Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Victoria specific bushwalking discussion.
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Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby NickPom » Wed 13 Sep, 2017 5:01 pm

Hello,
I've been lurking for a while, and this is my first post.

Next week a pair of us plan to use the Northwest Spur to go up Feathertop. I can't find any recent trip reports? Can anyone shed any light on the track conditions?

Our full intended route is:
Northwest Spur ->MUMC-> (Feathertop summit) -> federation hut or camp on Razorback (weather/wind will dictate).
Fed hut -> Diamantina spur ->Blair->Westons->Tawonga Huts.
Tawonga Huts->Pretty Valley -> Falls Creek.

Last year I went from Falls to Hotham, overnight at Tawonga and Derek, and have done Razorback and Bungalow several times in winter, but never Northwest Spur or Diamantina.
Thoughts anyone?

Thanks,
N
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby Xplora » Thu 14 Sep, 2017 6:26 am

I have no idea about current conditions on NW spur but I suspect a bit of fallen timber and some have complained about the creek crossing at the start. I cannot see you having any real problem with but allow a bit more time for lower snow. I am at 800m and it is snowing outside as I write. The snow line should be around 1300m or maybe a bit lower on that face. MUMC is a great hut with good water but no heating. Still a good first day stop if you are running late. A morning start is advised. NW spur is considerably harder than Swindlers. Fed hut to Tawonga is a good day with options for a shorter walk if time runs out and still leave enough to get to Falls the next day. Good plan. Just do it (with the usual weather and gear provisos). I would suggest crampons or micro spikes are required this time of year in addition to snowshoes. There is a spot between MUMC and the Feathertop track that may not be suitable for snowshoes. Icy with a nice south facing slide.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby NickPom » Thu 14 Sep, 2017 7:50 am

Hi Xplora,
Many thanks for the reply. I was under the impression there's a bridge for the creek crossing at the start of the NW? Swindlers was no problem, but it's great to be able to compare the NW to something.
It's actually the Diamantina descent I'm concerned about on a bed of softening snow. Worth taking a rope for the steep bit? Maybe just to lower packs.
I'd prefer to stop at MUMC as Fed hut will probably be like a tent festival, but since we are starting early morning on the NW I'd like to get as near to Diamantina as possible to set up an early start for the next day up.
The weather at the back end of next week is looking clear ( on some forecasts!) but a bit warmer, so camping up on the razorback might be better than Fed.
Looking forward to making the most of the late season snow!
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby Xplora » Fri 15 Sep, 2017 7:34 am

I had heard the bridge over the creek was gone. I have been down Diamantina in conditions like this and would not be concerned. The steeper sections should be below the snowline and would never have thought there would be a need for ropes regardless. You have a great plan and given the sensible approach to things you should have a great time. Having a bit more time to get up to Westons is probably more a concern than getting down Diamantina but don't be concerned if you end up camping at MUMC. It may cost you 90min with the ascent to Feathertop the next morning. High Knob is a great spot to catch the sunrise and get a snap of Feathertop so that would be my pick if the weather is good. Avoiding Fed hut would also be on my agenda for the same reasons.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 15 Sep, 2017 9:40 am

The plan looks viable, if a bit hard in places. Xplorer's advice is sound. From MUMC the track goes up into a gully with a creek, and a smaller creek a short distance past this. The second creek is the one closest to Federation. The section from whre the track goes west just before the North Razorback junction to where it meets the summit track is generally steep and treeless. This is not a good place to slip. From memory, a State MP experimented with slipping in this vicinity, and he went down a fair way. If there's snow, ice or wet grass be more careful than usual. However, as these slopes face west and north the snowline could be higher. Diamantina Spur is steep, with just one short rocky section that may prove interesting. A rope is not needed for the trip, just care.

