Climbing Mt Zeil

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Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby SJR » Thu 10 Feb, 2011 7:55 pm

Last April a mate and I tried climbing Mt Zeil. We failed and given that I'm 52 and live about 1,500km away I probably won't try again but I'd love to hear from others who have tried whether you succeeded or not.

For those who've never heard of Mt Zeil (and I suspect that will be quite a few) it's the highest peak in Australia west of the Great Dividing Range. Its summit is about 1,530m above sea level and about 900m above the surrounding plain. The big challenge is its remote location. It's about 150km in a staight line (or 190km by road) WNW of Alice Springs in a remote corner of the West MacDonnell National Park. The nearest easily accessible road is about 12km from the base and there are no walking trails or tracks of any kind to the summit (at least not that I could find any record of).

For those with the patience to read it I've got a fairly detailed (7 pages with photos) account of our walk including GPS references but it's in WORD format which the system won't seem to allow me to upload. If anyone is interested I can cut and paste and see if that works but what I'm really interested in are your stories.

I'm conscious of forum rules relating to publishing details or access to sensitive areas with no tracks but as this is in a National Park and, as far as I can make out, only about a dozen groups attempt it each year I don't think we'll breach the intent of the rule.

Look forward to your stories - SJR
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Mt Zeil Camp 5.JPG
Mt Zeil from our Camp the evening before the climb.
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Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby Maelgwn » Thu 10 Feb, 2011 10:01 pm

I'm assuming you read the Wild article about the people who climb the seven australian summits? I would be keen to read your report. Will pm
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Fri 11 Feb, 2011 10:37 am

Hi guys, I'd be interested in reading your notes (I will PM you SJR.) My goal is to climb each of the State 8 - the highest peak in each of Australia's eight states and territories, Mt Zeil being NT's highest. I've only climbed two to date, so maybe I shouldn't broadcast so far afield that it is my goal yet...

I have created a website which allows peak to mark off peaks they have climbed, adding any new peaks they want. It includes a group for the State 8 - http://peakclimb.com/index.php?group_id=5
blogs - www.jeremyc.com
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby SJR » Fri 11 Feb, 2011 9:56 pm

jez_au wrote:Hi guys, I'd be interested in reading your notes (I will PM you SJR.) My goal is to climb each of the State 8 - the highest peak in each of Australia's eight states and territories, Mt Zeil being NT's highest. I've only climbed two to date, so maybe I shouldn't broadcast so far afield that it is my goal yet...

I have created a website which allows peak to mark off peaks they have climbed, adding any new peaks they want. It includes a group for the State 8 - http://peakclimb.com/index.php?group_id=5


Hey love the website. It was originally our intention to climb Mt Woodroofe the highest peak in SA but it seemed access is all but impossible. I see however that at least 2 people have done it so maybe there's hope yet.
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Sat 12 Feb, 2011 12:37 am

Mt Woodroofe is arguably the most difficult peak to climb out of the State 8 - from a permissions point of view. Mt Woodroofe is in the APY Lands (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands). The climb itself is relatively easy. You need permission from the local Aboriginal elders to a) drive on the roads in the area, and b) climb the peak. I've heard from several people it is difficult to obtain permission to climb the peak, the site has special significance to the people. There is another option though, a local tour has permission: http://www.aboriginalaustralia.com.au/tour_info.cfm?id=168

I'm hoping to climb the peak in 2012.
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Sat 12 Feb, 2011 12:43 am

SJR wrote:Hey love the website.


Oh SJB (thanks btw), you should join up!

http://www.peakclimb.com/
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby MountainMadness » Wed 02 Mar, 2011 2:38 pm

Ah yes, good old Mt Ziel. I've climbed it before - twice. Having spent the first 19 years of my life in Alice Springs and being into hiking and mountains it was a must.

As SJR mentioned, there aren't any tracks or specific routes to take up the mountain, which makes it a challenge in its self. The climb is pretty solid starting from approx 700m up to 1500m. Its quite steep in areas with a pretty nice and exposed summit.

Access is best from the Tanami Track (Approx 20kms north of Alice Springs off the Stuart Highway), take the exit to Papunya and after 30ks or so along this track there is a off-track to the left that accesses a number of water bores in the Mt Zeil area. The first time we climbed it (10 years ago) we got permission from the Department of Lands and Planning and got a key for a ''locked'' gate (which indecently had visited by a certain bolt cutter previously) which was supposed to be along the water bore access roads. The second time (a couple of years later) we didn't bother to get permission and drove straight in.

