3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

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

3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby spike » Tue 27 Jun, 2023 10:58 pm

Hello there,

first post, thanks for having me.

Looking for three day snow shoe trails in Victoria. What are your recommendations?

I've just moved to Victoria. Have a lot of experience hiking on and off track, navigating with a map and compass, and adapting to unforeseen circumstances. Have some out doors qualifications too. But haven't camped in the snow before! And whilst I've done a bit of split boarding in Japan, snow shoes will be new too... But I've got a pair of snow shoes, a 4 season tent, and I'm ready to make the most of this new cold environment!

Any advice on where to start? I've got a 4wd, would love a loop or a bus at one end. What's your best three day snow shoe to get a feel for it all?

Cheers!
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby north-north-west » Wed 28 Jun, 2023 10:40 am

Best intro in Vic is Stirling or the Baw Baw. Two dayers are easy to put together there, three days a bit harder.
Easiest place to put together a three dayer is the Bogong High Plains, and there are plenty of options there. Mt Bogong itself, going up Staircase and down Eskdale, explore out to Bogong West Peak, Quartz Ridge, Cleve Cole. Maybe even the whole Bogong loop via Quartz Ridge, Grey Hills and Timms. River crossing is usually low enough to be straightforward until the thaw.
Start from Trapyard Gap, short road walk to Cope carpark, then follow the AAWT to Jim Junction and out to the Fainters and back; you turn it into a loop from Cope by following various ridges, over Bundara and Jaithmathang. Or similar, starting at Bogong Village, up the Fainters to Jim and loop back around.
Feathertop is great snowshoeing - go up Bon Accord, along the Razorback, return via Bungalow Spur - but that's really just two days and keep away from the cornices on the top. You can do a loop from the Hotham area (park down below and get the bus up because parking costs are insane) over Loch, down past the Red Robin, up via Westons, pick up the AAWT at Jim Jn, and use it to return via Dibbins and Swindlers, with sidetrips at various points to extend it.
There are other parts of the AAWT that make great winter outings, such as Selwyn, Wongungurra, Twins, or Mt Wills or ... blech, what's the name of the high plains up past Buenba and Mt Hope?; whatevs, you can follow the track there a looooong way north, though it's basically out and back. While the road ito the start of the Cowombat Track is officially closed over winter it's drivable and ungated (OK, was when I was still on the mainland; I'm assuming it hasn't changed), so that gives you access to the Cobberas and various routes into Cowombat Flat and the Pilot.
Howitt area is brilliant, but harder to get at in winter. Howitt Rd is gated at the Kellys Lane junction, but you can walk in from there and do all sorts of things. Road access is possible to Cobbler Lake, but there's still a bit of a haul getting from there up to Speculation and the Crosscut, but superb country once you're up.
McMillan Track, starting at the Wellington River and going up over Ligar and looping around to Tamboritha. Cautious on Ligar with snow and ice because it can get a bit loose and slippery.

Get an ice axe if you're going into the steeper off-track stuff, because even snowshoes won't stop you if you start slipping. Snow shovel will help make a better campsite and help build a windbreak if needed. Make sure your stove can handle the cold - fires aren't really an option in much of the high country and hot food and drinks are a big part of keeping safe out there and you may need to melt snow for water. Be careful where you pitch - what trees there are are even more treacherous in winter from the weight of snow and ice. Snow goggles or at least good sunglasses are also important.

Start with daywalks. Get up to Baw Baw or Stirling or even Lake Mtn if there's enough snow, and try out the shoes and get used to them. Then do a gentle overnighter in the same area. Test the gear properly before committing to a longer trip.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Biggles » Wed 28 Jun, 2023 12:07 pm

I assume you have actually "broken in" your snowshoes and used them on corduroy and untracked trails? They can be quite stiff and alien the first time they are slapped on — like crampons that are "10 times bigger than necessary!" :lol: Realilstically, I would not commit myself to an overnight camp without at least a full season of snowshoe use.

