Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Tasmania specific bushwalking discussion.
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Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby Angioten » Fri 18 Nov, 2022 3:26 pm

Hi all, first time using this forum so I apologise if this is in the wrong place.

My partner and I are heading to Tasmania in a couple of weeks and are looking at completing the Mount Anne circuit. We're both in our 20s and I have a reasonable amount of bushwalking experience, but my partner is not quite as experienced. I've done quite a few trips in the Victorian high country such as Mt Howitt/Bogong/Feathertop (and I did Frenchman's cap a few years ago) and I've done a bit of ski touring so I'd say I'm reasonably comfortable with general exposure, dealing with adverse weather, nav, etc etc. My partner, however, is not quite as experienced and has only done a handful of short overnight hikes. All of our gear is up to scratch; quality 3/4 season tent, good rain jackets/first aid kit (I've done my wilderness first aid)/sleeping bags/nav skills and we're carrying an inreach - the whole shebang.
I've researched the Mount Anne circuit in a lot of detail but I want a bit more clarity on the degree of exposure particularly between Shelf camp and Lightning Ridge/Lonely Tarns. All of the info I've found is pretty vague and there aren't a lot of photos. From the looks of it, you're walking along a fairly narrow ridge in sections but are there any 'crux moves' that are required other than The Notch? Pretty much the only thing we're not game for is technical/awkward maneuvers over cliffs apart from the Notch - we have basically written off attempting to summit Mount Anne itself because of the awkwardly slanted slab just before the summit: scrambling is OK, but rock climbing we're not so keen on.
We would only move beyond Shelf Camp if the forecast is reasonable and yes, I know the weather is highly variable in SW Tas.

I know this is a bit of an airy fairy, 'how-long's-a-piece-of-string' post, but some more description of the track between Shelf Camp and Mt Lot would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance - I really appreciate it :)
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby L_Cham_67 » Fri 18 Nov, 2022 6:10 pm

From Shelf camp, the walking is initially not too bad. It can be a bit muddy, but nothing that technical. As you approach the Notch, the boulders increase in size, and there are a few drop offs where you have to carefully lower yourself down. The descent into The Notch is also quite slippery and challenging.

Once past The Notch, you sidle underneath the cliffs, then work your way up through openings which isn't too challenging, but from memory required some heaving. The top of Mt Lot is pretty much a stock standard boulder hop.

Dropping off Mt Lot down Lightning Ridge is very steep, and the track is quite rutted out in a few spots. I think I took my pack off once or twice to lower myself down, then reached back up to get the pack. The vegetation is also quite dense down near the base of this ridge. Once you hit the forest proper, it isn't really that technical, just slippery and slimy. The last few hundred metres is pretty open and easy (relatively speaking).

Bear in mind this is all how I viewed the walk. Others will see it differently. I'll dig out some photos of the more 'interesting' sections if I have any.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby L_Cham_67 » Fri 18 Nov, 2022 6:28 pm

Some pictures. Apologies for the quality, I had to screenshot them as the file size was too big.
Attachments
#1.JPG
This is the beginning of the walk from Shelf Camp. Red line is the approximate route, but I could be wrong
#2.JPG
One of the tricky little drops to negotiate before reaching The Notch
#3.JPG
Some big boulders on the way to The Notch!
#4.JPG
The Notch itself. If i recall correctly, the descent into the notch is out of sight behind the boulder on the right
#5.JPG
This is in between The Notch and Mt Lot
#6.JPG
Dropping off Lightning Ridge once in the forest
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby sandym » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 6:15 am

Give it a go. Worst that happens is you have to turn around. Apart from the notch, which most people haul their packs up, the rest is just rough bushwalking.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby bumpingbill » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 8:54 am

sandym wrote:Give it a go. Worst that happens is you have to turn around. Apart from the notch, which most people haul their packs up, the rest is just rough bushwalking.


Yeah - I agree. I've done it and don't remember much in the way of terrifying exposure.

