After a very busy, windy, snowy June, July & August, September has presented some opportunities to get out to the far reaches of the Main Range. Three days out, we identify Monday as a Twynam day. The day dawns with moderate NW winds up high, so the perfect wind-less day it will not be! All we can do is head out there and hope the sun does its job.
Up from Illawong it’s a landscape of white rolling hills punctuated by tree and rock ridgelines, and far in the distance are the higher peaks which are round on the eastern side and drop off precipitously to the west. The legendary western faces. A solitary figure kilometres away makes their way up the Twynam ridgeline. A group of two can be seen taking a break in the lee of a small wave-like feature. We push on into the relentless nor’wester, the imposing face of Twynam looming ever closer. The snowpack is a patchwork of ice and snowdrifts – all of it softening by the minute. The last leg, across the saddle with Blue Lake below us to the south, opens up a view to Kozi, Townsend, Northcote, Lee, Carruthers, the magnificent southern end of the Main Range.
The top of Twynam is a wide plateau. It feels ancient. A trig somewhat wind-battered is perched there, surrounded by a thin icy layer of snow. We walk over to survey the western side. It’s breathtaking. Wherever you look are steep, enticing lines – untracked. Wide faces, bowls, chutes, cliffs. All dropping into remote wilderness.
It’s early afternoon, and we see a lone adventurer taking the route out along the ridge of the Watsons Crags. Wondering if they really intend to drop in to one of those lines at this hour of the day…
The thing about the western faces is that those lines are soooo alluring, you soooo want to drop down there. The equivalent of summit fever. And yet you have to recognise how remote these places are, and take a moment to assess the time it’s going to take to get back out, whether your physical fitness will cope with a tough climb, maybe bootpacking with crampons, and then the long haul back to the trailhead. When things go wrong out here, they go badly wrong.
For us, it’s a day to search for softening eastern aspects, and to leave the west side for another day. Beating into the wind for hours has worn us down, and hitting the eastern side of Twynam is a relief. And brings sweet rewards. A few more climbs and lines underneath those lee-side wind lips and bowls around Mt Anton, then a big old schuss in the corn to the Illawong bridge. And already planning a mission back out there next time there’s a perfect wind-less day… - Pieta Herring