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Conquering the Hazards and Mount Amos

Usually, if something is called a ‘Hazard,’ people have a natural instinct to stay away from it. Driving hazard? Nope. Health hazard? Nuh-uh. Workplace hazard? Get me out of here before I have to fill out the paperwork!

Yet, when I heard about the Hazards Range at the entrance to Freycinet National Park on Tasmania’s east coast, that wasn’t my reaction at all. Instead, my immediate thoughts were “where’s the start of the trail and how long will it take to get to the top?” After all, I couldn’t miss out on the views from the top of Mount Amos, which said to be the best in the park (if you’re not in a helicopter, that is).

The Pink Granite of Mount Amos

Looking up at Mount Amos and the rest of the Hazards Range.

It was only when we finished the climb that I found out that the range wasn’t considered to be so much of a hazard that it was named ‘the Hazards’; instead, it was named after an American captain, Richard Hazard, who went whaling in the area in the 1800s.

After being assured by the National Park ranger in the Freycinet Visitor Centre that the weather was perfect for climbing and that we would definitely make it back down the mountain before sundown — despite the fact that it was well past noon when we started the walk — we charged headlong into the forest at the base of the towering pink granite mountains. Looking up, I had that feeling I always do with mountains — namely, that it seemed like such a good idea when I was far away, but now that I’m here, it really does look awfully tall…

Stair Climbing

The first part of the walk — a mixture of trail and stairs.

The first quarter of the walk was straightforward on a path that wound its way through the trees. We took it at a fairly fast clip, knowing that what was ahead would slow us significantly. By the time we made it to the sign telling us that continuing further ‘crosses very steep, slippery sections of rock and should not, under any circumstances, be attempted in wet conditions,’ I was completely out of breath…so not only was I slowing the rest of the group down, but I provided a wheezing soundtrack to the walk too. I think it’s time to work on my fitness again.

Speaking of everyone else: it was pretty much just the four of us on the mountain. One very bouncy guy bounded past us on the way up and bounded back down about 15 minutes later; otherwise, we were absolutely alone. It was amazing that such a famous spot could be so secluded; I have a feeling it’s not that way in summer though. I preferred the way we had it — it meant for a lot less waiting in areas where only one person could (barely) pass.

The Slopes of Mount Amos

The gorgeous slopes of Mount Amos.

There are few ways that make you contemplate your life and choices more than a steep face of pink granite standing in front of you. As the park ranger had warned, all traces of the track had suddenly disappeared and had been replaced by bright yellow arrows pointing in the general direction of where we should go. Many of those arrows had gone missing though, courtesy of a very excitable tourist who thought it would be fun to take all of them home with him. Instead, we were left looking for lonely grey blobs of glue where those arrows once sat.

Those arrows and blobs of glue quickly became the bane of my existence. “You want me to go where?!” my brain kept screaming at me, trying to drown out the pounding of my heartbeat. The slick rock faces slowly increased their incline and occasionally offered up a brain teaser as I tried to find a foothold that would, well, hold. I was incredibly happy to be wearing my trusty hiking boots with grippy soles that held (most of the time) — anything more slippery and I would have been done for. (That being said, James hopped and skipped up the mountain in steel-capped boots and would have been done in half the time if we hadn’t held him up).

Find the Yellow Arrow

Find the yellow arrow.

Soon, I realised that the advice I’d been given to help save my knees was total bollocks. My hiking poles were simply getting in the way when I needed to crouch over and do a spidey-walk up the side of the mountain; when I wasn’t imitating a superhero, they helped a little bit but not enough to justify them being there. I ended up leaving them behind a gnarled tree to be picked up on my way down.

As tiring and occasionally demoralising as the stretches of granite were, it only took a small look behind me to see why we were doing this. The afternoon sun shone around the puffy clouds dotting the sky, lighting up the brilliant Great Oyster Bay and the east coast of Tasmania that stretched off far into the distance. That view could keep anyone going, especially knowing that it will only get better with more height.

Great Oyster Bay & Coles Bay

The town of Coles Bay and the vast Great Oyster Bay, as seen from the upper slopes of Mount Amos.

One steep crevasse nearly got me; I spent so long contemplating my next move that James had flashbacks to climbing Mt Beerwah in the Glass House Mountains and thought I was done for. Eventually I found a move I was comfortable with and soon found myself on a rocky plateau. A walk, a dip, and a short climb later we were at the top, about 1.5hrs after we started.

Freycinet As Far As The Eye Can See

The view that greeted us at the top. Definitely worth it.

The entire time we’d been climbing, we’d been able to see sweeping views of Coles Bay — but the rest of Freycinet National Park had been hidden by the bulk of Mount Amos. That first step onto the “summit” was the big unveil. The peninsula, entirely national park, stretched out in front of us, a bright green hand stretching out into the Tasman Sea. The brilliant white expanse of sand and the turquoise waters of Wineglass Bay (which I thought was named because it is shaped like a wineglass, but the origins are actually unknown — maybe they just wanted a glass of wine by the time they trekked there?) looked pristine and perfect. No matter where else I looked, my eyes always settled back on the beach.

