Ascent of Bimberi Peak on 1993-10-18

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, October 18, 1993
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Bimberi Peak
    Location:Australia-Australian Capital Territory/New South Wales
    Elevation:6276 ft / 1912 m

Ascent Trip Report

Sunday, October 17, 1993:

My plan for tomorrow was to climb Bimberi Peak, the highest point in the Australian Capital Territory, a fairly remote summit. Using the maps I had gotten at the Namadagi National Park visitor center yesterday, I found a dirt road leading towards the Tantangara Reservoir and proceeded to badly abuse my rented Ford sedan by forcing it 36 kilometers (22 miles) up a rutted, rocky, occasionally very steep forest road.

It was evening as I neared the end of this punishing ordeal, and kangaroos bounding across the road were a major hazard, much like the deer I was used to in the U.S. Long after I had been expecting it, I finally reached the gated end of the road, where I pulled over into a field, parked, and, after eating some food and otherwise hanging out, I went to sleep in my car again.

Monday, October 18:

I was up early to see a foggy, cloudy, drizzling morning. I hiked from my car north along the gated continuation of the Tantangara dirt road for a mile before turning right on the Murray Gap fire road, a narrow, muddy, and rutted track that would have tested the best jeep. It led me uphill to a forested crest, then down through pleasant fields, past a hiker's cabin, and over a couple of rushing brooks that required big leaps to cross.

From the fields I could see the forested dome of Bimberi Peak, its very top covered in low clouds, but so far it really hadn't rained on me, so I was optimistic. The road, now more of a trail, led me uphill though woods to marshy Murray Gap, on the crest of the Bimberi Range, just south of Bimberi Peak. Here I rested and then began to look for a trail leading north to the peak, but couldn't really find one. I took off uphill anyway, following faint paths and occasionally thinking that I had found a real trail, but they always petered out, and I mostly had to bushwhack. After an initial slope, a flat spot with some marshy meadows, and more uphill, the forest started thinning out, the wind got more fierce, and the rain started falling, soon heavily.

The closer I got to the top the more a clear trail appeared, too, and soon I was easily hiking the last stretch, through open trees and low scrub, to the summit, a small rocky pinnacle crowned with a low, unclimbable tower. I was up at 1910 meters, at 6266 feet a shade lower than Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. The weather was similar, too--fantastically strong wind, heavy, lashing rain, and totally socked in. I ate a quick snack, took a picture of myself (getting my camera wet in the process), and beat a hasty retreat.

I followed the dim path for the first part of the descent, determined not to lose it, but I did anyway, and after a while I was descending blindly in deep, pathless forest in a downpour. When I got to the flatter area I realized I was badly lost--I kept encountering boggy fields that I didn't recognize, and I got all turned around. I finally had to get out my compass, something I very, very rarely need to do, and, using my map, was able to plot a route towards Murray Gap. I had to cross several of the marshy bogs, sinking in up to my knees or higher in wet mud, and fight though several head-high thickets of dense brush, both actions combining to get me utterly soaked to the skin, as if I had been swimming with my clothes on.

However, I stuck to my compass course, and was thankfully soon heading down the remembered slope that took me to Murray Gap--I was sure glad I always brought it with me. I had noticed that the needle on my compass was kind of stuck up against the top of its liquid housing, and I later read that there were northern hemisphere compasses and southern hemisphere compasses, the difference being in the way they are "damped", and mine, obviously, was a northern compass (bought in Denmark), the reason for its behavior. I was glad it worked at all.

From Murray Gap I hiked easily back to my car, the rain easing a bit, allowing the squishing of my drenched hiking boots to ease as I walked. I stopped for a long rest at the very picturesque Oldfields Hut, set in a pleasant meadow and totally deserted, where I sat on the covered porch, watching the rain, feeling like a homesteader in the Australian outback a hundred years ago. Helping this feeling was the fact that I didn't see a single human being on my entire hike.

Back at my car I changed and began the tortuous drive back down the terrible Tantangara Reservoir Road--I was worried that the rain might have washed out parts of it, and was very scared at the section just before the reservoir where it descended in a series of steep hairpin turns. I got down though, often in first gear, seeing very few other cars and dodging kangaroos. I was glad to arrive on pavement.

The broad dome of Bimberi Peak, above the fields and forests near the Oldfields Hut (1993-10-18).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1961 ft / 597 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Mud/Swamp
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Very Windy, White-out
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1961 ft / 597 m
    Start Trailhead:4315 ft / 1315 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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