30 July 2011 Camels Hump and Johns Peak

Map: Tidbinbilla 1:25000

Getting There

This walk was organised and led by Phillip S as a CBC walk:

Saturday 30 July - Camels Hump and Johns Peak - M/M-R. We will walk up a steep fire trail to Camels Hump. From there we will traverse south along the ridge line to Johns Peak for lunch. We will pick our way down a steep scrubby regrowth-affected spur to rejoin the fire trail that takes us back to the cars. If the weather is clear, we will have 360 degree views. Distance around 12 km. A climb of around 620 m to Camels Hump and another 140 m to Johns Peak. Map: Tidbinbilla. Leader: Phillip S. Transport: ~$32 per car, plus entry fees (if applicable).

19 of us drove to the Mountain Trails car park in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. We broke into 2 parties.


You can access all photographs here.


Track maps: thumbnails are active - click for a larger picture
Track overview Track 1 Track 2

Breaking the large group of 19 into two manageable groups under the leadership of Phillip and Lois, we wandered up the Camel Back fire trail. A cool, but very pleasant day. We regrouped at the S ascent to Camels Hump and moved in our two groups to the top. Out of the breeze, we enjoyed morning tea. Huge views S along the Tidbinbilla Range to Johns Peak, Tidbinbilla Peak and Tidbinbilla Mountain and The Pimple from the top.

Back down to the fire trail, we picked up the old benched track in to the burnt out radio transmitter tower. From here, a footpad is developing along the ridge to Johns Peak, a little indistinct in places at the heavily vegetated knolls, but easy to pick up otherwise.

The little scramble up to Johns Peak was enjoyed by all and we settled down to lunch out of the breeze at around 12.10pm. With a Pocket Rocket, a friend and I enjoyed a hot cuppa.

At around 12.45pm we left Johns Peak, heading down a steep spur along the previously recced route.

At around 1.15pm, around 300m across the ground from Johns Peak, our leader broke his ankle. I was third in line coming down through the tight regrowth. His ankle was at an extreme angle and Phillip passed out for a moment in shock. Experienced walkers were called to the front of the line. The patient was made comfortable, given pain relief tablets from first aid kits and water, and kept warm. He was in pain and asked that the ankle not be splinted or bandaged. With a TAMS Ranger in our party, that member made mobile phone contact with the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Rangers and a 10 figure MGRS location was communicated from my GPS, with a request for helicopter evacuation. I did omit to convey the MGA94 datum.

Two walkers (including myself) were tasked to descend to the Camel Back fire trail, which we did in 30mins through the thick regrowth. One stayed at our exit point and I continued down the fire trail until meeting the TNR head ranger in a vehicle. We drove back up the fire trail to the second walker, then set up a command post at the intersection of the Camel Back fire trail and the Spur 2 trail (note that this is not at the location marked on the 2nd edn Tidbinbilla 1:25000 topo/ortho map). Meanwhile 11 of the party walked down to the fire trail under the leadership of Brendan K and 12 agreed to leave the area. This was important, as it was not necessary to have many people on site. I commend these walkers for their willingness to acquiesce to the suggestion to leave.

Another TNR vehicle arrived and stayed until a 4WD ambulance and crew arrived. As I understand it, the incident was controlled by the ACT Ambulance Service, through their staff on-site, using the facility of the SouthCare rescue helicopter. It arrived overhead, pin-pointed the rescue position, circled around for some time to reduce fuel load, then dropped the doctor and paramedic to the accident site. It then parked up on the Tidbinbilla Ridge whilst the patient was stabilised and moved, with the assistance of the remaining 6 walkers under the leadership of Lois P, to an appropriate winch point.

Meanwhile, down on the Camel Back fire trail, concern was not only for the patient, but to allow the remaining members of the walking party sufficient time to walk down. The ambulance controller had various backup resources and strategies in place, waiting to be summoned. At last, the walking party was released at 5.05pm to make their way down. Very soon after, the helicopter made the pickup and circled for a while to guide the walking party down. It was getting dark. We heard voices and the ambulance moved up the fire trail, lights and siren blaring. The ranger vehicle had its lights on. At dark, the 6 gained the fire trail and we were all transported to the Mountain Trails car park.

That's my view of the situation from where I was.

I believe that everyone did their allotted task well. Thank you to all involved.

In hindsight, I should have activated my PLB (our leader had one as well, but was resting on it), as this is a continuous signal to guide the helicopter in. We communicated a 10 figure MGRS location via mobile phone, but that should have been supported by the PLB signal. With the need to get the majority of the party off the hill, perhaps more males could have been left to carry the patient to the nearby winch point, but that's easily said in hindsight. Congratulations to all involved, particularly the walk co-leader Lois P.

This was a fire trail, footpad and steep descent through regrowth walk. It was well planned, recced, and well executed by the 2 co-leaders. An unfortunate accident occurred. The party responded well in the circumstances, each member did their allocated task. Thanks to the TNR head ranger and staff, South Care helicopter rescue, the ACT Ambulance rescue service for their coordination and rescue presence. Let's hope we all walk with the leader again, once he has recovered.

It would be good if we all reviewed our first aid kits, emergency kit and the appropriateness of the clothing and food that we normally carry.

A memorable walk, thanks Phillip. And to Jackie B, Deb C, Cynthia C, Chris F, Di G, Russell H, Brendan K, Vicki M, Pam M, Lois P, Richele R, Peter R, Chris R, Llewellyn S-P, Steven S, Joslyn vdM and Edwina Y.

Distance: 13km Climb: 700m. Time: 8.25am - 3.05pm (for me), pretty much civil sunset at 5.46pm for the last down.
Grading: M/M-R; H(12)

KMZ file for Google Earth/Maps: Camels Hump and Johns Peak

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This page last updated 28Aug22