3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

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3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 17 Aug, 2013 4:48 pm

First off let me say that the weather this years was some of the worst I have have ever encountered. 3 bluebird days in three and a half weeks.
How-ever in the main I had fun and did lots of experimenting with different sleeping, clothing and tent options. A full report will follow as soon as I catch up on some sleep ( or as much as I can remember anyway) and a few of the photos as well.
I'll start with one of the more interesting pictures, taken on one of those cold wet cloudy days, it is one of my favourites
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A Study in Grey_ Dead snowgum in the mist.jpg
Dead Snowgum in the mist, located on the small knoll just near the PV road
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby paddlpop » Sat 17 Aug, 2013 5:21 pm

Looking forward to hearing all about it....had been hoping to stop by but timing and the weather have had other ideas!
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby neilmny » Sat 17 Aug, 2013 9:43 pm

I'm also looking forward to seeing your pictures and hearing the story.
Great picture it looks like a pencil sketch on grey paper. Very nice.
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby neilmny » Sat 17 Aug, 2013 9:44 pm

oops doubled up somehow. :oops:
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby bailz66 » Sun 18 Aug, 2013 11:16 am

Yeah same, good job lasting out there as long as you did. Looking at this weekend you probably came back at a good time
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Sun 18 Aug, 2013 2:04 pm

Here goes, and if it seems like I backtrack and get confused about the days and the order in which things happen blame "Old-timers disease"

Day 1 started late as I had a clinic appointment at RMH which started at 1130
Usual boring drive up the freeway via Wodonga where I tried on ski boots at Snowgum and spent an hour or two trading stories with Peter.
Then up the mountain to my usual overnite camping spot at "Turnback corner" where I repacked the sled and pulk ready for an early start the next morning.
Woke early due to a full bladder [ Indian alarm clock] and had my gear at Windy Corner by 0530, drove back down, locked car and hitched back up the road to make a start hauling by 0700.
135 kilos was too much I think but made much worse by the marginal snow cover on the first 2 klicks. Snow 100 metres bare road 100, snow 100 bare road 100 and so on.
Note to self, next year make smaller packages and use rucksacks for all lots so portaging is easier.
By the time I got to Ruined Castle I admit to being almost knackered so I took the rucksack off the pulk and walked in to PV campsite, did not need snowshoes or skis as the snow cover was that thin it was easier to walk.
Dropped the pack set up the Megamid and then went back for the sled and empty pulk, much easier with 26 kilos removed and made it into the campsite about 2000
Attachments
20130731_0477.JPG
20130731_0480.JPG
Smattering of snow on Bogong
20130731_0485.JPG
Swag on the ground is my usual overnite car system
20130731_0490.JPG
Fire and grilled snags for dinner
20130731_0486.JPG
Sled and pulk packed ready for the next day
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Sun 18 Aug, 2013 2:20 pm

No photos of the next few days as I stupidly left the camera in the ute.
Also the weather changed and I spent most of the next week simply staying alive and digging various tents out of deep snow and making field repairs.
There was a large school group camped there too and I slept the first nite in the Megamid.
Next day the kids and their instructors left and I set up the old PaddyMade and just tried to get organised { digging out the food and equipment dump took a long time- perhaps we made too good a job of the camouflage] then the wind came up and it started to snow, and snow and snow. I was up twice to pee and brushed the accumulated snow off the tent at the same time. In the middle of the night i heard what seemed to be a rifle shot but assumed I was dreaming and rolled over and went back to sleep.
Woke up the next morning to a totally different landscape with deep drifts of snow and lots of small broken branches everywhere and no Megamid to be seen.
During the night that rifle shot was the sound of the smallest section of the centre pole snapping, so the next hour or two was spent digging out the tent and looking though the stash of spares to see if I could make a repair.
Luckily I had also brought the Bulldog poles for the PaddyMade so the smallest of those [16mm] is exactly the same as the Chouinard pole so that was a relief.
Because this was a trial of various tents I deliberately chose the worst possible location to set-up the old tent to see how it coped with wind and large wet snow falling off the snowgums overhead in thaw conditions.
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Sun 18 Aug, 2013 3:28 pm

