Alpine huts in winter

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Alpine huts in winter

Postby Dexter » Tue 05 Mar, 2019 3:00 pm

Hey all,

For a long time I've wanted to photograph some Alpine huts in the snow, and just wondering if anyone has suggestions of how to best go about this. I have seen there's a few huts not too far from Falls Creek. I thought perhaps I could drive up, or bus up to falls creek, hire some snowshoes and walk from there. It only looks like a couple of hours away in the dry months, but since I've never walked in snow for any great length of time, I imagine it could be slower going. I've seen that there's the Bogong Rover Chalet out that way, but doesn't seem like you can stay there unless you join in on one of their week long winter programs. There's a camp ground at Cope Hut, which lists access November to April. Does this mean you're not meant to stay there in winter?

Any suggestions on the best way to go about this, or perhaps an alternate location would be great.
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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Tue 05 Mar, 2019 5:57 pm

Hi. Learn to XC ski. You can get out to Pretty Valley hut , Tawonga Huts, Edmondson's hut or Fitzgerald's hut and back easily on XC skis in one day from Windy corner in white season if you are proficient.If you have snow camping experience and the right gear then you can do overnighters in the Falls Creek / BHP area or elsewhere. The Oz Alps are full of huts!.
Mt. Stirling is full of huts and they can be reached easily in white season on XC skis or snow shoes. Snow shoe trekking can be slow going esp. if the snow is deep and has not been walked on before. I used to do it a lot at a number of locations with an overnight pack but have seen the light ( praise de lawd !) and now I love XC skiing. Places such as Mt. Feathertop, Mt. Bogong and Mt. Wills have a hut or huts that can be accessed in winter. NSW has alpine huts a plenty too .Keep in mind white season in the high country is not a place that is very forgiving .Know your limitations. The weather up there in the snow, fog, ice and freezing winds can kill you quite quickly.
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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby Dexter » Tue 05 Mar, 2019 8:49 pm

Awesome! Thanks for the info, I’ll write some of those locations down. XC skiing is something I’d love to get into but I think it might complicate things a little further, at least for this winter.

I have the necessary gear (apart from snowshoes) and I would be watching the forecasts and weather closely and be prepared to call it off if I have any doubts. Although I haven’t done any large distances in snow, I have grown up spending a lot of time around Omeo, and know how quickly conditions can change in alpine areas. I’d take a PLB even if only a couple of hours from a road.

The only other issue is finding someone capable with the gear etc to come along. I wouldn’t want to do it solo.


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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Tue 05 Mar, 2019 9:03 pm

Hi. I do snow trips to Mt. Stirling.PM me and I will keep you in the loop. Last season I snow shoed out to the Razorback hut with a heavy pack with skis strapped to the pack , set up a snow tent and then skied all weekend. It snowed 20 cms in one night!! .I had a bad ski fall and did a hammy but the area is ski patrolled so you are never far from help. XC skiing is something you have to stick with like learning to ride a bike or learning to surf.It is a fast way to travel in snow, you float and glide, it is energy efficient. Learning the basics of snow camping can be easily done esp. with experienced people with you. You can rent snow camping gear from Bogong equipment and snow shoes from the ski hire/ ski patrol at Mt. Stirling. In terms of getting a feel for the Bogong High plains in winter you won't be able to keep up with XC skiers. Snow shoes are too slow but you can start on snow shoes and graduate to XC skis if that works for you . I still wished I had learned to Nordic ski years ago .I mean going Cross country up Heathy spur in snow season in low visibility is a navigation skill as much as it is involving other snow skills.
For an intermediate XC skier Edmondon's hut is an easy ski day trip , done in a day. On snow shoes you 'd be stretching it to get back to your car with a safe margin of daylight in snow season. On XC skis coming down Watchbed creek /The Paralyser and around the lake you just smash it and the last bit past the Nordic bowl is down hill too, way faster on touring skis!!.
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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby Dexter » Wed 06 Mar, 2019 3:05 pm

Awesome! At some point I'll have it look into XC. I'll give you a shout out.

Do you know if approx 13km snowshoeing is too ambitious for a days walk? It's 205m elevation over that distance. I'd smash that out in no time on dry land, but I'm guessing snowshoeing is quite a bit more of a slog.
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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Wed 06 Mar, 2019 7:25 pm

Snow shoe trekking even just with a day pack is slower than green season hiking. I once went solo on snow shoes from The Bluff Spur Hut at Mt. Stirling down to Craig's hut and back.The snow cover was continuous and unbroken. I had to really push myself to get back to my tent by 4 pm before it started getting dark. It was very cold so staying still for very long wasn't an option either except for eating lunch at Craig's hut . Craig's hut in winter is colder than Tony Abbott's conscience.
So start with easy snow shoe day hikes and then build up the distance. On another Mt.Stirling trip on snow shoes a friend and I went from the Ski patrol office at Telephone Box Junction up to the Bluff Spur Hut, over the summit and then down the River Spur and back around the Circuit road in one day, approx. 12 kms in deep snow, (The River spur is ungroomed and unpatrolled). We had to hammer it to get back in time to report back to the ski patrol at 5 pm.
Last edited by paidal_chalne_vala on Thu 07 Mar, 2019 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby Xplora » Thu 07 Mar, 2019 7:53 am

Snowshoeing is much harder than but you can still cover some distance in good conditions. When the snow is icy and firm you can get along pretty quick but when it is fresh and soft then it is like walking in mud or soft sand. Your winter pack will also be a bit heavier but you should not have to carry as much water. BHP is a good place to start and I certainly would not attempt to ski for this trip. PCV was a snowshoe only person just a couple of years ago and has now discovered skis. Certainly much more fun but there is a steep learning curve and you have to learn how to ski with a heavy pack. I think learning the basic snow camping stuff on snowshoes is a good way to start. If you based at Edmondsons you could get out to Ropers and back easy in a day. Another day could be to Fitz's, Kelly's, Johnstons.

