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Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2015 12:50 pm
by walkon
A winter crossing of The Great Dividing Range in Victoria, to see the Crosscut Saw under snow and Vallejo Gantner hut all white as it was designed to be. To stand on Mt Howitt and survey the winter landscape all around before making my way over to Stirling via Craig’s Hut, surely I can’t have been the only person to have dreams of this.
This has been on my bucket list for a while now and completing it has given me one of my most rewarding trips yet. I was lucky enough to be joined by fellow Bushwalk member 'Snowzone', she is like a Storm Goddess, I’ve never been on a sunny walk with her and a slow start to the snow season was never an issue. It was guaranteed to blizzard and a better travelling companion I’ve not yet met either. If you look at a topo map it’s not the most strenuous walk elevation wise but as we know in winter, it all depends on the snow and didn’t we cop it. The expedition had it all, big weather, adventure, some breath taking scenery and me, one of my most rewarding trips yet.
Day 1
After a late start we’re a bit behind though on coming up to Lost Plain all that was forgotten as the excitement levels went right up, snow everywhere and we had to bang on the snow chains to go any further. There’s no snow ploughs round here which just adds to the excitement of it all and passing a 4wd towing a wake board gave us a laugh, country lads you got to love them. At the Gorge carpark we got as close to the locked gates as then quickly were gearing up & saying goodbye to our lift we snowshoed off up the hill.
The Gorge.png
The Gorge
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I do have to say the car shuffle for this trip is huge and many thanks to member Arnold for helping us here taking a whole day out to assist us and getting dirty as all getup cause I forgot to say just how messy getting off snow chains backcountry can be.
Now the original plan was to go up Mt Reynard first then head on though with the late start and a less than ideal forecast, 95kph winds 12 inches of snow and ordinary visibility up high, we decided skip this and get up near the Alpine Fire Bombing Airport or anywhere sheltered really.
The going was pretty good in the conditions and with spirits pinging high, travelling backcountry doesn’t get better than this. Nice firmish snow under foot to start off with and a fast pace. It’s great seeing the roads and the country all white again. I was surprised at the amount of animal tracks about with dogs, deer, roo and something else that had me stumped were stamped into the snow.
Fair to say it might have been a tad breezy as we got up higher and neared the Airport though and about 500 meters out we crossed one open wind swept section that had you staggering around. Going through this I had dark spots moving around my eyes on the snow ahead of me and was starting to think I had bitten off more than I could chew with thoughts of me fainting or something going through my head. As I got closer the dark shapes turned out to be a whole swag of rabbits running around, struth they must be doing it tough up here as I know I was.
Alpine airport Snowy Range.jpg
Alpine Fire Bombing Airport

It’s always a relief when the sheltered spot you had in mind is actually sheltered, well compared to what we just came through anyway. Suddenly the visibility cleared so we dumped our packs and shot off to check out the airport buildings which were bearing the full brunt of the wind. All of which were secure and no chance of getting easy water/shelter either. After a quick rece the Storm Goddess (SG), who was in her element btw, and I shot back to stomp a tent site out and set it up. Now we were sharing a tent and all I will say is that we got better putting it up as a team as the week went on. Good thing that Hilleburgs are easy to put up in winds and handle a bit of snow cause we had bucket loads of both. Finally the Kaitum was getting a proper snow christening and boy was I happy about that.
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Snowy Range Hilleberg Kaitum

Day 2
The new day dawned and when I unzipped the door I was met with a snow wall half way up the tent despite digging a hole outside the vestibule. Seeing fresh snow everywhere will bring a smile to anyone it is ohhh so pretty. One of us got out and took some pics celebrating the fresh start to a new day, the other stayed zipped up in her sleeping bag. Not saying names or anything.