The PaddyMade was handling the conditions reasonable well so I dragged out the cheap tipi and set that up, again I picked a position under a couple of huge "Oldman Snowgums" to give it a real test.
I admit to being quite happy with the way the tipi design shed the wind and how light snow just blew off the fabric and it seemed to be up to the task so I moved my gear in and made myself comfortable.
First night spent in the tipi was uneventful and being able to wake up and "STAND" was wonderful. Went for a quick exploratory ski and found that my boots [ both my old leather ones and my plastic T1s were way too tight] so had a lazy afternoon just building snow block walls to block some wind from the tipi.
The next couple of days/ weeks were very windy with all the possible combinations of snow type falling in random patterns. Came back from a days outing to find the tipi collapsed and buried under lots of wet snow so I slept in the old japara tent that night and dug out the tipi in the morning. While I had expected the cheap tent to fail I had expected either the fabric ripper or pull-outs torn from seams; not a bent steel centre pole.
Next few hours were spent making more repairs .
When Andrew and I travelled up to make the dump I had scrounged from the side of the road a length of 32mm plastic conduit which I threw in as it "May" be useful; it was. using some short sections of 20mm aluminium tent pole and lots of superglue I managed to make the broken pole hold together but it was very wobbly and very weakly rebuild.
Sliding the broken pole into the plastic conduit seemed to help but after re-erecting the tent it quickly developed a large bow. Being an inveterate scrounge i just happened to have a pair of old alpine ski poles on hand, taking the baskets and handles off both i hammered on inside the other and lashed this long pole to the plastic using lots of cord- job done and having decided it was now stronger than before I experimented with using the sled as a long table by putting a pair of milk crates underneath at each end. Heaven is getting your kitchen off the ground and having somewhere to sit comfortably' again milk crates to the rescue topped with a couple of layers of CCF for real warmth and softness.
But I am getting a little ahead of myself here, I hadn't heard from Andrew on the day I left and while it was probable he was unable to come due to hip trouble I skied in to Windy corner just in case.
After talking to him I started on my way back, talking to a group of military people on an adventure training week who were also headed to PV camping area. About when I got to Eagle Rock on the PV road/Home trail the wind started to pick up so I stopped for a few minutes and put on my parka and gloves[ up to this time it was warm enough not to be needed] by the time I got to Ruined Castle a short time later the wind was blowing gale force and it was turning nasty; I got to the top of that short rise leading to the ridge and the wind was full of water vapour. This was the first time; and I hope the last; that I have ever been in an ice storm and by the time I knew I needed to mitten up and close all my zips I had accumulated a thick layer of rime and it was impossible to do so as all my zippers were frozen in the open position.
I did manage to get my mittens on tho and get woollen beanie on and my hood up. This turned out to be one of the hardest days I have ever encountered, I soon had a layer of ice over 50mm thick on the windward side of me and where the wind was getting through my pit-zips I had ice on my underwear.
A normal hours walking or half hours skiing took me over 3 hours, fighting the wind all the way and as the wind was on my flank no safer to turn around and go back. Making matters much worse then daylight began to go and the clouds rolled in limiting viability to less than 20 metres or so.
I have never been so glad to see a hut in my life and I think this was the first occasion where getting to a hut was the only rational choice.
*I lit a fire in the huts pot belly and made myself a cup of hot water and then got the last half kilometer back to my tent. I also used the gas stove to make my hot Milo as i honestly had run out of the oomph needed to prime and light the XGK.
Crawled into my sleeping back and shivered for half an hour or so before falling asleep, when I woke up to pee in the middle of the night I started to shiver violently as soon as I got out into the outside air. Luckily for my it was only a very mild case of hypothermia and I recovered with-in 24 hours
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Sun 18 Aug, 2013 3:31 pm

When the Army people arrived the next day I was informed by their training leader that they had turned back as they thought conditions were far too dangerous to continue
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby andrewbish » Sun 18 Aug, 2013 8:09 pm

Wow, MD, that storm that on the return to camp following our call sounds diabolical. A thrill-seeking part of me (easily subdued) thinks it would have been amazing to be there at that time. TBH, I am glad I wasn't! Very glad the hypothermia didn't get a hold of you.
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Kinsayder » Mon 19 Aug, 2013 9:25 am

Great (and cold) stuff, MD. You've definitely got my attention for the subsequent posts and photographs! Happy to hear that you obviously got out alive too.
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 1:14 pm

The Army people were set-up in the place I wanted to be and even tho the tipi was leaking a little I decided to move my good sleeping gear into it simply because I wanted to be able to stand up when I got out of bed in the morning.
The weather came up during the night and I had to get up to brush snow of the tent at least once, fairly heavy snowfall too.
I was very heavily asleep when I was rudely woken up by what felt like a truck falling on me, the combination of a huge gust of wind and a dump od snow from the tree under which I was camped [Deliberately as this was an equipment torture test] had collapsed the tipi on top of me.
I always sleep with my torch handy and also it was early dawn so I could see what had happened and while soaking wet as it had thawed during the early hours I was safe enough.
Thinking and repeating the mountain mantra “ Protect the down; protect the down gear, protect the down” I got out of my duvet and shoved that into a dry bag, did the same for the sleeping bag and then threw on my parka and hastily retreated the half klick to the hut where I lit a fire again and made a Milo using the spare tin I had left there.

