Date: 13th October 2019 – Summit 1198m
As with many of the Abels, multiple routes are available for Mt Lord. The most commonly used route begins at the Mt Field National Park and is normally an overnight trip, or at the least a very, very long day trip! With Tracey’s love of finding all things alternate when it comes to climbing mountains we had decided to approach Mt Lord from the Florentine Valley instead. We called it the “fast and nasty” in advance. Little did we know that our ascent would fulfill the “fast” brief but also surprisingly and most pleasingly it did not fulfill the “nasty” bit!
Distance: 8km return.
Time taken: Under 5 hrs.
Difficulty: The Abels book route is classified as hard due to scrub encroaching on the track and the distance covered. Our route was short and steep but a relatively easy day’s hiking. HOWEVER, it is completely off track with no pads, cairns or markers and as such strong navigational skills are required.
Type of track: NO track at all using our route.
Access from: Florentine Valley.
The week prior to our Mt Lord trip Ben and I had been in Hobart visiting family and knocking Mt. Field East off our list of summits. Before the long trip back home we decided to do some reconnaissance on a driveable route to bring us to the general vicinity of Mt Lord. Our perusal of maps showed roads leading to where we would like to start the attack on Lord, but we didn’t know if the roads were actually accessible. We love a little Sunday driving and exploring old forest roads. We discovered the road that would take us to the western base of Mt Lord and strolled up one exit to have a look at the approach to the southern ridge of the peak. We then had a look at the other end of the road for an ascent to the northern ridge. We settled on starting our hike from the second forestry coup and so dropping in on Mt Lord from the north.
Our good friends Chris and Lynnda (aka suckers) joined us for Mt Lord as the four of us had connected with the Launceston Walking Club the day before for Marriots and Abbotts Lookouts. Chris and Lynnda have enjoyed a few of our off track adventures now and it is a lot of fun having them along, well except for Chris’s dad jokes! We parked the Mazda at the logged area we had scouted the week prior. We chose this area as it allowed us at least in part to avoid the dense scrub that Mt Lord is known for. We figured we could use the rocky trail to our advantage. We were hoping the logging went further than our eyes could see. We headed straight for the top of the coup.
Our map and compass bearings were set for straight up ascent using the creek as a handrail and sticking to the center of the ridge, allowing for deviations due to scrub. Once on the plateau we would be at the northern end of the summit. We would go far enough onto the plateau before heading towards the summit to avoid Lord’s rocky cliff faces.
Now we would be lying if we said we weren’t dreading bush bashing. We had had a big day of scrub scrambling the day before on Marriotts and we had heard from friends who have previously climbed Mt Lord (from Lake Dobson) that it is a tough day out in part due to dense scrub. Whilst we expected to encounter some very dense scrub we consoled ourselves with the fact that it would only be for about 2km. According to our plan and research, once we reached the plateau to the north of the summit, the scrub would become lower alpine heath.
Stepping off the rough 4WD trail at the top of the harvested area into the bush we were very pleasantly surprised to see the forest was not dense at all! It was easily hiked through with the only difficulties being stepping over or around fallen tree limbs and the fact that the elevation was steep. We could hear the creek to our right. We kept the creek to our right during the entire time as we knew via our map it would tether off and we would not need to cross it.
We continued up the steep ridge, keeping the creek in earshot and at the same time ensuring we didn’t drop down off the ridge on our left. Our compass bearing was indicating a more north-easterly heading but we knew we needed to get to the plateau rim before turning completely in that direction, if only to avoid the gully and creek. The incline increased rapidly and we were all a little tired from Marriots the day before, so we took it at an enjoyable pace which also allowed us to appreciate the wonderland of mossy green beauty we were surrounded by. At this stage there was no line of sight to the skyline as the forest canopy was high. That indicated we had a way further to go.
