I’ve hiked the Inca Trail, made it to the top of Mount Batur at sunrise, climbed Chacaltaya, and completed many other hikes and mountain climbs. But still none of that prepared me for climbing Bluff Knoll.
I knew it was going to be difficult. There’s no denying that when you’re standing at the bottom and looking up at this giant mountain.
The beauty stands 1099m above sea level and is the tallest mountain peak in Western Australia’s south-west. You’ll find it in the Stirling Range National Park about an hour out of Albany.
But still, I told myself after all the other climbs I’ve done, climbing Bluff Knoll would be a piece of cake.
It was a killer, but definitely worth it.
After running out of time to attempt the climb at New Years, we decided to head back to Albany to conquer the mountain at Easter. We had originally planned to wake up at 3am and do a sunrise climb on Saturday morning. However after a few too many drinks on Friday night that didn’t quite go to plan.
We decided we’d be better off attempting a sunset climb instead, at least that way we knew we’d all be awake. So after eating a massive Easter roast lunch we set off on our way.
First mistake – eating way too much before attempting a climb.
If you’re going to do a climb like this, don’t eat a massive meal beforehand. Thankfully we had an hour drive to allow our food to digest.
We arrived at the Stirling Ranges just on 4pm allowing ourselves two hours to reach the top before sunset. Climbing Bluff Knoll is a 6km round trip and is meant to take 3-4 hours. So we figured this would be more than enough time to reach the peak before sunset at 6.03pm.
And so the climb began.
Actually, it started with a descent from the carpark, just to tease us a little. Then the real work started. The first part was a nice walk along a pretty level dirt trail, with a few small steps.
Of course that was too good to be true and after a few minutes the real climb started with lots of steep steps. I was excited as I was keeping up with the group at this point, but this didn’t last long.
In the end I decided I was better off just taking it slow and falling behind, otherwise I would just risk injuring myself. I was also running out of water so decided it was better to take breaks along the way.
Mistake number two – thinking one bottle was going to be enough. If you’re going to do this hike, be prepared and bring lots of water.
But taking it slow did give me a chance to take in the gorgeous views as I walked.
It took us about 45 minutes to reach the halfway point, and from there it felt like an eternity to reach the top. Every time we turned a corner we thought this must be it. But then we’d look up and see there was still ages to go.
All the people we passed along the way kept giving us different expectations based on what they had experienced. But one message was loud and clear. Keep going because it’s totally worth it when you get to the top.
At one point I almost decided to stop, but thankfully my friends pushed me to keep going, knowing I would regret it if I didn’t.
And towards the end it did get easier. The steep steps finished and it turned into more of a gradual rock path. Still intense due to the height, but not as hard on the legs.
Finally we made it to the top and it definitely was worth it.
I was the last to make it from our group and it was just on 5.45pm. We all made it up before the sun was due to set just as we had hoped.
And it was a glorious sunset indeed. As I was sitting there with a great group of friends, admiring the beauty surrounding us, it was definitely all worth it.
We knew we had at least an hour climb back down to the cars so we couldn’t sit around too long after the sun set. We started our descent right away.
About halfway down the light started to fade and we needed torches.
Mistake number three – most of us had forgotten our torches. But thankfully we all had our phones with working torches, it just made the descent a little more scary having to worry about not dropping them.
It took us about an hour to make it back to the car park so all in all we completed the hike in about 2 hours 45 minutes. Just under the suggested 3-4 hour time, which we were obviously proud of.
Although it can be a little scary coming down in the dark I would definitely recommend climbing Bluff Knoll at sunset. The views are spectacular and the colours of the sun up there was just incredible.
After experiencing the climb it also seems like a better option than attempting it at sunrise. Going up in the dark would be a lot harder because you don’t really know what to expect. At least coming down in the dark, you’ve already experienced it so you kind of know what’s coming.
If you are going to do the climb be sure to go prepared – have lots of water, snacks, torches, walking sticks if you need them, and allow the right amount of time.
Given the extreme nature of the climb I would recommend going around the same time I did (March to April). Whilst it doesn’t get as hot in Albany, I would assume in the peak of summer it would be quite a strenuous and uncomfortable climb in the heat. And as the weather cools climbing Bluff Knoll would be even more dangerous as this is one of the few places in Western Australia where it’s been known to snow.
To see more of the beautiful scenery from me climbing Bluff Knoll, check out this video I put together.
Have you climbed Bluff Knoll? I’d love to hear about your experience. And if you like what you’ve read please feel free to like, comment, or share with your friends.