Mt Cloudsley to Mt Enys traverse
21 December 2019
On the drive home, after an epic day, Jane asked me if we’d completed the longest day walk on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Unfortunately, we were a day too early. Jane’s original trip was Kellys Creek to Mt Barron, which she cancelled due to weather and instead proposed a day walk from Mt Cloudsley to Mt Enys. Three of us took up the challenge, described in the Wilderness Magazine as ‘an honest day walk involving 1900m of total climbing over 20km’.
Driving to Castle Hill Village, low cloud shrouded the mountain summits. We commenced walking, at 8:30am from the carpark, following one of the many mountain bike tracks up to the Long Spur Track, the long steepish ridge up to Mt Cloudsley. The climb of 1300m, of tussock then scree, is unrelenting. As we ascended we were slowly engulfed in cloud. We wondered if we would emerge from the low cloud to a clear sky, and fortunately this occurred at 1855m. By the time we reached the summit of Mt Cloudsley the cloud started to lift and we enjoyed spectacular views from every aspect.
After a quick lunch stop, out of the cold breeze, we continued to Mt Enys. The wide 3km ridge, dotted with patches of fresh snow, descends before a final climb to Mt Enys. Travel was easy along the tops. On the summit of Mt Enys, we briefly sat and admired the views of the Southern Alps before the cold breeze chased us away and we started our descent of Carn Brea. What appeared to be two cruxes were easily negotiated and we quickly reached Dead Mans Spur. It’s a long and gradual pleasant descent down the ridge on soft scree and large patches of fresh snow to 1300m where the ridge drops steeply to Whitewater Creek.
Mistakenly, we choose to descend towards the east side of the ridge. We all agreed later, a route towards the west side would have been better. From here the route crosses the creek and continues up Leith Hill saddle and drops into the head of Thomas River onto a well formed but unmarked track. We decided to climb the saddle and continue up Leith Hill then connect to the Leith Hill Loop Track that would return us to the car park. All three of us were a bit weary by this stage for the final ascent to Leith saddle that looked steep and challenging, however it proved to be easier than we had expected.
Once over Leith Hill we headed down to the Loop track, which eluded us till we finally stumbled over it. An easy descent on the track to the lodge and then a short walk along a gravel road returned the three of us to the beginning of our epic adventure. And that it was, a total of eleven hours with a cumulative ascent over 2kms over a distance of 20kms or more. We were tired but happy, it’d been a spectacular day out in the mountains.
We were: Peter Umbers, Sonja Risa, Jane Liddle (leader) (SR)
Peter and Jane on the summit of Mt Enys. Photo courtesy of Sonja Risa.
Descending Mt Cloudsley en route to Mt. Enys. Photo courtesy of Sonja Risa.