Most walkers heading into the Tyndall Range via the Mt. Tyndall track would climb the namesake mountain first on the way to Mt. Geikie, as the track passes within a few hundred metres of its high point. However, as we had arranged to climb Mt. Tyndall with friends on the last day of our trip, our first trig of the day belonged to Mt. Geikie – and that touch came much quicker and much more easily than we had envisaged.
Date: 6th March 2021 Summit: 1193m
Distance: Approximately 6km return to our campsite at an unnamed tarn 500m from Lake Tyndall.
Time taken: Even at a very leisurely pace to take photos, film and generally just enjoy the ridgelines, we were well under two hours return walking time from camp.
Difficulty: Moderate. As a long day walk from the carpark this would be a solid full day trip in fine weather with plenty of elevation gain. From our camp just south of Lake Tyndall the distance to cover was obviously much shorter, over low, exposed alpine heath. Keep in mind it does appear closer than it actually is! Like most mountains on the west coast of Tasmania, Mt. Geikie is very exposed to the prevailing and highly variable weather conditions of the region. Be prepared for rapid changes of weather and don’t hesitate to turn back if conditions deteriorate.
Type of track: Faint pads and the occasional cairn from Lake Tyndall to the open plateau below The Bastion. From there a more obvious pad leads all the way to the final summit push, which is marked with frequent cairns. Walking is generally easy and the small climbs over rock to the summit aren’t steep or exposed.
Access from: Anthony Road.
When the mists lift.
This trip report begins at the lovely spot that would be our home for the next two nights. A mere half a kilometre from Lake Tyndall but it felt other-worldly! The Tyndalls truly are a spectacularly beautiful area and unique (and delicate!) alpine ecosystem in their own right. Our first glimpse of Lake Tyndall was swathed in eerie mist, and looked very Lord Of The Rings-esque. As we walked around its edges, the mist began to lift, the sun started to shine through… and WOW!
Lake Tyndall itself and the many small tarns that dot its outskirts were shimmering in the sun as far as our eager eyes could see. Bordered by bright green cushion plants, meadows of pineapple grass and marsupial-grazed lawns. Rocky outcrops of all different shapes and sizes appeared to have been scattered randomly across the plateau. We had initially planned on camping at Lake Tyndall but as it was only mid-morning and we knew the following day would be huge, we decided to push on a little further south.
Camping in utopia.
About 500m past Lake Tyndall we reached the most glorious and oddly shaped tarn. Multiple flat, delightfully grassy and – importantly – cushion plant-free tent sites presented themselves. The one very minor negative was the amount of little ants that quickly found us. Nothing that a spray of Bushmans on our feet couldn’t fix! Choosing our favourite site we set about getting the Tarptent pitched and our day packs ready. I was eager to head towards Mt. Geikie pronto and make the most of the fine weather.
Near and far.
Light day packs on our backs and the warm late morning sun on our faces, we started climbing the modest rise by our tent, heading south-west towards the plateau at the base of The Bastion. We would follow this plateau all the way to Mt. Geikie.
Upon climbing the few steps from our tent to the edge of the plateau, we were more than a little surprised to spy the trig on Mt. Geikie in the distance! It was so close! One thing we would learn this trip is that nothing is as close as it seems in the Tyndall Ranges – this being particularly true about Mt. Sedgwick! With the trig in our line of sight, it was a simple matter of crossing the flattish plateau in its general direction, whilst carefully avoiding all the wonderful cushion plants which grow in abundance across the area. Please take the time to skirt areas of cushion plant and other delicate alpine herbs, which are easily and permanently damaged by wayward boots. Use existing pads wherever possible, or areas of rock and tougher grasses.
A false summit of sorts.
When looking at the trig point from the plateau below, it appears that one need only cross the plateau, climb the rocks to the trig and voila! Not so. What is not apparent from the initial vantage point are the multiple rocky tiers between you and the summit! That said, even with the “false summits”, Mt. Geikie is still a relatively short and easy wander from Lake Tyndall. We had packed a couple of litres of water each, but this proved unnecessary given we would pass a decent creek and multiple small trickles along the way.
