Climbing A Mountain To Celebrate ’60’
Some people like to jump out of airplanes, fly in Balloons, go all out to celebrate a milestone like turning ’60’. Others would avoid celebrating this birthday because they don’t want anyone to know how old they are!
For me, it’s something that I consider a great privilege to arrive at ’60’. To be alive and to acknowledge the one who brought me into the world, my dear mum of course, oh, and some acknowledgment to dad who had a little to do with it!
So for my birthday, the big arrival into this world needed some sort of ‘da dah!’ I’ve turned 60. So I chose to settle a score that ‘I only half completed several years back.’ 18 years ago to be specific I tackled the ‘Walshes Pyramid’. I got halfway up this beautiful mountain (just out of Gordanvale, North Queensland) and had to stop and reluctantly return to the base, due to a lung infection which wasn’t exactly nourished by my desire to climb in the first place.
All those years ago, I attempted the mountain with some Kuranda friends who lived around the corner from me. They were a brother and sister, competent walkers, climbers, cross-fitters - they were ‘young’, ‘fit’, and ‘fast movers’.
Back in 2002, I was fit enough to do this climb, however, because we had to leave so early, I was anxious about sleeping in, so I was on tenderhooks, wide awake from 1.00 am then 2.30 am I’m tired again, but keeping myself awake for the pickup!
At 3.30 am my ride arrived. I was picked up from my home at the time in Kuranda, with a hint of a cough. I remember arriving at the Pyramid in the dark and being guided up by my friends, who were more than eager to climb. We got halfway, and I knew I couldn’t go on, which bugged me, I was just too sick. ‘Another day’ I told myself, ‘another day!’ I ended up with Plueracy, which went on to bother me for another 6-8 weeks, and was not helped at all by the mould in the rainforest, and stressful situations we were going through living in the forest (another story).
Fast forward to September 2020, we drove along the A1 Highway into the Northern tropical area, I thought about mountains, any mountains; I looked up at Mount Bartle Frere, the highest mountain in Queensland at an elevation of 1,611 meters and I contemplated the logistics of doing that climb, but before too long Walshes Pyramid came into our view and I realized I had unfinished business with this mountain, and so it was that the pyramid would be my conquest for a celebration worth remembering. I told myself it would be good to achieve something on my birthday. Darryl and I are not so big on gifts we like to celebrate special events with something meaningful, an experience, an achievement!
To access this mountain from Cairns to Gordonvale you will travel along the Bruce Highway (A1). Just south of Gordonvale you will cross the Desmond Trannore Bridge (Mulgrave River). You turn right a few hundred meters after the bridge and then into Moss Access Road, follow the road to the car park which is on the left and you are there.
A new friend Meredina and my husband Darryl were my companions on this climb. I met Meredina in a hair salon and she was keen to climb the Pyramid too, especially as I told her that is was on my bucket list, turns out It was on bucket list too. Meredina was kind enough to pick both Darryl and me up very early 5 am on the morning of the 29th of September, and we were at the base of the Pyramid within 30 minutes or so.
Our climb began from the car park, where we followed a trail, then had to backtrack because we were going the wrong way. We righted ourselves and began the climb. It’s a well-worn track with orange markers to help you at regular intervals. When crossing the open bolder area, we had to look well ahead for our next marker. There are signposts marking each kilometer. My legs were handling the climb no worries, which gave me more confidence to move up at a faster pace.
The walk is incredibly steep and relentless all the way up to the peak of 3.1km from the start. I found a stick and used that for a while, then passed that one on to Meredina, and found myself another stick which became my aide. As we were climbing we could see lovely views and expansiveness, however by the time we got up to the top, we were in a rain cloud, so we didn’t have the view, but we had the triumph!
In August there is an annual race from Gordonvale to the peak and back, with the winners generally taking about an hour and a half. Oh my goodness, the thought of people running up this mountain and back down again, that would certainly take some fitness, but more than that a lot of concentration and maybe just a hint of stupidity!
On the Sunshine Coast, where we live now, we have the King Of The Mountain event, in July at Mount Cooroora Pomona, our son has competed in that race twice now and I was just relieved to see him come down in one piece, no broken bones, and no blood loss. In one of the events, Jay finished 19th out of 103 runners. Very proud! The peak of Mount Cooroora is a 439 meters high intrusive volcanic plug. Mount Cooroora is relatively easy compared to the Walshes Pyramid. People get themselves into all sorts of trouble climbing the Pyramid every year because they underestimate the time it will take to get up and back, and generally their fitness level is not enough to cope with coming down. Darryl and I were very proud of ourselves for getting up and back in the morning. We allowed a little over 5 hours, so we could stop, take in the lower views, and take a few pictures. Unfinished business is now finished business!
I felt so good after this climb, calm and fulfilled, that’s a feeling I love and I know being physical is a very definite way to improve mental health, and beat the blues. In preparing for this climb, both Darryl and I used Ice Blue athletic rub on the back of our legs, a little copaiba on the neck, and at the end of the experience when I realised I was just a wee bit weary and hungry, I inhaled some Peppermint essential oil and just came to life.
As for which mountain I’ll tackle next, perhaps Mount Bartel Frerer because just like when I said I’d like to walk Kokoda Track, Darryl said I was crazy. So I love to prove him wrong. Climb a mountain and you will sleep well that night!