On setting out we found that whilst the fresh new snow might look pretty, it was that soft fluffy powdery crap that even in snowshoes you sink over a foot deep. Tried making my way without them a couple of times but sunk up to my waist so soon gave up that idea. Past the airport we tried a bit of off track vs Howitt Rd and it was pretty obvious that travelling on the rd was a far easier option, still deep though. Even though the snow was deep and hard yakka to get through, breaking trails is always fun making it look as if we were the first to come here, later after reading all the intensions books along the way we found out we were.
Snow was shallower so i got excited and took a pic

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the amount of rosellas flying about, plenty of rabbits running around too. Got me buggered what they are up here eating as everything is either under snow or frozen. The rosellas really stand out being the only colour around and look gorgeous while the bunnies are really dark contrasting against the white.
You drop down a few hundred meters in height going to the Bryces Gorge area from the airport and it was only just before we got there that the snow lessened up and made travelling easier. After a short break on the way I noticed that a belt had slipped down over my hip flexor and when we started off again what was a niggle was now full blown ache and I hobbled after the Storm Goddess who turns out is a bit of a downhill skier. When the going is hard she’s as fast as a turtle and on a downward easy slope she’d give Black Caviar a run for its money. Catching up to her at Bryces Gorge carpark I motored off to Guys hut on skinny snow when we were honked at by deer really close by. Now the look on SG’s face was priceless and I think she stained the snow she got that big of a fright! I let her know it was just a deer and hobbled off really starting to wish these drugs would kick in and the worry of was this the trip over for me? With my partner screaming out about how pretty and big the deer were I was just wishing Guys Hut was here already. Just a short walkon and a rock hop over a creek Guys Hilton Hut was here.
Guys hut winter 2015

Guys Hut

Word of advice, if you’re sitting in this hut in a snow storm don’t take off your outer shell as you get a fair dusting of snow through the cracks when it blows.
Originally in my head the plan was to make it to *&%$#! Neck and Storm Goddesses was hoping to get to Guys hut. Now it turns out that she wants to go on and I’m buggered. Do you go on and potentially stuff the trip with injury or drug up & rest the remainder of the day giving up a few k's praying it will be better tomorrow and good enough to last the trip. Here’s where it’s good having someone of Snowzone’s calibre with you. At the start of the trip I was told, “I might burp, fart, snore wake you up going to the loo in the middle night and have smelly feet by the end. All of which I’m not apologising for! If one person isn’t comfortable with doing something then it’s off, it goes both ways! Deal?”:)) “Yep that’s a deal.” Told you she was golden. True to her word with no questions asked she supported staying. After a good hot late lunch and the drugs kicking in the day was getting better so we set up the hille, which went up in half the time. Walked into the hut later on finding a fire had been lit, also that Possums don't like fires in a chimney especially when they are camped in it which they quickly evacuated. A warm fire, hot dinner, the odd snow shower inside a hut and drugs will brighten anyones day I say.
Laying in bed I heard," certainly is a lot calmer camped here isn't it?" just as i dozed off.
Waking up to howling winds and checking guy ropes in wind driven snow I had to disagree with her comments. Why is it that it always seems twice as cold when you have to get out of you sleeping bag to do this?

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2015 1:05 pm
by GBW
Great stuff walkon. Looks a little chilly.

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2015 2:39 pm
by walkon
Yeah it was a tad chilly. I found my lens cleaner at the end of day2 so some better picks to come.

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2015 2:57 pm
by Travis22
Awesome start Walkon! Cannot wait for the next instalment.


Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2015 9:04 pm
by Snowzone
I seem to recall the fire may have been lit but not necessarily going. And you forgot to mention the smelly gloves instead of smelly feet. I'm sure that will come in the later installments though. :lol: :lol: :lol:
It was a pleasure to be another notch in the ice axe Walkon. :D

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Sun 30 Aug, 2015 7:00 pm
by Arnold
Sounds good so far Walkon. I'm keen to hear the rest of the tale to learn if you both made it alive. I hear that one of you may perish

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Sun 30 Aug, 2015 10:50 pm
by walkon
Sorry I've had a few things take up my time. Also I have to shrink all the pics and my new computer upgrade couldn't do this. Think I've got it fixed now though.

Yeah it certainly smelt like she did. Lol only joking mate

Your not just any old knotch mate lol, I'm never going to live this down am I

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Sun 30 Aug, 2015 10:51 pm
by walkon
double post

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Mon 31 Aug, 2015 3:41 am
by aronwidforss
Nice trip! I have a dream of relocating to Oceania some day but the lack of snow has always bugged me. Well, it seems I was wrong about that.

