Mt Saint Gwinear

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Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby Travis22 » Wed 06 Aug, 2014 4:24 pm

A friend and I decided late Saturday that with nothing else on a hike around Saint Gwinear in the snow would be a bit of fun.

We set off around 5pm with the deadline being 7pm at Erica so we could hire some snow shoes or XC skis, which we would decide as we drove towards there. In the end we decided snow shoes would be the safer option given we'd be traveling on the snow during the night.

Arriving at the car park we observed even less snow then we had seen in the passed month there and we noticed there was someone at the rangers quarters and as we were getting ready to head off Ranger Wayne came over to say hello and sus out what on earth we were up to. He was great to chat to and nearly an hour later my friend and I were on our way. It was nice and warm in the rangers office but we couldn't stay there all night!

Wayne mentioned it had rained quite a bit throughout the day but said there should still be quite a lot of snow out there. We stopped walking 500m from the car park to put on our snowshoes, then again 5minutes later to put on our waterproof jackets as it started raining, not really heavily but together with the gusty wind it would prove quite annoying.

It was slow going and we stopped pretty frequently to minimise sweating. Visibility was pretty poor with the reflections from our headlamps on the rain / snow / breathing fog etc so it was just one step after the other for a long time!

On our way to the summit we passed a tent off to the side of the track, I was surprised the ranger had said there were a few groups camping out there which kinda disappointed me as I thought we'd be the only ones out there but we certainly were the only ones silly enough to head out in the middle of the night.

The wind was really howling around the summit but we stopped for a couple of quick photos and phone calls before continuing on, in the wind it was really amazing how rapidly we would cool down compared to when we would rest to cool down out of the wind.

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Setting off from the summit we followed some ski tracks out in the wrong direction. I continued to monitor our position on my gps but it seemed we were only heading further and further away from where the track should have been so we looked around for some tracks which looked to be heading where we wanted to go and we eventually found some and set off to cut back across to the proper marked track.

Within a couple hundred meters max of the track I fell through some snow and ended up in freezing cold water just passed my knees in depth. Getting out with the snow shoes on wasn't easy and by the time I was out I was very cold and wet, the yowies were really splashing about as I attempted to get out of the water numerous times!

Naturally I was then rather keen to call it a night and setup camp ASAP so I could get out of my wet gear and start warming up.

We were very close to the rock shelter so we decided to push on and setup camp somewhere near there if we could find it. We arrived at the shelter maybe 15minutes later and promptly started compacting the snow in an area where we would put our tents up. Because of my wet gear I was really rushing to get the tent up so I could attempt to warm up my feet which were really quite painful so it wasn't a terribly pretty job pitching the tent using mostly small tree branches found on the snow and my walking poles but it worked quite well. It was reasonable gusty where we were so I put out all of my tie down ropes too.

By about 1am we ready to cook a quick meal and hit the sack. I really struggled to get my metho trangia burner lit. It took me about 10 frustrating minutes!! I was originally using my fire steel but eventually my stubbornness wore thin and I switch to my bic lighter but even with the lighter it took a lot, lot more effort then expected. After eating I decided id better get up for a quick pee before going to bed as I didn't want to be climbing out of the tent in an hour or two's time for a pee then once I was nice and warm.

We woke to a near perfect bluebird day, after a warm cooked breakfast we melted and boiled some snow for the hike out. While having a wander around camp we found another group of campers nearby, they were a diverse group from all across Victoria with the scouts. They certainly looked better prepared then us with foot boxes dug out at the ends of their tents, ground sheets, proper snow pegs for their tents and a reasonably impressive igloo built in camp however no one in their group was keen to sleep in it as they were worried the rain might have effected it's structural integrity.

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All morning I had to walk around in my wet sox and boots, right before setting off I put on my dry sox and put a plastic bag over each foot to try and keep my feet dry for the walk back to the car. The beauty of walking in at night meant the scenery was all new to us on the way out.

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Last edited by Travis22 on Wed 06 Aug, 2014 6:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby Travis22 » Wed 06 Aug, 2014 4:32 pm

The walk out was really enjoyable and a lot faster then the night before, however we were certainly happy to arrive back at the car and get out of the snowshoes and I was especially happy to get out of my hiking boots!

