Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

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Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby CasualNerd » Wed 05 Aug, 2015 1:33 pm

I'd really like to attempt this track again, but I'm wandering about specific conditions on the mountain. I understand it's a very tough climb in the snow and the track to the summit can be hard to follow at times. I've been to new Pelion hut from Arm River before and I doubt there'll be any problems there, even if it's coated in snow. If I leave myself a full day to climb Ossa from Pelion hut, what are the likely difficulties ?

The only specific gear I have for this is crampons. The weather isn't looking great at this stage either, so I might wait a week and see how things look.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby pazzar » Wed 05 Aug, 2015 2:33 pm

Unless we get a break of really clear weather, I doubt that crampons will be of much use. It isn't quite icy enough for crampons, although near the summit may be different. The snow will probably be deep around Pelion Gap and Mt Doris, so snow shoes might be a better option. You will want a very early start as it could take 8+ hours in snow.

I think the main thing with tackling Ossa in these conditions is to have a set plan. Have a turn around time, and stick to it. If the weather cracks up, turn around.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby horsecat » Wed 05 Aug, 2015 3:16 pm

CasualNerd wrote:The only specific gear I have for this is crampons


I'd take micro spikes instead, along with snowshoes as Pazzar said
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby Davo1 » Wed 05 Aug, 2015 5:00 pm

Police page says that the road from Lake Parangana in will be closed for about 1 week.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby pazzar » Wed 05 Aug, 2015 5:20 pm

Davo1 wrote:Police page says that the road from Lake Parangana in will be closed for about 1 week.


Also a guy was airlifted from Kia Ora today after spending the last 4 days trying to get out of there. Apparently the snow was too deep to make any progress through.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby andyszollosi » Wed 05 Aug, 2015 10:14 pm

The access road will probably be snowed in... I nearly got snowed in there last week and there's way more snow now.
You will also need snowshoes in the current conditions. The depth now seems to be a consistently waist high in the highlands.

I'm keen for a mission to ascend Mt Field West from the valley to the west of the peak,if anyone's keen! Leaving Monday.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby CasualNerd » Wed 05 Aug, 2015 11:11 pm

Thanks for the quick input guys. I guess I'll revisit this in a week !

Mt Field sounds fun Andy, is it much of a walk, and over how many days ? Unfortunately I'll be working on monday or I'd join.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby stepbystep » Thu 06 Aug, 2015 12:02 am

andyszollosi wrote:I'm keen for a mission to ascend Mt Field West from the valley to the west of the peak,if anyone's keen! Leaving Monday.


Thought about this route in the past. Please post how you go. Very steep looking.....
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby Scottyk » Thu 06 Aug, 2015 2:29 am

CasualNerd wrote:I'd really like to attempt this track again, but I'm wandering about specific conditions on the mountain. I understand it's a very tough climb in the snow and the track to the summit can be hard to follow at times. I've been to new Pelion hut from Arm River before and I doubt there'll be any problems there, even if it's coated in snow. If I leave myself a full day to climb Ossa from Pelion hut, what are the likely difficulties ?

The only specific gear I have for this is crampons. The weather isn't looking great at this stage either, so I might wait a week and see how things look.

The Arm River Track will be very hard to follow after heavy snow. A gps will help but allow a bit of extra time.
Any track can look entirely different wi a good dump of snow on it.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby Nuts » Thu 06 Aug, 2015 11:51 am

The access over Maggs Mt. goes up close to 900m, you don't get a lot higher until walking the ascent to Pelion Gap.. so unless you can manage driving through deep snow it's not hard to judge the walk in as similar. I doubt snow will cover markers (by the time you can drive in) but gps handy for general navigation. The only real danger/ tedium being deep holes on the open country, old tracks or finding a creek with the wrong step. Helps a great having walked a track in better conditions first. The ascent to Ossa can be a bit tricky towards the top of the main climb as you reach the boulder saddle CN, as mentioned, snowshoes/ ice cleats will help most (if anything is needed). An early start (ie even in the dark) can help, get the distance done while the snow is still relatively solid.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby corvus » Thu 06 Aug, 2015 7:42 pm

According to Tas Police report the access road will be closed for a week.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby aloftas » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 8:32 am

From memory, once you get to the head of the button grass swamp, at the top of the climb out of the river stick to the right hand edge until you get to the treeline on the other side of the swamp. I would advise not entering the swamp as a diversion or short cut.
The snow markers are there, pale yellow from memory.