We took a 4WD and managed to find our way in nearly to the base of the mountain (closer than SJR by the sounds of it) taking some off-tracks including a bit of bush bashing. We got up ridiculously early in Alice and did the climb in one day. As mentioned before, the climb was quite demanding (well maybe this was partly due to the fact that we were pushing ourselves to do the climb in one day!) as it was hot, the climb was steep and that there was no established track. The Spinifex is atrocious in the area so wearing pants is advised (although makes it a hotter climb). Also, bring plenty of water.
It’s a nice climb so if you are in the Alice district, it is highly recommended!!
Yeah the ‘State-8’ idea is pretty cool. I’ve climbed 6 of them (excluding Woodroffe and Meharry). Actually I am pretty annoyed as I was relatively close to the base of Woodroffe several years back servicing a generator at a cattle station near by, but didn’t have time for the climb. Well, having left Central Australia 6 years ago I’ll have to make the trek back to tick off the final 2.

Cheers,
Paul.
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Thu 03 Mar, 2011 8:41 am

Thanks Paul. I have heard others say you need permission from the rangers at the West Macdonnell Ranges NP, they handle the permission rather than Derwent Station. I'm planning to hike either later this year or mid 2012. Given the long lead time I will go down the official path and post back here with details. Jeremy
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby Snowzone » Thu 10 Mar, 2011 10:24 am

jez_au wrote:Thanks Paul. I have heard others say you need permission from the rangers at the West Macdonnell Ranges NP, they handle the permission rather than Derwent Station. I'm planning to hike either later this year or mid 2012. Given the long lead time I will go down the official path and post back here with details. Jeremy

I climbed Zeil in 2008 and I would suggest anyone thinking of doing Zeil contact
Chris Day
Chief District Ranger West
Parks and Wildlife Service
Department Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts
chris.day@nt.gov.au
Phone (08) 8955 1119

We gained permission to access through Glen Helen Station which meant we could gain access to the southern side of the mountain easier. We camped out there for two nights and the whole experience was magic. :D

jez_au wrote:Mt Woodroofe is arguably the most difficult peak to climb out of the State 8 - from a permissions point of view. Mt Woodroofe is in the APY Lands (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands). The climb itself is relatively easy. You need permission from the local Aboriginal elders to a) drive on the roads in the area, and b) climb the peak. I've heard from several people it is difficult to obtain permission to climb the peak, the site has special significance to the people. There is another option though, a local tour has permission: http://www.aboriginalaustralia.com.au/tour_info.cfm?id=168

I'm hoping to climb the peak in 2012.

I have also climbed Woodroffe in 2007. At that time about one permit a year was being issued to climb Woodroffe using a company called Desert Tracks that is based in Yulara. It makes the trip more expensive but at least you get access and again we spent an enjoyable couple of nights out there.
jez_au wrote:Hi guys, I'd be interested in reading your notes (I will PM you SJR.) My goal is to climb each of the State 8 - the highest peak in each of Australia's eight states and territories, Mt Zeil being NT's highest. I've only climbed two to date, so maybe I shouldn't broadcast so far afield that it is my goal yet...

I have created a website which allows peak to mark off peaks they have climbed, adding any new peaks they want. It includes a group for the State 8 - http://peakclimb.com/index.php?group_id=5

There is also another dedicated website state8.net

Anyway good luck with your quest. I hope you have as much fun as I had doing the 8. I certainly have a lot of special memories from them. :D
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Thu 10 Mar, 2011 10:51 am

Thanks for the extra info Snowzone. I have looked through http://www.state8.net before, some good info.

