Western Arthur traverse difficulty

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Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby htoby » Mon 11 Nov, 2019 8:33 am

Hey everyone. I'm looking at doing Western Arthurs in Janurary with 3 friends. We're all 17-18 years old and have done a reasonable amount of bushwalking.
We've all done Frenchan's cap and found that pretty easy (albeit, that was with the new duckboards). We're from Victoria so have done quite a lot of walks up here (ie. Bogong to Glen Wills, Cross cut saw, etc). A couple of us have a bit more experience in Tassie (overland track, south coast track, mt Anne circuit). Plus a bit of outdoor rock climbing if that has any relevance.
Anyway. We're not totally inexperienced when it comes to 5-7 day walks. Our navigation skills are reasonable (done a lot of nav in school's outdoor ed program) and the nav on Western Arthur's doesn't seem too difficult.
Gear is all up to standard - did a bit of ski touring a couple months ago at Falls creek and had no issues. Three of us have first aid qualificiations and we'd hire an EPIRB and GPS.

Is the jump in terms of difficulty from Frenchman's to Western Arthur's too much? If so, we may look at doing Mt Anne or south coast track again.
Thanks!
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby gayet » Mon 11 Nov, 2019 8:57 am

First suggestion would be to read http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=30354 with respect to the track closures.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Mon 11 Nov, 2019 9:03 am

A to K is open so there's no problems there.

If you've done the Mt Anne circuit and had no issues you will cope with a WA traverse I would think.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby north-north-west » Mon 11 Nov, 2019 10:41 am

See no reason why you shouldn't cope with the WArthurs, but redoing the Anne circuit is not going to be an option.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 11 Nov, 2019 11:32 am

htoby wrote:Is the jump in terms of difficulty from Frenchman's to Western Arthur's too much?


I would not say that it's "too much", but I would say that it is a significant jump. The difficulty is significant in two ways:
  • Technical climbing
  • Exposure

By "technical climbing" I don't mean that you need rock-climbing equipment, but it does involve a kind of climbing that you may not have experienced elsewhere. Eg, climbing cliffs of mud with foot holds worn into them, and held together with only thin roots of nearby shrubs. Some people do require a rope at least for pack-hauling. The climbing is more technically challenging than Frenchmans, and most other tracks.

The exposure is not the hypothermia kind, but the near-the-edge-of-a-cliff and climbing-up-a-cliff kind. The track frequently exposes the climber to dangerous heights and edges in situations that are not often experienced on some other tracks. There is a little bit of this on the Frenchmans summit climb, but I don't think it compares to the exposure on the Arthurs.

Don't forget to carry water. Even though it's the south-west and the ground is all wet most of the time, it is often difficult to access drinking water between the camp sites. A yabbie straw is useful for accessing water from the yabbie burrows in the mud.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Baeng72 » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 7:32 am

Son of a Beach wrote:
htoby wrote:Is the jump in terms of difficulty from Frenchman's to Western Arthur's too much?


I would not say that it's "too much", but I would say that it is a significant jump. The difficulty is significant in two ways:
  • Technical climbing
  • Exposure

By "technical climbing" I don't mean that you need rock-climbing equipment, but it does involve a kind of climbing that you may not have experienced elsewhere. Eg, climbing cliffs of mud with foot holds worn into them, and held together with only thin roots of nearby shrubs. Some people do require a rope at least for pack-hauling. The climbing is more technically challenging than Frenchmans, and most other tracks.

The exposure is not the hypothermia kind, but the near-the-edge-of-a-cliff and climbing-up-a-cliff kind. The track frequently exposes the climber to dangerous heights and edges in situations that are not often experienced on some other tracks. There is a little bit of this on the Frenchmans summit climb, but I don't think it compares to the exposure on the Arthurs.

Sorry to but in, but what kind of pack weight would be considered 'safe' or reasonable on the Western Arthurs traverse?
I imagine hauling near 20Kg would be too dangerous with the increased risk of over balancing, but you need to take a weeks food I think, so ultralight gear or something?
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 8:04 am

That's a "how long is a piece of string?" question. :-) Everyone has differing priorities on what they carry, and different budgets for what they can afford to buy to save weight.

I carry the same set of gear everywhere (with extra food for longer trips, extra warm layer for winter walks, larger stove kit when cooking for a group, and larger pack size if I can't fit the extra food into my smaller pack).

In all cases I don't weigh any of it, I just carry what I have to carry. So I'm sorry, I can't help you with what a recommended weight would be.

