Mount Bryan from the west side along the Heysen Trail.

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First, a comparison of distances between the east and west walks to the summit. The following are approximate distances only, taken from a fairly small-scale map and using a magnifying glass to assist.

Mt Bryan summit from the east is about two and a quarter km from the start of the Heysen Trail walk from Mt Bryan East Road. Mt Bryan summit from the west is approx 5 km from the start of the Heysen Trail walk from the road entrance. (I've been unable to find out the name of that unsealed road which comes from Hallett).

It's about three and three quarters km from the start of the west side walk to the top of a high ridge with an expansive view of the west side of Mt Bryan, and an expansive view to the north round to the north-east down to much lower-lying terrain. For bushwalking purposes, that's a good walk for those who don't wish to or don't find there is the time to go to the summit.

The walk to the summit from the west side is a bit over twice the distance of the walk in from the east side.

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. He also gives a link http://www.jeremyc.com/2010/2010_09_26_Mt_Bryan.kml which opens Google Earth at the corrrect location.

He and at least two companions Graham and Steve, started on the Heysen Trail from the western entrance from an unsealed road onto private property (where I started as I describe further down the page), and hiked up the trail to the summit and then down the east side to the Mt Bryan East Road. Here are the stats quoted from his report on the hike:
"Stats Mt Bryan
Sunday
26/09/2010
Distance 7.86km
Start Time 9.48am
End Time 12.22pm
Moving Duration 1h49m
Stationary Duration 39m
Moving Average 4.3km/h
Overall Average 3.2km/h "

If I in my late sixties succeeded at doing the same walk, I would guess it would take me about twice as long.

On the afternoon of 6th October 2013 I made a foray along the Heysen Trail from the point where it leaves the unsealed road and heads in the general direction of east across private property towards the summit of Mt Bryan. My primary aim was to assess this western walk for snowchasing and compare it with the walk in from the east side.

The image below shows what to look for when driving in. There's plenty of parking space near the start and a couple of residences not far away.


Below: The walk begins with a long stretch of gently rising ground up a broad valley.


Below: Walking up the valley floor along the fence, the track will soon leave the floor and start climbing up the hill in the centre of this three-image panorama, towards the crest of a high ridge.


Below is the centre photo in the above panorama. The trees are eucalypts of some kind. The hill looks like it's not far to the top but actually it's a long climb - the true top is hidden.



Below is a view taken from the beginning of the climb up the hill, back along the valley I've been walking up.


Arriving at the top of the high ridge I was rather puffed because it was a long climb. It took me an hour and a half to cover the three and three quarter km from the start of the walk to the ridge crest. On the other side of the ridge I was greeted with an expansive view of most of the west face of Mt Bryan. The valley the walk starts up, spreads out into an impressive amphitheatre including the west face of Mt Bryan.

Below is firstly a view from the ridge crest towards the summit showing part of the west face of Mt Bryan, and then a panorama of the west face of Mt Bryan, treeless but with scattered Shrub Violets (the scattered dark blobs). Because these views of Mt Bryan were taken in the afternoon the sun is shining almost full onto the western side of the mount, so details of the topography are minimised and we're not seeing it in its best light.



Below is a zoomed view of the summit from the ridge crest:

Below: Looking towards the N to NE there's a view down a wide valley and ridges to the distant horizon (3-image panorama):


I decided not to proceed beyond this ridge crest to the summit as there was still a long way to go and I could see what I most wanted to see, namely the west face of Mt Bryan. After absorbing the scene before me I busied myself attempting to photo the very small flowers on a nearby Shrub Violet, rather difficult as the flowers were facing almost directly downwards - see image below next paragraph.

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. The sheoak trees that I gather once dotted the higher parts of the Razorback Range, have all but gone except in isolated patches.


Then it was back down the route rather quicker than I came up, as I wanted to get some photos of the Razorback Ridge from a distance before the sun set. It took me an hour and 20 minutes to return to the start of the walk.

A moderate approx westerly wind was blowing for the whole of the walk in and much of the return walk, and I was exposed to the wind for most of the time. I would speculate that the walk from the west in to the summit is exposed to a wind from the westerly half of the compass for most of its distance in and out, excepting maybe not from the S to the SSW. Only experience would tell one for sure though.

I imagine the walk in from the east side would be considerably more sheltered if the wind was coming from approx the western half, but pretty exposed to the wind if it was coming from approx the eastern half of the compass and also if it was coming from the south to SSW. Personally I'd rather walk half the distance fully exposed to the wind than twice the distance reasonably sheltered from the wind.

So having walked in from both the east and the west sides, which one do I think is better from a snow-chasing perspective? On a snowchase to the summit I'd much rather walk from the east side than from the west side no matter which way the wind was coming from. At a bit over double the distance the walk from the west is way too long. For me it's an open and shut case for most but not all snow situations. If I want to walk to the summit I'll be coming in from the east side.

But there is one situation where I might choose to come in from the west side - if there was a big snowfall covering the ground right down to the start of the walk, as I explain below.

If one was determined to come from the west side regardless, or you were there and the car battery gave out, then walking to the crest of the high ridge where I reached might be quite good as it has expansive views from there. In a substantial snowfall coming down to below that level, there would be some good opportunities for photography. In a very big snowfall with snow cover reaching down to the start of the walk, the walk in from the west might be a pretty good option, because it's a more scenic route than the east side walk and wherever you are on the west walk there are hills and valleys in view.

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