Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cowombat Carpark to Mt. Cobberas No. 1 via Moscow Saddle, Alpine National Park - February 2018

Cleft Peak with The Pilot in the middle distance and the Main Range in the distance.
In the middle of writing up my seemingly unending AAWT posts I decided that I needed a bit of downtime. Since I’d wandered past the Cobberas on my walk to Canberra but hadn’t headed up onto the range, I decided that a visit to the tops was in order. To make the walk into a circuit I decided to head up to Cobberas No.1 via Moscow Saddle, bivy just below the summit and then head back down to the ute in the Cowombat Carpark via the spur that runs in a roughly westerly direction from the summit. So after putting in a few hours at work I jumped into the ute and headed off on the almost 7 hour drive to the Cowombat Carpark, arriving in a cloud of dust just after 2pm after what had already been a pretty big day.
I'm about to head off from the dusty Cowombat Carpark.
I followed Cowombat Flat Track for a little over a kilometre today.

Climbing out of the ute and changing into my walking gear I could almost feel the moisture being sucked out of my skin by the dry and dusty bush. Driving in I’d noticed both small arms of Stony Creek with barely trickle of water in them, with almost no chance of finding any water in the headwaters of Moscow Creek up on the range I was carrying 8 litres for my bivy tonight. So with 8 kilograms of water on board, my pack was surprisingly heavy as I headed off along Cowombat Flat Track this afternoon, crossing the bone dry Bulley Creek I was happy to have enough water to see me back to the ute tomorrow though.
Bulley Creek was bone dry on this visit.
Shortly after crossing the dry Bulley Creek I turned east and started climbing the long spur that eventually tops out at Moscow Peak. This spot marked the end of any kind of walking track today until I was a few hundred metres from the summit of Cobberas No.1. When I was shuffling past here back in November last year on my AAWT walk I noticed that there had been a fire to the east of Cowombat Flat Track but I didn’t head up onto the range to check out the extent of the fire. Heading up the spur today I was mildly surprised at the extent of the damage, while the actual fire had thinned out the undergrowth a fair bit there was very little in the way of any significant effects from the fire. What there was though was massive firebreaks that had been bulldozed through the bush, so what was normally an off track climb up the spur through the scrub now became a bit of a slog up the wide bulldozer scar, at least until I got to around the 1500 metre mark where it looks like the bulldozer retreated. Higher up where the spur gets pretty pronounced the dozer had more or less kept to the crest as well, which is normally the spot I’d want to be climbing on an off track spur, oh well at least I wasn’t getting a scrub massage I suppose!
I'd noticed that there had been a fire here when I passed through last November on my AAWT walk.
The spur that heads up to Moscow Peak use to be a very pleasant off track walk.
I'm thinking that it would probably be best to give this route a miss for a couple of years until the bull dozer scars start to revegetate a bit.
The bulldozer got to around the 1500 metre contour.
Once above the dozer scars everything returned to normal for the Cobberas, the higher I climbed towards Moscow Peak the better the walking became. The rocky spur with it’s fairly open forest making for interesting walking without any real navigational conundrums. Once I’d climbed the spur to around the 1570 metre level I started to sidle around towards Moscow Saddle below Moscow Peak. This sidle was probably the roughest section of todays walk as I had to pick my way through some pretty rocky country while negotiating the scrub and at the same time being on a fairly acute angle on the side of the peak. It was with some relief when the land flattened out a bit and I found myself at an old camp that I’d used before in Moscow Saddle, not that I was camping here today though, in fact I was barely halfway to my nights bivy.
Once above the earth works the walking up Moscow Peak Spur was pretty sweet again!
Sidling across the slopes of Moscow Peak towards Moscow Saddle was probably the roughest walking for the day.
It's pretty rocky across here.