(That said, bear in mind summer of 2020-2021 was a La Nina weather cycle with higher-than-usual rainfall recorded. While this part of Tasmania typically receives over three metres of rain per year on average, elevated ridges and plateaus can still run dry in summer. Water is annoyingly heavy, but we’ve learned the hard (thirsty!) way to err on the side of caution and carry a bit more than you think you might need – Bender).
Our progress was not hindered as the route gently undulated as it passed through low heath. To our east the skyline was a lumpy, bumpy line of mountain superstars. Mt. Ossa, Mt. Pelion West, Cradle Mountain and Mt. Thetis were all on show. The standout though was Eldon Peak, a remote mountain we’d only ever seen previously from afar. Up close, it dominated every other peak around it – what a brute.
Pads and rocks.
As we closed in on Mt. Geikie, the sprinkling of rocks across the ground increased. The well-trodden pad beneath our feet was evidence that some degree of human traffic passes this way. Indeed, we heard a voice and turned to see a lone walker behind us. She was enjoying Mt. Tyndall and Mt. Geikie as a long day walk from the car – entirely possible in lovely summer/early autumn conditions.
The trig was now playing hide and seek. It would come into sight, only to drop off the radar again moments later. One minute looking ever so close, and the next minute – gone! As we got closer to the mountain, the mountain got further away! No matter, as the walking was easy and the views superb. The pad meadered close the the sheer eastern side of Mt. Geike and I was fascinated by how the scrub clung onto each haggard cliff – like a hanging garden in a high rise apartment block.
The big drop.
Reaching the final high point before the summit climb, we were presented with what I used to think was a kick-arse drop! After completing the Western Arthurs a few months earlier though, my definition of “kick-arse drops” has definitely shifted. I learned that what may seem impossible or impassable, is actually entirely doable when it is broken down into a series of shorter sequences. This was no different.
The pad led down the steep descent to a very small saddle, before climbing even more steeply towards the summit. The drop down was by way mostly of a grassy slope. A small section required negotiating a split boulder that was simple enough. Looking behind us we saw our new friend hunting around for how to complete the drop, so pointed her in the right direction. We skirted around this section on our return journey.
Piles of rock led up to a pile of rock.
Cairns now served as our primary navigational aid. We were no longer “walking” as much as “climbing”. A mixed bag of boulder sizes made the climbing up easy, as did the occasional exposed root from nearby vegetation to use as leverage. There was no exposure, so even those scared of heights could easily manage this section. After a few minutes of climbing, the cairns led to a small, shallow rock cave. It initially appeared as if the cairns disappeared but it was merely a matter of climbing “up and out” of the overhang.
And then we were there!
Climbing up and over over the last boulder we attained the escarpment below the trig. With the pad reappearing, we reached the rusted metal trig on Mt. Geikie’s sandstone and conglomerate summit in minutes. The outstanding views to our east included Lakes Magdala, Martha and Mary, sparkling deep blue in the bright early afternoon sun. Past them lay the ridges that we would hop along to Mt. Sedgwick the next day… they looked far, far away! As for Mt. Sedgwick itself, it seemed an impossibly long way away! But that would be tomorrow‘s journey, for now it was time to kick back, eat our not-very-late lunch, enjoy the views and thank the mountain for letting us climb her.
All good things come to an end.
After enjoying a lovely lunch up top, it was time to start the wander back to camp. We had the biggest mountain of our long weekend to get ready for – Mt. Sedgwick. Hitting camp early would allow us precious rest before the next days challenges!
The Abels does mention an alternate route to Mt. Geike from the south via Hamilton Moraine. Two separate groups of very capable friends who have failed in attempts to reach the summit from the south due to scrub bashing, we would highly recommend an ascent from the north via Mt Tyndall. From Anthony Road it is well within the bounds of most fit walkers as a long day walk, preferably in summer/autumn.