Wineglass Bay

How could you not keep staring at this beach?

I couldn’t think of anything better but to have my lunch sitting on the rocks and admiring the view, but my brother had better ideas. Not content with the fact that there was clearly a higher rock on the mountain than where we were standing, he went wandering, disappearing into tiny gorges and occasionally yelling that he might be stuck. Eventually he appeared at the true summit and stood under rays of light beaming out of the clouds. I could almost hear the gods singing, “Ahhhhhhhh!” behind him as he held his arms in the air.

On Top of Mount Amos

Ahhhhhhh!

We carefully budgeted our time at the top, knowing that the sun was setting at 4.45pm(!!) and that it wouldn’t much be fun to finish in the dark. That said, we probably underestimated the amount of time it took to get down. Sure, it would have been easy to simply sit down and slide down the mountainside, but trying to stay on the trail and keep to a pace that we could stop from if necessary — rather than careening off the edge of the mountain — was a lot slower.

Just a Normal Day at the Office

Just a normal day at the office.

If we were superheroes coming up, we were crabs coming down. I spent more time crabwalking down the mountain than I did walking; my hands were the anchors that gave me some sort of assurance that, even if I slipped, I wouldn’t go flying out of control and wipe out everyone below me. I did actually fall once, somehow ending up in a hurdler’s position with my leg tucked right underneath me, but there was no harm done. And plus, did you really think I could climb an entire mountain without falling over once?

Relaxing on a Lounge Chair

If only we’d had more time to sit down on some natural lounge chairs and enjoy the view…

One thing that happened on the walk down (that doesn’t happen very often at all) is that I didn’t take any photos on my camera. Tight on time, I knew that stopping James — who thankfully was carrying my bag, allowing me to keep my weight closer to the mountain as I skittered down the mountain — and taking the time to get out my camera may mean the difference between finishing under the setting sun and walking home in the dark without a torch. Instead, I snapped a few phone photos and then just took in the epic view as beams of light flew out in every direction from a cloud that was seemingly almost level with us. What a moment; what a place.

Sunbeams

Sunbeams over Great Oyster Bay.

With every remaining granite face, someone remembered it being the first one we climbed up. “It was this one, I know it. The first one definitely went up at this angle,” we kept saying…yet it never seemed to be that one. It was just like climbing uphill and thinking you’re on the final stretch before the summit only to realise you’re only halfway up. One by one, we went down the “first rockface” until James yelled up that he’d found the warning sign and the true first one.

From there, it was simple, and we made it back to the car with ten minutes to spare. As I stood in the parking lot, the frustrations of the climb faded with the last light over Mount Amos’ rounded peak. Hazards? What hazards?

So…would you climb Mount Amos? What’s a challenge you’ve tackled while travelling?

Note: If you plan on climbing Mount Amos, be sure you have a wet weather plan. As the sign says, it’s absolutely not something that should be attempted in the rain or if rain is forecast. I can think of nothing worse than trying to navigate wet rock faces with absolutely no footholds on them.

More information on the climb can be found on the Parks & Wildlife Tasmania website.

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8 Responses to Conquering the Hazards and Mount Amos

  1. Jenna February 12, 2015 at 7:05 pm Reply

    WOW!! Adding this to our list for our trip to Tassie! Thanks for sharing your blogs and can’t wait to read more!
    Jenna

    • Kristin February 12, 2015 at 11:13 pm Reply

      No worries at all Jenna — and thanks for checking out my Tassie posts! Hope you have a great time on your visit there and enjoy your climb up Mount Amos. The view is definitely worth it!

  2. Brittany @ Green Global Travel May 19, 2015 at 3:13 pm Reply

    Despite the hazards, Mount Amos holds some astoundingly beautiful views. I’m blown away! And what a great accomplishment for you. I’m sure it was well worth the treacherous climb! Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Kristin May 21, 2015 at 9:18 am Reply

      Thanks so much Brittany! It was definitely an astoundingly beautiful place, and despite the fact that the climb wasn’t the easiest I’ve ever done, it was definitely well worth it. Plus, I’ve got the memory of an adventure that would never have happened if we had just walked to the easy lookout!

  3. Neha Mittal January 18, 2016 at 12:01 pm Reply

    Loved your account of climbing Mt Amos!
    We will be there in a week and it was great to know a first hand account of someone who has done it before.

    • Kristin January 19, 2016 at 7:58 am Reply

      Hi Neha, I’m so glad to hear that my post was helpful! I hope you have a great time in Freycinet and that you get great weather for your climb 🙂

  4. Anne March 1, 2016 at 10:57 am Reply

    Amazing photos, especially the one with hands in the air with the beautiful light beams!

    I’ve always been too much of a scardy cat to hike during the golden hours, but can appreciate the beautiful photos that come from it.

    I recently hiked Mt Amos too, you can read about it on my blog.

    • Kristin March 2, 2016 at 6:42 am Reply

      Hi Anne, thanks very much — that photo with my brother with his arms in the air is my favourite from this trip too!

      That’s awesome that you got to hike Mount Amos recently too! I hope you had a fantastic time. (I did remove your link as that’s against my comments policy, but others can find it through your website link above!)

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