A Sunrise Brew on Smithies Peak.
I'd heard of Cradle Mountain long before I arrived in Tasmania. Tales of a dramatic peak set amongst the unique Australian alpine bush were a big draw card. Hand in hand with these stories was talk of unpredictable weather and difficult terrain. "Four seasons in a day! Sunburn! Frostbite! Tumbling boulders! Jumping ants of death!". I'd been in Tas for a month and spent it climbing, spearfishing and hiking with a group of mates. I'd booked my trip to be a little longer so I could spend a few days cruising solo. It was my last night in Tasmania before I had to make my way towards the ferry and I figured I'd try and squeeze in one last adventure. With it being the end of the trip I wanted to go all out, in particular, I had the silly idea to see the sunset and sunrise off Cradle Mtn. Madness you say! The sun nay shine on thee pointy peak. This is true. Cradle Mountain seems to create its own weather. It can be sunny all over, but that cheeky tower of stone will be getting intimate with a cloud.
So I packed in all my rain gear, winter layers, and a bivvy system in case it all went sour and started the hike with a few hours of light remaining. Despite the forecast for showers I was greeted with clearing skies and chilling wind. Eventually I found myself walking across the last col towards the base of Cradle. The wind stopped completely, and in a short period of complete stillness the sky turned golden, then pink, then blue and violet. Without a soul around I felt honoured to witness a rare window of perfect weather in an unreal location. Sometimes those last minute "ahh screw it, let's give it a crack" moments are totally worth it.
With bleary eyes I dig through the piles of clothes that make up my pillow to pull out my phone. The full fury of my alarm is unleashed as I uncover it from a jacket. 4:00am. It takes a moment to clear my confusion as to why I was up so early. Ahhh yep, the hunt for that perfect predawn light. Go time! Against a star studded sky, the jagged silhouette of Cradle Mountain fills the horizon above me. The sky quickly begins to brighten as I pick my way through the tumbled boulders that guard the summit. After a bit o’ puffing and huffing, I pull myself up onto the top of Smithies Peak, which is a collection of pillars that sits about 100m west of the summit but is about the same altitude. With the sunrise drawing ever closer I drop the pack and race around in a panic to find the perfect spot. With a few minutes to sunrise I set up the camera tripod, whip out my stove and start brewing some coffee. As it begins to steam, the first rays of light slide over the horizon. I active my camera timer with a remote and after a few seconds I hear the shutter close as I turn the stove off. Coffee in hand, it’s a long time until I pack up and head back down the mountain. A perfect start to the day and a wicked end to my Tas trip.