[Extract from Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]
A Day to Climb Mt. Liebig
All alone, I fidgeted. How long were they going to be? Where have they all gone? I edged towards the height of the gully and looked over. A loose stone skittered down the cliff. I retreated to the safety of the gully and waited. I bit my nails. Had they all fallen to their deaths? Do I join them? I stuck my head through the gap, then my shoulders, and finally my whole body. I placed my hand on the granite. How did they get up here? My height-challenged frame failed to reach the footholds and niches necessary to climb this rock wall. How did they do it? I stood on tiptoes, trying to reach a notch. Just too high. Just my luck, I’ve been left here all alone.
My brother’s head poked over the ledge.
‘There you are!’ I said.
He grinned. ‘Where did you think I was?’
David R appeared beside him.
‘I don’t know. Splattered on the rocks at the foot of the mountain.’ I reached for my brother. ‘Where have you been? Where are the others?’
‘At the top,’ Richard, my brother said.
‘But what about me?’
‘Don’t worry, I’ll help you.’ My brother scrambled down. ‘Now climb on my shoulders and David will pull you up. Then you’ll be right. This is the hardest part.’
I did as I was told. I steadied myself on my brother’s shoulders and from there David grabbed my wrist and pulled me to the next level. Then I negotiated the rock-pile obstacle course on my own and made it to the summit of Mt Liebig a second time. My arrival recorded at 9:28am.
Older cousin (C1) perched himself on a flat stone and wrote his diary. Rick fiddled with his spinifex shin guards and muttered, ‘Fat lot of use they were.’ He picked at cunning spikes that had slipped past the guard. Younger cousin (C2) munched on an apple. Dad peeled an orange and with hearty slurps sucked its juices. David wandered around the summit, gazing at the land below, and then examining the cairn of stones.
‘We are on the right peak, aren’t we?’ Dad wiped the orange drips from his beard. He pointed at the other peak. ‘There’s a cairn of stones over there.’
‘Hmmm.’ David stroked his beard. ‘I think so. That one’s used for surveying.’ He picked up a rock and then as if by magic, extracted a rusty old can from the cavity. Without saying a word, he pulled out a roll of paper. He unfurled the paper and his eyes darted from right to left over the page.
C1 paused in his journaling to ask the question. ‘Well, what does it say, David?’
‘Some people by the name of MacQueen and Smith of Alice Springs climbed Mt. Liebig on the 27th of August 1977.’
‘You’re kidding!’ Dad lifted the yellowed paper from David. ‘We climbed Mt Liebig in 1977, but a couple of weeks before.’
‘Maybe they picked up your quart can,’ I said.
Dad frowned. ‘I don’t think so.’ He looked at his watch. ‘And what’s the date today?’
My brother shrugged.
C2 scratched his forehead. ‘I don’t know.’
C1 hunched over his diary.
Dad stepped over to C1. ‘What’s the date?’
C1 ran his finger along the top of the page. ‘The 27th of August 1981.’
Dad counted on his fingers and then said, ‘Well, fancy that! Exactly four years to the day.’
‘Must be the date to climb Mount Liebig,’ C1 said and returned to scribing in his journal.
We remained at the summit at least an hour, engraving our names with the amazing date onto a stone, and celebrating our Liebig conquest with fruitcake for morning tea.
[Note from the author: We ascended to the summit, not two weeks before that Dad had calculated, but one day before Mr. MacQueen and Smith summited. We climbed Mt Liebig on August 26, 1977. Read our adventures in the series Travelling with the T-Team: Central Australia 1977, particularly our previous venture climbing Mt. Liebig, “We almost Perished”.]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; blog update 2021
Feature Painting: Mt Liebig (Acrylic) © Lee-Anne Marie Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981 — Not for Sale