I would GUESS that my pack is well under 20 kg for a week-long walk, including food. Maybe around 15 kg, but just a guess. Some people would carry lighter packs than this range, and some heavier.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Baeng72 » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 8:34 am

Son of a Beach wrote:That's a "how long is a piece of string?" question. :-) Everyone has differing priorities on what they carry, and different budgets for what they can afford to buy to save weight.

I carry the same set of gear everywhere (with extra food for longer trips, extra warm layer for winter walks, larger stove kit when cooking for a group, and larger pack size if I can't fit the extra food into my smaller pack).

In all cases I don't weigh any of it, I just carry what I have to carry. So I'm sorry, I can't help you with what a recommended weight would be.

I would GUESS that my pack is well under 20 kg for a week-long walk, including food. Maybe around 15 kg, but just a guess. Some people would carry lighter packs than this range, and some heavier.

Fair enough. I guess I could ask how many litres?
I just did the Overland, probably pushing 25kg, because carrying all food, and a lot of gear for my son, and the walk down to Scott-Kilvert hut on slippery steps/muddy inclines involved a few 'Oh, *&%$#!, I'm gonna fall' moments - didn't actually fall - so the idea of Western Arthurs with a heavy pack seems an impossibility. Anybody who can do the Arthurs is pretty hardcore....
Thanks!
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 8:43 am

I usually carry a 50 litre pack. It would be borderline if I could fit a weeks' worth of food in there - haven't done a 7 day walk since buying the 50 litre pack. My other pack is 80 litres, but that's overkill for this walk and there would be a lot of empty space in the pack.

60 litres would be plenty for me and my gear and my food.

I know that some people would be OK with less than 50 litres.

Again it depends on what gear you bring and how well you know your gear and your limitations. If I was to use my old sleeping bag, stove, tent and mat, I would not be able to fit it all into 60 litres.

So still a difficult question to answer well. But I hope this gives you some idea.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Baeng72 » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 9:14 am

Son of a Beach wrote:I usually carry a 50 litre pack. It would be borderline if I could fit a weeks' worth of food in there - haven't done a 7 day walk since buying the 50 litre pack. My other pack is 80 litres, but that's overkill for this walk and there would be a lot of empty space in the pack.

60 litres would be plenty for me and my gear and my food.

I know that some people would be OK with less than 50 litres.

Again it depends on what gear you bring and how well you know your gear and your limitations. If I was to use my old sleeping bag, stove, tent and mat, I would not be able to fit it all into 60 litres.

So still a difficult question to answer well. But I hope this gives you some idea.

Thanks, it does.
Food for thought anyway.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Azza » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 9:34 am

These days the Western Arthurs is fairly straight forward from Moraine A to Lake Oberon.
The track has received a fair bit of work over the years and it's very well defined and easy to follow now.
The hardest bit is the big slog up Moraine A.
You want to aim for a pack weight < 20kg.

Once past Oberon up over Pegasus the track conditions change, and become a lot rougher, more scrambling less well defined. False leads etc.
The problem with navigation is it can be hard in fog, with random cairns and false leads through the scrub that can lead you astray - still can be hard even if you can see.
There are a few note-able areas where you can easily get mislead around the beggary bumps. You need to sometimes question whether you are on the right route, as just because there is a pad doesn't mean its the right one.
Plenty of people go the wrong way, and then you get cairns being added and before you know there are multiple routes.
A GPS isn't always so helpful when a few metres to the left or right could mean the top or bottom of a big cliff.
Most pack hauling bits can be avoided these days, but its helpful to have some pack haul line just incase you get yourself into a tricky spot.
All depends on how comfortable you are scrambling up and down small sections with a pack on.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Tortoise » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 9:51 am

My 2c worth - if you can get your pack weight down from the 'traditional' weights of 20kg+, it'll be safer in terms of injury risk (short term and long term), far more enjoyable, and keep your options open for more side trips. In recent years I went from carrying 23 kg for a week, to 14kg for 10 days in SW Tassie. Not ultralight by any means, but the difference is massive. Wish I'd done it decades ago. I'd highly recommend checking out some discussions re going lighter.

Last time I went through the WArthurs, 2 of us had lighter packs, one had about 23 kg. Pack hauling the 23kg one proved impossible for 2 of us in the rain. Sure, we're not strong in the hands, but the rope just kept slipping through our gloves. Had to off-load some gear to pull up the pack. Tape would have been better than rope, though I haven't bought any yet, and forget exactly what to get.

