Trip reports, stories, track notes. Multiple/large photos are OK in this forum.
Sun 05 Nov, 2017 8:24 pm
Daltons Peaks - North and South - are the highest peaks in the Grampians outside of the Mt William Range, at 1022 and 1009 meters respectively. About 2 Km South of Mt Rosea, itself 1009 meters, they stand in another world of tumble down boulders and off-track scrub. Rarely visited and hard to glimpse they lured me and Reinhold out for a quick overnighter back in July.
Setting off from Borough huts, heading “backwards”, up a new section of the Grampians Peak Trail that descends from Mt Rosea, the day was gently overcast and cool – perfect for uphill walking.
The new section of track, wide and smooth, obviously bobcated through the scrub a year or two ago passes the remnants of the “Cathcart Chislett Memorial Track”, a lovely single-track winding interestingly through the bush. It seems a bit of a shame that the new track has displaced such an appealing and natural route, but I guess the fashion nowadays is to walk side by side, holding hands….
At the Sanderson Gap saddle, where the GPT descends from Rosea down a very impressive set of stone steps, we departed from the tracked world. Taking a bearing through thick young Acacias and Eucalypt regrowth we headed South across the head of the enticingly named “Valley of Mystery” to the North slope of Dalton North, aiming at a break in the small cliff lines.
Climbing gently through tall Eucalypts with evidence of very old logging activity, the vegetation gradually changed to the smaller pricklier community familiar in the dryer rocky country in the Grampians. Everything seemed to be in full bloom and bursting with life in this wet winter.
We lucked out to find a series of boulders stacked atop one another giving a very pleasant low angle arête to scramble up through the cliffs for 50 or so meters, just enough to make it feel as if we were climbing a real mountain.
Both the Daltons are plateau like on the crest of the ridge, gently sloping to the West and the Moora Moora Valley. The vegetation becomes lower and thicker and harder to push through but large open rocky areas often allow for easy walking interrupted by short bushy sections. There must be snow here at times and the moss beds were impressive and moist to the point of saturation.
The summit is a small distinct jumble of rocks emerging from the tangle of vegetation, giving an unusual perspective to the North of the bulk of Mt Rosea, the Mt Difficult range and off to Arapiles on the horizon. Still early in the day, we descended into the knotted jungle so common on the South facing slopes of the higher Grampians peaks, heading for Dalton South and lunch. As the crow flies it is less than a kilometre, but a band of cliffs required a bit of a dog leg to the West into the head waters of the Moora Moora Creek. Ducking and weaving, rock hopping and crawling, it took 3 hours to get the 1200 or so meters up onto the next small plateau.
Cresting the ridge, the view South along the Serra Range was simply superb. A gentle sun shone, warming and drying the rock as we picked our way along the ridge to the high point of Dalton South. The entire Grampians is visible from here, from Mt Zero in the North and Arapiles off in the distance, all the way down the Serra Range to Abrupt and Napier off in the distance beyond Hamilton. I don’t know if there is a better vantage point for viewing the entire range and it’s made even better by the fact that so few people make it here.
Given how long all the scrub bashing had taken we decided to abandon our objective of traversing the range all the way down to Mt Lubra (naieve or what!) and enjoy our perfect mountain top for the night. Reinhold, who can’t pass up the chance to crest every high point possible, took the opportunity to climb to the top of the summit block, up a short wall of brittle sloping dinner plates. Certainly not a summit with hundreds of ascents; it is hard to imagine that more than a hand full of people have ever topped out on Dalton South summit. I passed on this, enjoying a quick circuit over the low boulders and moss fields looking out over the Moora Valley. Despite the recent rain it was still a ½ hour job to collect water from a small trickle emerging from a moss bed for overnight drinking, but a very pleasant ½ hour it was!
The forecast heavy rain visited along with strong gusty winds, but nicely the morning saw the rain ease off by about 10, so there was the perfect reason to just lie about under the tarp and enjoy tea and porridge, reliving past glories at leisure. The wind even blew most of the dripping foliage dry so the jungle descent to Middleton Gap, while being slippery under foot, was relatively dry. Low cloud (read fog) made visibility less than 100 meters so it was out with the compass again to keep our bearings amongst the looming boulders and scrub. It is a good thing Reinhold had the compass as at times our intuitive sense of where we should be headed was off by a good 90 degrees with all the ducking and swerving amongst the boulders and cliff lines.
Interestingly we came across a line of fairly recently placed tape markers and snapped twigs leading along the ridge and then eventually down an old 4 x 4 track to Borough huts. Someone has recently done a lot of work to mark a path here. Anyone know whose work this is?
This is such a very nice part of the Grampians with amazing views and a different perspective on the range, being right in the middle, surrounded by the highest peaks. Certainly recommended for those who enjoy a good struggle in off track Grampians scrub and highly not recommended for those who don’t want to go home bleeding!
Tue 07 Nov, 2017 7:43 am
Almost enough to make me regret moving back to Tassie. Thanks for the report.
Wed 08 Nov, 2017 2:48 pm
Great report and photos JimJim. Thanks.
Wed 08 Nov, 2017 7:13 pm
Great report JimJim, thanks.
A rarely visited Grampians peak that provides views to the whole range? Say no more!
It's on the bucket list.