I'm always amazed people try to climb summits like this in one day, it can be difficult to predict how fast you will move, the vegetation can make it slow going - and vegetation density can vary from one year to another. It's so easy to run out of time, it's good to have contingency plans to ensure you can reach the summit safely and enjoy the hike.
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby rosied » Wed 03 Aug, 2011 3:00 pm

Hi SJR,
Some friends and I are planning to head out to Mt Zeil this weekend, would appreciate reading your notes! Is there a way that I could get in touch to read them? Cheers
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby paul8 » Sun 22 Jul, 2012 2:37 pm

We did it in July 2012. A report is in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com/2012/07/ze ... ralia.html
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby TRF » Fri 08 Feb, 2013 4:26 pm

:?
Last edited by TRF on Fri 08 Feb, 2013 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
.../...
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby TRF » Fri 08 Feb, 2013 4:33 pm

Snowzone wrote:... I would suggest anyone thinking of doing Zeil contact
Chris Day
Chief District Ranger West
Parks and Wildlife Service
Department Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts
chris.day@nt.gov.au
Phone (08) 8955 1119

+1 :roll:

After our expedition, we get the information that you want before your climb Mt Zeil.
A MAP !
2009-07-05_122042.JPG

We parked at the white dot au north; Walk a bit around the 1s hill and after straigh line to the Mt. We had to camp on the way.

Magic
2009-07-03;05 Mt Zeil Expedition-228-0000_PS1.jpg


If this trek was my hardest one ever we have a great time
.../...
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Sat 09 Feb, 2013 8:09 am

TRF wrote:After our expedition, we get the information that you want before your climb Mt Zeil.
A MAP !


It really is worth contacting the ranger. They will give you a 1:50,000 topo map with route and access information. Te only other topo maps available are 1:250,000, and these hide too much info.

I did the hike twice: an attempt with the 1:250,000 from the south east, and a successful climb with the 1:50,000 from the west. http://jez-hiking.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/mt-zeil-nts-highest-peak-state-8.html
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby Walking_addict » Sun 22 Dec, 2013 10:44 pm

G'day SJR,
Wow, Mt Zeil brings back some great memories.

We did it in on Sunday 10th June, 2010.
There were 4 of us, and 3 of us made it up, with the 4th waiting at the saddle on the South Western spur.

Glen Helen resort dropped us out at the western end the day before, we camped pretty much right on the western end of the Zeil range, the walked around the south side to that SW Spur to the top.
We had planned to bag it, and keep going down a SE spur, to go on to Redbank Gorge, but we backtracked down the same way to pick up our other party, then walked across to Redbank and then did the Larapinta to Alice, arriving some 17 days later (total 19 days inc Mt Zeil part), one rest day.

We copped it big time with rain and cold on the LT, as bad as anything I can remember we ever got in places like Tassie !!
Gorges were flooded, freezing cold !!, and the Finke River went from bone still poools to flowing strongly.

Ah, great memories, thanks for stirring them up.

Jez_au, we did Mt Woodroofe on Sun 29th Sept 2009.
Went in with Desert Tracks (Yulara) on their (sole at the time, it seems) commercial access licence to the APY lands, but we went totally independent.
Met on Mulga Pk Rd, and followed him in with his once a year small group of peak baggers.
The rest of the year, Brett from DT only does school groups, and they don't climb, only the one climbing group a year.

We spent several days with the trad owner Peter there, and his family.
They are pretty stringent about educating people to the dreamtime story of the mountain, doing songlines and and sand drawings etc, so people are knowledgeable about the significance to the local people.
Very nice experience.

I only need to get Mt Meharry and Bartle Frere now, one day will get them.
Cheers,
Les
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby Patrack » Tue 02 Jun, 2015 9:24 am

Hi SJR
We are climbing Mt Zeil in three weeks. Would be very interested in your word document and and GPS route or track files that you have. Could you email to pat@cotterill.id.au please?

Thanks in advance
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby ribuck » Mon 14 Mar, 2022 7:04 am

Mcspud wrote:Question re accessing Mt Zeil from Redbank. Has it been done and if so what was the best route to the summit? I’m aware others have tried. Happy to carry 10 litres of water mid May attempt 3-5 days. What maps did they use? Most seem to cut off at the Tropic of Capricorn. I also see some mention of no access.
Also can you walk back up to the Larapinta at a more easterly point? That would save backtracking to Redbank.
I’m pulling what’s left of my hair out trying to work this out.

Hi Mcspud, I've moved your question from the Larapinta thread to this thread, I hope that's OK.

First I should mention that if you simply want to summit Mt Zeil (the highest Australian mountain west of the Great Dividing Range) from the north, it's logistically straightforward. Hire a 4WD, drive to Mt Zeil Wilderness Park, camp for 2 nights. On the day in-between, get started before dawn from the road-end at the Wilderness Park, following the route advised by the Wilderness Park staff. You may or may not get back before dark. Take 4 or more litres of water.