It's rough in places, but doable. The notch isn't too bad either - just be sensible and think out your moves. If you need take a short rope to haul bags up so you don't need to do the very short climbing bit with them on.

The ridge is steep, but again not too bad. On a nice day, the views are amazing. A pair of cheap garden gloves from Bunnings might stop your hands from getting roughed up by all the touching of the sandpaper like rocks.

It's a wonderful walk, and this has got me dreaming of doing it again!
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby north-north-west » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 3:01 pm

There are a few 1.5m or so drops on the descent from Lot; with two of you working together they won't be a problem.
There's one very awkward drop off a large boulder between Shelf and The Notch, where the cairned route turns off the ridgetop and decides to sidle for a while. It's a pain in both directions, but can be avoided by descending a little earlier and sidling around - untracked, unmarked, and clearer when going in the other direction, but easy enough. Beyond The Notch, the track goes over some loose ground so be careful with your footing.
It is possible to sidestep the climb up out of The Notch, but the alternative route isn't really much easier, it just avoids the exposure.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby Tortoise » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 4:17 pm

Hi Angioten,

Thanks for asking! I have a different perspective from some of the others. Here's another couple of photos of the Notch, which didn't quite fit in one shot:

DSC00159.jpeg

DSC00158.jpeg


In my book, it's definitely a climb, not a scramble, as it's several metres high (maybe 6?), near-vertical. It's just a very basic one indeed for the technically competent. I found the Notch harder than Mt Anne. I couldn't reach the bit that would have made it easier near the top.

A lot depends on how comfortable or not you both are with heights. When I did the circuit the first time, I was not. I thought I was going to die.

From the walks you've mentioned, it sounds like neither of you have carried big packs over extensive boulder fields, or anything that vaguely resembles the Anne circuit from Shelf Camp to Lonely Tarns. So I'd actually suggest considering doing a different walk, and working up to this one when your partner has more experience, and you've both done a walk that involves lots of boulders with big packs.

An experienced friend a mine took another friend on the Anne circuit. She was fit and very keen, but it turned out not good with boulders or big drops. It was something like 3 a.m. when they finally got off Mt Lot/Lightning Ridge to somewhere they could put a tent. It was a very stressful experience for them both, that could very easily have become a rescue.

If you do the circuit, I agree with the need for a rope. And you need to be familiar with a useful knot for securing the packs to haul, while being able to undo the knot easily at the top.

All the best for whatever Tasmanian adventure you choose. Here's some light reading:

https://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=19317
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby Tortoise » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 5:37 pm

And to finish the story - I successfully worked on my fear of heights and climbed Federation Peak this time last year. :D
Last edited by Tortoise on Sat 19 Nov, 2022 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby phATty » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 7:04 pm

It's interesting because I'm not sure if I'd call any bits of the circuit rock climbing but some bits don't really qualify for scrambling either. I found the circuit relatively easy, which was a surprise as before I went to do it I was quite afraid about all the talk about the ledges, awkward rocks, the notch and so fourth. There are some sections that are a bit 'climby' I suppose and of course as with any bushwalk on a mountain, there are places where a fall could have major consequences.

Between Shelf Camp and Lonely Tarns there are some places where I had to sit down or take my pack off, take a small leap of faith or search around for footholds backwards. These could be greater obstacles if you are shorter (I'm 6'1"). I would advise to give it a go, it sounds like you and your partner should handle it just fine. If in doubt, just turn around, it's still speccy to spend a night at Shelf Camp and I'd highly recommend a visit to Lake Judd from the Red Tape Creek end if you end up turning around. There are camp spots at Lake Judd.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby Tortoise » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 8:07 pm

phATty wrote:It's interesting because I'm not sure if I'd call any bits of the circuit rock climbing but some bits don't really qualify for scrambling either.

