12 Dec, 4.5km light rain, alpine crossing, 6.5hrs
The route went over Little Rintoul 1643m before climbing Mt Rintoul 1731m the 4th tallest summit in Richmond Range.
The Richmond guides suggest not to be fooled by Mt Rintoul. It is not a mountain but it is two mountains with a steep, low saddle between them.
When we (Lou, Tess and I) woke this morning the steady rain through the night brought on a discussion, do we go or do we stay?
None of us wanted to be scrambling around in alpine conditions with rain and rock scrambles. We had to go, with no weather forecast available due to no internet coverage our last one was 5 days ago. In the end we were up and away at 8:00.
Lou and Tess, mother and daughter told me they skipped a hut so they could walk Mt Rintoul as a group with me. We agreed and completed thorough trip planning for navigating in alpine conditions.
My pace and style is so much different than others with a result of the group waiting for me. Not ideal in these conditions. The visibility varied and the track among large boulders was often not clear and slippery. This left me scrambling to find the markers see the two ahead and go faster. Not ideal as I fell on rocks often. I had a warm hat and gloves but I wondered if the other two were as well equipped.
We had a 200m climb out of the valley Old Man Hut sat in. That was straight up and in good condition after the heavy rain through the night, but a challenge for me to do at pace. It was beautiful among beech trees but on a root and mulch floor. We expected the rain to have made it boggy and relieved it was only slippery.
At the junction we walked up another 100m gradual climb in bush before we came to the first alpine crossing toward Little Rintoul. Again we talked about what was ahead donned the warmest gear, turned our backs to the wind and kept going.
Climbing over rocks up to ridges and edging around tight sidlings became the track, focus and challenge. The track was marked by the flattened surface made by those who walked this way before us.
Often the marker poles led the way but those footprints were critical in how. On the way down was a literal scramble in fine scree and dust down a wavy track for about 1km. It was loose and hard to get a footing a bit like going down a loose sandhill or in snow. Fun and all over the place.
The final rock climb before the downhill I fell on a rock and was wedged into two boulders. I was laying facing up over the side backwards.
Lou heard me scream as I landed heavily on my shins before rolling over on my back. Lou is a circus performer and was down the rock face in no time. She got me upright and carried my pack up out of the wind. The damage was gashed and bruised shins and bruised right leg and hip. Patched up in the hut once we all warmed up. It took 3 hours to be fully functioning and warm after this days alpine wander.
The weather over the pass was windy with a range of visibility from not seeing the next marker to seeing three. But it was wet and cold waiting for each other with no where to get out of the wind.
No breaks today so on arriving at Mt Rintoul Hut priority of equal importance was to get warm, eat something and build a fire.
We were drinking sweet tea, drying all our gear and snacking on our lunch in no time.
I cleaned and dressed my legs, had a billy of hot water on the stove as we three warmed up and planned the next day.