Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tackling the Peaks of Wilpena

The plan was a simple one, walk into Pound, tackle some of the peaks on the south-western rim - pack light so we could camp at the summit or saddle. Easy. Flexible.

Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges National Park

The southern side of Wilpena Pound taken in 2009. This drought ravaged scene contrasts with 2010's very green season.

Photographer: The Sentimental Bloke

However. Simple it did not turn out to be. Our packs only weighed in around 13 kilos, we had some basic light-weight wet weather gear just in case of rain. But rain it did not, pour it did. On the Friday night, we camped in the carpark near Arkoo Rock. Some hours into the night the heavens opened and it rained, a lot. Unfortunately, one of our party's tents failed. It had had a long reliable life, but I guess the water proofing had just worn out, the heavy rain causing a dramatic equipment failure.

Not detered, we continued with our plan. We had some notes from others who had tackled the peaks - Beatrice Hill (1148m), Pompey Pillar (1168m), Dorothy Peak (1016m), Harold Hill (1073m) and Greig Peak (1044m). Most had tackled them from the inside, one from the outside of the pound. As it turns out, perhaps we too should have tackled it from the outside. The vegetation was dense, very dense, progress was slow - around 1km/h. From the track near Cooinda Camp we followed a creek west, then a ridge south, but I think it was more an exercise is slapping each other with wet laden branches in each other's faces than it was in hiking. By lunch time we had made little progress, the peaks around the rim of the pound were still shrouded in mist, there was no hope of drying out the wet sleeping bag. Our light weight weather gear hadn't feared too well either, it wasn't cold, but it could be a cold night if you have wet gear.

All these factors combined, it was unanimous, we retreated. We would return another time, better prepared. For one thing, it seemed prudent in future to bring other wet weather gear in the car, and leave it there, but have it there just in case the weather turns prior to leaving the carpark. Further research showed that people who had used the in-pound route had done so years ago, in drier seasons where vegetation had not had the opportunity to grow so thick, or where fire had cleared the vegetation.

Sorry, no GPS map this time around, no photos. Had a house break-in, lost it. Pity. Below is a generic map of the peaks of Wilpena Pound.

View in full screen format
Download GPX file - for use as a navigational aid in a GPS unit
Download KML file - view in Google Earth