The other thing is that there are sections I was comfortable negotiating with a lighter pack, so I avoided the hassle and extra time for pack hauling in a few places.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Warin » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 10:52 am

For weight reduction I simply list in a spread sheet

my gear
how much that weighs
some alternative to it
how much that weighs
how much that costs
how much that weight reduction is per $ spent

That quickly identifies where to spend your money with best benefit for weight reduction. Usually any weight reduction also means volume reduction too. Be wary of sacrificing durability for weight, all well to have something light at the beginning of the trip, but you want it usably at the end of the trip too. .
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Ndevr » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 5:26 pm

Firstly, it's great to see some relatively youngish bushwalkers getting out amongst it, and tackling some decent hikes. A strong fit, level headed, self aware 18 year old is more than capable of such a hike.

The fact you've done Mt Anne circuit (and I gather summited Anne), and you state you have decent climbing experience, and carried a 7 day pack, then I actually reckon you should actually do Eastern Arthurs first, which is a great walk in itself regardless of whether you summit Federation (in good weather), which would be a bonus and a good test of nerves and character.

Regardless, they're all great bushwalks, have a go, enjoy.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby north-north-west » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 7:05 pm

Ndevr wrote:The fact you've done Mt Anne circuit (and I gather summited Anne), and you state you have decent climbing experience, and carried a 7 day pack, then I actually reckon you should actually do Eastern Arthurs first, which is a great walk in itself regardless of whether you summit Federation (in good weather), which would be a bonus and a good test of nerves and character.


Eastern Arthurs - and the Western Arthurs east of Kappa Moraine - are still closed due to fire damage and not expected to reopen this summer.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby wobbly » Wed 13 Nov, 2019 1:36 pm

IMHO Fenchman's has got nothing on the WA's. On Frenchman's i reckon there is 5 mins of real exposure and that's only on the summit climb when you are pack less. The exposure on the WA's keeps coming at you day after day but especially after Oberon. You will be walking, climbing and scrambling with packs over very serious drops. That said if you are all honestly prepared to bail if the weather turns or it get's too much for any of your group then i say go for it. Remember If you're already 18 you've only got 50-60 years left to give it another crack.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby CBee » Wed 13 Nov, 2019 2:43 pm

I have done Frenchmans a couple of times but I don't remember any exposure on the summit track.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Baeng72 » Thu 14 Nov, 2019 9:43 am

Tortoise wrote:My 2c worth - if you can get your pack weight down from the 'traditional' weights of 20kg+, it'll be safer in terms of injury risk (short term and long term), far more enjoyable, and keep your options open for more side trips. In recent years I went from carrying 23 kg for a week, to 14kg for 10 days in SW Tassie. Not ultralight by any means, but the difference is massive. Wish I'd done it decades ago. I'd highly recommend checking out some discussions re going lighter.

Last time I went through the WArthurs, 2 of us had lighter packs, one had about 23 kg. Pack hauling the 23kg one proved impossible for 2 of us in the rain. Sure, we're not strong in the hands, but the rope just kept slipping through our gloves. Had to off-load some gear to pull up the pack. Tape would have been better than rope, though I haven't bought any yet, and forget exactly what to get.

The other thing is that there are sections I was comfortable negotiating with a lighter pack, so I avoided the hassle and extra time for pack hauling in a few places.

I was reading about hikes through Prince of Wales ranges, etc with massive packs done back in the 70s blazing through the scrub.
There were links on another thread about it winter hiking in Tassie.
Really hard core.

How you would get yourself down a steep descent without tumbling head-first (maybe go down facing toward surface or bend knees so heels are touching bum?), with such a large, heavy pack...
Oh well, I guess if you're fit and prepared mentally you can do it.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby stepbystep » Thu 14 Nov, 2019 9:56 am

Baeng72 wrote:How you would get yourself down a steep descent without tumbling head-first (maybe go down facing toward surface or bend knees so heels are touching bum?), with such a large, heavy pack...
Oh well, I guess if you're fit and prepared mentally you can do it.


A rope or webbing to lower packs. We needed to that on a couple of occasions in the Prince of Wales traverse, many need to do this to feel safe in the Arthurs. A suitable rope is well worth having as part of your groups gear.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Baeng72 » Thu 14 Nov, 2019 10:02 am

stepbystep wrote:
Baeng72 wrote:How you would get yourself down a steep descent without tumbling head-first (maybe go down facing toward surface or bend knees so heels are touching bum?), with such a large, heavy pack...
Oh well, I guess if you're fit and prepared mentally you can do it.


A rope or webbing to lower packs. We needed to that on a couple of occasions in the Prince of Wales traverse, many need to do this to feel safe in the Arthurs. A suitable rope is well worth having as part of your groups gear.