A good way of putting it.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby CBee » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 8:19 pm

As a rock climber I can say that none of the above is rock climbing. Rather steep bushwalking.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby Tortoise » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 8:25 pm

For a rock climber, it's a walk. For a bushwalker, it's a climb - involving significant use of hands as well as feet. This is a bushwalking forum. :) Somebody coined the term 'vertical bushwalking' in the Eastern Arthurs. That would fit this quite well.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby CBee » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 8:34 pm

I haven't came across any vertical sections on the western arthurs. Speaking as a bushwalker of course. There are some steep-ish sections. You'll be surprised how people judgement of terrain angle differs.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby Tortoise » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 8:36 pm

That was Eastern, not Western. And we know it's not literally vertical. :wink:
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby CBee » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 8:53 pm

Ah yes. Eastern.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby bumpingbill » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 9:38 pm

There's a vertical section which requires an easy climb through the boulders just after Oberon... though no exposure there. Not quite the same thing as what we're talking about here though
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby vagrom » Sat 19 Nov, 2022 11:08 pm

I'm looking on those Notch shots for the little plaque/memorial to someone who died there.

We did the Circuit in 2005 and returned to do Lots Wife from Shelf Camp as a day-trip: Shelf, Tarns, Lots and back to Shelf directly. The weather is everything. Neither of us are strong on exposures but on a fine day it's fun-bouldering. The Notch was surprisingly easy when we expected something hair-raising. Another couple were going down and around instead of the Notch so yeah, I guess it's a bit of a stretch and scramble. One goes up , number two passes up packs and then one helps up two.

First night on Shelf was calm serenity. Second night broke the Salewa cross piece. Very scary.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby DaveTas » Tue 22 Nov, 2022 1:47 pm

Hello, just thought I’d add my 2cents as a climber of 25 odd years. Nothing on the eastern Arthur’s walk would be described as rock climbing. On the Ewbank scale, proper climbing starts at grade 12. The notch might be a 3 or 4 I suppose. Definitely not vertical either.

Give it a go, you will be fine.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby ithomas » Tue 22 Nov, 2022 6:16 pm

Reiterating an earlier comment: this is a forum for bushwalking not rockclimbing. Even so, misinformation needs to be corrected. Real rockclimbing on the Ewbank grading scale does not start at grade 12. Most climbers would agree that real heart cramping climbing begins from about grade 3. Grade 12’s can be serious undertakings and no beginner would climb a grade 12 route without instruction, gear and a great deal of trepidation. There are dozens of Grade 3-11 climbs across Australia that are not scrambles and which require solid rock climbing technique, proper protection, commitment and experience. Just trying to be helpful here, and believe me I know what I am talking about as I have been rockclimbing since 1968 and have not yet hung up my boots.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby CBee » Tue 22 Nov, 2022 9:11 pm

True, this is a bushwalking forum. Some bushwalkers are also rock climbers. Some also, are mountaineers. So I find it normal to intervene in a thread when someone talks about rock climbing. But if some prefer to think that Mt. Anne and Eastern (or western) Arthurs have rockclimbing bits in it, I also think is fine. As a matter of fact, some rockclimbers see some real rock climbing routes as bushwalking, just because there is a shrub...
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby headwerkn » Wed 23 Nov, 2022 7:22 am

vagrom wrote:I'm looking on those Notch shots for the little plaque/memorial to someone who died there.


Unless I'm remembering incorrectly, that plaque is actually just up from High Camp/Memorial Hut, on the western side of Mt Eliza. I have a photo somewhere...

CBee wrote:But if some prefer to think that Mt. Anne and Eastern (or western) Arthurs have rockclimbing bits in it


I think those who don't (or don't regularly) rock climb would consider those routes somewhat akin to rockclimbing in places. Having a climber's mentality and/or understanding some handgrip techniques definitely helps.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby DaveTas » Wed 23 Nov, 2022 8:32 am

Far be it for me to disagree with a man of Ian’s experience, but I don’t know many climbers that would consider grade 3 to be proper climbing.

