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Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Mon 24 Jul, 2017 2:40 am
by Cozzie
Is this something that is doable for those that does not want to stay overnight? Ascent to summit wont be attempted if conditions are difficult.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Mon 24 Jul, 2017 8:25 am
by Lophophaps
Cozzie, welcome to the forum. In the right conditions it's viable, but I'd think about a start at first light, if not earlier. Winter days are short. If the snow is deep it can be slow; my best effort was Bungalow Hut site to Federation in three hours, very deep snow. That Saturday nearly everyone else turned back, and only my two friends and I were crazy enough to reach the hut. Above Federation the slopes are exposed with the possibility of ice and some deep snow. In good conditions a fit person should be able to get to the hut in about four hours, and another 45 minutes to the summit. Descent to the hut is another 45 minutes, taking it slow on steep bits. Allow three hours to the car park. That's 8-9 hours plus lunch, so a 7am start will see you back at the car at 4-5pm. Any delay and you may have to turn back.

Most people go up on a Saturday, so if you go up on a Sunday there's more chance of tracks to follow. Not so much for navigation but to make a trench in the snow, easier walking.

Let someone know in writing where you are going and what time you are expected back, and fill in the log books. An ice axe would be nice, or failing that two walking poles. Try not to slip on the steep bits and stay well away from the cornice. That's stay left going up and right going back.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Mon 24 Jul, 2017 2:18 pm
by north-north-west
Mt Feathertop winter accent is something like "B-b-b-blood-d-dy Hell, it's-s-s-s f-f-f-ing f-f-f-freeeez-z-z-zing up here!" (interspersed with a lot of teeth-chattering).

Oh, you meant ascent . . . well, what Loppy said.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Mon 24 Jul, 2017 3:02 pm
by Cozzie
How deep are the snow?

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Mon 24 Jul, 2017 6:31 pm
by Lophophaps
Snow depth varies. The lowest snow is from October to May. From June to September expect up to about a metre, with more depth on the lee sides and less depth on exposed areas, where it tends to blow away. Some of the Feathertop slopes are quite steep, and with the right weather a layer of ice can form. Add fresh snow and it's a good place for a windslab avalanche. The top snow slides over the ice, and it's a long way down. So be careful.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Tue 25 Jul, 2017 12:50 am
by jdeks
+1 everything Lopho has said, but I'll add this:

If you have to ask, you probably shouldn't be trying it.


Literally every single winter night I've spent at Feathertop, there's been at least one hiker who's tried to bust out carpark-to-summit in one day on their first trip, and barely making the hut on dark because it took longer than they expected. Last time was a pack of uni students in volleys, with 2 sets of snowshoes amongst the 5 of them :roll:

Pack for an overnight stay, and pat yourself on the back if you get home before dark. Don't pack assuming you'll make it down before dark, and wind up freezing in a snowstorm because you couldn't.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Tue 25 Jul, 2017 5:43 am
by Xplora
With good weather and starting early, carrying light but enough for emergency, it is very possible if you are fit and have snow shoes. We have done Bungalow spur to Fed hut in about 2.5 hrs with a winter weight pack and 1.5 hrs down when we were fit. I would also take the advice of those above and consider the need. If you are not fit and used to walking in snow and up hill then it could take you all day and I would strongly consider taking torches regardless.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Tue 25 Jul, 2017 7:14 am
by Lophophaps
"If you have to ask, you probably shouldn't be trying it." Well said. Arrgh, volleys! Snowshoe shortage! I wonder how many near misses there are on the big mountains. Xplora was fitter than me. I did three hours to the hut with some effort, and two hours down from the hut. Agree, carry a torch.

I emphasise that being prepared to turn back is always an option. I've abandoned objectives too many times, mainly due to weather and conditions. The number of ascents should match the number of descents. Accents are less important. Sprichst du Englisch?

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Tue 25 Jul, 2017 1:21 pm
by Biggles
Cozzie wrote:Is this something that is doable for those that does not want to stay overnight? Ascent to summit wont be attempted if conditions are difficult.


I would venture to suggest waiting until the onset of warmer weather and longer daylight hours. Even in pleasant mid-winter warm sun, deep snow would be hard, slow going. What is possible and doable on a clear track in summer is not necessarily the same in winter when Feathertop takes on a whole new serious meaning as a destination, whether as a day trip or an overnight trip. What would be your course of action is you were bogged down half-way through with fatigue?

