Saturday, 16 March 2013

Paddys Nut - 17th January 2013

Our hero magically transported himself to Pelion Hut (it would apparently be against OT rules to actually WALK there from the end of the Never Never). On the way he failed to climb magically transport himself up Mount Ossa, due to not being able to raise the enthusiasm to climb it for the fifth time while it was covered in cloud and drizzle.

From Pelion, a day walk to Paddys Nut and/or Mount Thetis appears possible, indeed, The Abels Vol. 1 says Mount Thetis is a mere 2 1/2 hours from Pelion Hut. Experience tells us, however, that their estimates seem to be for (i) very fit walkers, (ii) impervious to scrub, (iii) who know exactly where to go in untracked country. I suspect for me to get to Mount Thetis it is going to take much longer, even if I have no trouble following the route. Recent efforts suggest I will lose the track at least twice unless it is marked with large orange-painted stone bollards and a boardwalk... On this basis, I suspect I will climb Paddys Nut from the outset, and leave Mount Thetis for a time when I am set to camp up there.

The track to Paddys Nut heads left (south) from the Overland Track west of the turnoff to Old Pelion Hut. If you want more info, you can find it in books and online, including in Chapman's tome. Email me for a better description if you like. Blazes and other markers show the route heading south into the scrub. It heads uphill and is basically marked most of the way up the ridge and onto the saddle between Mount Ossa and Mount Thetis. Of course, I lost the track where a smallish tree had fallen lengthwise on the route, and headed a little left of the proper route. It's OK, as in general the track just heads upwards. This did entail a botanical excursion into a huge patch of scoparia, the fun of which was only marginally mitigated by the attractiveness of their flowers. At another point on my own personal route, I found Tasmania's largest leeches (no lie!), which basically jogged in formation up my gaiters as I perched on a fallen log to peruse the map.

The Richea scoparia was in flower, but remains a total pain to move through without a track.
There are actual track markers showing the route along the flatter part of the ridge leading up to the saddle, and these were visible maybe 100m from the midst of the scoparia thicket. Having regained the correct route, it is pretty easy to follow to a point above the actual saddle near some pools of water. Some of these pools are good for drinking, although a couple were pretty salty!

Mount Thetis from the Ossa-Thetis saddle, beyond a salty pond.
I could see Mount Osaa above me to the south from here, but to the north there was only a wall of cloud. I was pretty sure where Paddys Nut ought to be, so descended into the actual saddle, and then followed the pad towards Paddys Nut. I don't think there's a marked route up the Nut, but it's easy to head up the middle of the boulder field with some zigzags. As I did so, the cloud cleared, and a steep climb up the hill brought me to the summit. There are two bits which might be the summit, and I chose the more easterly. I think it might be slightly higher.

Mount Ossa from Paddys Nut

Views from here were great, Mount Thetis, Mount Pelion West, Mount Ossa, Mount Achilles, Perrins Bluff, and other peaks north and east. Looking at Mount Thetis, I decided I was fairly unclear where the route went, and considering the description of the boulders as "huge", I decided Paddys Nut would do for the day. Predictably I'd spent longer getting there than the Abels team reckoned I should have spent getting all the way to the top of Mount Thetis.

Paddys Nut, Mount Pelion West and Barn Bluff from the Ossa-Thetis saddle

Overall, Paddys Nut is a good sidetrip from the Overland Track, although if lots of people actually did it, then it would rapidly degrade. There are already bits which are eroded too much, and would be quite boggy in wet times.

Oh, and I lost the track at a slightly different point on the return.

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