Remember that huts are not there for your accommodation and be prepared to share them with others or camp where there is no hut. Always pack a tent and one that will take a snow load and high wind. Cope Hut camping is available all year round. The camping platforms are pretty stupid but in winter there is no need to book and pay for them. Nobody will check. Camping is no longer permitted at Wallaces hut. Do not snowshoe on groomed tracks or you will get a ski pole to the back of the head, quite accidentally of course. No need to follow tracks if the snow cover is good but also remember not to ruin good ski runs by going up the middle. Make sure you hire long snowshoes. MSR have a good range and some have extensions. There are short ones out there but they are for day tripping with little weight on your back.

There is usually a lot of people on BHP in the backcountry so if you get into trouble or need help then it may not be far away. Good phone reception for the most part as well.
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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Thu 07 Mar, 2019 6:25 pm

I agree with Explora. I learned all about white season hiking , navigation and snow camping as a snow shoer. I also learned how to self arrest with an ice axe while on snow shoe trips. Places such as the Blue Lake in NSW and Mt. Feathertop have some steep terrain ,where slipping over and sliding down an icy slope is not a good idea. I still cannot ski with a heavy overnight pack on my back so I either snow shoe or ski skin out to my intended base camp site and set up a snow tent and ski from there. Some people go out on snow shoes and snow camp at Mt.St. Gwinear. It is free to do stuff there, there is no exorbitant gate fee. The same goes for Mt. Buffalo. Mt. Buffalo in winter is a magical place.
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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby Dexter » Thu 07 Mar, 2019 11:07 pm

Amazing advice, thanks to you both.

I’ve learned how angry XC skiers get when you venture too close to their tracks a number of year ago. I won’t be doing that again. :D

I have all the necessary clothing and gear, the only thing I’m not sure about is the tents. Both are 3 season rather than 4. The One Planet is easy fixed as you can get the snow poles and fly as extras. Although that thing is pretty damn tough in its standard form. It’s more that I would rather not carry in a 3 man tent. The 1 man tent I have is a Snugpak Ionosphere which has been good value for money, and I’ve seen plenty of people say it deals with snow fine. I just always worry a bit when it’s not specifically designed for it.

I was looking at camping near Cope hut and saw something about booking / paying to use the platforms. Good to know it’s not really needed for winter. The plan at this stage was to get up to Falls Creek and to snowshoe to Cope Hut, stay the night and get up nice and early for photographs around Wallace’s hut. It seems to be about 13 km there and back.


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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby Xplora » Fri 08 Mar, 2019 6:31 am

Dexter wrote: It seems to be about 13 km there and back.

You do of course mean 13km there and 13km back?
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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Fri 08 Mar, 2019 8:19 am

Windy Corner to Cope hut is over 10 kms one way at least.It can become very foggy and very windy out there in winter.

After slogging it out there on snow shoes you will see people on XC skis , whizzing past , XC skiing it and making it look like less work. That sort of scenario converted me to Nordic skiing.Yes, stay off the XC ski trails or get a lecture from me. Some people don't get it at all even if you tell them quite bluntly :-0. Mt. Buffalo is shocker for that kind of 'walking on the groomed ski trails' behaviour , so too is Mt. St. Gwinear.

W.E. make an ultra light 4 seasons tent with no mesh /fly wire at all . Their gear is made to last but it is not cheap. You get what you pay for. You will need a snow shovel . That is a must have item. You can get one 2nd hand if you look around. I use a black Diamond model snow shovel.
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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby Dexter » Fri 08 Mar, 2019 9:52 am

Xplora wrote:
Dexter wrote: It seems to be about 13 km there and back.

You do of course mean 13km there and 13km back?


Yes, my wording and punctuation was probably not the best, but that's what I meant. 26km plus change all up.

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:Windy Corner to Cope hut is over 10 kms one way at least.It can become very foggy and very windy out there in winter.

After slogging it out there on snow shoes you will see people on XC skis , whizzing past , XC skiing it and making it look like less work. That sort of scenario converted me to Nordic skiing.Yes, stay off the XC ski trails or get a lecture from me. Some people don't get it at all even if you tell them quite bluntly :-0. Mt. Buffalo is shocker for that kind of 'walking on the groomed ski trails' behaviour , so too is Mt. St. Gwinear.

W.E. make an ultra light 4 seasons tent with no mesh /fly wire at all . Their gear is made to last but it is not cheap. You get what you pay for. You will need a snow shovel . That is a must have item. You can get one 2nd hand if you look around. I use a black Diamond model snow shovel.


Yes, a light weight shovel is on the list. I may use it as an excuse to get myself a better 1 man tent. I'll see.
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Re: Alpine huts in winter

Postby Hisham » Sat 09 Mar, 2019 10:20 am

there's a few facebook and meetup groups that organise trips in winter and you may be able to tag along and learn some winter know-how too. Vic Climbing Club do a winter program with some mountaineering practice. trailhikers and hardcore hikers on facebook/meetup, plus a few other smaller mountain groups.

Snowshoeing can vary - if the terrain is flat and the snow crunchy you can get by pretty quick. When it gets deep and soft, with up and down sections, you'll slow right down. the difference can be significant.

if you get on steep terrain, self-arrest is important to know, though snow shoes get in the way of a good arrest, so best to keep to a safe route.
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