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Tue 25 Jul, 2017 4:59 pm
by GregR
Stayed at Harrietville last week and I had a crack at reaching Federation Hut last Friday.

All week conditions were bleak and miserable- bordering on blizzards, so I aimed for the forecast nice day on Friday.

Stupidly, I got bored on Thursday after lunch and thought I'd take a stroll up Bungalow Spur to see how far up the snow line was (I had snow shoes in case). Walked about 6kms up the track in rain and thick mist and stopped at around the 1300m mark as the first sign of snow on the ground appeared. It was about 2.45pm and that gave me enough time to be picked up at the trail head by 4.30pm(ish) Snowed on me as I turned around then hailed then snowed again for most of the return trip- slowed me down a little but still made good time down.

Friday I had company and we set off well prepared in bright sunshine and about -1C temps in Harrietville. Sadly we didn't match my solo pace of the day before, but we reached the snow at around 1350m+ and trudged onwards and upwards. Due to yesterdays snow the snow was evident much earlier than Thursday.
Slow going became even slower as we plonked thru the snow until finally we reached our turnaround deadline of 2.00pm and still only a little above 1500m. Our pace was almost glacial, but not quite that quick!. Personally I was spent.

We had no desire to walk back in the dark, so we turned back and strolled down back to the car.

What's the point of all this:

I should have started earlier, and not gone so far the day before and given my legs and knees a beating before the actual attempt.

As all the others have said, be prepared for any eventuality, weather, snow depth (varies from day to day) fitness climbing a kilometre/elevation up over say 7-8 kms is vastly different to being fit enough to walk 20kms on the flat.

Set a time limit to turn back if the going is slower than you thought ( or go watch "Everest" again) Start early as the others have said- we should have started earlier, but the minus temps and our warm house made us slack! The days are short.

Re-read everything Lops and Jdeks have said.

Even if you don't reach the top the views on a clear day are staggeringly good.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Tue 25 Jul, 2017 6:50 pm
by jdeks
Lophophaps wrote:"If you have to ask, you probably shouldn't be trying it." Well said. Arrgh, volleys! Snowshoe shortage! I wonder how many near misses there are on the big mountains. Xplora was fitter than me. I did three hours to the hut with some effort, and two hours down from the hut. Agree, carry a torch


Dude thats not even the worst one. Had a young bloke and his girlfriend rock up about 2 hours after dark with no tent, no stove and no snowshoes. Sleeping bags from BCF, old army packs from the disposal store, both in sneakers . The fella was friendly enough and eager, but just dangerously clueless - "Oh we figured we'd just roll up in the tarp under a tree but we had no idea the snow was this deep!" We let em use our stove and they 'chose' to sleep in the hut. Young lady was borderline hypothermic on arrival and when I got up at 2am to stoke the fire I could hear her teeth chattering across the hut. Wound up giving her my down quilt and just slept in my clothes. If they'd got lost or foundered from fatigue, they'd just be dead. Simples.

Feathertop isn't really a even mountain, it's just a big hill that looks pretty with some snow on top. I think that's why it attracts a special kind of stupid. People look at it like it's just another part of Hotham and figure its an easy day's walk - home for tea, biscuits and instagram by five, right?

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Sat 19 Aug, 2017 4:43 pm
by Moondog55
But it can be just that on the odd occasion and those are the days that get talked about.
Fit and conditioned I have down Hut to Harrietville via the Bungalow spur had lunch and then up to MUMC all in one long day with bivvy gear for the single night in the hut only to find that the wood stove at MUMC had just been removed, That was a cold night
One other day in the late 80s, fit and well conditioned it took us all day to get the the old Vicrail hut and we were too bushed to go any further, even setting up the tent was too much so we slept in the old hut, that emergency option is no longer available but some old maps still show Feathertop hut as extant

