Snow shoes overland track

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.

Snow shoes overland track

Postby Adelaideguy_1976 » Mon 08 Apr, 2019 5:17 pm

Just wondering if snow shoes are recommended? I'm doing the track in June so I am assuming there will be a good chance of snow. If I don't take snow shoes is it hard to trek through snow in just hiking boots?
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Re: Snow shoes overland track

Postby Tortoise » Mon 08 Apr, 2019 6:26 pm

A friend did the OLT every June for many years until a couple of years ago. (At 89 yrs, she's slowed down a bit now.) She never took snow shoes, and never needed them. While there is likely to be some snow, it's not likely to be very deep. Gaiters are very useful to keep snow out of boots. Check out the long range weather forecast in case there's a massive cold front on its way.
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Re: Snow shoes overland track

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 09 Apr, 2019 4:22 pm

I've done it with snow shoes, with skis and with neither. The snow shoes were quite useful for some areas when we were lucky enough to have some very deep snow. But the snow in Tassie is sometimes not great for snow shoes, when it is soft underneath with a thin hard icy crust on top. The snow shoes can fall through the crust into the soft stuff and be difficult to pull out again. It doesn't happen often, but if the conditions are wrong it can often enough to drive you crazy.

I was grateful for the snow shoes for some stretches, but sometimes just waded through the snow without them.

They were invaluable where the snow was well over waist deep for long distances (and over head high for short stretches). But I'm not sure if I'd bother taking them again.

I did a detailed trip report of our Snow Shoe trip in the topic at: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010. I think I gave a description of how two different types of snow shoes worked for us in there somewhere.

(Cross country skis worked much better, but they are a serious pain in the bum to carry through forest - either too low and you hit them with your legs, or too high and you catch every branch you walk under. But it was worth it to ski down Mt Ossa! - a little way)
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Re: Snow shoes overland track

Postby Azza » Sat 13 Apr, 2019 10:04 am

Typically it might snow in June, but generally the ground generally isn't cold enough for it to accumulate to any significant depth, expect maybe the highest parts of the track (Cradle Plateau / Pelion Gap). But there are always exceptions.
Snow depth usually peaks in August.
If it gets close the date and the forecast says epic snow, then maybe snowshoes are a good idea. You can probably judge it based on the Cradle Webcam.
I've been into Waterfall Valley, Pelion Hut etc. a few times over the long weekend in June and there was never any snow worth worrying about. A bit on Ossa / Pelion West.
More wet, cold and perhaps a bit icy.
Microspike things are possibly worth taking, if your thinking about climbing the peaks they could be a bit icy.
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Re: Snow shoes overland track

Postby north-north-west » Sat 13 Apr, 2019 11:20 am

I've done a few winter trips through there (though mostly later in the season) and the only place snowshoes would have been worth carrying was between Kitchen Hut and the descent to Waterfall. Microspikes are worth carrying however, as there is often ice on the shaded portions of the track and even on the duckboarding it can get very slippery.
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Re: Snow shoes overland track

Postby myrtlegirl » Sun 14 Apr, 2019 2:58 pm

I've just recently discovered microspikes - they are GOOD.
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Re: Snow shoes overland track

Postby mikethepike » Sun 21 Jul, 2019 10:07 pm

This is an interesting question. I used homemade snowshoes on trips in the early '70s and they were well worth having despite the occasional difficulty of recovering them on your feet on those occasions when you accidentally left the track and plunged through bushes. On braking crust over deep soft snow they were a life savers - i.e. the crust only broke if you didn't have snowshoes! But the hut book records indicated that few people take snow shoes or skis on the OT these days when doing the full track. Generally the snow is not too deep and if it is, then there's likely to be trench to follow. I know of someone years ago who did the OT N to S in mid-winter and he attempted to climb several peaks on the way. He didn't have snowshoes so while the walk was possible (and hardly anyone did it in winter in those days), the snow was just too much to deal with on the higher slopes and snow shoes could have saved that situation.
If you are keen on snow then I have two recommendations. The first is that maximum snow depths in NSW and Victoria occur in late August- early September and I think that, on limited evidence, early to mid August is possibly the best time for max. snow depth on the OT. Leave it any later and there is a higher likelihood of rain rather than snow. The second is to perhaps forget the full OT traverse but instead just do a trip in the higher northern part of the Park - say Waldheim to Pelion and return and going east and then west around Cradle Mtn on the out and back trips or v-v.
Azza wrote:Microspike things are possibly worth taking, if your thinking about climbing the peaks they could be a bit icy

I heartily agree with this and think that these could be a real lifesavers if for example, there is good snow cover on the summit ridge of Cradle and it is iced up. A slip there in that situation could see you headed over the cliffs on the eastern side of the ridge in particular if you just have just boots and nothing to dig in with. That was apparently the sad fate of a young overseas walker there about two decades ago.
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Re: Snow shoes overland track

Postby Explorer_Sam » Thu 25 Jul, 2019 11:47 am

So with microspikes, will there be a lot of strapping them on and removing them going on? I.e. just on boardwalks, rocks, icy sections? Or could I wear them pretty much the whole time? I know this is dependant on conditions and they might work better on cold mornings when the surface is firmer. Just wondering what others experiences with microspikes have been like on the Overland.
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Re: Snow shoes overland track

Postby north-north-west » Thu 25 Jul, 2019 11:55 am

First up, they aren't like proper crampons or snowshoes, where you're doing up buckles or anything like that. They have a stretchy silicone rubber top so you just pull them on over your shoes/boots. Takes about ten seconds.
Second, a good pair will cope with the rougher and rockier ground and can usually be kept on all day. Look for a brand like Kahtoola or Edelrid. You can get cheap ones off AliExpress for less than a quarter of the price, but they won't last the trip.
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Re: Snow shoes overland track

Postby Explorer_Sam » Thu 25 Jul, 2019 12:15 pm

Awesome, thanks! I have a pair of Kahtoola Microspikes and have used them before, 'strapping' was just a poor choice of word. Still a pain to be putting them on and taking them off all day though. Will play it by ear but would be nice to leave them on for as long as possible.
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Re: Snow shoes overland track

Postby pazzar » Thu 25 Jul, 2019 12:22 pm

I'd just try to avoid using them in forested areas where the damage of tree roots is a real possibility.
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