Climbing Mt Zeil

SA, WA & NT specific bushwalking discussion.
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Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby SJR » Thu 10 Feb, 2011 7:55 pm

Last April a mate and I tried climbing Mt Zeil. We failed and given that I'm 52 and live about 1,500km away I probably won't try again but I'd love to hear from others who have tried whether you succeeded or not.

For those who've never heard of Mt Zeil (and I suspect that will be quite a few) it's the highest peak in Australia west of the Great Dividing Range. Its summit is about 1,530m above sea level and about 900m above the surrounding plain. The big challenge is its remote location. It's about 150km in a staight line (or 190km by road) WNW of Alice Springs in a remote corner of the West MacDonnell National Park. The nearest easily accessible road is about 12km from the base and there are no walking trails or tracks of any kind to the summit (at least not that I could find any record of).

For those with the patience to read it I've got a fairly detailed (7 pages with photos) account of our walk including GPS references but it's in WORD format which the system won't seem to allow me to upload. If anyone is interested I can cut and paste and see if that works but what I'm really interested in are your stories.

I'm conscious of forum rules relating to publishing details or access to sensitive areas with no tracks but as this is in a National Park and, as far as I can make out, only about a dozen groups attempt it each year I don't think we'll breach the intent of the rule.

Look forward to your stories - SJR
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Mt Zeil Camp 5.JPG
Mt Zeil from our Camp the evening before the climb.
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Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby Maelgwn » Thu 10 Feb, 2011 10:01 pm

I'm assuming you read the Wild article about the people who climb the seven australian summits? I would be keen to read your report. Will pm
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Fri 11 Feb, 2011 10:37 am

Hi guys, I'd be interested in reading your notes (I will PM you SJR.) My goal is to climb each of the State 8 - the highest peak in each of Australia's eight states and territories, Mt Zeil being NT's highest. I've only climbed two to date, so maybe I shouldn't broadcast so far afield that it is my goal yet...

I have created a website which allows peak to mark off peaks they have climbed, adding any new peaks they want. It includes a group for the State 8 - http://peakclimb.com/index.php?group_id=5
blogs - www.jeremyc.com
peak bagging - peakclimbs.com
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby SJR » Fri 11 Feb, 2011 9:56 pm

jez_au wrote:Hi guys, I'd be interested in reading your notes (I will PM you SJR.) My goal is to climb each of the State 8 - the highest peak in each of Australia's eight states and territories, Mt Zeil being NT's highest. I've only climbed two to date, so maybe I shouldn't broadcast so far afield that it is my goal yet...

I have created a website which allows peak to mark off peaks they have climbed, adding any new peaks they want. It includes a group for the State 8 - http://peakclimb.com/index.php?group_id=5


Hey love the website. It was originally our intention to climb Mt Woodroofe the highest peak in SA but it seemed access is all but impossible. I see however that at least 2 people have done it so maybe there's hope yet.
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Sat 12 Feb, 2011 12:37 am

Mt Woodroofe is arguably the most difficult peak to climb out of the State 8 - from a permissions point of view. Mt Woodroofe is in the APY Lands (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands). The climb itself is relatively easy. You need permission from the local Aboriginal elders to a) drive on the roads in the area, and b) climb the peak. I've heard from several people it is difficult to obtain permission to climb the peak, the site has special significance to the people. There is another option though, a local tour has permission: http://www.aboriginalaustralia.com.au/tour_info.cfm?id=168

I'm hoping to climb the peak in 2012.
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Sat 12 Feb, 2011 12:43 am

SJR wrote:Hey love the website.


Oh SJB (thanks btw), you should join up!

http://www.peakclimb.com/
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby MountainMadness » Wed 02 Mar, 2011 2:38 pm

Ah yes, good old Mt Ziel. I've climbed it before - twice. Having spent the first 19 years of my life in Alice Springs and being into hiking and mountains it was a must.

As SJR mentioned, there aren't any tracks or specific routes to take up the mountain, which makes it a challenge in its self. The climb is pretty solid starting from approx 700m up to 1500m. Its quite steep in areas with a pretty nice and exposed summit.

