December 17, 2011 § 1 Comment
It is a peculiar quirk of my personality that, given the choice between doing very little and quite a lot actually, I tend to choose quite a lot.
And so I climbed a mountain this morning. You know those psych tests where you have to choose one of two options, even though you hate them equally? You could profile me in a statistically significant way using action and inaction couplets. Presented with a choice of:
(A) Climb mountain
(B) Lie on couch
I am 75% likely to choose (A). I know, stupid.
Mount Tennent, in the lovely and underrated Namadgi National Park, is just under 1400 metres above sea level, which is embarrassingly short. But kind of a big deal in Australia where our mountains top out at around 2200 metres. It’s a massive torso of granite squatting imposingly at the bottom end of the ACT, the little village of Tharwa at its feet. I have wanted to climb it for AGES.
Here’s the thing: it’s hard. You gain 800 metres of height in only about 7 kilometres of distance. There are lots of steep, rocky, technical bits as well as stretches of alpine meadow and fire trail.
Richard is an ultra runner which means “I’ll be gone for HOURS!” and also means that there are energy bars in the house, so I took one of those and 750 ml of water (not enough) and a mandarin I found lying around. His next event is the Bogan to Hotham, Australia’s toughest mountain race for people who drive powerful Aussie sedans.
What? Oh. Well it sounds like Bogan to Hotham.
The route is decorated with tiny wildflowers (including weird miniature daisies that looks like they are in ultraviolet light) and wombat poop. Not just anywhere, either. Apparently wombats like to shit right on the tops of small boulders which, if you can picture a wombat, is pretty fierce. That means awesome. Clearly they have nothing better to do than hang out with their mates all:
Dude. Check this out. I bet you I can balance a shit on that rock.
Whatever, hairy arse, bring it.
The final kilometre never. ends. I was saving my snacks for the summit, but I started to hallucinate wildly about sugar, so I pulled out my mandarin and ate one segment each 10 metres. And then, about a pip’s throw from the top I choked on some mandarin and thought how embarrassing my memorial would be if I died right then and there like Mallory.
Choked on mandarin
Didn’t make it
But I did! And so did Mallory, probably. Hurrah!
The view, of course, was astounding.When I got to the top I first looked out to the south-west to the Australian Alps, which aren’t like Alps at all really, but beautiful and rugged with their bumpy, exposed plateaus. Then I turned around and looked back towards Canberra and I actually took a dramatic breath. It was just so like flying.
Time: 2 hours up, 1.5 hours down. Map says 6 hours. FIT AS BUGGERY.
Ate: Winners bar, mandarin and sunscreen.
Recommended for: Moderately fit people. Or moderately unfit people who are prepared to put the hard work in. And maybe sleep out for a night.