Good luck.

ps remember that by definition, your boots are liable to get wet at the track head.

Suggest siliconized spud bags for feet.

j/k
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby tastrekker » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 8:45 am

I haven't been up this week but previously I've seen a fairly nasty and unstable-looking east-facing cornice form where the normal track approaches the Ossa summit plateau (just before the little tarn). In those conditions I've had to divert well away from the track to reach the top. There's no sign of track markers anyway when it's like that so you either need prior knowledge of the route or good visibility (preferably both).
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby CasualNerd » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 10:39 am

aloftas wrote:From memory, once you get to the head of the button grass swamp, at the top of the climb out of the river stick to the right hand edge until you get to the treeline on the other side of the swamp. I would advise not entering the swamp as a diversion or short cut.


My only walk through here was completely flooded so I can't picture where that would be, do you mean after the initial climb ? As for the trail head I've only crossed it waist deep haha I totally forgot about that. Does anyone take a spare old pair of shoes for the crossing and then change afterwards ? We had a VERY wet walk last time.

tastrekker wrote:I haven't been up this week but previously I've seen a fairly nasty and unstable-looking east-facing cornice form where the normal track approaches the Ossa summit plateau (just before the little tarn). In those conditions I've had to divert well away from the track to reach the top. There's no sign of track markers anyway when it's like that so you either need prior knowledge of the route or good visibility (preferably both).


I'll be taking my phone, just have to find a good KML track to load. I've found it very easy to follow a track on GoogleEarth if I have to. Unfortunately I haven't been further than Pelion hut. Do you have any more details about where that section would be and how far sideways you went to avoid it ?
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby tastrekker » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 11:28 am

CasualNerd wrote:Do you have any more details about where that section would be and how far sideways you went to avoid it ?

A picture's worth a thousand words...
Ossa.JPG

The red highlight indicates the typical cornice area. You can't go around on the south side of the cornice (left heading up) due to cliffs. Heading north of the cornice (right), taking a bee line just left of the summit is fairly safe. The slope is more rocky and broken so a cornice does not form there. Nonetheless, it is steeper than the normal route so care needs to be taken.

In deep snow, care also needs to be taken to correctly relocate the climbing gully on the way down (highlighted yellow). Too far right (facing downhill) and you approach the tops of cliffs - a dangerous place to be in snow. Too far left is a gentle enough slope and a tempting shortcut to Pelion Hut but it leads to very thick scrub on the mid slopes - a world of pain - it's been tried!
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby Nuts » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 11:56 am

I can't recall the lower, Arm River, Road impassible, new ground for me. I can recall tobogganing from the Ossa Plateau down well into the gully.. probably oblivious to any cornice.. :), even then we had someone join us at Pelion (from Arm River).

Here's the final ascent, there are some house sized footings, beware the boulders in the saddle (above TT's climbing gully) and around the rim between there and the top, I'd suggest from the saddle KML markers not helping, heading down through the shallow gully (as TT marked) is best. You won't see markers if there's much snow (unless poles were part of last summers track works up there?)

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 10.55.31 AM.png
Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 10.55.31 AM.png (527.55 KiB) Viewed 5731 times


This isn't a 'lot' of snow ^
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby flyfisher » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 12:13 pm

Great pic Nuts.lol

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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby aloftas » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 8:22 pm

09072013(014).jpg



That weekend in 2012 with minus 12 degrees
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby aloftas » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 8:27 pm

09072013(010).jpg
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby corvus » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 8:31 pm

[youtube][/youtube]
corvus wrote:According to Tas Police report the access road will be closed for a week.


