Altitude: 828m to 1759m. Gain: 978m. Loss: 652m . Gradient: 13 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6)
The usual route from Maitland into the Watson is up the next ridge downstream of Maitland Hut via pt1510, pt1649 and pt1821.
The route described here is a lower alternative that I took on a day of gale-to-severe-gale northerlies.
Follow the track down the Maitland from the hut, either crossing as required by the track or sticking to the true left (west) and sidling if the river is up. At the next major sidecreek down from the hut (after 1.5km) climb the spur between the Maitland and the sidecreek, leading towards pt1821. At about 1100m good deer trails sidle the face north into the side valley, hitting the bushedge about 40m above the creek.
Pass above the next small patch of scrub and then drop to the valley floor. The falls into the south branch above the forks can be passed by climbing the spur to their south/east and then sidling into the upper basin. From here it is a simple ascent to the saddle with the south branch of Watson Stream.
A good scree run descends the 1st 200m towards the Watson I then picked up the spur on the true right (north) side of the gut we are descending and followed it easily to the valley floor.
In severe winds the saddle itself was challenging but the remainder of the route was sheltered enough to be enjoyable.