Falls Creek - Hotham winter

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Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby dinna89 » Wed 02 Aug, 2017 3:43 pm

I'm contemplating snowshoeing this route with a few mates, then catching the chopper back.

https://www.google.com.au/maps/dir/-36. ... 752778!3e2

Is it a terrible idea? Any showstoppers?
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby north-north-west » Wed 02 Aug, 2017 7:20 pm

They have a shuttle helicopter running? How much does that cost?
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby Lophophaps » Wed 02 Aug, 2017 8:10 pm

I'd allow 3-4 days for a winter Falls-Hotham winter walk. Given good conditions it can be done in two days, but bad weather and poor snow may make it hard. Some sections of tracks are narrow, and in winter will have bushes overhanging the track. This will be hard on some steeper sections, but it's certainly viable. In poor conditions the exposed sections will be difficult. Are there poles west from the causeway in Pretty Valley? There's four huts on the route, and another four nearby, albeit a little way off the route. You may wish to look at these as backup refuges.

The chopper has been running for quite a few years now. It's a blight for remote skiers, but at least it does not operate in bad weather or at night.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby Xplora » Thu 03 Aug, 2017 5:45 am

The solid gray route from where it intersects with the blue dot route looks like it will take you up Diamantina Spur and onto the Razorback. Not a good spur to walk up but if you are fit and up to it then it would be a nice walk. Pretty easy up to there. A big system is coming through from today and it should dump a load of snow but there will be a bit of walking below the snowline as you drop off Bogong High Plains. Until then and again once above 1400m you should have enough snow to warrant wearing snow shoes. If it is the AAWT you are wanting to do then start on the solid gray route and then the blue dot route at pole 333 where they both meet. Once you have a firm plan for the route you can post it and we can get back to you with a bit more detail such as camp areas and huts. We hear the helicopter shuttle regularly but it has been a bit quiet of late, or maybe my hearing is getting worse. Have you made sure they can carry all of you plus packs? Thinking about weight as well as space.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 03 Aug, 2017 8:25 am

I should have looked at the map on a bigger scale. The route is Falls Creek, Pretty Valley, west to the top of the ridge, south on the Tawonga Huts pole line, pole 333, pole 267, down to Dibbins, up to Derrick, and finally to Hotham. Diamantina Spur is quite steep and long, but is okay if one is fit enough. The marked route has three huts: Pretty Valley, Dibbins and Derrick. Derrick is not that good and will probably not have other people there. Pretty Valley and Derrick are more likely to have people. Tawonga Huts are a little way north off the route, and there's others at various points, more detouring. As Xplora said, a plan will assist.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby dinna89 » Thu 03 Aug, 2017 11:36 am

Xplora - We're not planning on going near the razorback or diamantina.

NNW - flights are 170pp return, hoping they'd negotiate for one way/3 people. http://www.mthotham.com.au/events-activ ... lilink.asp

The plan is as per the map linked, heading out of hotham on Machinery spur, Follow AAWT across Kiewa Valley (via dibbins hut), deviate from the AAWT to the fainters firetrail to Pretty Valley then Falls.
Distances
hotham - Derrick 4km
Derrick - Dibbins 4km
Dibbins - Pretty Valley 12km
Pretty Valley - falls 6km

We'd probably start at falls, attempt to get to dibbins day 1, but reevaluate this goal once we got to Pretty valley.

From memory, the Bogong high plans would probably be too exposed to set up camp?
Any avalanche risk?
Any issues with having to walk on downhill ski trails?
Any other viable transport options? Chopper seems extravagant, but the price of buses is really expensive.
Forecast is looking alright for his weekend
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 03 Aug, 2017 12:08 pm

Depending on when you start, see if you an get to Dibbins on the first day. It's all downhill from near where you leave the Mount Loch Road, near the last ski tow. Getting to Dibbins on the first day will save a day, useful if the weather clags in. In fine weather I'd head on the AAWT until about pole 290, then NE over Mount Jim (access via the gully on the NW side), then NE to pass the Pretty Valley Pondage on the right. This will save about a kilometre.