Access is best from the Tanami Track (Approx 20kms north of Alice Springs off the Stuart Highway), take the exit to Papunya and after 30ks or so along this track there is a off-track to the left that accesses a number of water bores in the Mt Zeil area. The first time we climbed it (10 years ago) we got permission from the Department of Lands and Planning and got a key for a ''locked'' gate (which indecently had visited by a certain bolt cutter previously) which was supposed to be along the water bore access roads. The second time (a couple of years later) we didn't bother to get permission and drove straight in.

We took a 4WD and managed to find our way in nearly to the base of the mountain (closer than SJR by the sounds of it) taking some off-tracks including a bit of bush bashing. We got up ridiculously early in Alice and did the climb in one day. As mentioned before, the climb was quite demanding (well maybe this was partly due to the fact that we were pushing ourselves to do the climb in one day!) as it was hot, the climb was steep and that there was no established track. The Spinifex is atrocious in the area so wearing pants is advised (although makes it a hotter climb). Also, bring plenty of water.
It’s a nice climb so if you are in the Alice district, it is highly recommended!!
Yeah the ‘State-8’ idea is pretty cool. I’ve climbed 6 of them (excluding Woodroffe and Meharry). Actually I am pretty annoyed as I was relatively close to the base of Woodroffe several years back servicing a generator at a cattle station near by, but didn’t have time for the climb. Well, having left Central Australia 6 years ago I’ll have to make the trek back to tick off the final 2.

Cheers,
Paul.
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Thu 03 Mar, 2011 8:41 am

Thanks Paul. I have heard others say you need permission from the rangers at the West Macdonnell Ranges NP, they handle the permission rather than Derwent Station. I'm planning to hike either later this year or mid 2012. Given the long lead time I will go down the official path and post back here with details. Jeremy
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby Snowzone » Thu 10 Mar, 2011 10:24 am

jez_au wrote:Thanks Paul. I have heard others say you need permission from the rangers at the West Macdonnell Ranges NP, they handle the permission rather than Derwent Station. I'm planning to hike either later this year or mid 2012. Given the long lead time I will go down the official path and post back here with details. Jeremy

I climbed Zeil in 2008 and I would suggest anyone thinking of doing Zeil contact
Chris Day
Chief District Ranger West
Parks and Wildlife Service
Department Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts
chris.day@nt.gov.au
Phone (08) 8955 1119

We gained permission to access through Glen Helen Station which meant we could gain access to the southern side of the mountain easier. We camped out there for two nights and the whole experience was magic. :D

jez_au wrote:Mt Woodroofe is arguably the most difficult peak to climb out of the State 8 - from a permissions point of view. Mt Woodroofe is in the APY Lands (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands). The climb itself is relatively easy. You need permission from the local Aboriginal elders to a) drive on the roads in the area, and b) climb the peak. I've heard from several people it is difficult to obtain permission to climb the peak, the site has special significance to the people. There is another option though, a local tour has permission: http://www.aboriginalaustralia.com.au/tour_info.cfm?id=168

I'm hoping to climb the peak in 2012.

I have also climbed Woodroffe in 2007. At that time about one permit a year was being issued to climb Woodroffe using a company called Desert Tracks that is based in Yulara. It makes the trip more expensive but at least you get access and again we spent an enjoyable couple of nights out there.
jez_au wrote:Hi guys, I'd be interested in reading your notes (I will PM you SJR.) My goal is to climb each of the State 8 - the highest peak in each of Australia's eight states and territories, Mt Zeil being NT's highest. I've only climbed two to date, so maybe I shouldn't broadcast so far afield that it is my goal yet...

I have created a website which allows peak to mark off peaks they have climbed, adding any new peaks they want. It includes a group for the State 8 - http://peakclimb.com/index.php?group_id=5

There is also another dedicated website state8.net

Anyway good luck with your quest. I hope you have as much fun as I had doing the 8. I certainly have a lot of special memories from them. :D
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Thu 10 Mar, 2011 10:51 am

Thanks for the extra info Snowzone. I have looked through http://www.state8.net before, some good info.

