Today I was ambitious. I’m normally quite ambitious, but also today, I got served. 11 bloody seconds….
I’m very lucky that Sam’s family live in north east Victoria, just outside Wangaratta. Visiting makes for a great weekend getaway! Everyone was around for the mother in laws birthday Saturday, so Sunday I seized the opportunity to blast up into the mountains. The Goal, Mount Bogong, Victoria’s highest peak, and to summit via the staircase spur in under 2 hours!
After the trail run the other week with Dave, I’m hooked. Running trails has got all the benefits of hiking, plus you get to go further, push harder, see more places, and overall experience a place in a totally different manner.
The plan: 5:30am start (I had another deadline, plus it was forecast to be 38 degrees!), drive out to the base of Mout Bogong, via coffee and bacon and egg focaccia in Mount Beauty, carrying only a few litres of water, some energy gels, a cave bar and some toilet paper (never go unprepared!), blast up the staircase spur, reaching the summit in under 2 hours! Afterward, dart off the back of Bogong another 4kms to Cleave Col Memorial Hut, rest, then climb back up over the summit and back down the spur. 20kms all up, with over 1500m of ascent and descent.
Clearly the run wasn’t going to last the whole time, it was quickly reduced to a brisk walk, running when it flattened out, but the spur is steep. I didn’t really look at my watch until I reached the hut about halfway up, a few minutes over an hour. Right, better turn it up. At the tree line, I was at 1 hour 45, you can see the summit from there, but it’s still a lot further than it looks, and still a decent climb! With 4 minutes to go I passed a father and daughter hiking back down, I was only a few minutes away, he said “I reckon you’ll miss your target by about a minute, unless you sprinted of course”. Well, that was a novel idea!
So the next 3 minutes were spent running as fast as I can, straight up the north face of Mt Bogong, in a similar fashion to Ueli Steck on the north face of the Eiger. Probably just as dramatic anyway…
My hand hit the summit cairn, while the other hand hit stop on my Suunto. I looked down, two hours and eleven bloody seconds… shattered I collapsed on the shady side of the cairn and cursed about every second I rested on the way up, that few minutes I slowed down to chat to Nigel, a 68 year old solo hiker in much better shape than he gave himself credit for. Oh well… I guess I’ll have to come back and have another crack. Maybe after some more training!
After consoling myself, I decided the show must go on, and continued my journey along one of the most spectacular ridges I’ve ever run or walked over in Australia. Views back to Bogong’s summit, and accross to the massive granite cliffs of Mt Buffalo, and in the distance to the south, you can see Falls Creek, Mt Feathertop and Mt Hotham! All bar bogong I’ll be visiting with Dave on our planned epic starting in a bit over a week. But I don’t want to give too much away!
Every time I’ve been up the Staircase Spur, the last 2kms back down to the car have been horrible! It seems to drag on forever, and my legs start to get to the end of their endurance, this time it was the 20kms, the running, and overall flogging I served myself, last time was a 30+kg pack slamming down with each step. One day, I’ll gracefully ascend, and strut back to the car feeling fresh as a daisy. But until then… I’ll keep pushing!
Total Time: 5hrs 43min Time spent moving: 4hrs 45min Distance: 20km Ascent/Descent: 1580m up and 1580 down Average HR: 150 bpm Max HR: 189 bpm Calories Burnt: 3002!