night pack. I am planning to hike up the Clear Creek track over the 2018 Xmas Break. Did you find the suggested water supply at the suggested campsite near the upper reaches of the Clear Creek / Mt. Clear track? I will carry 4 L. extra just in case. Chester's Yard(water!) is not that far from where the Clear Creek 4 WD track meets the AAWT.
     
  13. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    I am re reading this trip report having just done the same hike for the first time this week. I found navigation to be relatively feasible in sunny weather but I did use a map , compass and a GPS and I carried 4 L. of extra water for a dry camp and day two of trekking .The water at Clear Creek headwaters was gushing , cold and very clear.
     
  14. Spiersy

    Spiersy One of Us

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    good read, thanks