Mt Bryan ascent from east side on Heysen Trail.

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Some impressions of the east face route relating to snow-chasing.

On the afternoon of Sunday 22nd September 2013 I climbed to the summit of Mt Bryan along the Heysen Train coming from the east side.

It took me about an hour and 25 minutes to reach the summit from where I parked the car on the gravel road where the climb starts. And the same time to return from the summit to my car, at a rather leisurely pace.

The first third (half?) the distance is a fairly gentle climb across a pasture paddock and up a short stretch of creek to a windmill. The trail crosses a fence over a style and from there to the summit it's a relentless slog over another pasture paddock up quite steep slopes. Near the top the track weaves a bit between rock outcrops.

I was lightly loaded, just a shoulder bag, a camera bag, and a light camera tripod in one hand. I'll speculate that a young person or someone in a very determined hurry could get to the summit in an hour if they really needed to, but they'd be a bit narkered when they got there, and I'd be extremely narkered at that speed if I even made it at all.

I've never walked up or down a steep slope on snow or other forms of ice precipitation but I imagine the top few hundred metres could be so slippery under those conditions, that a walking stick or an equivalent of an alpenstock might be needed or else one would need to traverse around to the gentler north side.

I would rate the climb as suitable for reasonably experienced bushwalkers, and for younger and reasonably fit inexperienced walkers, and not for anyone with medical conditions that might be exacerbated by a long steep climb. A disabling medical episode high on the mountain could turn a good day into a serious drama.

I would suggest including some water and some high-calorie food, a mobile phone, and a compass. The compass would chiefly be valuable to orient oneself on the summit and determine in which direction the many distant features of interest lie. Also be realistic about the amount of time the walk will take to the summit and back. If you allow for an hour on the summit then you aren't likely to get back to the start of the walk, where you hope your car and all its contents will be waiting for you, for four hours or so.

It wasn't late enough in the spring for grass seeds, but grass seeds would be a problem in their season (mid to late spring and summer) because you'd be walking through grassy pasture most of the time (I think the narrow track would get overgrown in spring). Jeans or trousers would keep the majority of seeds out of one's sox but in shorts your sox would soon become festooned. Those who've lived or worked in the country will know why I mention this.

For snow-chasers coming from Adelaide it's a pretty long return journey to Mt Bryan and it chews up quite a bit of petrol and there's the wear and tear on the vehicle to consider. I guestimate it cost me about 45 dollars worth of petrol. And I would need to plan on two and three quarter hours to get there from Payneham on a Sunday, allowing for a few stops along the way. In the much heavier traffic on a week-day it would take longer. I didn't time this journey but on a previous trip to Burra on a Sunday morning the journey to Burra took 2 hours and 15 minutes and the distance to Burra was 157 km. I guestimate another 25 minutes to go from Burra to the start of the walk.

Ideally one could hire a motel or hotel room in a mid-north town for a night, arriving in the Mid North the day before the forecast snow one is chasing, or alternatively resting up after the chase so one is not driving back to Adelaide after a long tiring day and in the dark.

My overall impressions of the day: well worth the drive and the climb and the view from the top, on a lovely mild springy sunny afternoon with light winds (moderate on the summit).

There's a Google Earth satellite image of Mt Bryan and vicinity with the Heysen Trail marked on it that shows where the trail runs in relation to the topography, on Jeremy Carter's page http://jez-hiking.blogspot.com.au/2010/09/mt-bryan.html. Jeremy also provides a link http://www.jeremyc.com/2010/2010_09_26_Mt_Bryan.kml that will open Google Earth at the right location.

Below: View to Mt Bryan taken from where I parked the car near the point where the Heysen Trail enters private property from the Mt Bryan East unsealed road. The first part of the trail over a gently sloping pasture paddock and up a short section of creek is hidden from view.

Below: a view from the summit looking back down the trail I walked up. My car is parked near the trail entrance on the gravel road at A. The trail goes to a windmill at B and then up the ridge on the left side of the aforementioned creek as we see it in the photo, to where I'm standing about to start down the track in the late afternoon.

There are two prominent native plant species in this and the next photos. Quoting from another page on this website I say: "The Shrub Violet also called Tree Violet, which I think has the scientific name Melicytus dentatus formerly Hymenanthera dentata, is a truly amazing native species which is so thorny and woody that it thrives up on these high hills and mounts, despite the relentless grazing by sheep and rabbits for over a hundred years." It's the dark shrub to about 1m tall which dots the upper slopes and summit area of the mountain and other high ground in the Range. The little shrub (with ? white flowers) in the foreground is also a native. Dr Phil Bagust commented in the Weatherzone forums when he saw these photos "Its a Cryptandra and it's a very distinctive feature of remnant grassy woodlands in the area".

Below: view of the summit of Mt Bryan which is a surprisingly flat and rather spacious area for a summit, and dotted with various structures including communication towers and a single-wire electric power pole and a cairn.

Below - there are some rock outcrops near the summit on the east side, where protected from grazing perhaps a few of the original plant species that grew on the mountain in addition to the two I've mentioned above might still live today. Then below that image is a post-camera processed copy where I've adjusted for the camera's automatic exposure compromising between dark rocks and bright sky.




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