What made you choose snow shoes instead of touring skiis?

Nice to see a Swedish tent down there btw.

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Mon 31 Aug, 2015 3:26 pm
by scroggin
Do we have to subscribe or buy the book to get the rest.
You're such a tease walkon.

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Mon 31 Aug, 2015 5:28 pm
by walkon
scroggin wrote:Do we have to subscribe or buy the book to get the rest.
You're such a tease walkon.

I think I have the computer issues sorted now. Sorry I'm not shortening this one again so it's a bit long and could be edited better. The next ones will be done quicker I promise.

aronwidforss wrote:Nice trip! I have a dream of relocating to Oceania some day but the lack of snow has always bugged me. Well, it seems I was wrong about that.

What made you choose snow shoes instead of touring skiis?

Nice to see a Swedish tent down there btw.

I'm ordinary on skis at the moment and I quite like the slower pace as it means I take it in more. I do love my hillebergs and what they can handle. We have snow for three months of the year so if you can occupy yourself for the other 9 months you'll love it her in oz

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Mon 31 Aug, 2015 5:29 pm
by walkon
Guys Hut 2015 Hilleberg Kaitum

Day 3
Despite getting up a couple of times throughout the night you still get a good sleep because you’re in bed really early. The condensation was heaps better today mainly as we were able to manage it better, virtually none at all. The first night the wind swirled around at times so if you left any vent open a whole lot of snow got injected in quickly so both vents were nearly shut and when the snow covered the whole base of the tent it couldn’t breathe that well. Last night though the wind stayed the same all night and with the lee vent open we were far dryer. The first night was a classic ‘why snow walls aren’t always the answer night’ the powdery snow didn’t compact and was eroded away in the high winds. I started with a monster wall and when I went to touch it up before bed the snow was ripped off the shovel. In the morning the snow wall was the level of the rest of the snow, about 1/3 tent height, it did snow heaps. Last night the snow was too skinny to build a wall, though I could have built one out of fallen timber but I didn’t bother. If you start with strong a tent it certainly makes things easier. Admittedly I didn’t think that the winds would get as strong as they were either, about double expected forecast.
Up and about moving quite well on what promised to be a beautiful day, I think not pushing it and drugs were the answer though unsure of my body which irks me. With little to no wind in the forecast and sunny skies, things are looking up.
Insert fence pic
Since it was a bit fresh last night, we were hoping the snow has hardened up for easier travelling but as we followed the ridgeline out we could see that a fair bit of snow had fallen. Good that there was lots of coverage over the bushes and bad as we were back to sinking deep while we shoed along but it was too pretty to be sad about this for long. Lots of fresh tracks this morning, deer and dog, so we were keeping a look out for either of these though especially the later.
All over the high country you come across evidence of the farming runs. Fences and wire still linger in the countryside as a reminder to bygone days and old crafted fence stays are a joy to see. Soon enough we were back at Howitt road and slogging at it. Since there was phone coverage here I received a number of messages. Most were concerned that we were handling the conditions ok, so reply to them and others were jealous wanting reports mmmm send a teaser . You realise just how much we are on our own out here. No help is coming in a hurry and while the packs may be heavy, we are as self-sufficient as we can be.
frost crystals
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Like NNW, I had wanted to camp at *&%$#! (Illegitimate childs) Neck just cause it sounds cool and this area turned out to be a cracker of a spot. All along here there are rock banks and littered on these were masses of icicles, some were massive at well over 2 meters tall. One section has a huge rock wall which had literally hundreds of icicles hanging off it of various lengths. This was special and savoured all the more as you realise not many will get to see this artwork in nature’s galley and i cant share it with you cause snow was on the lens, damn shame that.
some of the smaller Icicles near *&%$#! Neck