It may be advisable to have alternative routes and campsites. Once you go past Westons there's no sheltered camping until Tawonga Huts or Pretty Valley. The snowline should be at or above Westons. Beyond that is 1700-1800 metres, with snow cover depending on rain and where the slope faces.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby NickPom » Fri 15 Sep, 2017 8:15 pm

Many thanks for you replies.
I guess we'll find out about the bridge over the creek. Shouldn't be too much melt by then, but it won't be warm!
Weather looks ok at the moment. I'll report back, though I don't photograph like BigKev so no promises on that front.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby jdeks » Sun 17 Sep, 2017 1:51 pm

If you haven't already gone -

I would actually vote for taking a rope down Diamantina. Theres a very steep rocky section that's degraded a lot in the last few year and it's right in the 'icy wet' zone around the edge of the snowline. I've done the route proposed many times and I'd consider that the most hazardous spot, having personally had near misses on two occasions. A tumble with a pack on would likely break bones.

You probably dont need a rope, but its very dependant on the conditions at the time and a rope really mitigates a lot of the risk if you happen to do it on a bad day.

Also dont underestimate the time you need for Diamantina spur as a whole. Though its downhill on the whole, theres a lot of uphill too, and its steep. The snow is usually soft, the going slow, and the sun sets early in the valley at the bottom. Get going off the razorback before lunch if you want to be down before dark.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby jdeks » Sun 17 Sep, 2017 1:59 pm

Also check http://mountainsportscollective.org/ind ... -advisory/ before you go.

The last pitch from MUMC to the summit can be proper avalanche territory if the conditions are right.

Bring your crampons.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby icefest » Wed 20 Sep, 2017 10:17 am

I'm a MUMC member, we did out annual pilgrimage up the hut last month.

I can confirm there is no bridge across the river (but there was a tree across the river 10m downstream of where the bridge was). The log may have been flooded away with the spring rain, but good luck.
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby Xplora » Thu 21 Sep, 2017 6:08 am

icefest wrote:I'm a MUMC member, we did out annual pilgrimage up the hut last month.

I can confirm there is no bridge across the river (but there was a tree across the river 10m downstream of where the bridge was). The log may have been flooded away with the spring rain, but good luck.


No spring rain as yet so good chance it is still there.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Mon 25 Sep, 2017 9:30 pm

Descending the Diamantina spur is steep and relentless. I would take a rope for a pack haul down the gnarly bit just in case. I would take micro spikes too if you are descending in early to Mid Spring. An ice axe would not be too over the top either.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby NickPom » Tue 26 Sep, 2017 10:14 pm

Hi All,
Well, we did do the route last weekend, and I have posted, a possibly too long trip report:
viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26520

As I mention in the report, a 50m rope would have been good on Diamantina to lower ourselves, 25m would have been good for packs. Though we managed without.
Microspikes wouldn't have helped anywhere in this instance as the snow was just soft and sloppy, not at all icy. Fingers were suitable for wedging in the rock crevices as we descended the steepest bit.

The tree across the NW spur creek is fairly high above it, so I guess it will be there until there is a good flood.

Thanks for all your encouragement and advice. It was a good, hard hike. I wouldn't suggest it in deep soft snow for anyone who doesn't know how to dig pretty deep and grind out whatever is necessary.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Tue 26 Sep, 2017 11:58 pm

Ascending anywhere steep in deep soft snow requires much effort , stamina and determination.
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Re: Any recent Feathertop Northwest Spur reports

Postby jdeks » Tue 10 Oct, 2017 1:43 pm

If anyone's wondering -

Just got back from a Feathertop run. Bungalow clear to around 1600, patchy compacted base with slushy top makes for slow, slippery going for the inexpereinced. Still over half a meter or more on the ground around Fed hut, on the ridge around MUMC, and generally in southerly or shaded areas. Patchy on the razorback but still deep in spots. Not getting night freezes so quite soft by 10am. Both NW and S tracks up feathertop mostly melted, thin strip on snow on the ride peak, big slumping cornice remains, with visible cracks.

Someone who packs light and knows how to walk on snow could get to the summit without snowshoes, but the k or so up to the saddle from fed hut, or along the NW spur, is very soft and even snowshoes can be very tiring. As it was there were still dingbats aplenty who came staggering up in yogapants and sneakers only to turn round (or camp) at Fed hut, surprised that snow is, in fact, still cold and wet in spring...
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