Be it noted that snowshoes and poles can be hired at TBJ at the trailheads of Mount Stirling. In fact they can hire just about anything out for people hitting the snow for the first time. Presently the snow is about 1.5km of walking away at a higher elevation; it's just slushy mud and ice at TBJ presently, but the cafe is open! In Mansfield presently, Kevington tomorra, I'm heading to TBJ on Saturday for my snowshoeing sashay (MSR snowhoes), not camping. Would recommend TBJ to Bluff Spur Hut for initial intro to that environment, which is far prettier to pass through in the warmer months than in winter. The camping is dispersed around the Hut. The hut itself has a heater and is stocked with wood. Beyond there is Stirling summit and untracked/ungroomed terrain (often engulfed in peasoupers). Consider a delay to more ambitious trips until you have become accustomed to the more awkward way of shuffling around in s'shoes, especially in deeper, untracked snow and on incline traverses.

Buller is way too commercialised and pricey for my liking. Obviously there are big numbers there during this school holidays.

Webcams at Stirling give you an idea of what is there.
https://www.mtstirling.com.au/plan/live-cams/

Chains required irrespective of 4WD or anything else. Available in Mansfield, Merrijig.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby indented » Wed 28 Jun, 2023 8:25 pm

I did my first snowshoe camp at Mt Stirling this time last year. I severely underestimated how much slower it would be than walking! Was planning a loop over the summit to camp at Bluff Spur Hut, ended up only making it about half that distance before the sun was getting low so camped at the Cricket Pitch and chose a much shorter way back in the morning.

It's a great spot to find out how you like it and there are a number of huts along the way if you overestimate your skill like I did. This year I'm aiming to try out some XC ski lessons instead, as snowshoeing was not for me. If that goes OK I'll consider revisiting the snow camping...
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby spike » Wed 28 Jun, 2023 11:09 pm

Thanks for the advice every one! I'm hoping the snowshoes won't be too foreign after a bit of time with crampons and split boards at various times. Can always turn right back to the car if it isn't working out.

Sounds like a two dayer might be more realistic, I'll aim for that. Definitely want to spend at least one night. Three days was my version of a short introductory time! And I'll give my self plenty of time on the first day to see how its feels. I've already got a pair of old second hand MSR snow shoes. They look pretty "broken in". Or do you mean the operator might need to be broken in :lol:

Thanks for the recommendations, looking forward to scoping them on a map tomorrow!
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Xplora » Thu 29 Jun, 2023 7:13 am

There is snow cover from around the 1400m asl mark on BHP now. It has packed down a bit in the last week and snowshoes would not be needed for a bit. Last I saw (Tuesday) it was 100mm deep at the locked gate on the eastern side of BHP road. I don't need to offer advice on where to go. NNW has covered it all. The time factor was mentioned. Very true. If the snow is firm you can get some speed up but if soft it can be like walking in sand and the extra weight on your feet is noticeable. A winter pack can also be a bit heavier. I have actually taken snowshoes off in really deep soft snow because I was still sinking deep and the snow would fall on the shoe and that meant more weight to drag out of the hole. You would not have conditions like that most days. Spring conditions might see a freeze/thaw. The freeze could be a problem and crampons may be needed. Have fun. Welcome to the mob.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 01 Jul, 2023 8:38 am

Go to Mt. Stirling . Maybe a do a one nighter at Mt. Stirling. Wait for the next weather system to dump some more snow down low. It should arrive within the next 7-10 days from now , July 1st 2023.
I started on snow shoes and snow camping but eventually learned how to Back country XC ski with an overnight pack on my back.
It is a more efficient way to travel in snow.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Biggles » Sun 02 Jul, 2023 1:34 pm

Good luck for a decent dump at Stirling.
For the big expense and effort (and wheel chains that have seen better days!), it has been a very poor quality experience since last Thursday to yesterday (my second day trip) with a lot of drying ground and just spotty, melting snow cover until altitude is gained en route Bluff Spur Hut — which is where the good snow is. I carried my snow shoes for a kilometre. A big group made their way to the hut for camping in what could be estimated to be around 60cm of soft snow at that point. Beyond the hut and ever upward is a trudge in progressively deeper snow. Other than Stirling, a good week exploring that neck of the woods, including Kevington and Woods Point. I'll now look forward to an MTB circuit of the mountain on the November Cup day long weekend.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby spike » Mon 03 Jul, 2023 10:10 pm

Woohoo, thanks for the advice everybody! I'm going to Stirling this weekend, Friday to Sunday. Found a friend to come with me who knows the area well, so even better. Hoping it all goes well enough for something a bit more adventurous later in the season :) I'll probably rent some xc skis for a spin also!