Leaving here and raising in elevation again we encountered all the weather that you can. From calm sunny to windy and snow in minutes so the full shells and layers stayed on in the end as we were sick of changing. One thing that we picked up on a while back is that if you stick to where the animal tracks were, the snow was generally harder or not as deep. This made for easier going though we were pretty much used to deep snow by now.
Knowing the Howitt Rd quite well, I was getting excited when I realised that the Howitt Plains were just around the corner. When we came upon the windswept snow plains it was so good with lots of Rosellas here and the new growth on the snowgums were a striking blood red colour as well. Struth I was excited and shot off straight towards the hut and coming a gutsa shortly afterwards, laughing away i made for the hut a bit more careful this time.
Howitt Plains near hut
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picnic table near Howitt Hut
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Howitt Hut
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Howitt hut was all snowed in with the picnic table looking a treat and the car park buried. Offered to set the table and have lunch but all I got was ‘that look’ from the Goddess so out came the shovel and I dug my way in. Once inside I saw that Howitt and Guys hut have a lot in common, snow on the ground, walls trusses, fireplace… so scrapping a clear spot we sat for lunch listening to the wind getting stronger.
a bit windy
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We waited for the weather to calm back down to its predicted 10kph, it was about 50 and getting stronger, when this didn’t happen we kitted up in full storm gear and made our way out into the teeth of it. Ooh I do say while it was colder, at least the sun was out making it seem warmer. Yeah well a while later the sun left us as well, not surprisingly the wind blew harder and it got colder. Any bare skin got lashed by windswept snow which hurt like hell so everything was covered. I love being out in conditions like these, it makes you feel so alive and insignificant. Also I wonder why does cold exposed skin feel like it’s on fire? Visibility out on the Plain was down to the official level of ‘stuff all,’ even making lumps in the snow hard to see with both of us making snow angels. With navigation getting harder and things getting more difficult out in the open it was just a matter of making sure we were close to each other all the time. This was usually me waiting for someone else to catch up as certain ‘people’ were back down to a turtle’s pace, admittedly it was damn hard going. Soon enough we reached Zeka Spur track and knew we were close to camp thankfully it was more sheltered here, the road more defined by trees making life easier all round.
Zeks Spur Track winter
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Howitt carpark was like a picture postcard, those post and rail fences covered in snow were divine. In my haste to get Vellejo Gantner Hut which I was really wanting to get to and since we were only 5km away I asked if the Storm Goddess wanted to go on to there…. And I got that look again this time followed up with some descriptive instructional words which I took correctly to mean start setting up camp! Here! Now!
By now we were guns at putting the tent up together. Between his jobs, her jobs it was up in no time at all. Since the Storm Goddess cooled down quicker than me, once the site was stomped down with the outer up, she set up the inner, sleeping mats and so inside while I built the snow wall and guyed down the tent.
Sat back wondering where the predicted fine weather and low winds went, it was raging in the trees outside.

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Mon 31 Aug, 2015 5:37 pm
by walkon
few pics of howitt carpark

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Tue 01 Sep, 2015 12:38 am
by GBW
The photos look great walkon. I've been to the carpark numerous times but it never looked like that!

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Tue 01 Sep, 2015 8:27 am
by Damo2010
Something I've always dreamed of. Your story is a real opener on just how prepared one must be. I to would be excited to see some of them landscapes, even in the conditions you faced.
Thanks for taking the time to share

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Tue 01 Sep, 2015 9:27 am
by walkon
Thanks guys, the weather was so changeable one minute perfect the next not which is typical alpine really. We did love all of the snowy weather we had and really in a week alpine mid winter you'd expect to get something. The best landscapes are to come but i will put up some from earlier, with a low cloud ceiling they aren't the best photo wise though they are beautiful to see when you are there if you know what i mean.

