Point 1912m – Cass Saddle

7th Nov 2010

This was a new trip for our club, but I make no secret of the fact that I had seen it in the Over Forties club newsletter in November last year and copied it for our trip list.

The route is up the Cass River to Long Valley Stream, then up the first major side-stream to the south-west, climbing out on the true right to bypass a 50m waterfall and eventually working around the upper basin to ascend point 1912m. On the southern side of this ridge, it is easy to work around to descend a basin leading down to Cass Saddle Hut. It’s then just a matter of hiking down the Cass track back to the road.

A week before the trip I rang Stephen Sheen the Over Forties trip leader, and confessed to blatant copying. After our initial discussions about copyright, he was very helpful. He had an obvious passion for the area. We discussed a similar trip up McLeod Stream and overnight trips along the Black Range. In the days leading up to Sunday, the forecast was looking really good. Could it last? It did—sunny and not much wind, made better by a quick snow addition 48 hours before.

This was always known to be a long day-trip, so with a 7am start from town, we had eight people walking by 8.50am, with a bit of valley cloud clearing. We missed some of the track on the true right and did a bit more river crossing than we needed to on the way up, but that was no problem on a sunny morning. We were soon turning up Long Valley Stream—very pleasant on a sunny morning. As we progressed, we could see the waterfall ahead, in the side-stream.

There are three side-streams on the true right of this waterfall stream and there is a large cairn before the first of them—a good place to stop and have lunch. It was about 1pm when we restarted and began the steep climb up and across these side-streams, to sidle into the upper basin—a great sight with a fair amount of remaining snow cover.

Stephen’s description had been to head toward the saddle at the western head of the basin and then come back east along the ridge to 1912. But Doug was up front and cut the corner, eventually heading south, directly up to 1912 via steep snow slopes. This probably took half an hour off the climb and we were all pleased to be on top at 2pm.

Descending the basin on the south side did, as Stephen had suggested, have the potential for a fast, long bum-slide. Unfortunately, apart from a short firmer section near the top, most of the basin was a bit too soft to keep sliding, so we had to resort to running, although we did manage quite a distance lying back and paddling. I should have got out my old parka for a stomach slide after all. It wasn’t until 4.20pm that everyone was down and we could drop the rest of the way down onto the Cass track and a straightforward plod down the track to the cars. At the end of a long day, this section went on forever, or about nine km to be correct. We reached the road at 6.50pm, still in sunshine.

We had a ten hour, hard day in near-perfect weather. I think everyone got a buzz from the route, none more so than Dan, who had put his recovering leg, badly damaged in an accident in May, to a test several notches more than previously. Thanks again to Stephen for the inspiration.

Doing the circuit were: Doug Forster, Sue Hely, Chrys Horn, Chris Leaver, Tony Oliver, Stuart Payne, Dan Pryce and Merv Meredith. (MM)