Climbing higher the environment changed. We were all remarking about how lucky we were as the scrub was not difficult at all, well except for Chris – he didn’t want to jinx us! I was putting it out to the universe that not only would we have a sunny summit but that we wouldn’t encounter head high tangles of bush. Chris and I took turns leading. When I collected a spider web on my face it was his turn to take over! In what didn’t seem like long at all we had our first glimpse of the summit through the trees, we also saw the top of the tree line which meant the rim of the plateau was not far off.
It felt far too soon to be stepping out onto the rim of the plateau and far too easy?! Where was all the dense scrub that hikers detest on Lord? Perhaps it was up ahead? We could see the summit but were mindful that our maps showed some areas of steep cliff on the western face of Mt. Lord. Our plan was to stick to the rim, keeping the summit in sight. We could also see what looked like a natural gully running along the ridge we would climb and we aimed for that thinking the scrub would be less dense.
Heading towards some rocky outcrops we pushed on. Our initial thinking was that the rocks would allow us easier passage. The scrub here on the plateau was probably the most dense of the day, not dense as such but thicker than what we had encountered to this point. It was a ‘choose your own adventure’ whilst sticking to our rough compass bearing. We had taken a reading off a tree half way up the ridge that we then referred to as the “Christmas Tree” such was its similarity to an actual pine Christmas tree!
Using the rocks to climb over we kept pushing in the direction of our goal. Now close to the rock face of Mt Lord we were mindful that we needed to not go any closer in case we reached a section of steep, non-negotiable rock. We skirted this section on our return journey, instead sticking to the eastern side of the ridge and making the most of the low lying vegetation that we saw from the summit.
This was by far the lengthiest part of our trip. It was harder than expected hopping between rocks and scrub. Our return journey would avoid all of this nonsense as we returned along the eastern side of these rocks. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! However, the summit cairn was well and truly in sight and we were well under our pre-set turnaround time by over an hour!
One final scree climb and we were touching the summit of Mt Lord in just under 3 hours! Normally 5 hours one way from Mt Field. And, to top off an actual pleasant hike, the sun was shining and it was views all round! As we had made faster than anticipated time to the summit we enjoyed a somewhat lengthy lunch just soaking in the views. Looking over to Mt Field West we were glad we had chosen a short sharp route to the summit instead of the generally accepted long way round!
Whilst enjoying our lunch we took the time to soak in the scenery from all sides of Mt Lord and noticed that east of where we had come up towards the summit a large band of very low lying vegetation led all the way back to our entry point on the ridge. We decided to use that low lying vegetation on our return journey as it would be easier and quicker than the rockier route we had summitted from. After a very indulgent lunch we headed almost due east and began contouring down to the plateau whilst still also moving forward. We would head towards the tarn until reaching a lower elevation and easier walking. From there we continued north of the tarn across the open vegetation.
We made swift progress downwards. It was easy to pick the path we wanted from the elevated vantage point above the plateau. The sun was bright and warm, and we were not the only ones enjoying it; there was a gorgeous snake having a midday nap on some rocks. Chris wasn’t so pleased to see him but I love snakes and think they are very elegant creatures. We were also spoilt by an eagle circling us for a short period and at times flying so low we could see its underbelly. Mt Lord was putting on a show for us!
After crossing the plateau and passing the lone tall Pandani plant I had sighted as a visual marker upon entering the plateau we started our descent through the forest canopy. From here we would return along the same route we had climbed up on. It was time to say goodbye to our views as once under the canopy the skyline would again disappear.
The descent to the rough 4WD track near our car was quick, in the most part due to the steepness of the drop! It took us under two hours from the summit back to the car. A little shy of three hours for the ascent and a fraction of that time back. Got to be pleased with that! And Chris finally allowed us to openly remark how easy the hike was and how little scrub bashing there had been as with the car in sight we couldn’t curse ourselves!
A beautiful view of Mt Field West bade us farewell on the drive homewards. All of us pleased our off-track attack of Mt Lord had been a huge success and thoughts on the hot chips and cold drinks that awaited us at the Maydena store! Big thanks to Chris and Lynnda for joining us in another adventure up an Abel!