Wintery Western Arthurs (A-K) in two days with 13yo daughter

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Wintery Western Arthurs (A-K) in two days with 13yo daughter

Postby klaashartmann » Sat 13 Aug, 2022 3:39 pm

For my 40th birthday my then 12 year old daughter, Sophie, gave me a voucher to run the Western Arthurs with me. It took almost a year until weather and opportunity aligned last week (early August). Looking at times from other runners I thought we might be able to do it in 20 hours. So a day trip was a borderline possibility. For safety I'd have to carry enough food and camping gear to turn it into an overnight trip anyway, so that gave us the option of turning it into a two day outing.

I set a schedule of elapsed times at the end of sections based on other runner's split times and our 20 hour goal. Also knowing that if we switched to a two day trip we had to make it to Haven Lake to avoid doing the Beggary Bumps in iced morning conditions.

We headed off after school and slept at the trail head ready for an early start. Sophie had a light weight running pack about 2kg, I had the bulk of the gear with a 7kg pack (plus water). We set off at 4:20am. Some of bog was frozen enough to support our weight, but generally it was just cold, and as muddy as you'd expect. We reached Mt Hesperus at 9am. At this point we were running about 20 minutes behind schedule. I was optimistic that we could make this up as we had been slower to Junction Creek than I had thought. However the first descent on the Southern side of Mt Hesperus was incredibly icy and we had to slowly pick our way down what would normally be very runnable terrain. The weather was perfectly calm and we could see the plains were at times in the sun, but the Western Arthurs remained in low cloud almost the entire day, so the icy conditions didn't abate.

We reached Square Lake at 11am. Apparently someone else was there whom Sophie waved to. I didn't realise and completely ignored the person. It was only later on when we looked at the logbook entries at the trail head that Sophie mentioned it and I realised that I had managed to completely ignore the only other person on the range -- sorry!

The section through Orion, Pegasus and Capricorn presented steep climbing with icy descents, we were relieved to reach High Moor around 3pm. It didn't leave a lot of daylight for the Beggary Bumps, but given it would be icier in the morning we thought it best to get to Haven Lake, even if it meant doing some of it in the dark (we do a lot of running and rock scrambling at night so aren't too worried by the dark).

We ended up doing the tilted chasm twice. The first time we descended about 10m (past the hard bit) but it looked so improbable we thought we must have made a mistake. Up we went, convinced ourselves it was the right way and down again, only to find a cairn just past where we had turned around. The rest of the Beggary Bumps weren't too bad, most of it was in the dark under a beautiful moonlit sky. We were still tossing up whether to try and finish (very late) that night, both of us liked the idea of completing it in one long effort, but I decided for safety we should stop at Haven Lake. It would also mean that we could enjoy the rest of the range in daylight.

We were feeling good about our choice with Haven Lake just below us, when one final cliff really threw me. Really, we need to climb down this? After deliberating for a few minutes we convinced ourselves it was the correct option. Once I was down it was a lot less imposing than it had been from above in the torch light and Sophie made her way down easily. We arrived at Haven lake at 8pm, 16 hours after we left the car, taking 3 hours longer than we had hoped.

We had a pleasant night at Haven Lake. I was happy that I lugged the bigger sleeping bags around the range! The morning was less cosy with everything frozen solid. My shoes were solid ice and I needed to stick my foot in part way to thaw them out before they were flexible enough to put on. Shoelaces were too solid to tighten or tie up. But the sun on the ridge above Haven Lake enticed us upwards.

It was a stunning day in full sunshine. The rest of the way was pretty easy going except for one small section above Lake Sirona, that I'm glad to not have attempted in the dark! My legs were really feeling the weight of the pack on the descent from Mt Scorpio. We took the shortcut from Moraine K to McKays track and then settled in for the long slog back to the car. Some of this was quite runnable but my legs had had it, so we proceeded at a fast walking pace, with beautiful views of the Western Arthurs all the way along to Junction Creek.

We arrived back at the car 8 hours after leaving Haven Lake (due to my inability to run this section took 1 hour longer than I had expected). We were tired and exhausted, but delighted! I'm absolutely stoked to have had the opportunity to go on this adventure with my daughter. I'm amazed by her endurance and stoic attitude.

I'm sure some will ponder the wisdom of doing the Western Arthurs with a 13 year old in Winter. However, for context, whilst neither of us are particularly fast runners, on average we run about 40km a week together, all on trails. About half of that is orienteering in often rough terrain and in winter lots of night time trail running. We also run a lot on kunanyi and make the most of the snow, often after I finish work and in the dark. So we have a good understanding of our limits and what we need to stay safe, warm, fed etc... Whilst this was our biggest adventure together we have pushed each other hard on quite a few long runs and events and work well together as a team. Ironically since Sophie and I usually have big single day adventures, this was also our first overnight hike since we went to Bivouac Bay when Sophie was 5.
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Last edited by klaashartmann on Sat 13 Aug, 2022 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wintery Western Arthurs (A-K) in two days with 13yo daug

Postby bumpingbill » Sat 13 Aug, 2022 3:48 pm

Massive effort. Congrats to you and Sophie! Photos look amazing.
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Re: Wintery Western Arthurs (A-K) in two days with 13yo daug

Postby CBee » Sat 13 Aug, 2022 9:14 pm

This is impressive. Well done.
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Re: Wintery Western Arthurs (A-K) in two days with 13yo daug

Postby Baeng72 » Tue 23 Aug, 2022 9:48 am

That's a fantastic effort by you and Sophie!
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Re: Wintery Western Arthurs (A-K) in two days with 13yo daug

Postby headwerkn » Wed 24 Aug, 2022 9:02 am

Awesome trip report! And how epic to do it with your daughter too - huge effort for someone still so young (future Ultra champ in the making). Especially in icy conditions.

We had a trail runner pass us on our traverse a couple of years ago, they ended up bivving with us overnight at High Moor but it definitely planted a seed for me to try an attempt one day. I know a few guys who've managed it comfortably within summer daylight hours, big effort but doable with enough endurance and agreeable weather. Scrambling between Mt Orion and Lake Sirona with a 4-5KG trail vest sounds a lot more fun that a 15-20kg pack ;-)
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Re: Wintery Western Arthurs (A-K) in two days with 13yo daug

Postby EGM » Wed 28 Sep, 2022 7:51 pm

Great report, and very impressive achievement.

That must have been a fantastic adventure.
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