Friday, November 11, 2011

The beast that is Mt Roland

Driving out toward the Cradle Mountain National Park, one cannot help but plaster the face against the car window and stare at the imposing, weathered face of Mount Roland and the Triple Tops range. The mountain range lies east of Sheffield (Tasmania), and area that strikes a startling resemblance to the gentle hills of England (think idyllic scenes of dairy farms, little lambs, fluoro green grass on acid, berry farms and small towns with historic pubs). 

My interest was piqued after reading about an 19.7km epic race across the tops of Mt Claude, Mt Vandyke and Mt Roland, a race blasting knee caps into oblivion with the final 1000m descent down Mt Roland.  I was lucky enough to be enjoying the company of a visiting friend from Canada: a BC Parks Ranger, sailor, ski mountaineer and sometimes-runner. Sightseeing with Ranger Mark would be the perfect excuse to go check out the gnarly ascent/descent up the side of Mt Roland!

The view from Claude Road towards Mt Roland:

We accessed the start of the trail from the end of Kings Road (off Claude Road):

The well-marked track up to the summit didn't mess around - it was straight to business and straight up. A lot of the uphill trail was not runable, but rather required bouldering, scrambling and power hiking:

Views start to appear towards the rolling "England-esque" green hills of Sheffield and beyond:

A flat section of running before more climbing. The trail here was very muddy, poorly drained and overgrown in some areas:

Open alpine running:

Sometimes trail running is NOT about running:

The views on the alpine plateau are pretty stunning:

Ranger Mark doing his thing (running):

Mount Roland summit (1234m):

Trail junction - from here you can continue across the tops of Mt Vandyke and Mt Claude towards Olivers Road:

More information on the Kentish Triple Tops Race here.

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