There are places where a tent can be put up, but you have to drop into small valleys. Fletchers Yard at about pole 250 is the last sheltered spot until near Pretty Valley Hut. Tawonga Huts are sheltered, and downstream of the weir on the High Plains Creek is good camping. You may be able to go to Ryders Yards, and if desperate enough, the SEC Hut in PV, very exposed.

There is a very slight risk of avalanche; the slopes are not quite steep enough in most places. If you keep to the side of ski trails you should be fine. Look uphill before crossing a ski trail.

One transport option is as follows. Park at Mount Beauty. There's a taxi service to Bright, and from there take the bus to Hotham. At Falls Creek take the bus to Mount Beauty. This way you can get in the car as soon as you get off the last bus, and there's no driving in snow.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby Xplora » Fri 04 Aug, 2017 7:04 am

Swindlers spur from Dibbins is more logicial than Machinery spur. Early start and it is possible to get to Dibbins but it will be big if the snow is soft and you get a head wind. Good luck with it. Just be sensible near the ski runs and stay to the side. I think you mostly cross them.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 04 Aug, 2017 10:49 am

I just worked it out. Dinna89 says "The plan is as per the map linked, heading out of Hotham on Machinery Spur", and this seems to mean follow that spur as far as the AAWT turns south from the Loch track, to the ski tow a few minutes away. I think it's more a terminology issue than an intention to go all the way down Machinery Spur, which would be a longer slog and exposed. Swindlers Spur is quickly in the trees and has poles. Swindlers-Basalt Temple-Pole 267 is also shorter than Machinery-Red Robin Mine-Blairs-Westons.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 04 Aug, 2017 11:50 pm

Coming up from Weston's hut there is a pole line from Weston's hut up to pole 333.The poles are kind of well spaced apart and finding the next one in a white out could be ...."interesting".
In bad weather in white season up there you need to know your abilities well in order to keep warm and maintain progress while in exposed sections of your route. All of your party need to be experienced in multi night ski touring/ snow shoe trekking .
Coming up from Dibbin's hut the pole line stays in the trees for quite a way and is not as steep as the route up from Weston's hut. If you have not walked these routes before in green season then take care out there.
Knowing where the nearest huts are located as refuges is important. Having a mental picture , from green season , of where they are helps.
Coming out of Tawonga huts and heading for Pretty Valley hut , there is no pole line along the Fainters fire trail and over the Pretty Valley pondage. Be sure to cross at the right spot in zero visibility.
Coming up from Pretty Valley hut over the summit near Ruined Castle at Falls Creek can be scary , disorientating and extremely cold and unpleasant in a white out/ blizzard.You need to know exactly what you are doing and where you are going . The time you are exposed to lethally cold winds above the treeline must be minimized. It is not a place for beginner snow shoe trekkers with heavy winter packs. You will start to feel hypothermic and being decked out in gore tex, balaclavas, ski goggles and storm mittens over your two other pairs of gloves can be of some use in such circumstances.
If the snow is fresh and powdery and has not been walked on/ skied on before then expect quite slow going.
I usually estimate walking 10 -11 kms a day in snow shoes with a heavy pack including steep ascents and descents. I aim to be at camp in time to dig into the snow and out of the wind with a snow shovel and set up camp well before 4 pm.
Take a proper 4 seasons tent and maybe even an emergency bivi bag.
Watch the weather report before you go. This weekend, August 5th and 6th is looking wild and blizzard like and it would be best to wait until August 12th and 13th . We are going up the Eskdale spur that weekend :-) .
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby dinna89 » Sat 05 Aug, 2017 11:06 am

Map to clear up any confusion, i think Lolhophaps had the right interpretation. EDIT - blue route is our approx route, following the marked trails
Image

We've got plenty of experience up there, but nothing quite like this.
Weather certainly turned on us this weekend, looking to head out next weekend. Thanks for all the info.

I'd be looking to sleep in the huts. but we'd also bring tents (4 season scarps). What's the liklihood of other people being at the huts? I feel bad sleeping in them when others are around
Last edited by dinna89 on Tue 08 Aug, 2017 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby Xplora » Sat 05 Aug, 2017 11:50 am

Confusion sorted. Given good weather I think you have a plan with backup if things don't go right. All the huts are good for shelter but I would not sleep in any of them personally. A tent is warmer and there are less critters chewing on your eyelids when you're asleep. Likely to be people around on any weekend. Alternates, if needed, would be to head to Tawonga or Westons huts. Blairs hut is near the bottom of Westons spur and then you have a good track below the snow line to Dibbins. Blairs to Hotham can be done in a day. This is clearly not the point of your walk plan but is a good backup if needed. Too far out to see what next weekend will do but at least you will have snow. How far you get in a day depends on many factors. Some are within your control and others not.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby Lophophaps » Sat 05 Aug, 2017 3:49 pm

I had not seen that map, interesting. I'll take the blue line to be the approximate path, just a bit to one side of the pole lines that you would follow.

The huts are indeed cold, but some are big enough to pitch a tent. Packs need to be hung high to avoid food inside being eaten, and even hanging may not be enough. One option may be to go:
1 HH-Derrick
2 Derrick to Youngs
3 Youngs to PV
4 PV to Falls Creek
This makes the days more balanced and gets you on the high plains on the second day, with only a relatively smallish climb from Youngs to poles 267 and 290. Youngs-pole 267 is a moderate incline, much less steeep than Dibbins-pole 267.

Dibbins-Pole 267 is about 400 metres of climbing in about 2.5 kilometres and Youngs-pole 267 is about 140 metres in 2 kilometres, average incline about half that of Dibbins going up. If going to Youngs, just above Fletchers Yard at the tree line turn SE (right) on the 1720 metre contour and hit the Youngs pole line. Note that in bad weather it's easy to walk between the poles. If you are going SE and down then you have missed the poles. The hut is a tad hard to find. If you reach Omeo you have gone too far.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 06 Aug, 2017 9:17 pm

Finding Young's hut in a bad white season weather would be easier if you have been there before in green season.It is as LOPS says , it is not such a steep slog down /up from Young's hut as it is from Weston's hut or Dibbin's hut .I always take a 4 seasons tent. Young's hut in INFESTED with mice. Keep your food inside your tents. Do not rely on staying in the huts . They may be full of people &/or critters ,or the weather may become so bad that you cannot find the huts! :-0
Take extra stove fuel. You may not find running water and be obliged to melt snow.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby dinna89 » Wed 06 Sep, 2017 10:43 am

okay, so i didn't get around to doing this hike last time, ended up a mt striling instead. Given the recent snowfalls i'm thinking i'll head up this weekend or next weekend, anyone know how the conditions are up there?
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby neilmny » Wed 06 Sep, 2017 12:07 pm

All sorts of stuff to be found - https://www.ski.com.au/snowreport.html
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby Xplora » Wed 06 Sep, 2017 5:58 pm

dinna89 wrote:okay, so i didn't get around to doing this hike last time, ended up a mt striling instead. Given the recent snowfalls i'm thinking i'll head up this weekend or next weekend, anyone know how the conditions are up there?

Fantastic! Snow is soft though and you will find yourself sinking deep at times even in snowshoes. Skied quite a bit over the last couple of weeks and best snow. A bit of warming over the weekend will soften things during the day with a freeze overnight to create a crust that you will break through. I think this weekend would be good but still enough around in 10 days to make the trip worthwhile. Neil is spot on too.
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Re: Falls Creek - Hotham winter

Postby dinna89 » Sun 10 Sep, 2017 7:34 pm

Sounds good, I'll probably finally go this weekend. Its logistically challenging, it's easy to get a bus back on Sunday or Monday night, but not so easy to get there on Saturday morning.


Is anyone heading up to falls / Hotham this Friday night or early Saturday? Would love a lift up, there's two of us (28 year old men) and we're happy to pay gate entry/fuel.
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