Drying out and warming up had taken an hour or so and by the time I got back to the campsite the adventure-training mob had left. The rest of that day was spent moving the PaddyMade and Megamid to a safer position and making myself comfortable.
I found that a lot of my time was spent in simple housekeeping jobs like brushing snow off the tents and digging them out after drifts formed
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 1:24 pm

Drying out and warming up had taken an hour or so and by the time I got back to the campsite the adventure-training mob had left. The rest of that day was spent moving the PaddyMade and Megamid to a safer position and making myself comfortable.
I found that a lot of my time was spent in simple housekeeping jobs like brushing snow off the tents and digging them out after drifts formed

The next couple of days are a blur of some day touring in boots too tight and ferocious winds and very heavy snow falls; at some stage I got into mobile phone range and called the boss to tell her I was still alive and believe it or not having fun and finding out Sim1oz wasn’t coming.

As the spare tent wasn’t now needed by extra people I put it into use for my self, the old Plateau is a fine strong tent and I was glad t have the extra measure of safety and security it offered; but as soon as it was erected and my gear moved in I remembered why it got used less often than it should, it is just 150mm too short internally for a bloke over 185 tall who uses a sleeping bag with reasonable loft.
The combination of a strong tent, the Megamid for storage and the Moss Pentawing fly for cooking under was heaven tho compared to some of my winter camps
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20130811_0582.JPG
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 1:28 pm

Just a few pictures, I have a short video of the tents in a 60- 100k blow that I should upload to U-Tube
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20130812_0592.JPG
20130812_0593.JPG
20130812_0596.JPG
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 1:36 pm

A few more pictures
Attachments
20130813_0619.JPG
ME
20130813_0609.JPG
This is the road after the recent snowfalls
20130816_0660.JPG
Just a landscape
20130816_0661.JPG
The same road after the kazzy has been over it
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 1:41 pm

Looks like I can't add any more pictures, seems I have reached my quota
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 3:57 pm

I'll post the Picassa link as soon as I have them all uploaded.
I just spent the next week being domestic and taking short skis around the PV area, by the end of the second week I was getting a little tired of my own company tho and the weather so so ordinary I didn't want to take big risks skiing to Hotham and Feathertop on my own
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 4:42 pm

Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby neilmny » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 4:51 pm

One hell of an adventure Moondog, would have been a baptism of fire (snow :shock: ) for a new comer
to snow camping. After all your effort it's great to see you still had a good time, the camping spot in the sunshine looks
great, just what snow camping should look like :wink: :D
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 5:59 pm

I think I was ready to come home by Thursday last, but what clinched it for me was my mattress failing dramatically in the middle of the night after performing quite well for the 2 weeks.
I have emailed MD about it but as yet I haven't heard back.
To help me a get a quick start I moved most of my gear to PV hut and packed up in comfort.
I think I had a much bigger load coming home as there were 2 extra tents [ wet tents weigh a bit extra too] so I wanted to be on the way by sparrow-fart O'Clock.
I did a leap-frog pack haul up to the Ruined Castle Area which took care of the uphill section of the return journey and by making sure my load was evenly divided between the 3 trips I was tired but not exhausted for the last third of the return.
This was when I realised I was missing my reserve pack of AAA batteries; as it got dark and I turned on my first head torch all I got was a faint glimmer. Ditto reserve, got out the old Petzl Mega and it died after about 3 minutes and the same for the trusty Pelican.
Anyway by now it's quite dark and the moon while bright when seen was mainly hidden by clouds.
I got a little confused in my direction finding and wound up a lot higher on the mountain than I wanted under the Eagle chair lift.
I'm standing there having a quick think [very quick as the wind was positively Antarctic at this stage] when a couple of snowmobiles pulled up out of the gloom; riding one was a feller I had met at PV and shared Milo with, Jake had at the same time borrowed and broken one of my spare skis but as it was too small for me and 40+ years old I wasn't bothered.
Jakes boss kindly gave me 3 AAA batteries and I could find my way; about 3 minutes after Jake and his boss had left I was hit by a HUGE gust of wind; ripped my parka hood open and tore off my cap, warm hat and my headlight and because the air was full of ice I was now temporarily blinded and disoriented.
So here I am hatless in what is effectively -30C temperatures and no idea where I was.
Luckily this situation didn't last too long, my vision returned, the moon came out and I could see the lift towers, so I followed the towers down the hill to where I had left the first 2 loads of gear at Eagle Rock on the home trail and got my Patagonia balaclava out , this item of clothing is far too warm for normal use but when it has been pulled out of the rucksacks top pocket I think it has saved my life twice.
Perhaps 3 times now.
So I lost my favourite Nike running cap and my second favourite warm hat but when I made my way up the hill to the sled I did find my headlamp, no batteries tho as these had fallen out ( I have already thought of a fix for this ) and by midnight I was back at Windy Corner and walking down the hill to get my car. I think in total I walked 36 kilometers that day. most of it hauling stuff.