Thanks for the reply!
Makes sense.
I think some people have such light gear, they'd probably try with pack on for speed.
I'd need rope, too clumsy and bulky to do it with a pack. :)
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Azza » Thu 14 Nov, 2019 1:55 pm

A lot of swing on tree branches or roots.
I've also slide down through steep scrub holding on whatever I can, surface area helps.
Sometimes getting the rope out is a pain and you just toss your pack off, or pass it down to someone.. lots of ways.
It's all a bit different to just walking on a hardened well formed track, just putting one foot in front of the other.
A bit of gymnastic work out, and because you're using upper body as well I find its less impact compared to just trudging along a hardened track with a heavy pack.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby north-north-west » Thu 14 Nov, 2019 2:08 pm

What Azza said.

I find webbing lighter and less bulky for the equivalent length, and far easier on the hands.
There are few places where you really need to remove packs on the WArthurs. The climb up Pegasus perhaps, although it is possible to avoid the cave with a little creative navigation. For some people the descent of Capricorn, the steep gully just past High Moor, maybe the descent of Taurus. I think the most likely is the drop to Sirona unless that's been re-routed again.
It does depend to some extent on scrambling ability and experience. You get better at it as you go along.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Baeng72 » Thu 14 Nov, 2019 2:20 pm

A quick you tube search and I found this of a traverse of the Arthurs.
Looks like decent sized packs.

At 3:45, you get a nice view of one of those descents.
Another at 7:05 and 7:20.
Tight sphincter time I'd reckon. :)
Appears this party were using ropes for some parts.

At 4:52 they go up through a chute/chimney (sorry if terminology is wrong).

If the hikers who made this are on the forum and come across this, nice job!
https://youtu.be/ZcDUuHQS1Sg
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby beardless » Sat 16 Nov, 2019 9:03 pm

Most reasonably fit people with enough time and a bit of scrambling could make it to Lake Oberon. That being said one of the toughest walkers I know turned back just after reaching the top of Alpha Moraine with sleet and strong winds making progress impossible. So the difficulty depends on the weather.

The Western Arthurs is difficult from Lake Oberon to High Moor and from High Moor to Haven Lake with significant amounts of scrambling on slippery steep rock and mud. We met people who tried but turned back soon after Lake Oberon on the climb up Mt Pegasus. I found the chute up to the top of Mt Pegasus one of the harder parts. I had over 25kg in the pack with food for a 14 day walk and SLR with two lenses.

One of the things I thought at the time was if I ever walk it again I will try to keep the weight and bulk of the pack down.

For comparison I think the hardest part of the Mt Anne circuit (other than Mt Anne) is the Notch. The Notch was as hard as the scrambling on the Western Arthurs, however in the Arthurs the difficult parts continue for much longer.

I assume you are only planning on walking A to K. After that there is less scrambling but being less visited the route is not as clear. (I think that part of the range after A to K is currently closed)

If you have done rockclimbing you should be fine with the exposure to heights. I recommend training walking up and down steep tracks with a full pack.

It is an amazing place. Hope for good weather and if not there is no shame in retreating.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Krunel » Thu 21 Nov, 2019 2:24 pm

Sounds like you'll enjoy the arthurs, all the best for your trip. If you've done the Anne circuit you're prepared for the scrambling. If the weather's in your favour make the most of it, smell the flowers, take side trips & climb to watch sunsets. As always please use minimal impact practices. Seen many who won't do the basics & who are overcome by the "difficulty" & create extra damage, e.g. the lone king Billy in the tilted chasm uprooted by hikers, track braiding, etc. Might be a lost cause, but probably still worth washing boots/gaitors inbounds at junction ck (phytophthora). The toilets might be full in Jan if so know that poo-ing well away from campsites in the Arthurs takes a bit of effort & prep, esp in the rain. Seen many groups start the Arthur's with a week of storms & rain forecast, better to have walking alternatives.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Mungrel » Thu 28 Nov, 2019 11:24 am

I have completed the Du Cane Range traverse ( Pelion Hut-Labyrinth-Big Gun Pass-Mt Massif-Falling Mt-Re-join Overland Track). Can anyone who has also completed the Du Cane Range Traverse advise how it compares to the Western Arthurs?

Thanks.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby north-north-west » Thu 28 Nov, 2019 4:37 pm

Only awkward bits I recall on the DuCane traverse were one short iffy bit of narrow rock and the downclimb from it (pretty sure Chapman mentions this spot) and the climb up the boulder field on Falling Mtn. It's officially off track, but there are markers and pads most of the way.
WArthurs is generally steeper, more up and down, bits of the track are always overgrown, it's muddier and has more awkward scrambling. And the weather tends to be less stable.
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Re: Western Arthur traverse difficulty

Postby Krunel » Sun 08 Dec, 2019 3:17 pm

More people on the Arthurs, more signs of fire damage. More up & down, scrambling and mud. More skyline time. Both breathtakingly great for views & sunsets.
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