I am in awe of the climbers and film makers who have made a movie about scaling Federation Peak in Tasmania during the wettest winter on record.
Some friends and I did it in summer and it was hard. For these guys to do it in winter, in the wet, is incredible.
Federation Peak is regarded by many as Australia’s hardest hike. Just getting to the base of the peak is a very tough slog and then climbing up the tower to the top via the usual route is basically rock climbing without ropes. People have fallen and died.
The conditions the guys making the movie faced look atrocious. And they were going up a scary looking route called The Blade. I can imagine the thought “why are we doing this!?” must have gone through their heads many times.
When we did it about seven years ago we had some pretty off weather too. It rained constantly as we clawed and crawled our way up Moss Ridge. Moss Ridge is basically a short cut to get to Federation. But it’s also a steep, densely forested tangle of fallen trees and roots that made it feel like we were scrambling through a jungle gym – with heavy packs.
It was cold and rainy when we got to the Becherviase Plateau, at the base of the peak, and we hurriedly threw up the tent and dived in to get dry and warm. We were tent bound all the next day because of the weather until it finally started clearing in the evening. The next day it dawned blue sky and still – perfect conditions to climb.
Only two of us went up as our other friend stayed at the camp (he was afraid of heights!). We met a group going up who’d come from a different direction and tagged along with them. The climb is a grippy scramble edging along and up a rock wall. There’s a tricky (and scary) section where you clamber over a ledge and you’re dangling in empty air. We were lucky that coming down we encountered another group who were on the way up and had set up ropes on this section which we shared to get over. The exposure on the rock is incredible, with a sheer drop hundreds of metres down to Lake Geeves.
Anyway, we made it safely back to camp and the feeling of relief and achievement was incredible. We spent the rest of the day lounging around in the sun, drying stuff out and getting organised to head back out.
The next day the weather started to come in again and we realised how lucky we were to have that one day of sunshine to climb Federation.