I grew up in California and a grade 3 on the Ewbank scale is a 5.0 at best. I’ve sent dozens of first timers up grade 12+ in Australia.

Rose Ramble on lassies wall is 16 and used by tafe groups to teach beginners. I’ve chucked a bunch of first timers down the unnamed 15 on white water wall.
I really believe if you have the ability to climb a ladder, you’re fine to launch up a 11 or 12.

This is probably an argument of semantics. Of course there are tons of dangerous grade 3 chossy sketchfests but the physicality of the moves are fine for anyone. My kids were climbing 12s when they were 7/8.

A quote from Ewbank himself: “ I started with the very basic activity of walking uphill - a grade 1 and let the hill get steeper……The lower grades should be child’s play and indeed they are and were meant to be”.

Anyway there are other forums for crusty old climbers to argue about grading definitions I suppose. Just trying to help.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby CBee » Wed 23 Nov, 2022 1:25 pm

Don't want to pass for someone who just like to disagree, but there are plenty of low grades climbs in Australia, that are definitely not bushwalks, nor simple scrambles. Skyline traverse at Kaputar NP (grade 3), Tiptoe Ridge at Mt. Arapiles (grade 5), North East Buttress at Tibrogargan (grade 10), to name few. Ewbank grading system gives a single number based on a combination of technical difficulty, quality of rock, exposure, protection and length. To me, if we have to apply Ewbank to some sections of the whole WA traverse, just as an example, I can't see anything more difficult than grade 1 and that is probably the corner section up Pegasus, past Oberon.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby Tazz81 » Wed 23 Nov, 2022 2:32 pm

Just my two cents…. Climbing the notch is done free - no harness or rope (unless you bring it along) one major slip and you are seriously injured or dead. So yes it’s not a rock climb - but it’s definitely a $&#% hard bushwalk!
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby DaveTas » Wed 23 Nov, 2022 3:08 pm

It’s pretty subjective CBee, but according to Ewbank grade 1 is a steep hill walk, so the notch would have to be at least a 2 or 3.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby CBee » Wed 23 Nov, 2022 3:46 pm

DaveTas wrote:It’s pretty subjective CBee, but according to Ewbank grade 1 is a steep hill walk, so the notch would have to be at least a 2 or 3.

It could be for sure. I haven't done it. The only grade 1 I did is Tibrogargan or Beerwah tourist tracks. But you have to use your hands for some sections, I don't think is doable with only your legs. Still I'm not sure grade 1 Ewbank refers to a steep hill walk, could you please provide some more info?
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby DaveTas » Thu 24 Nov, 2022 5:44 am

The quote in my post above is from Ewbank and published in Climb #6. If you search chockstone you can find the article in a forum post. “Grade 1 starts as a steep walk….lower grade are an should be child’s play…”

He also says that determining when proper climbing begins is a fools errand and subjective. This discussion proves the point I suppose. For me 3 - 9 is just scrambling/rambling. Maybe 12 was a bit hyperbolic.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby CBee » Thu 24 Nov, 2022 7:24 am

Some of the early climbs before the 60s were given old english grades. Then translated to early Ewbank, hence typically the use of grade 4 for easy climbs, grade 8 for intermediate and grade 10 and up for harder climbs. The translation didn't always reflect the difficulty, so we still have nowadays climbs of grade 10 or 12 that are serious undertaking on very under-protected rock, the so called "sandbags". But to remain on the bushwalking side of it, many sections over long (or short) hikes in Mountainous terrain, is pretty normal to encounter an obligatory passage that requires climbing, the terrain dictate this. But I wouldn't call it rock climbing. Especially considering bushwalkers do not carry rock climbing gear.
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Re: Mount Anne reality check - exposure beyond Shelf Camp

Postby vagrom » Fri 02 Dec, 2022 5:04 pm

Here's a fairly expansive shot of Shelf Camp from 2007. People camp on rock because the soft gullys can turn into torrents when it rains heavily
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