Some people who climb from the north prefer to take two days, camping near the top. This requires permission from Parks NT, and (separately) an overnight bushwalking permit.

Visiting from the south, parties can head overland directly from Redbank North. There is a large waterhole a few km north in Redbank Creek, after which you need to carry water. Alternatively, parties can visit the edge of Mt Razorback before striking off towards Mt Zeil. There is likely water in a couple of creeks that flow off Razorback, after which you need to carry water.

Now, take a look at the aerial view that was kindly posted earlier in this thread by TRF. See the campsite symbol on the south? At least two parties have reported water in the gully above that camp, and the ridge above that camp provides a viable route to the summit. But! That campsite is within Glen Helen Station, who no longer wish to deal with bushwalkers on their land. So you can disregard most routes posted prior to, say, 2015.

Instead, it's necessary to climb from south-east of the summit, in order to stay within the National Park. A group from Adelaide Bush Walkers did this in 2018, from the south via Razorback. You can read their account from the link below.

People who have been reading this forum for a while will recall "the mad Belgian", Louis-Philippe Loncke, who traversed Tasmania in winter from north to south against numerous hardships. Well it turns out he has also done Zeil to the Larapinta Trail, starting from the north and staying strictly within the national park as he headed south to Razorback on his way to Redbank Gorge. His route is in the links below.

Finally, I believe there are additional constraints on the route to be taken, imposed by the National Park at the request of the traditional owners. I have put in a request to Parks NT last week, in the hope of clarifying this, but haven't heard back yet.

McSpud, you asked about joining the Larapinta trail further east than Redbank Gorge. If you replenish your water at the waterhole north of Redbank Gorge, it's two fairly straightforward days to Ormiston Gorge or Bowmans Gap, but since you're interested in walking the Larapinta what's the downside of joining the Larapinta at Redbank Gorge? You can bypass Redbank Gorge on the west or east (east was quicker and less scratchy in 2021).

For my own upcoming trip, if anyone here has recent experience with the route between Zeil and Razorback, I would be most grateful to know your experience with: (a) any water source within the National Park on the south base of Mt Zeil, (b) any water source you found between Mt Zeil and Mt Razorback (I'm already familiar with the water situation from Mt Razorback to Redbank Gorge North), and (c) what route you were able to get a permit for. I'm not able to keep up the same speed as Louis-Philippe Loncke or that Adelaide Bush Walkers group, hence my interest in additional possible water sources.

Links:

Mt Zeil Wilderness Park
https://mtzeilwildernesspark.com.au/act ... zeil-climb
Mt Zeil Wilderness Park camping ($22 per person per night)
https://mtzeilwildernesspark.com.au/facilities/camping

Flat ground near the top being used for camping in 2009:
https://www.nigel-roberts.info/Zeil-web ... 72_jpg.htm

A great video showing the climb from the north, and an alternative descent in a north-flowing mostly-dry creekbed:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cMP6ctmScw

Adelaide Bush Walkers 2018 trip:
https://www.adelaidebushwalkers.org/wp- ... n-2019.pdf

Louis-Philippe Loncke's trip overview
https://www.louis-philippe-loncke.com/2 ... tback.html
and his route:
https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oVdwXeNe7bs/ ... on%2B1.jpg

Permits for camping overnight outside a designated area
https://nt.gov.au/parks/permits-for-par ... nated-area
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby Mcspud » Mon 14 Mar, 2022 8:05 am

Great detailed reply.
I’m planning on starting at Redbank then climbing Sonder true summit day 2. Regroup at Redbank then head out to Zeil day 3. The idea of heading to a more easterly Larapinta intersect appeals as I’m not huge on people. I’ve spent a lot of time walking remotely alone and am comfortable with that.
However the contours are closely spaced directly below the Larapinta to the North. Looks like a serious climb up to join the track again.
So as you suggest I might meander easterly a bit before joining Larapinta where u suggest.
Being solo so don’t want to take any unnecessary chances. Water sources seem like an issue but that was to be expected.
I’ll be departing Redbank about 17th May and with Zeil and Giles am planning maybe 22 days out.
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby north-north-west » Mon 14 Mar, 2022 9:19 am

Mcspud wrote:I’m planning on starting at Redbank then climbing Sonder true summit day 2.


Please don't. It will not be appreciated by the Arrernte custodians.
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