I'll let you know how it goes and seek further advice next week. I have my sites set on feather top or bogong :)


Edit: I've moved the following question to it's own post

What's the best way to get digital topos in Vic? I geolocated PDFs myself and usef them in Alpine Quest in the NT as all gov topos were free. But do you need to buy each individual topo in Vic?? Or are there any good apps for Android that contain the Vic topo data down to 25k or even 50k? Or does anyone have some pdfs they might be happy to share?

I always go out with paper maps too fyi, but digital is a great back up.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Biggles » Tue 04 Jul, 2023 9:44 am

@spike ^

Hopefully there will be a significant dump of snow for your trip, starting with a bit of rain today before freezing over — potentially one big dump after another all the way to next Monday adding to around 40cm. At the moment, TBJ to some distance along Baldy Loop is more of a leisurely bushwalk, a scenic burble amongst the drooping snowgums, moss and lichen-covered rocks and the occasional sculpted bowl around saplings.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby spike » Tue 04 Jul, 2023 8:29 pm

Woohoo, can't wait to walk in the snow!
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby spike » Wed 05 Jul, 2023 5:30 pm

Haha might have spoken too soon, bit of white out and 100km/h winds possible on Saturday... That's for Buller. Does Stirling usually have the same weather patterns?
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Biggles » Wed 05 Jul, 2023 5:36 pm

spike wrote:Haha might have spoken too soon, bit of white out and 100km/h winds possible on Saturday... That's for Buller. Does Stirling usually have the same weather patterns?


On the exposed summit, yes.
At and around Bluff Spur Hut, which is a reasonably sheltered area, much better. I would not venture near the summit in anything near 100km/h; it was bad enough in 40-50km/h photographing the iconic snowgum on the summit in November of 2010 — not just the wind, but the wind chill too. We retreated back down to the hut after 30 minutes and 3 lousy photos...

I think they'd be closing runs on Buller in those winds. Stirling...well, have to wait and see what they do, but the summit area would likely be issued with a warning.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Wed 05 Jul, 2023 10:04 pm

Wait for a good weather window and go in fair weather until you can handle the gnarly stuff in winter. Mt. Stirling is a good place to learn about snow activities but this Sat will be feral in all alpine areas above 1200 M. ASL.
If the storm kicks in at Buller then the weather will be the same at Stirling. Driving in such conditions is best left to experienced snow and ice drivers. Fitting chains will be most likely compulsory , in horrid weather too and all.

If you can wait until in between weather systems such as Wed. next week, July 12th or thereafter you might enjoy yourself more. I am myself possibly looking at skiing at Mt. Stirling on Tuesday 11/7/23 if possible.Huddling in a hut around a wood burner while the wind screams through the trees and being blown over just going out for a wee is not fun.
Ice on the summit area can be treacherous.
If you hire XC skis then get a ski lesson. If you don't there is a chance you could hurt yourself.
Mount Stirling has easy learner ski terrain only when there is decent snow at TBJ.
The Circuit Road is basically flat and that is what you want if you have zero XC skiing experience.
I just did a 3 day pack carry back country XC ski tour of the BHP.
You can see photos at this web link.
https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/trip- ... st-5404355

It took me some years to get to be able to ski with a heavy pack on my back but the time, money , pain , expense of lessons and equipment and esp. persistance have all paid off.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Biggles » Thu 06 Jul, 2023 5:19 pm

Stirling will be closing the summit face and bowls on the weekend ("we are watching that [weather] system"], at this stage from my enquiry, Saturday as blizzards and poor visibility predicted from Saturday.