Apologies to all it was The Mersey Forest Road that I was thinking of :oops: the other approach roads which may be clear now are on the other side of Rowallan :)
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby aloftas » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 8:53 pm

09072013(008).jpg



the palace of doom


was how far I was able to make it in a day :)
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby aloftas » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 8:56 pm

09072013(006).jpg



I imagine conditions wouldn't be dissimilar now?

its why im such a gear *&%$#!.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby aloftas » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 8:59 pm

08072013(017).jpg



a 60 cubic mile fridge


"be prepared"
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby CasualNerd » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 11:16 pm

Awesome advice and pictures everyone. I like knowing as much as possible before setting off for something like this and every bit of advice might save me hours on the trail.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby aloftas » Fri 07 Aug, 2015 11:46 pm

08072013(017).jpg



I am not 1005 sure where this is, but it will serve to show you that; a/ snow shoes are probably necessary and b/ that if you do happen to find yourself on buttongrass which is covered in snow, try to step on the crown of the plant. They are reasonably tough and so it shouldn't hurt. Try not to get on the buttongrass plain as there are some very deep holes there. As I said befor, once you come up out of the steep ascent onto the cirque around the swamp, the natural tendency is to divert across it....the problem is there is a creek which runs across the top third. The track is at the tree line toward the park centre.

You should be fine
Hopefully Nuts or someone with more knowledge of the area than me will be able to fill you in.

To me, the button grass swamp was the most unnerving and potentially troublesome aspect.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby aloftas » Sat 08 Aug, 2015 12:01 am

http://www.stepwhere.com/maps/route/Arm-River-Track

study this ^

The bit I am talking about is the bit where the track does a deviation and you can see it is a swamp head.

When I was up there, the first party had turned around as they did not see the gooseneck in the track, we followed their original foray into the buttongrass and blundered on through

Yads, gives me the horrors to recall it


Point 37 is the area to which I am referring.

You can see there is a definite cirque.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby aloftas » Sat 08 Aug, 2015 12:13 am

08072013(016).jpg


I think there is a creek visible here...

its beautiful...just deadly....especially if fatigue sets in.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby Nuts » Sun 09 Aug, 2015 6:46 pm

Nice Al, I'll let someone else tell you how close you got to Pelion :)
I can imagine why you are reticent when it comes to snow camping and safety, chuckle, not an easy intro there ^.

Not sure it was mentioned elsewhere, probably the most dangerous move in the whole walk will be approaching the 'peak' once you're on the summit plateau. Those boulders continue and (weathered spires aside) the deep gaps between can (and have) trapped people, even until the spring thaw. Be very careful that what you are treading on isn't a snow bridge.

Here's another pic anyway :)
While it is a pretty straightforward walk, with experience, many people would baulk at climbing even in these conditions.
The climbing gully, start to where the going may be a bit tricky, (as mentioned) is circled in black:

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 6.40.12 PM.png
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby Azza » Tue 11 Aug, 2015 11:31 am

The slope below the black circle is also known to ice up when covered in snow.
I have heard stories of people going for a 'death' slide after slipping on ice.
With the current heavy snow cover you've got a situation of freeze at night, then thaw during the day.
So you could encounter ice, and then be faced with an unstable soft snow pack later in the day.

I would be taking it carefully if you consider the current snow depth.. Ice axe and Crampons and known how to self arrest.
It was quite evident last weekend up at Mt Field that as soon as the sun went off the slopes it quickly froze and became a sheet of ice.

I don't think Microspikes offer any real safety on steeper ground if the snow is too firm to plug steps.
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Re: Arm River -> Mt Ossa in Snow

Postby Nuts » Tue 11 Aug, 2015 6:16 pm

Yeah, fair enough. It's hard to know where to stop. You can avoid the start of the steep section at the big sloping slab and hug the cliff right if necessary. I'm still not sure of the condition of the arm road? (love a trip in but busy elsewhere). The whole gully could be full to the sides and iced over :shock: Iv'e not heard of anyone sliding off the cliff down the bottom but it could happen. You'll likely land on thick myrtle but still not 'pretty'.
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