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2015 11:59 am
by walkon
not a bad start to the day
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Day 4
Woke up today on a high, I was getting to see Vallejo Gantner Hut and the Crosscut Saw under snow, aside from that I had a food drop waiting for me. Also we had another 10cm of snow fall overnight so the trees were looking magic with snow hanging on all the branches and leaves coating everything. We just about floated along the way to Mac Springs, even stopping for a snow cone on the way. Again seeing well know features covered/surrounded by snow was a highlight and there was even the odd snowball getting thrown. She might be a Storm Goddess from the Snowzone but she is a *&%$#! of a shot.
The Storm Goddess aka Snowzone
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Snow cone mmmm

Coming over the hill down to Mac Springs we spied Vallejo Gantner Hut and a snow covered loo with a view. With spirits souring high we came upon the back of the hut I was astounded as all the rear windows were broken. At first I thought a storm had smashed the windows until when I peered in I saw rocks all over the floor. What should have been a real highlight was a real blow. How? Why? I just couldn’t comprehend it! So I dug in to get the front door open and walked in really deflated. I had always wanted to stay in the hut in winter, even though we were a day behind that was still the plan but as we sorted through the food drop our hearts weren’t in it. Though the hut still offered some protection we just couldn’t do it and made plans to camp on the Crosscut.
Loo with a view
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and i did

iced snowgum leaves

Seeing the Devils Staircase, The Terrible Hollow, Viking, Razor, Crosscut snowed under certainly perked us up. As we rose up the cloud thickened and wind increased with us post holing a treat, lucky we were fit as this was seriously hard yakka. The snowgums were covered in ice and this weather was adding to it. Walking near the edge of The Terrible Hollow we realised we were on a *&%$#! great cornice so quickly got off that. With visibility low we made our way over to the Crosscut, changed out of the snowshoes and pushed on. Every step was a lucky dip you had no idea whether it was sinking a few inches or waist deep, setting firm or sliding along rocks under the snow.
Crosscut Saw Frozen Snowgum
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Traversing the first big peak wasn’t an option as we were post holing thigh deep and the way the snow was behaving it was avalanche central. Over the top I tried to go only to have the crampons move around before they gripped, this was disconcerting to say the least as your legs were knee/thigh deep and moving through the snow on a damn steep slope before they stopped. I was wondering where and how the *&%$#! they were to end up, puckered up to say the least. By now we had real whiteout conditions where the snow ended and sky began you had no idea, with no vis to see what we were facing or any appetite to push on any further really so we turned around. Sticking together like glue we ended up back on the Howitt saddle before we could get a safe tent site.
whiteout, where does the hill end and sky start

Lying in the tent later on we were both happy with the decisions made and after reconsidering our options with time remaining decided to change our route by coming off Mt Howitt instead. Before we went to sleep that night, the skies cleared and wind died off for a bit, when we got out the crosscut glowed in the moonlight looking serene mmm why couldn't it have been like that before!

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2015 8:11 pm
by Snowzone
Great report so far Walkon, can't wait for the next installment. Hang on to your hats cause your going to love it...

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2015 9:07 pm
by north-north-west
Been loving it all the way. You mean it gets even better?

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Fri 04 Sep, 2015 9:11 am
by walkon
Day 5
Sometimes what’s taken off you in one hand is given back tenfold in the other.
Too many hot chocolates before bed last night and a damn frigidly cold morning saw me up early and what a sight greeted me. The sky was glowing turning into pastel shades, the countryside around was radiating that predawn glow. And not a breath of wind. Like none, zilch, nada, infinito, like not at all, couldn’t believe it. Really I couldn’t.
Predawn Crosscut Saw Snowed under winter 2015.
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upper left Mt Buller,Upper Right Mt Stirling, under the Thorn Range
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I grabbed my gear and shot up to the start of the Crosscut. The Viking, Razor, Spec, Cobbler, Crosscut, Stirling, Buller all seemed so close you could reach out and touch them. Below me the Terrible Hollows, Devils Staircase and Wonnangatta. Into the distance Mt Buffalo, Hotham, Feathertop just looked like a days walk away and behind them Bogong standing proud, it was oh so clear. I’ve had some good moments this year but this eclipsed them all. It’s not often that you have a dream come true and I was pretty emotional about it and a lot of hard work went into this to get me here. Might even had shed a tear if I hadn’t looked down and seen the Storm Goddess moving like a spastic chook trying to finish getting dressed whilst walking in frozen boots and juggling clothes up the hill post holing occasionally at the same time.
For about half an hour I reckon we each stood on our own hill taking the dawn of a new day in. Watching the pastel hues recede across the sky, colours soften on the land around us before coming golden in the suns first rays. The Crosscut Saw shining gold. Nirvana all around me, this was my dream and here I am living it! Getting such clear skies, especially here in winter, was a bit of wishful dreaming but I’ve got it. I've got it right here in front of me! We did the right thing yesterday by turning back and in doing so we were given this prize today. I gave Snowzone a big hug and thanked her for coming along and giving me the *&^%$#@! or it might have been some mushy sentimental thoughts I can't recall exactly. Have a look at the pics, they still float my boat.
Morning light Crosscut Saw Winter 2015
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Crosscut Howitt winter2015
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a frosty chilly Howitt Saddle campsite