Passing through the scrubby saddle I started to climb again, I was now heading up towards Middle Peak. While the climb up from Moscow Saddle to Middle Peak is steep and scrubby it’s largely fairly straight forward as far as the navigation goes, just stay on the high ground and keep climbing until you top out is basically the extent of it really. Nearing the top I reached the high ridge that connects Cobberas No.1 and Cleft Peak at it’s extremities, I was giving Cleft Peak a miss on this walk so headed towards Middle Peak and Cobberas No.1. Once on this high ridge the walking gets pretty rugged, this ridge is very rocky and it requires concentration to avoid the many bluffs and thicker sections of scrub. By passing the summit of Middle Peak I dropped down a steep gully through the cliffs protecting the summit, arriving at a nice grassy flat saddle that was home to a couple of brumbies today, but which would make for a nice campsite for me one day.
Climbing up from Moscow Saddle to Middle Peak there was only a bit of light scrub to deal with.
Getting closer to the ridge that connects Cleft Peak to Cobberas No.1.
Middle Peak
I dropped steeply down a gully beside the cliffs that protect Middle Peak.
Leaving the saddle between Middle Peak and Cobberas No.1 I started climbing again, once again off track. My final climb was only fairly short at less than 100 metres but it was pretty steep, initially at least. The good news was that apart from this being my last climb for the day, it was also the least scrubbiest section of the climb. By the time I reached the long summit ridge I was pretty well shagged out today, not that it really mattered now as once on the high ridge I soon intersected with the marked walking track that heads up here from the Playgrounds (the only walking track that penetrates the high country of the Cobberas Wilderness). With the walking track suddenly making walking very easy I was able to read and enjoy the beautiful alpine scenery surrounding me, the Snow Gums twisted and contorted into all sorts of gnarly shapes.
Reaching the Cobberas No.1 ridge I met up with the walking track that comes up from the Playgrounds.
Scrambling up to the summit I disturbed Sambar Deer.
Looking back across towards Cleft Peak from Cobberas No.1.
Mt Cobberas No.1
Ten minutes or so after meeting the walking track I arrived at the summit of Cobberas No.1. After finding a nice soft spot under a Snow Gum on the Snow Grass to bivy for the night and setting up camp (a fairly quick chore when only using a bivy bag), it was time to scramble up the last ten metres or so to the summit trig. To get to the very top of Cobberas No.1 requires a bit of an exposed scramble for the last couple of metres and once on top there is only a bum sized spot to sit, not that it matters much as the view from a couple of metres lower down is just as good really. It was after 6pm when I arrived up here today and the rest of the evening was spent eating, drinking and doing a bit of reading, all punctuated by numerous short excursions around the summit area trying to capture the changing light with my camera. After the sun finally dropped down below the horizon I gave Sam a call and climbed into the sleeping bag to combat the creeping cold, spending very little time reading before sleep overcame me.
There isn't a lot of room to park my fat arse on this summit.
Cleft Peak

This post is turning out to be a bit of a photo dump, hey.
The Cobberas Wilderness is a pretty special spot I think...but it takes some work to get there.

The Dirt.
I walked around 8 kilometres today and climbed around 750 metres on this medium grade stroll. Now while I’d rate it as a medium grade days walking you need to be able to navigate and route find in sometimes rough country so expect fairly slow progress. Unfortunately the Cobberas Wilderness is now home to a lot of feral horses and deer so if you are here when there is a bit of surface water around then I’d treat it. I used Mr Tempests notes and map out of his Daywalks Around Victoria book along with my GPS maps, I’ve walked up here a few times before though so have got a bit of an idea of the lay of the land. There are plenty of beautiful spots to camp just short of the summit although there is generally no water close by and being on a ridge top it’s a little exposed.

Relevant Posts.
Stony Creek to Cowombat Flat, AAWT, Alpine National Park - 2017.
Limestone Road to saddle south of Moscow Peak, Alpine National Park, 2016.
Cleft Peak, Mt Cobberas Number 1, Moscow Peak, Alpine National Park, 2016.

Tonight's bivy on Cobberas No.1, I've had worse!
Strap yourself in for a few sunset shots.

Time for bed:)

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