Extended Trip - Saturday 6 January 2018 to Tuesday 9 January 2018 (4 days)
On day one, trip 3, the team was feeling rested, re-nourished and very confident of their tramping prowess. Even though well aware of the 3 hour upward slog ahead of us, we leisurely left the comforts of St Arnaud at 9.30. Lunch at Parachute Rocks provided excellent views to where we had come from and beyond, but gave no hint of the ever-demanding and tactical St Arnaud’s ridgeline adventure that was ahead of us.
After reaching the tops and conquering four major craggy peaks, up to 1787 m, involving a lot of rock scrambling, with the aid of good visibility we were able to select our preferred perfect campsite - the last tarn in the Rough Creek Basin. That serenity all changed in an instant as just as the tents had been secured, water collected, another scrumptious dehydrated evening meal consumed, dishes done and teeth brushed the heavens opened. This meant for a hurried early solitary night, 6.30pm, for all.
Fortunately by the time we were ready to up and move on the next day, the rains had also moved on. This left us with a few more technical ridgeline peaks to contend with, learning to rely on the fearless stoat catchers boxes as a guide to best navigate ourselves southward. Although scorning the sight of civilization and man made objects The Rainbow Ski field provided the welcome repose -I wasn’t holding back from the 3-meter wide grader-made highway. No more energy sapping rocky concentration for at least 20mins, as we were now traversing on the green coded ‘Easy Street’ - minus our skis.
This spot also gave us an opportunity to consider our options for descending the following day down to Lakehead Hut. They didn’t look that wonderful, no matter what way we looked. After finding the cairn just south of pt1696 indicating the best route down, the thought of the precipitous 600m shingle gradient and the 300m vertical bush bash to a sand-fly infested crowded hut clinched the decision to head back the way we had come, incorporating one more extra night on the tops and armed with the knowledge on how to navigate ourselves around all those tricky time consuming ledges.
So night three was based by a large tarn beyond the Rainbow Ski field and the last pleasant night on the western side of where we had first ascended. This tarn provided a great swimming/washing hole and a very pleasant evening was had by all, knowing that we had only to climb up to the ridgeline once again and complete the descent into St Arnaud once again.
Trip participants: Andrew (leader), Dave, Eng, Tong, Christine, Catherine (scribe), Uta, Michelle