I'm always amazed people try to climb summits like this in one day, it can be difficult to predict how fast you will move, the vegetation can make it slow going - and vegetation density can vary from one year to another. It's so easy to run out of time, it's good to have contingency plans to ensure you can reach the summit safely and enjoy the hike.
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby rosied » Wed 03 Aug, 2011 3:00 pm

Hi SJR,
Some friends and I are planning to head out to Mt Zeil this weekend, would appreciate reading your notes! Is there a way that I could get in touch to read them? Cheers
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby paul8 » Sun 22 Jul, 2012 2:37 pm

We did it in July 2012. A report is in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com/2012/07/ze ... ralia.html
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby TRF » Fri 08 Feb, 2013 4:26 pm

:?
Last edited by TRF on Fri 08 Feb, 2013 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
.../...
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby TRF » Fri 08 Feb, 2013 4:33 pm

Snowzone wrote:... I would suggest anyone thinking of doing Zeil contact
Chris Day
Chief District Ranger West
Parks and Wildlife Service
Department Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts
chris.day@nt.gov.au
Phone (08) 8955 1119

+1 :roll:

After our expedition, we get the information that you want before your climb Mt Zeil.
A MAP !
2009-07-05_122042.JPG

We parked at the white dot au north; Walk a bit around the 1s hill and after straigh line to the Mt. We had to camp on the way.

Magic
2009-07-03;05 Mt Zeil Expedition-228-0000_PS1.jpg


If this trek was my hardest one ever we have a great time
.../...
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby jez_au » Sat 09 Feb, 2013 8:09 am

TRF wrote:After our expedition, we get the information that you want before your climb Mt Zeil.
A MAP !


It really is worth contacting the ranger. They will give you a 1:50,000 topo map with route and access information. Te only other topo maps available are 1:250,000, and these hide too much info.

I did the hike twice: an attempt with the 1:250,000 from the south east, and a successful climb with the 1:50,000 from the west. http://jez-hiking.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/mt-zeil-nts-highest-peak-state-8.html
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby Walking_addict » Sun 22 Dec, 2013 10:44 pm

G'day SJR,
Wow, Mt Zeil brings back some great memories.

We did it in on Sunday 10th June, 2010.
There were 4 of us, and 3 of us made it up, with the 4th waiting at the saddle on the South Western spur.

Glen Helen resort dropped us out at the western end the day before, we camped pretty much right on the western end of the Zeil range, the walked around the south side to that SW Spur to the top.
We had planned to bag it, and keep going down a SE spur, to go on to Redbank Gorge, but we backtracked down the same way to pick up our other party, then walked across to Redbank and then did the Larapinta to Alice, arriving some 17 days later (total 19 days inc Mt Zeil part), one rest day.

We copped it big time with rain and cold on the LT, as bad as anything I can remember we ever got in places like Tassie !!
Gorges were flooded, freezing cold !!, and the Finke River went from bone still poools to flowing strongly.

Ah, great memories, thanks for stirring them up.

Jez_au, we did Mt Woodroofe on Sun 29th Sept 2009.
Went in with Desert Tracks (Yulara) on their (sole at the time, it seems) commercial access licence to the APY lands, but we went totally independent.
Met on Mulga Pk Rd, and followed him in with his once a year small group of peak baggers.
The rest of the year, Brett from DT only does school groups, and they don't climb, only the one climbing group a year.

We spent several days with the trad owner Peter there, and his family.
They are pretty stringent about educating people to the dreamtime story of the mountain, doing songlines and and sand drawings etc, so people are knowledgeable about the significance to the local people.
Very nice experience.

I only need to get Mt Meharry and Bartle Frere now, one day will get them.
Cheers,
Les
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Re: Climbing Mt Zeil

Postby Patrack » Tue 02 Jun, 2015 9:24 am

Hi SJR
We are climbing Mt Zeil in three weeks. Would be very interested in your word document and and GPS route or track files that you have. Could you email to pat@cotterill.id.au please?

Thanks in advance
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