Sunday 10 October 2021
In the past we could drive to the gate halfway up the Craigieburn ski road and only had to walk up the road from there to the ford and sharp bend. This time the ski club had the locked barrier arm at the bottom car park, so walking from there at 9.30am+ on a pleasant morning, it took 35 minutes up the road to the ford and sharp bend. We were headed for the second of the two streams which branch near point 986m. There is a marked route from the old ice-skating pond, but we took the lower route I had used before, dropping gently east from the bend, crossing the first stream to sidle around into the second.
It is then a matter of following upstream, sometimes marked, crossing from TR to TL, beyond the last tree-clad spur, up to the foot of the scree that we would take up to the saddle north-west of Mt Manson. Arriving there at 11.40am for an early lunch while still beside the stream was preferable to a later lunch up on the saddle. Kerry and Diane did not arrive at the lunch spot and it transpired they had stopped 200m back, then we could see them climbing directly out by the trees, getting a height gain on us while we dined. Climbing steeply up the scree after lunch was ok but more difficult once in the light, soft snow. Without spotting Kerry and Diane, we reached the saddle at 1.40pm and turned east up the mostly snow-free main ridge to 1859m Mt Manson.
From the top, our circuit was along the spur to the south, which eventually curves around to provide an exit down to the stream via one of the scree fingers into the bush. While dropping down the spur, none of the basins to the west seemed likely routes for Kerry and Diane to have cut the corner, so we assumed that they must have circled back the way they had come and would be ahead of us.
Returning downstream we took the higher marked route that eventually drops down to the ice-skating pond. The track into it emerges at the upper end of the sharp bend. Back there at 4.15pm and still no Kerry and Diane, we continued back down the road to the car park at 5pm. Still no Kerry and Diane, so the concern level was rising. A ski club member gave us the gate key so we could drive up the road to look for the stragglers. As it turned out, no problem. Kerry and Diane had eventually sidled to our scree basin where Kerry followed us up to Manson, as reported by a ski club member. Kerry and Diane had then returned down to the stream in our footsteps. So, we were all reunited down at the car park after 6pm.
We were: Rich Ainley, Ian Beale, Keith Hoard, Danny Lee, Kyung Sang Lee, Myles McCauley, Diane Mellish, Merv Meredith (leader), Kerry Moore and Wang. [MM]
Postscript: Diane’s text to Merv’s phone confirmed their route. Shame it wasn’t turned on.
The lost barrier arm padlock key. That’s another story altogether.