Mt. Kosciuszko via Hannels Spur Track - UPDATE

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Mt. Kosciuszko via Hannels Spur Track - UPDATE

Postby the_machine » Tue 14 Jul, 2020 2:11 pm

Hi All,
Since I really appreciated the insight I got from other posts on the Internet about this track during my preparation, I thought I would give an official update after completing this walk last weekend (or better over the past 5 days I should say).
This was a mid-winter solo ascent and descent the same way to Mt. Kosciuszko via Hannels Spur track, starting an finishing at Geehi Flats campground.

Day 1 (Thursday 9th July): Geehi Flats to Moiras Flat campsite - 5.5hrs (incl. 30 min lunch break), weather was clear, a bit overcast but with some sunny periods, no wind, around -1 at night.

Day 2 (Friday July 10th): Moiras Flat campsite to Muellers Pass 'campsite' - 5hrs, weather partly cloudy but clear all the way to the top with late afternoon sunny periods, no wind (which was amazing considering the location!), around zero degrees daytime, -3 during the night. Used snow shoes from just after Byatts Camp to Muellers Pass.

Day 3 (Saturday 11th July): 'Rest' day - hike to Mt. K summit and walk around the area (mainly to stay warm), weather was heavy overcast, no sun (except 10 min at sunrise) but no winds and good views.

Day 4 (Sunday 12th July): Descent the same way in return, Muellers Pass to Moiras Flat campsite - 3.5hrs, weather deteriorated severely during the night with stronger winds, fog and heavy snow fall. Visibility was very low from Muellers Pass to about Byatts Camp, so had to check my GPS every few min to stay on track (and even then I got off track a few times and had to correct my path or back track). Arriving at Moiras flat mid afternoon, weather was getting worse with more rain than snow, very damp conditions but at least there was no wind in that spot. Used snow shoes from Muellers Pass to just after the tree line past Byatts Camp.

Day 5 (Monday 13th July): Moiras Flat campsite to car at Geehi Flats - 3hrs, weather turned ugly over night with heavy snow falls but it was only around zero degrees, so the snow was very heavy. This resulted in all tree branches hanging very low, making the track hard to see in many places and when walking through you got all the snow load on top of you...After another 200m or so descent, this snow turned into heavy rain which went on for the rest of the hike. I was pleased it 'only' took me 3 hrs for the descent from Moiras Flat compared to the 5.5hrs up.

Track conditions:
Geehi Flats to Moiras Campsite: Track is generally still quite free from overgrowth thanks to the clearing that was done over the last 2 years. As a result, navigation is not an issue at all with clear orange triangle markers on trees placed regularly. I would say the only area where growth seems to have come back and especially an increasing number of fallen trees are an issue is about 1-1.5hrs before coming into Moiras flat. There the fallen trees and vegetation started to get a bit annoying.

Moiras Campsite to Muellers Pass: As with the last 1-1.5hrs below Moiras Flat, the first hour going up from Moiras Flat is also starting to see increasing vegetation that makes walking with a big pack a bit cumbersome in some places. Navigation is still not a problem and fallen trees are not too bad in this section, however the track is very narrow between all the scrub. Once you get to the tree line it becomes easier.

During clear views, navigation from Byatts Camp to Muellers Pass is ok as you can see quite a number of rock cairns although I still had to use my map quite a bit to pick a decent path through the rocky areas when there was no cairn in site.
On the way down in bad weather - cairns are hard to see if at all, especially when covered in fresh snow. Putting some snow poles there along the route would really help. But I guess not many people attempt the route in winter...

Overall a great trip but this track is probably not something I will do again any time soon :-). Next time definitely not in winter cause managing a pack of approx. 26kg for the entire length was not pleasant.

Couple of details of the kit I carried (26kg in total):
- Hilleberg Soulo Tent
- Oneplanet winter light -16 sleeping bag
- Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite + Thermarest Prolite sleeping pad (2 layers of insulation)
- Jetboil stove
- MSR snow shoes
- Grivel ice axe and shovel combo
- 80l Osprey backpack

Hope this info helps some people wanting to do this track in the near future.
Moiras Flat on Day 1
Byatts Camp on Day 2
Sunset at Muellers Pass on Day 2
Sunrise at Muellers Pass on Day 3
Byatts Camp on Day 4
Moiras Flat on morning of Day 5
Snowed under track around Moiras Flat on Day 5
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Re: Mt. Kosciuszko via Hannels Spur Track - UPDATE

Postby Zapruda » Tue 14 Jul, 2020 2:50 pm

Thanks for the update and good effort on the ascent. Sad to see the old sign at Byatts camp gone. The new one wasn’t there when I last went up.

One issue with Hannels is that it needs constant track maintenance which I doubt is in the NPWS budget at the moment. The snow, wind, dead trees and steepness all result in a track that is bound to revert back to its old overgrown mess which is what originally happened. It is certainly not a track that can be maintained simply by being walked on and even if it was I doubt enough people walk it for that to happen.

I’d really hate to see new snow poles up there. I’d imagine they might lead a few people astray who find them at the at the top of the valley rather than at Byatts.
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Re: Mt. Kosciuszko via Hannels Spur Track - UPDATE

Postby the_machine » Tue 14 Jul, 2020 3:59 pm

Totally agree around the difficulty to keep the track maintained. Between the day I went up and the day I went back down again - there had been at least 5 additional big fallen trees just in the section 1hr above and below Moiras Flat. Must have been from the heavy snow and wind. So I can only imagine how this looks like within the span of 1 year. And with that track difficulty, you won't get many people to walk up and down all the time with maintenance kit.
I got no idea how many people do this walk every year but I doubt its sufficient to justify the budget and effort as you say. Looks like I got lucky with my trip and the state of the track at the moment.
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Re: Mt. Kosciuszko via Hannels Spur Track - UPDATE

Postby mirv2535 » Wed 05 Aug, 2020 7:35 pm

actually I volunteered a few years back on the track maintenance, and from what I understand the budget was not very much as all, we had a team of volunteers , this was then followed up last year with a crew of volunteers helping NPWS and I think the plan is for an ongoing bunch of vols doing a sweep through each year. I must say it was alot of fun spending 4 days working on the track
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Re: Mt. Kosciuszko via Hannels Spur Track - UPDATE

Postby kanangra » Sat 08 Aug, 2020 4:02 pm

Fantastic! Great trip and amazing photos. Looks like a fair bit of snow up there.

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Re: Mt. Kosciuszko via Hannels Spur Track - UPDATE

Postby Stew63 » Sat 15 Aug, 2020 7:49 pm

Great effort the_machine! I've done Hannels about 5 times over the past 3 years twice before it was cleared - but not yet in winter. After the HS clearing/recutting I have encountered hikers on every trip on Hannels. On my last trip 27th Dec '19 I encountered 2xsolo hikers and one small group of 4 on a single day - so it is being used.

mirv2535 - Thankyou so much - your efforts are MUCH appreciated - I think I know who your are from the track work photos :D
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