Snowshoeing Feathertop/Hotham Area

Victoria specific bushwalking discussion.
Forum rules
Victoria specific bushwalking discussion. Please avoid publishing details of access to sensitive areas with no tracks.

Snowshoeing Feathertop/Hotham Area

Postby Ethan Yarnall » Tue 24 May, 2022 10:33 pm

I and a group of friends have planned a 4 day, 3 night hike in the Hotham/Feathertop area, 28th-31st of May.
The planed route is starting in Harrietville to Feathertop, to Diamantina horse Yards, up past Weston Hut, returning on the AAWT, summit Hotham, cross the Razorback and descend via Bungalow Spur track.
For those that have done this route/similar routes, do you have any suggestions?

I have some experience hiking and camping in snow and am semi-familiar with the area, although with the Hotham weather resort (https://www.mthotham.com.au/on-mountain ... y-forecast) predicting up to 60cm of snow over the 30/31st of May, I'm worried I'm unprepared.
Although I have seen huge discrepancy between different weather reporting stations. With the temperatures forecasts varying more than 4 degrees. What weather reports have others found the most reliable?

Additionally, I hold a soft spot for Derrick's hut and I would love to be able to spend the night there. Is this possible at this time of year? Or is it technically not allowed as it is within Hotham resort boundaries?

Lastly, does anyone have any 'hacks' or 'tips' for camping/hiking in the snow that might come in handy for my trip?
One that I've found is placing a plastic bag between your socks and shoes whilst walking through snow to keep your feet dry. Although it sounds comical, it is a cheap way to keep your feet dry and works surprisingly well. (Although this only works in cold conditions were your feet wont sweat).

Thanks for all your suggestions,
Ethan Yarnall
Nothofagus cunninghamii
Nothofagus cunninghamii
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue 31 Aug, 2021 10:08 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Snowshoeing Feathertop/Hotham Area

Postby Baeng72 » Wed 25 May, 2022 5:31 am

Hi Ethan,

There's a lot of experts who might be able to help you with tips & tricks regarding snow/weather and how to handle that.

I've done the tracks your route seems to follow (I'm guessing down Diamantina Spur to get to West Kiewa Logging road), and the only one that is a bit tricky is the Diamantina spur as there's a few rocky, steep bits.
If you start early, and walk a fair bit each day you can do the loop in 3 days, but it depends on your gear, fitness and weather and what you want to do. I'm sure a fit person could do it in 2.

The Razorback is special, but if the weather is getting nasty (which it might be on your 3rd/4th day if the snow is coming), head down the Bon Accord Spur to loose altitude instead of staying exposed.

My understanding is that Derrick is OK to camp at, but I might be wrong.


I hiked from Hotham to Pole 333 via Basalt Temple on the Bogong High Plains and then down Westons Spur and back to Hotham last May when there was a bit of snow, and often I was up to mid-calf each step in sections near Mt Loch and on the BHP.
I just used trail runners and woollen socks and let my feet get wet.
I never felt cold, in fact I think it stopped me heating up as it was like walking up a sand dune and the occasional time of breaking through icy crust into a cold puddle felt OK.
It got tiresome quickly, very slow going, and snowshoes seemed like a good idea.
Mind you I had perfect blue skies, if the weather was nasty I wouldn't have gone, as I have no idea how to handle a blizzard. :)

Some videos of how not to do walking in snow from last May and recent March hike:
https://youtu.be/l04lO_-L3jk
https://youtu.be/RFDXGhJ_JPA
Baeng72
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
 
Posts: 838
Joined: Wed 07 Aug, 2019 2:29 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Snowshoeing Feathertop/Hotham Area

Postby Xplora » Wed 25 May, 2022 7:50 am

I don't think snow is going to be a problem. Not much there now and mostly rain for the time frame so what snow is there will be gone. Chance of snow on Monday and Tuesday but you can expect to get a drenching from Sunday night (early Monday morning) and a strong wind in your face on Tuesday over the Razorback. Not looking like nice weather for that. I would leave the snowshoes behind as you will be carrying them on your back. Doubt you would even bother putting them on but maybe on the Razorback for Tuesday (if it does snow hard overnight). Still would not be worth carrying them all that way just for that. Should not be an issue camping at Derrick hut this time of year. From Westons to Derrick hut is easy on day 3 but and you have some options for the last day as mentioned above. It is a comfortable 4 day walk and possible in 3 but maybe not as enjoyable.
Xplora
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1413
Joined: Sat 01 Aug, 2015 7:24 am
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Snowshoeing Feathertop/Hotham Area

Postby Hiking Exped » Wed 25 May, 2022 8:21 am

Agree with Xplora the current forecast looks like rain and just a minimal snow risk. The forecast can be very unpredictable up high this time of year though. Last Wednesday/Thursday snow was forecast down to 1200 and looked a heavy dump and I almost binned a trip up around Howitt. In the end very little snow about even above 1500, but very wet instead.

My biggest tips are always be prepared for white out conditions up high when snow is possible. So have good safety/escape route and bearings ready mapped and practiced.

Then look after your batteries, gas, water, food and anything else that if freezes will spoil your trip.

I find I always need more food hiking in snow or when conditions are freezing too. Might be my age, but worth factoring in your energy requirements.