All too soon we were packed heading up to Howitt. On top it was a bit fresh especially if you have to wait for a turtle walking up a hill (for a little very lame video watch this ). I love cornices and Howitt has a number of them around the place which I hope to get a good look at next year. Between it and west peak there’s some rippers also some over the back. Not to mention... Ok I'll stop now but really do like them :)
Turtle on last

Double Rainbow

Back into crampons for the descent off West Peak. Standing here I looked south and around my shadow was a double rainbow, cool as see pic. Surprisingly after all we’d been through someone was $#!+ing bricks about the descent. At times coming down the snow alternated between soft powder and ice from one step to another which made things a bit interesting. A few hairy moments and a bit steep coming down if you ask Snowzone. My ears are still burning from her thoughts and ideas on the matter. Also caught glimpses of Magdala and the King Billies occasionally on the long walk down.
Upper reaches of the Howqua River

The river crossing down the bottom is a kitten though if we had of crossed upstream of the junction we could have rock hopped over it with dry feet but oh no, one of us wanted to do it the other way in the deepest spot around and she got really wet doing this too :) . My stuff stayed dry as I took it all off and walked through the Howqua, I’d expected the river to be spanner cold but I was colder out of the water before I went in. Mind you after I came out was another story.
A short walk up the Queens Spur track and we set up camp in the open near the junction of the start to the Thorn Range. This was our only campsite not on snow for the trip and at the lower altitude felt balmy, probably was 0 degrees.
What a cracker of a day this one was, doesn’t get any better.

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Fri 04 Sep, 2015 10:53 am
by neilmny
This is a wonderful story, more please :D :D

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Fri 04 Sep, 2015 11:03 am
by Travis22
Speachless really!

Loving the report doesnt come close.


Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Fri 04 Sep, 2015 3:55 pm
by walkon
Thanks guys i should have it all posted by tonite sometime

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Fri 04 Sep, 2015 7:48 pm
by north-north-west
If you're only going to have one perfect morning on a trip like this, you picked the right one.

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Fri 04 Sep, 2015 8:33 pm
by walkon
Day 6
Last night’s tent site wasn’t the best with me sleeping in a depression downhill of Snowzone and I spent half the night under someone else when she rolled on me, at least it was very warm though :).
Had breakfast looking up at Magdala with a view of Hells Window. Seriously the person handing out the names in this region needed Prozac, Valium or something equally strong really (Mt Despair, Devils Staircase, The Terrible Hollow, Horrible Gap, Mt Buggery?). Hanging with Mr Happy would have been a blast. Anyway having breaky here felt odd. First time off the snow in days and looking back up at the rocky snow covered hills around there was a real yearning to get back up there.
Today the plan was to cross the Thorn Range on Stanleys Track, a short road bash and get to Craig’s Hut for the night where we were to meet a couple of blokes who were too soft to do the whole expedition (though they reckon it was work commitments, I believe you fellas I really do) a short day really. Fine weather is forecast for the next few days mmm think I’ve heard that before.
mine shaft
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The start of Stanleys Track is a bit all over the place with lots of animal/people tracks so pick one and keep going up where soon enough they mostly join up to a singular track on the ridgeline. Before too long we were back into the snow which felt comforting really. Whenever the way became vague we just looked for the animal tracks. Dogs and deer tend to walk over the track even if it is snowed under, must be by scent or something but they are quite good at it, so navigation was very easy.
Mt Thorn
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On reaching Mt Thorn we were up in the clouds again so no views but we had phone reception in relative shelter this time, so I rang Parks Vic to report on Vallejo Gantner Hut and was surprised to get the Chief Head honcho of the area. Nice bloke and he was obviously disappointed to hear the news, bit shocked too I’d say when I let rip my thoughts on the vandals. I think he was caught between being PC and agreeing :)
All too soon it seemed we were off snow, along Circuit rd and at the Junction of Monument Track. Sitting here was damn cold with chilly air coming off the snowy mountains above. Not far to go now but it was steep. Shortly we were back on snow and when buying snowshoes don’t buy ones without a heel lift. It is so much easier on your calves walking up steep hills using them, sort of like walking up stairs. Mine were oh so nice to use and well the Storm Goddess, she was lamenting heeding the salespersons advice. I didn't rub it in.. much.
Monument Track
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At least the weather forecast is predictable. We were back to keeping close to one another, low vis & a fresh wind again. Nearing the top of Monument, we came across snowshoe tracks which felt weird. First sign of another human for nearly a week, someone was intruding into our world. Soon a sign in the snow marked that it was from our group and shortly after we were at Craig’s Hut.
icy wattle

