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Climb Mount Ossa – Tasmania’s highest

25 May 2011 2 Comments

Top of Mt Ossa - Cradle Mountain National ParkAt 1,617m altitude, Mount Ossa is Tasmania’s highest summit, set deep within the untamed wilderness of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. A couple of days’ walk from the nearest road, the peak can be considered remote. Yet there is ready access to its seclusion, for Mount Ossa lies halfway along the world famous Overland Track.

The best way of climbing Mount Ossa is as a side trip from the Overland. Roughly located at the halfway mark of the 6 day long walk, Mount Ossa is usually climbed on day 4 after a restful night of sleep at roomy New Pelion Hut. From the hut, the track climbs up to Pelion Gap, where the side trail branches off to lead up Mount Ossa.

The track is steep and rocky, but well-marked: although some rock scrambling is involved, no climbing skills are required and the ascent is considered easier than that of Cradle Mountain itself. On a clear summer day, climbers will be rewarded with 360° panoramic views of the western wilderness: stark ranges and lush valleys strewn with calm blue lakes are laid out beneath the dramatic dolerite peaks of the plateau.

Fit hikers will complete their side trip to Mount Ossa summit and back within 3 to 4 hours, and can then move on to Kia Ora Hut, further south on the Overland Track.

Because climbing Mount Ossa involves a multi-day hike in a remote environment, all walkers must be Sturdy hiking boots are a necessity to provide adequate grip and ankle support, and appropriate clothing to keep you warm and dry in harsh conditions is a must – weather can turn quickly in the mountains. You will also need a comfortable backpack to bring all your essential camping gear: tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag and fuel stove. All food must be carried in as well. You may re supply your drinking water from the huts’ rainwater tanks.

Please note that although huts provide invaluable shelter from the elements, they should not be relied on and do not contain any food, stoves or blankets. Be safe and prepared – always heed the weather reports.

If you lack hiking and camping experience, you may want to try climbing Mount Ossa as part of an Overland Track guided tour. Carrying nothing more than a day pack and being served with a 3-course meal every night in the comfort of private huts will make it all easier on the knees!

Stephanie Cotteret is a freelance travel writer and photographer from France. She specializes in writing about Australia, where she has lived for several years, and is a regular contributor to Australia-Australie.com , France’s leading website for Working Holidaymakers and backpackers. Check out her photography portfolio online , or contact her on toothbrushnomads[at]gmail[dot]com.

Image: Vern and Skeet via Flickr

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