Pack Extra Courage: Federation Peak
Federation Peak is not for the light hearted. Kym, from our Hobart store, shares her experience and tips for the heart pumping climb. Be ready to go outside your comfort zone.
Image credit: Jeremy Harris
Every Trek Begins with Planning
It was early January 2016. Life was busy. I'd just finished the first six months of running my own business. My family was visiting from interstate for the Christmas period and Hobart is simply jam-packed with fun things to do during the festive season. I was ready for four days in Tassie's South West wilderness.
Somehow the stars aligned so three friends and I could get together and conquer Federation Peak. The long-range weather forecast couldn't have been better – everything was set.
Then I received news that my Aunt had passed away after her long battle with cancer. My friend Chen kindly offered to reschedule our trip. I'd already pondered the possibility, feeling torn between family responsibilities and my commitment to the hiking crew. It was unlikely this chance would come again as Chen was due to leave Tasmania mid-year. More than that, I was a wreck —mentally, physically and emotionally— and I knew time on the mountain would provide therapeutic relief. I also wanted to honour the commitment I'd made to myself to attempt something I'd never imagined possible: summiting Federation Peak. A voice in my head kept repeating, "Go."
Image credit: Kym Donaldson
Federation Peak can be accessed by a couple of different routes. We'd chosen the shorter route from Farmhouse Creek. I'd heard, and read, some pretty harrowing stories about people's experiences on this track. My expectations were not high. We were lucky though, the hot summer weather had dried out the muddy sections and we were able to walk across them without sinking hip deep.
I was in my element – we traversed sections of mossy rainforest with the soothing sounds of flowing creeks and rivers beside us. I reached a state of pure, blissful contentment as we passed button grass plains with rugged mountains on the horizon, and soaked up warm sunshine and fresh Tasmanian air.
I'd been warned that Moss Ridge was tough. I discovered it's actually a tremendous outdoor playground. We had boulder sections to manoeuver, tree branches to swing through and crevasses to hurdle. It was a very welcome change after the previous 10+ hour day and it had me grinning from ear to ear. Finally, at lunchtime on day two we arrived at Bechervaise Plateau. The weather was perfect. We agreed, it was time – today was our day!
I felt the fluttering of nerves in the pit of my stomach. We'd talked about and planned this moment for some time. This was the moment of truth. Did I have the courage? We had to traverse a steep, slippery and very exposed route to reach the start of the direct ascent. But once we'd negotiated our way through, we were rewarded with spectacular views to the south over Lake Geeves. We traversed further and then looked up. I'm sure I gulped hard and possibly turned white.
Looking up at the steep, jagged, dark grey face, I seriously questioned whether I'd bitten off more than I could chew. A friend had given me some advice about the final ascent and now his voice ran through my head – "It's just like a ladder. Keep climbing up and the holds will be there."
Then we heard real voices. We scanned the rock face trying to ascertain where the sounds were coming from. Aha! The tiny specks were spotted moving across the rock face. They were barely visible against the enormous rock face! I took a deep breath and committed to the ascent, nerves and all. I was with good friends and I knew if I was going to do it, this was the time. It would never get better than this.
The Direct Ascent
Image credit: Kym Donaldson
Mostly the track up IS just like a ladder, with good holds if you feel around for them. Until we reached a ledge. The ledge was around 500m above Lake Geeves, it had no handholds and it was just wide enough for our toes to shimmy across. This ledge was known to be fatal.
We all paused here. The longer I sat looking out over the drop, the more my stomach knotted. There were definite waves of nausea. I hadn't considered that vertigo might pay me a visit, but it made its presence known.
Fortunately, my good friend Sarah was by my side and reminded me that I'd traversed sections like this plenty of times, just not with a 500m drop below me. "You've got this," she said as she shimmied across the ledge. Not wanting to be left behind, I got to my feet, took another deep breath and faced my fear. Little did I know, I'd be standing on the summit ten minutes later.
There I was in the glorious Tasmanian sunshine looking out over the South West National Park, searching, as I always do, for that magnificent view of Federation Peak. Gradually it dawned on me. Today I wouldn't get a view of it: I was standing on it!
Equipment and Accessories
- Berghaus Explorer 40 Pack (40L)
- Jetboil Flash Cooking System
- Sea to Summit X Mug
- Black Diamond Revolt Headlamp 130 Lumens
- Sea To Summit Aeros Premium Inflatable Pillow (Regular)
- Mountain Designs Pro 3.8 Self Inflating Sleeping Mat
- Mountain Designs 6L Ultralight Dry Sack
- Mountain Designs 3L Lightweight Dry Sack
- Sea To Summit Event Dry Compress Sack (Large)
- Sea To Summit Quagmire Canvas Gaiters
- Women's Mountain Designs Summit Long Sleeve Shirt
- Women's Mountain Designs Sandy Convertible Pant
- Mountain Designs Journey Coolmax Socks
- Women's Zamberlan Vioz Gore-Tex ® Hiking Boots
Sea To Summit Quagmire Canvas Gaiters
Whether I'm hiking through mud, across snake habitats, through snow, or doing creek crossings, these gaiters are ever reliable and give me the protection I need in the outdoors. They are a streamlined fit and I don't even notice I'm wearing them.
Mountain Designs Dry Sacks
It's reassuring to know that my clothes and electronics are kept dry inside these sacks. I also use a separate one to keep my food all in one place. Even while hiking, it's very convenient to keep things organised inside your pack, and these facilitate that.
Jetboil Flash Cooking System
This cooking system is incredibly simple and fast to use which is exactly what I'm looking for at the end of a long day trekking. Added to that, everything (including a small gas canister) can fit inside the cooking pot making it compact and easy to pack.
Sea To Summit X Mug
This lightweight collapsible mug is so versatile that I have two: one for my beverages and the other for my food (muesli and noodles/pasta). Weighing in at 60g each, they add great convenience without the weight and, once collapsed, they take up barely any space.
About the Author
Kym lives in Tasmania and after years of being a frequent and valued customer, now works in our Hobart store. Last year she and a group of friends trekked into Federation Peak in Tasmania's South West National Park. Here's her account of what it's like to push past the comfort zone. Special thanks to Sarah Woods for editing the story.