I have already started planning for next year
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby andrewa » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 8:58 pm

Snow camping by yourself is v lonely, and has issues beyond bushwalking by yourself.

25 yrs ago I set off from Guthega to Blue Lake by myself for a week ski touring in poor visibility. I shared part of the trip with 2 other guys who were going elsewhere. I found an abandoned snow cave at Blue Lake, which was handy, as the next 36 hrs were blizzard conditions. When the weather started to clear, there was all this amazing powder snow, but I was scared to venture far from the snow cave in case I had trouble finding it again. A GPS would have solved this, sadly not available then. The skiing was amazing, but there was no one to share the memories with. I came home early. I realised that whilst I like my own company, I do like to share my outdoor experiences with someone else, and so I now wouldn't choose to snow camp by myself.

Ted, as said before, you provided a wonderful opportunity , with much enthusiasm for other forumites to experience snow camping, and it's a shame no one else was able to join you.

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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby dplanet » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 9:25 pm

Missed out your wonderful campsite, Md. My friend and I haven't got a chance to get out skiing this season.
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Tortoise » Tue 20 Aug, 2013 9:40 pm

Hey Moondog,

Just wanted to say I admire your positive attitude, perseverence++, your ingenuity, ability to problem-solve in very challenging situations, and the way you learn from things that go wrong. Here's hoping that next year's trip will reap many rewards and blue skies, adding to the unique memories from this trip. :)
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby rsser » Fri 13 Sep, 2013 6:33 pm

I admire your slogging and repair ingenuity.

And what did you do apart from that?
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby rsser » Fri 13 Sep, 2013 6:50 pm

to add: pics show Fairydown Plateau tent if memory serves. Not 'Paddy made'.

You were half a day's ski on a groomed or flattish road from the resort car park for someone with a pack and XCD skis.

I do hope you replaced the wood you may have burned in the pot belly stove at PV hut.

There are so many freeloaders out there these days.
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Fri 13 Sep, 2013 8:12 pm

Not too many pictures of the PaddyMade but check my other posts for shots of the old Era I used for a short while.

Andrew and I took a tonne of wood up before the season mate so I only burned wood I had supplied, and yes. it is a couple of hours in good weather on a groomed trail.
Try doing the same trail in gale force winds zero visibility and ungroomed and you soon realise the difference.
Mostly I skied and worked on trialling various combinations of sleeping gear and clothing, which was the whole point of this trip
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Thu 24 Oct, 2013 1:32 pm

Last report

Went up to retrieve the cache. Somebody found it and had a good look and tried to break in but the padlocks held, looks like a tarp and set of cheap tent pegs missing and some-one went to the trouble of taking all the firewood Andrew and I dropped off to the hut. I still haven't unpacked. Wind was ferocious last nite and quite a bit on the cold side, hit -6 last nite and lots of snow but not quite enough to need the chains
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby icefest » Thu 24 Oct, 2013 1:44 pm

I didn't realise people would attempt to steal that much. Will you try to hide them further from the hut next time?
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful.
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Thu 24 Oct, 2013 2:00 pm

Nope, I'll use stronger padlocks
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Re: 3 weeks at Pretty Valley and surrounds

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 26 Oct, 2013 9:50 am

I should also mention that all of my gear has been removed as well as a couple of big plastic bags of the rubbish that accumulates over winter. I did do some minor works on the hut tho, I added a large beam to the exterior wall and put in enough big screws to hold a dozen rucksacks and left a few good books for people to read.
The hut developed a bit more of a downhill lean over winter, I don't know how much longer it will remain standing if no serious maintenance is done.
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