The snow has started falling this afternoon, which will give a proper winter look to arrivals at TBJ, rather than the dry brown clay and barren tracks! :cry:

Presumealy OP Spike has a Plan B, C, D and E...? You know, maybe top up the GAS and go walkabout, gear-shopping...? I have been in Big Town today, but forgot some things so Saturday is definitely the next trip.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby spike » Mon 10 Jul, 2023 8:28 pm

Canned the over night plans and had a glorious day on Friday, tested out the snow shoes doing a loop around the summit with about half overnight pack weight. Very cruisy, snow shoeing is very intuitive. Going sideways on the iced-up slopes detouring for an explore through Dugout bowl and Stanley bowl required a bit of concentration though :lol: My partner and I will take our baby for an overnighter to camp near bluff spur hut late winter early spring for sure.

I noticed on the map there is a road out to Craig's hut from the north. Is it open in the winter?

Any other recommendations for a two-dayer somewhere with a bit less grooming? It was great to test the equipment out on the groomed runs and meticulously marked trails of Stirling, but would love to put the shoes through their paces on some more difficult terrain. I'll only have weekends until the next school holidays.

Glad we didn't stay over night, it was already pretty uncomfortable at the summit on Friday.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby north-north-west » Mon 10 Jul, 2023 8:49 pm

A longer and harder daytrip would be Buller West Spur. Overnight try the Baw Baw or Bogong High Plains or Feathertop.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Xplora » Tue 11 Jul, 2023 6:15 am

spike wrote:I noticed on the map there is a road out to Craig's hut from the north. Is it open in the winter?


This road is closed for the winter.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Biggles » Tue 11 Jul, 2023 9:06 am

Xplora wrote:
spike wrote:I noticed on the map there is a road out to Craig's hut from the north. Is it open in the winter?


This road is closed for the winter.


True. Peculiarly though, you can go up there on a patrol skidoo. There were some sort of "joy rides" up to the summit when I was there, whipping along the Bluff Spur Trail which was most unusual.

Nothing by way of road nor track re-opens until Melbourne Cup Day 'long weekend' on 2nd November. Mountain biking time! :D
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Baeng72 » Thu 13 Jul, 2023 6:17 pm

Excuse the slight digression and interruption.
Is there a way to walk from Mountain Creek campsite to Staircase Spur trailhead that has bridges instead of fording the creeks along the 2km-ish section?
I'm sure I've seen them on webpages, but I've only ever walked through the creek following Mt. Creek track.
GetLost shows various trails not following the creek, so not sure if they exist or a bridged...
Asking for a friend. ;)
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby indented » Sun 16 Jul, 2023 6:12 pm

Baeng72 wrote:Excuse the slight digression and interruption.
Is there a way to walk from Mountain Creek campsite to Staircase Spur trailhead that has bridges instead of fording the creeks along the 2km-ish section?
I'm sure I've seen them on webpages, but I've only ever walked through the creek following Mt. Creek track.
GetLost shows various trails not following the creek, so not sure if they exist or a bridged...
Asking for a friend. ;)
mtcreek.png


From memory each of the streams along the road either had a bridge or stepping stones when I was last up there. There was no need for wet feet until coming back from Eskdale Spur where there were less stepping stones. Some of them were off to the side of the 4WD track a few metres though.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Baeng72 » Mon 17 Jul, 2023 6:22 am

indented wrote:From memory each of the streams along the road either had a bridge or stepping stones when I was last up there. There was no need for wet feet until coming back from Eskdale Spur where there were less stepping stones. Some of them were off to the side of the 4WD track a few metres though.

Thanks, I can't recall the bridges, and think I've just forwarded the creek.
I was planning on heading up Sat. Morning up Staircase, camping somewhere around treeline, and then coming back to Mountain Creek via Eskdale, but weather seemed a bit windy Saturday.
I ended up camping at Mountain Creek, ran unexpectedly into a mysterious man who walks, who was going skiing at Falls then next day.
He suggested drive up to Camp Creek Gap and go up Eskdale on the Sunday (16th).