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Sun 22 Oct, 2017 8:14 am
by paidal_chalne_vala
I have been up and down MT. FT in the depths of winter along the Bungalow spur at least 6 times. It is slow going.
I have only made it to the summit in snow once. That was in June this year with snow camping at Fed. hut and pre dawn start from Fed. hut in clear weather the next day . I was wearing micro spikes and a head torch. I had an ice axe and a self arrest ski pole.
In Winter one merely aims to reach Fed. hut and dig in the snow tents with snow pegs using B.Y.O snow shovels .It is very cold up there and stopping to eat lunch en route can lead to losing too much body heat to be worth it. The last pinch from the hut ruins to the actual hut can be a nutcracker. Are you fit enough?. The number of times I have turned back on Mt. Bogong in winter (and once in summer!!) probably exceeds the number of times I have made it to the summit. Turning back is smart !
It is better to start very early and eat lunch at Fed. hut.
Snow shoes are not optional in winter.Micro spikes and an ice axe are very handy but they are useless if you don't know how to use them properly.
If you have to ask as the O.P. says then perhaps you should wait until summer. Winter ascents of Mt. FT and MT. Bogong make summer ascents seem like going up Mt. Waverley!!! .
Recent photos of the Twin Knobs and the Fed. hut site on ski dot com suggest much of the deep snow has melted . However spring is fickle in the Oz Alps and snow falls are quite common in November up there.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2017 8:37 am
by Xplora
paidal_chalne_vala wrote:I have been up and down MT. FT in the depths of winter along the Bungalow spur at least 6 times. It is slow going.
I have only made it to the summit in snow once. That was in June this year with snow camping at Fed. hut and pre dawn start from Fed. hut in clear weather the next day . I was wearing micro spikes and a head torch. I had an ice axe and a self arrest ski pole.
In Winter one merely aims to reach Fed. hut and dig in the snow tents with snow pegs using B.Y.O snow shovels .It is very cold up there and stopping to eat lunch en route can lead to losing too much body heat to be worth it. The last pinch from the hut ruins to the actual hut can be a nutcracker. Are you fit enough?. The number of times I have turned back on Mt. Bogong in winter (and once in summer!!) probably exceeds the number of times I have made it to the summit. Turning back is smart !
It is better to start very early and eat lunch at Fed. hut.
Snow shoes are not optional in winter.Micro spikes and an ice axe are very handy but they are useless if you don't know how to use them properly.
If you have to ask as the O.P. says then perhaps you should wait until summer. Winter ascents of Mt. FT and MT. Bogong make summer ascents seem like going up Mt. Waverley!!! .
Recent photos of the Twin Knobs and the Fed. hut site on ski dot com suggest much of the deep snow has melted . However spring is fickle in the Oz Alps and snow falls are quite common in November up there.


This is a pretty old thread. I am wondering if the OP did it and I am surprised you did not jump on this earlier. I am pretty sure our packs were around 25kg (which included pro camera equipment) when we did it in 2.5hrs to Fed hut. Carrying a day pack would be a breeze. As I have mentioned previously, we were at Fed hut once in early spring when a bunch of Harrietville ladies dropped in on their way back down the mountain after going up NW spur to Feathertop. All in one day. It is all about picking the conditions. Not overloading your back also helps.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Mon 03 Sep, 2018 10:06 am
by Drew
I'm planning on a weekend jaunt from Harrietville to Feathertop next weekend, camping overnight at Fed Hut. Just after some advice about assessing the safety of getting to the summit given the current deep snow conditions. We'll be taking snow shoes but not crampons or ice axes (I do have a couple of pairs of Yak Trax though). If it's not safe to go up we'll happily just have a stroll on the Razorback and enjoy the views before descending, but obviously it would be nice to get to the summit.

The early weather forecast looks good (sunny and cold nights), but I suspect this means very icy and potentially dangerous conditions in the morning.

Any advice?

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Mon 03 Sep, 2018 12:01 pm
by Moondog55
Keep well back from the edge, apparently the summit cornice is huge, I've not done a winter summit in ages but I always carried an ice axe so some means of arresting a fall would be a very good idea

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Mon 03 Sep, 2018 12:23 pm
by jdeks
Drew wrote:I'm planning on a weekend jaunt from Harrietville to Feathertop next weekend, camping overnight at Fed Hut. Just after some advice about assessing the safety of getting to the summit given the current deep snow conditions. We'll be taking snow shoes but not crampons or ice axes (I do have a couple of pairs of Yak Trax though). If it's not safe to go up we'll happily just have a stroll on the Razorback and enjoy the views before descending, but obviously it would be nice to get to the summit.

The early weather forecast looks good (sunny and cold nights), but I suspect this means very icy and potentially dangerous conditions in the morning.

Any advice?


Cant comment on avalanche or snow conditions for 2 weeks time but be aware, by then it's getting warmer during the day (though it is still surprisingly cold for this late in the season). Big risks come from having a large snow dump after a period of days above 0 , with nights below 0, to make a nice icy crust. Right now the days are staying well below zero so while the snow it deep, its got some good cohesion and should be nice and workable. In two weeks? Hard to say.