Enjoy whatever weather you get :D
Hiking Exped
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Wed 13 Oct, 2021 8:05 am
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Snowshoeing Feathertop/Hotham Area

Postby Xplora » Wed 25 May, 2022 8:47 am

I don't see Tuesday weather being very nice for the Razorback. A few days to decide if there are any changes to the plan. Forecast models are still strong and not changing but it is not worth being drawn into the hype of a 3 foot storm just yet. These are not conditions I would wilfully go out into but have faced them before out of necessity. Tuesday is more likely to bring snow but when that has happened to me on the last day of a walk or even in the middle, I would just post hole and put up with it instead of lugging snowshoes for days without need.

I suppose I am saying, make sure you have a back up plan just in case things do turn bad.
Xplora
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1413
Joined: Sat 01 Aug, 2015 7:24 am
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Snowshoeing Feathertop/Hotham Area

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Wed 25 May, 2022 9:49 am

Fierce winds in the Vic. Alps are part of the GFS and ECMWF modelling for May 31st 2022 with wind driven snow. BOM are slow to come to the party for this low front but they will. If you must go out in the area then wait until Wed. June 1st and be prepared to bail out .
Take snow pegs for your tent and a snow shovel. IMHO we will get 40 cms minimum of snow by June 1st.
I have been up and down Mt. Feathertop, Bon Accord Spur, Baw Baw , Mt. Stirling , Mt. Neklse and Mt. Bogong , Carruthers Peak ( NSW ) etc. in early winter, mid winter and spring snow.
It helps if at least one person in your party has some past match fitness and experience in snow in these places.
I have taken VNPA groups up Mt. Stirling, Mt. FT and Mt. Bogong etc. in deep snow and almost zero visiibility in the past. I had no compunction about turning the group around at the tree line when the I saw what the conditions were like on the day.
paidal_chalne_vala
Lagarostrobos franklinii
Lagarostrobos franklinii
 
Posts: 2222
Joined: Sun 22 Jan, 2012 10:30 pm
ASSOCIATED ORGANISATIONS: VNPA
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Snowshoeing Feathertop/Hotham Area

Postby Xplora » Wed 25 May, 2022 4:27 pm

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:Fierce winds in the Vic. Alps are part of the GFS and ECMWF modelling for May 31st 2022 with wind driven snow. BOM are slow to come to the party for this low front but they will. If you must go out in the area then wait until Wed. June 1st and be prepared to bail out .
Take snow pegs for your tent and a snow shovel. IMHO we will get 40 cms minimum of snow by June 1st.
I have been up and down Mt. Feathertop, Bon Accord Spur, Baw Baw , Mt. Stirling , Mt. Neklse and Mt. Bogong , Carruthers Peak ( NSW ) etc. in early winter, mid winter and spring snow.
It helps if at least one person in your party has some past match fitness and experience in snow in these places.
I have taken VNPA groups up Mt. Stirling, Mt. FT and Mt. Bogong etc. in deep snow and almost zero visiibility in the past. I had no compunction about turning the group around at the tree line when the I saw what the conditions were like on the day.


You say this in the morning and this afternoon you were calling a downgrade on a weather forum. Lesson - don't get drawn into the hype as it is still too far out to call. Post this sort of stuff in your weather forum chats but I feel it can be misleading here. It is imperative people are prepared for bad weather in the mountains but I don't see the need for snow pegs and shovel just now. There will be some weather coming during this period but if you look at what was supposed to be coming tomorrow, then Friday, then Saturday and then Sunday and is not now you will understand there is no crystal ball. We still have to wait until a few days out to be sure. It may be the way you say but I am not going to call it just yet. That is my experience from living in the mountains.

I think Baeng72 nailed it. If things are not good for you on the Razorback you can head down Bon Accord spur.
Xplora
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1413
Joined: Sat 01 Aug, 2015 7:24 am
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Snowshoeing Feathertop/Hotham Area

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Mon 30 May, 2022 9:18 am

BOM have used the words:" snow, BLIZZARD and high winds " for May 31st for many parts of the Vic. Alps weather forecast.
paidal_chalne_vala
Lagarostrobos franklinii
Lagarostrobos franklinii
 
Posts: 2222
Joined: Sun 22 Jan, 2012 10:30 pm
ASSOCIATED ORGANISATIONS: VNPA
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Snowshoeing Feathertop/Hotham Area

Postby Xplora » Tue 31 May, 2022 5:53 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:BOM have used the words:" snow, BLIZZARD and high winds " for May 31st for many parts of the Vic. Alps weather forecast.


The actual words used by BOM were Gusty winds and possible blizzards I did not doubt there would be some kind of weather come through but so far there is about 4 inches of snow on the ground which, to my way of thinking, does not warrant carrying snow shovels, snow pegs or snowshoes. Today will have a bit more snow and some wind but there is a good out and no tent to setup if the plan went ahead. We will just have to wait. I believe offering advice from experience is valuable but we are not the gatekeepers of the mountain. People have to take responsibility for their own experience. Predicting weather is difficult but you can almost guarantee some sort of bad weather on any extended hike in the mountains this time of year.
Xplora
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1413
Joined: Sat 01 Aug, 2015 7:24 am
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male


Return to Victoria

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest