Altitude: 730m to 1636m. Gain: 932m. Loss: 806m . Gradient: 15 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Streams (2/5)
From Bullendale Hut, sidle the western valleyside to flats above the falls visible just upstream. A good walk up river flats follows. Ignore the markers climbing up the first sidecreek on the south side - these leads to Aurum Basin. The only viable route out of the head of Skippers is to follow the main creek - bluffs block all sidecreeks to the north. After 2.5km the flat valley ends at the base of a steep slip which the creek descends. Climb the slatey rock slip for 200m until you are above the bluffs and walkable slumping faces appear on your right. Climb these faces to the crest above. Once in the basin below Dandys saddle the scrambling is over, and a 300m climb up tall tussock and knee-high scrub remains to reach the saddle. Tiring going.
The north side of Dandys Saddle appears impassable - the creek gorges out badly. Several viable routes down from pt1650 look to be present. I crossed pt1650, and descended the first spur east of the hightpoint, providing a trampable route into the valley below. The spur bluffs out in places, but these can be avoided by sidling the tussock faces. The eastern fork of Ballarat Creek is a steep V and has tall tussock and speargrass in its base, so sidling the true left face to the main spur between the two creeks then following that to the confluence provided a good route down.
From here a simple, but prickly route followed, descending Ballarat creek all the way to Ballarat Hut. Speargrass and tall tussock were the only obstacles. Sidling the faces avoided some of this.
Eventually young willows appear in the riverbed. Soon after a creek joins from the true right. Ballarat Hut is here on a terrace on the true left valleyside and is not visible or marked from the creek.
Ballarat Creek is small as far as the hut, and would prove problematic only after heavy rain.