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While the snow levels were poor around the car park area there was no shortage of snow higher up with what I'd estimate to be over 1m of snow in many places out there out near the Gwinear flats I had a few post holing incidents where an entire leg would vanish into the snow! However the snow condition was very poor and far from ideal XC skiing conditions.

Despite my little incident with the creek I really enjoyed getting out there. Being somewhat incapacitated around camp was a good eye opener to what can go wrong and having someone else to assist was greatly appreciated and crucial in making the best of a bad situation.


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Last edited by Travis22 on Wed 06 Aug, 2014 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby andrewbish » Wed 06 Aug, 2014 4:43 pm

Outstanding post, Travis. I laughed and laughed! This sounds just like one of my trip reports, with plenty of misadventure. I love your matter-of-fact delivery of what was clearly hell on earth at times!

A few things I've picked up on my trips out into the snow:
- start early! Earlier than you think.
- Yowies are not the greatest snowshoes. Stick with MSRs, or equiv.
- packing snow pegs - at least enough for the key stakes - will save you the stress of finding branches, etc. You can buy them for $5 or make them out of PVC tubing.
- pack a wide mouthed bottle to use as a pee bottle. Leaning to the side and 'getting your gear out' is a whole lot less stressful that getting out of your bag and into the freezing night air
- in the evening, put on a pair of dry socks, then plastic bags, then your shoes/boots (which you did). As a variation of this approach, put on the wet socks, then a plastic bag, then the dry socks, then another plastic bag, followed by your shoes/boots.
- pack a snow shovel, then you too can have trench in your vestibule so you can sit comfortably in the doorway of your tent.
- pack a small pruning saw, so you can get firewood
- pack some kind of fire accelerant eg. Vicks rubbed into cotton wool, or even fire starters (tho they're smelly)

Good on you for getting out there!
Andrew
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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby walkon » Wed 06 Aug, 2014 5:05 pm

It is great up there lots to see and do. Nothing wrong with your stick pegs, they don't warm up and melt the snow when a warm wind blows, then fall out. Your pretty gutsy camping under trees in the snow though I have to admit.

I went through the snow and ended up in nuts deep icy cold water on Wellington Plains the other day, officially almost had an innie and I thought the saying about the balls falling off they were so cold was true they were so tucked up, you felt as if your skin was burning. Got changed very quickly and had a warm meal and cuppa ASAP. Funny enough the water only wet the top of my socks around the ankle, changed the lot though and soon recovered. I marked the spot where it happened on the gps as it was nowhere near a Creek or any wet spots I know of, can't say I really enjoyed the experience.
Cheers Walkon

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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby neilmny » Wed 06 Aug, 2014 5:10 pm

Very enjoyable read and photos Travis thanks for posting.
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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby GBW » Wed 06 Aug, 2014 6:23 pm

Great report and photos Travis22. And thanks for the helpful tips on camping in the snow andrewbish. I also had problems with my tent pegs in the snow. Not getting them in, but getting them out after the snow turned to solid ice. They were buried horizontaly (a method I saw on the hilleberg site) and I busted the toilet trowel trying to dig them out. At that point I turned to Bridgette and said..."We need snow pegs and a shovel"
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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby walkon » Wed 06 Aug, 2014 7:16 pm

GBW wrote:Great report and photos Travis22. And thanks for the helpful tips on camping in the snow andrewbish. I also had problems with my tent pegs in the snow. Not getting them in, but getting them out after the snow turned to solid ice. They were buried horizontaly (a method I saw on the hilleberg site) and I busted the toilet trowel trying to dig them out. At that point I turned to Bridgette and said..."We need snow pegs and a shovel"


Gbw often when the pegs freeze in, shovels wont dig out the peg, had to use an ice Axe a few times. Would have broken the shovel. If you need to Deadman the peg (burying it sideways), I use a sick and tie aloop of rope around it then secure the tent off the loop, if it freezes in you can undo/cut one end of the rope and pull the rope out, saves loosing $5 peg if you can't dig it out.

You stated about digging a tent site in on a previous post, really you should stomp the tent area down to compact the snow so it doesn't sink any further, then you can dig a wall around the tent. If you are remote I stomp a little track to a toilet area, this stops you sinking down and filing your dry socks with snow.

Never camp under trees, snow and worse ice fall down from them regularly. People I know have had ice fall down and pierce the tent . Also a mate came back to his tent to find a clump of snow had fallen out of the tree smashing the poles and tearing it when the snow landed.

Will start a thread on snow camping tips I think
Cheers Walkon

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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby Travis22 » Wed 06 Aug, 2014 8:03 pm

Thanks guys glad you enjoyed the read.

Thanks for the tips Andrew. A snow shovel has been added to the shopping list before next years season. And I will make up some pegs, I'd hoped to make up some pegs but simply ran out of time.

I had a hatchet with me but given the short trip I didn't think it was worth getting a fire going. If we were going to be out for another night I'd have built a fire to dry out my shoes.

((The owner of the tent we'd passed on the way up had a good tip for trying to dry a wet shoe while out. He suggested boiling water and filling a drink bottle and placing it in the shoe to cool. He had successfully dried one wet shoe using this method on a previous trip)). I don't think it would have worked on my shoes they were 100% soaked through. But I will certainly give it a try one day I'm sure.

I was really impressed with the Yowie snow shoes. However I feel they have priced themselves out of the market, $300 when you can get MSR Ascents for $250USD... I will look to buy some snowshoes over summer, hopefully they will be a little better priced , even a used pair would be ok. I have some aggressive Petzl crampons so feel the Yowies would be a good general use snowshoe (but not for $300!).

My original plan was to do deadman anchors in the snow for the tent but with the clock ticking I just took the quick easy option so I could get into the tent and out of my shoes.

The trees under which we camped had zero snow on them otherwise we'd have camped out in the clear. With all of the rain that had come down before we got there and while we were there I felt ok camped where we were but I certainly agree with the warning.

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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby Travis22 » Wed 06 Aug, 2014 8:17 pm

walkon wrote:

You stated about digging a tent site in on a previous post, really you should stomp the tent area down to compact the snow so it doesn't sink any further, then you can dig a wall around the tent. If you are remote I stomp a little track to a toilet area, this stops you sinking down and filing your dry socks with snow.



Ahaha yes I can attest to the toilet track idea, while going for a pee in the night (yeh I drink too much water!) I took off my warm socks and stood bare foot in my wet shoes and walked about 7-8m from the tent when out of the blue I post holed one leg about 2ft down and when I pulled my leg up... You guessed it the shoe remained down in the snow, I lost balance and kinda stood back where the shoe was, burying it in snow. So it's 4am and I'm in my undies busting for a pee freezing my balls off trying to dig out my boot that's now full of snow...... Oh the joy lol! (At least I was bare foot otherwise if have gotten my spare sox wet too).

I wasn't going to talk about the innie factor :)

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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby andrewbish » Wed 06 Aug, 2014 9:29 pm

Travis22 wrote:
I wasn't going to talk about the innie factor :)

Travis.


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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby stry » Thu 07 Aug, 2014 9:05 am

Thanks for the report and photos. Well done.

Personally I find it better to put the wet boots on over the dry socks at pee time. Unless the boots are absolutely dripping, sodden wet, this seems to work for me. The socks don't pick up much moisture and my feet, and the socks, stay warm.
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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby Travis22 » Thu 07 Aug, 2014 9:50 am

Hi Stry, yeh this is the first time I'd ever seriously saturated my boots. (Old boot were the original Scarpa SL's and current new boots are the SL Activ) normally if they get just a brief dunking even fully submerged, they don't take on any noticeable amount of water but given the time I was 'stuck' in the water they were 100% soaked through. Even after getting home I could squash down on the innersole and water would come up.

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Re: Mt Saint Gwinear

Postby Lophophaps » Thu 07 Aug, 2014 11:22 am

An interesting report and great pictures about a late trip up the mountain. I've fallen into water through snow, ***** cold! On one occasion it took over two hours before my feet sort of warmed. The upper reaches of the Snowy river proved interesting - the ski kept catching on the lip of ice. Pox!

All my snow tents are self-supporting. The storm guys are sometimes used, but not that much. The sliders are on the tent end so that all that is needed on the other end is to wrap a peg or stick. If the snow end is frozen solid, the worst case is that the guy can be cut.

Perhaps a temperature scale could be developed - length. I regard 20 mm as quite cold. Maybe also spherical diameter... I think I'll go the beach, in Queensland.
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