I did that, was no drama in 2WD, and was going well until after Granite Flat Spur junction.
It was perfect conditions, snow was still hard, so snow shoes were working fine, blue sky, barely a breeze.
After that, I managed to find a way to *&%$#! it up...

TMI warning....
I started feeling crap and turned back at 1787m (according to watch).
The joys of gastro or similar.
I lost one of my YakTrax on the way down too near the Mountain Creek Crossing, I had a quick retrace of steps but couldn't find it....


Bit of a disappointing trip, except for fireside chat with the bush raconteur PCV.

These photos don't show how steep it is, or felt at least...
WHQM7658.jpg
About as high as I got

IMG_6425.jpg
Quick way down
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Biggles » Mon 17 Jul, 2023 5:15 pm

Glory be...
Bogong via Staircase up and Eksdale Spur down is hard enough in Spring and Summer for battle-worn knees, never mind about doing it in snow and ice! :shock:
I don't deny there are souls out there who relish this sort of exposure, but having gone up Bogong 3x and and twice endured Spring blizzards at Tadgell and Hell Points (but of course!) I vowed afterward to keep Bogong as a special treat for the sun-drenched, sublime days and nights of summer.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby north-north-west » Tue 18 Jul, 2023 7:59 am

Ah, Biggles, you know not what you say. Bogong in the snow is stunningly sublime.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Biggles » Tue 18 Jul, 2023 3:57 pm

north-north-west wrote:Ah, Bioggles, you know not what you say. Bogong in the snow is stunningly sublime.



:lol:

Huddling in a circle at Tadgell Point (or much worst, Hell Gap), holding hands and singing Kumbaya (ah, thems were tough Leaders in the VNPA way back then, eh?) while spears of rain lash our legs is not my idea of sublime, stunning or otherwise. :?

Having said that, I have walked in and thoroughly enjoyed the brilliantine of blue alpine skies and blinding white of snow at Mount Stirling summit — fine and dandy until the fog rolls in and there is nowt to see beside a GPS held up to the nose... :lol:
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby north-north-west » Tue 18 Jul, 2023 5:07 pm

Just because it was like that then doesn't mean it is always like that in winter.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Camminata » Tue 18 Jul, 2023 5:20 pm

16/7/23 took my visiting gf from Thailand for her first camp experience, fortunate she kept warm and enjoyed it very much , icy conditions with a approx 2km to snow from TBJ , I feel sorry for you xc skiers its crappy season so far. Camped at around Bluff Hut was keen to camp on summit but she wasn't keen on walking too much further with sore legs , good effort I say anyway :)
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Baeng72 » Wed 19 Jul, 2023 6:50 pm

After reviewing the footage, a clear victory to the Big Fella...
https://youtu.be/7CxGVxI4EBI
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Thu 20 Jul, 2023 6:42 pm

I have been to the summit of Mt. Bogong in winter and up to the top of Mt. Feather top in the snow season. Back in my snow shoe days that was my kind of thing. Most of the Mt. Bogong Club are mad keen back country snow boarders and Telemark skiers.
The XC ski season in 2023 is not that bad if you stick to Falls Creek /BHP and Perisher.
Some of the other places for XC skiing and B.C. Telemark skiing are unreliable for snow. It is part of global warming IMHO.
Be sure to wear eye protection in the snow. Snow Blindness is a real thing.
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Re: 3-day Snow Shoe Recommendations

Postby Xplora » Sat 22 Jul, 2023 7:38 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:Most of the Mt. Bogong Club are mad keen back country snow boarders and Telemark skiers.
The XC ski season in 2023 is not that bad if you stick to Falls Creek /BHP and Perisher.
Some of the other places for XC skiing and B.C. Telemark skiing are unreliable for snow. It is part of global warming IMHO.
Be sure to wear eye protection in the snow. Snow Blindness is a real thing.


Struggling to find the relevance here. Aren't we talking about snowshoe recommendations?

Anyway, this is the year you are doing your winter trip CC hut via Mulhauser and the Long Spur isn't it? Given the considerable effort put in to make it suitable for you I think you should.
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