Mount Ossa in Winter

Discussion specifically about the Overland Track should be posted in this subforum, including side trips and the Cradle Mountain day walk area. Alternative access routes and connecting routes belong in the parent forum.

Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby mengkiat » Fri 05 May, 2017 9:10 pm

Hi there!

I would like to know how hard it is to climb Mount Ossa (as a side of Overland track) during winter? I plan to walk the Overland track end of June this year. Also what kind of gear do i need?

Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby Hermione » Fri 05 May, 2017 10:53 pm

Hi Mengkiat, The Overland in winter can be challenging even though it is a well tracked walk. It might be a good if you gave people an idea of your bushwalking experience. The difficulty of Mt Ossa depends on the conditions, it can be icy and quite treacherous meaning a slip and fall is not out of the question. There's been plenty of discussion on this forum about gear for the OLT so have a bit of a browse.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby mengkiat » Fri 05 May, 2017 11:15 pm

Hi Hermione, I will have a look at the forum regarding the gear for the OLT. Thanks! I've done some bushwalking in which the most recent was the main range track in Kosciuszko National Park. I have also done the entire coastal track in Royal National Park (Bundeena to Otford) in a single walk, Mount Solitary in Blue Mountains (30km), Kuringai Chase National Park (Jerusalem Bay track and Berowra to Cowan), both 12-14km, Mount Wellington in Tasmania, Dove Lake Circuit and some other shorter walks. I have never climb a mountain in snow and icy condition before.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby north-north-west » Sat 06 May, 2017 8:48 am

There is no guarantee of snow cover in June - in fact, it is more common later in the season - but conditions on the whole track will be cold, probably wet and definitely icy. Snow can occur at any time. Track and rocks will be icy in the mornings at least and some section all day long.

Apart from good wet weather gear (and by that I mean something better than a light spray jacket), you need warm clothing to change into at night, a good sleeping mat and bag (sleep system has to be able to keep you comfortable down to -10), some sort of shelter in case conditions prevent you reaching a hut, food and stove. Beanie and waterproof gloves.
To walk in you need the right sort of clothing, decent footwear and at that time of the year micro-spikes are a good idea. Snowshoes may or may not help, depending on snowfalls.

The track up to Ossa collects fairly deep drifts when it snows, and crampons may be needed to climb. Some sections are steep enough to require scrambling.

This is not a short easy tourist track - it's a lot longer and a lot rougher than anything you have already done. Doing the OT in winter is not a good idea as your first overnight walk - you need to be sure that you can cope with carrying a full pack in cold and wet conditions, over uneven ground, for a number of days.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby mengkiat » Sat 06 May, 2017 4:43 pm

Hi north-north-west! I have done some overnight walk before which involve carrying heavy backpack during Outwards Bound Camp. It was quite challenging as they gave us low quality backpack and mine without the hipbelt. Do you think there will be some other walkers as well around end of June to early July?
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby hikingoz » Sat 06 May, 2017 8:07 pm

The Overland Track in general can get a bit nasty in winter if there is consistent snow/rain weather. Snow, cold rain, strong wind and low visibility.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby CasualNerd » Sun 07 May, 2017 12:02 am

I asked about the Ossa ascent a few years ago and people had some very good input: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=20891 The chute that is mentioned is as far as I got, and the snow was much deeper and steeper than I was confident crossing, so I didn't make the summit. If you're not used to that kind of walking it's very strenuous !

Even in winter you'll generally find a few people in each hut each night, but unlikely you'll find many on the side trips so it's worth erring on the cautious side.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby dunamis » Sun 07 May, 2017 6:28 pm

The snow on ossa gets pretty hard normally so good for walking on. It's the ice that's the issue. I've seriously thought about the advantages of micro spikes for doing mountains like Ossa.


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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby Hermione » Sun 07 May, 2017 8:39 pm

I don't think snow cover on Ossa is the biggest issue here. There might be snow and ice in June there might not. You are almost certain to encounter other walkers but you must be totally self sufficienct and able to cope with whatever conditions come your way. I can't emphasize enough how tough winter conditions can be here. If you have no experience walking in that sort of weather consider Tasmanian summer (you will still likely get snowed on). I'm not saying this to put you off but as a West Aussie I know I would have struggled if that was my introduction to Tasmanian walking. It can be cold and wet and although the track is well marked in exposed spots visibility can be quite poor. Of course you might have nothing but bluebird days and sunshine, but you need to be prepared for poor conditions.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby teak » Mon 08 May, 2017 11:20 am

I have climbed Ossa twice in winter both times ice was the main problem. If the snow is deep just following the track is very hard. I wore boots with ice studs both times and would not try the climb without. The attached photos show some of the conditions you may face, the first shows ice covering the track before the climb (what looks like water is solid ice) and the second shows icy conditions on top.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby Overlandman » Mon 08 May, 2017 12:42 pm

Second photo looks cool teak.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby north-north-west » Mon 08 May, 2017 3:17 pm

Overlandman wrote:Second photo looks cool *&%$#! freezing cold teak.

Fixed.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby Tortoise » Mon 08 May, 2017 3:58 pm

Aborted a couple of attempts at Ossa in winter because of deep snow and ice. Attempted Pelion East with care instead - again, ice was the main issue. We got to the last scrambly bit (very carefully, in places), but there was about 3 cm thick smooth, rounded ice on the rock we had to get ourselves up onto. 2 of the 4 of us were very keen ready-to-climb-anything-possible types, but without any specific gear for ice. They gave up after the other 2 of us had sat enjoying the sunshine for a good 20 minutes. It's not worth taking any risks with ice. People fall off things and do bad damage or die (as someone did not too long ago off Cradle).

If it's icy, Mt Oakleigh is an excellent alternative. (Well worth doing anyway!) I haven't done it since the boardwalk was put across the boggy plain, but I suspect you no longer have to do a dance through the upper branches of the shrubbery to get across the creek in the middle of the plain when the water level is up. It's one of my favourite mountains - just gorgeous looking down on the spires and little rock gardens. Great views, and it gives you a great perspective on the various levels of plains and valleys of that part of the OLT. And I don't remember any rock scrambling to speak of.

I agree with others who have suggested that there's a big jump from the experience you mention to doing the OLT in winter. Sure, conditions could be lovely (you just have to plan according to the short daylight hours), but I reckon the chances of things going pear-shaped in winter, when you haven't been in those conditions, are much greater than in summer. Much smaller margins for error. Prepare plans b and c (elsewhere in Tassie) in case the forecast is lousy. There's a wealth of magnificent walks here. :D More choices if you have transport of course.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby mengkiat » Fri 12 May, 2017 3:11 pm

Thanks for all the input guys! Really appreciate it! What would you guys recommend for multidays walk in Tasmania otther than Overland Track in winter?
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby north-north-west » Fri 12 May, 2017 3:41 pm

It depends on how much you're prepared to suffer.
Freycinet circuit is an easy (and popular) two to four day walk. Cape Pillar circuit and the Tasman Coast track north to Waterfall Bay.
Most of the tracked walks in the south, south west and the central highlands, while possible in winter, are much harder work and often involve a considerable degree of risk - snow, ice, swollen rivers and creeks, etc.
The road into the Walls should be open by late June and that would be a good intro - you can back out easily if things get really nasty but if the weather stays not-too-bad there are heaps of options available there.
Mount Field is also a good option for shorter introductory trips into the higher country in winter.

But for anything other than the coastal walks you want to be prepared for snow and ice and below-freezing conditions.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby Tortoise » Fri 12 May, 2017 5:53 pm

north-north-west wrote:Freycinet circuit is an easy (and popular) two to four day walk

You could have a lot of fun at Freycinet.

I don't know a lot about it, but friends have recently done the Bay of Fires multi-day walk. They had a support vehicle for bringing in water etc, but I'm sure you could manage in and out of some of it - eg. starting at Stumpys Bay, heading south, then back. Someone else would have more info.

Maria Island could be a good option, with overnight walks (e.g. to Frenchs Farm), interesting ruins and some peaks to check out. Usually the ferry is cheap or free in winter, and camping or accommodation (in the old adapted penitentiary) half price.

+1 for Tasman Peninsula, & the Walls of Jerusalem or Pelion base camp if not serious snow.
Also:
http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=7851
http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=9769&p=255993&hilit=NE+Highlands#p255993
Will think about some other options too.
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Re: Mount Ossa in Winter

Postby north-north-west » Sat 13 May, 2017 10:02 am

The Leeaberra track, in Douglas Apsley - as long as the water levels in Apsley Gorge aren't too high. I've done it in winter and it's not a bad little walk.
There are some sideroutes you can do from it as well - to Myrtle Gully along the firetrail south of the Douglas River, for instance. The Apsley Gorge loop might be a bit iffy but is wonderful if accessible; again,this depends on water levels and prevailing conditions.
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