That said, if you're just taking the usual tourist route to the summit from Fed hut, you dont really have avalanches to worry about. I'd expect the cornice to be fair stable (as far as cornices go....) but still don't be 'that guy' and go for the edge selfie. Issue is more traction and slide hazard.

This is a great website for advice in that area: http://mountainsportscollective.org/ind ... vic-awysk/. Also keep an eye on the Hotham weather obs: http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDV60801 ... 4906.shtml

If the 3-5 days preceding your trip are warm, with nights below 0, snow shoes may struggle on the steep icy bits. For snow shoes to be effective you need some give in the pack. If you have a big dump after several days oscillating around freezing, consider delaying.

Ice axes are a good idea too. Go in the late morning, so there's a bit less surface ice but the sub layers are still nice and frozen.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Mon 03 Sep, 2018 1:06 pm
by Drew
Thanks guys. Just to clarify, it's this coming weekend we're going (Sep 8-9). Looks like there could be decent snowfall on Thursday, then cold and clear.

I wonder if any of the ski hire places rent out ice axes?

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Tue 04 Sep, 2018 6:19 am
by Xplora
Drew wrote:Thanks guys. Just to clarify, it's this coming weekend we're going (Sep 8-9). Looks like there could be decent snowfall on Thursday, then cold and clear.

I wonder if any of the ski hire places rent out ice axes?


Forecast has changed. Backed off entirely apart from a bit of rain on Thursday and maybe some snow above 1700m. Weekend looking fine but it is only Tuesday. Things could changed again.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Tue 04 Sep, 2018 7:24 am
by Lophophaps
I'm unaware of places that rent ice axes. The pick should be pointed forward so that if you stumble you don't remove a vital organ. On a gentle slope with a good runout practise self-arrest, slowly easing the pick into the snow. This has to be instant, as soon as you slip or the slope moves. The snow is will quite deep and the cornice will be big, so stay well back from the edge. Look for cracks or depressions where the cornice is breaking. .If you go to the summit after climbing to Federation Hut - probably early afternoon - the snow should be soft, with minimal ice. Be prepared to turn back.

In good conditions it's possible to summit in winter without an ice axe. I usually carry one.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Tue 04 Sep, 2018 9:52 am
by Drew
Thanks all. We'll see how it looks and feels once we're there. We'll be perfectly happy to turn back and admire the summit from afar if it feels remotely dodgy going up.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Tue 11 Sep, 2018 5:19 pm
by Drew
Thanks all. We'll see how it looks and feels once we're there. We'll be perfectly happy to turn back and admire the summit from afar if it feels remotely dodgy going up.


No summit for us. Feathertop was covered in cloud from our arrival at Fed Hut on Saturday arvo until our departure mid-Sunday morning. We wouldn't have seen a thing so we didn't bother going further than Little Feathertop. Lovely to be up there in the snow nevertheless. Much busier at Fed Hut than I'd imagined - there must have been 15 tents there!

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Wed 12 Sep, 2018 7:38 am
by Lophophaps
I'm sorry that the weather was unkind. It will be good one day. Fifteen tents is around what I'd expect. If you were behind the masses then they would have made a nice trench up to the hut, and probably beyond. How deep was the snow at the hut?

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Wed 12 Sep, 2018 9:33 am
by Drew
How deep was the snow at the hut?


Not sure but fairly deep. Here are some pics. Thanks to the tent neighbour who lent us his snow shovel! I think we'd still be there preparing our tent site if we'd had to do it with snowshoes... (I assumed there'd be nice spots ready to use but they were all taken. Lesson learnt - I'll buy a shovel for next time.)
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Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Fri 21 Sep, 2018 12:30 pm
by Philipp
Lophophaps wrote:I'm unaware of places that rent ice axes.

Bogong Equipment

Lophophaps wrote:The pick should be pointed forward so that if you stumble you don't remove a vital organ.

This wording is a bit misleading: While walking it needs to face backwards with the adze pointing forward. When you self-arrest the pick will face away from you.

Lophophaps wrote: ... slowly easing the pick into the snow.

You actually whack it in as fast and hard as you can.

Re: Mt Feathertop good weather winter accent within 1 day

PostPosted: Sun 23 Sep, 2018 9:38 pm
by benjabimon
Good advice :D