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Do you have any idea how nice it is to walk in from the snow and ice to a blazing fire? Warm fire and friendship, a few drinks for some, head-torches and time lapse cameras. What an enjoyable evening it was.
Hardcore Hikers, photo courtesy of Richard
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Oh yeah, the fine weather forecast? It was now a blizzard outside.
This is fine weather
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Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Fri 04 Sep, 2015 9:27 pm
by walkon
Day 7
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Craigs Hut predawn
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craigs hut predawn
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Craigs Hut
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Anyway up before dawn again and another beautiful morning, at least they are forecasting that part right. Getting more gorgeous shots of Craigs Hut which seriously has to be one of the best places to get good pics and soaking up our last morning of the trip really. With the good crack of the place and great company it was an enjoyable morning.
The crew
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craigs hut
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craigs hut
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hille kaitum craigs hut carpark

I know we said to the others we’d have a late start, but when the clock hit 10.30 we were climbing the walls so to speak with frustration when they hadn’t even packed their tents up. Not coping with this we plodded up the hill with hopes they would catch us. This time alone together was great on our last day, just to have a good discussion about our expedition. We had no regrets, sure we might change the odd bit of gear though the decisions made at the time we were facing them all stood up in hindsight. Even the one to bring Snowzone along and to share the tent couldn’t have been better. When she wasn’t trying to clip the inner tent upside down and sideways or knotting up my guy lines she was doing a pretty good job at helping.
Lucky we’re going slow cause today was the hottest day that we’d had yet. At 2 degrees I was in my shorts and t-shirt trying to keep cool. Walking under all those branches with last nights snow dripping off them was a dampening experience, add in the odd bit of ice sconing your head and it was a pleasant day really.
Making our way up the hill to a sunny Mt Stirling I was starting to think of all the good pics I could get of where we’d been when as luck would have it, the higher we went the cloudier it got. Should have left earlier. Snowzone was happy with this as she didn’t have to finish climbing another ‘*&%$#! hill’, guess her goose was about cooked and a days rest was in order. So we made our way to the bluff hut for a rest and lunch.
I had taken to singing, to the tune of ‘white christmas’
I’m dreaming of a large chai latte
Followed by a loaf of banana bread
With more Yoyo’s coming
When we get to TBJ ….
And other rot for a bit now when in the middle of my food dreaming/singing some prick at Bluff Hut burst my bubble. The OLD CAFÉ had people quit and the resort had staff doin basic stuff. You have to be kidding me, all week ALL WEEK I had been talking this up and now it was a non-event. So I sat and sulked while Snowzone happily talked to them and to make matters worse the cloud lifted off the summit as we walked down the hill to TBJ. Can’t complain to much the Crosscut was a pearla I suppose.
Before we knew it we were at the finish and The Café had nachos, a good big coffee and gave me free biscuits…Ahh now life truly was good.
Even though I could gladly have turned around and gone back, this trip really hit the spot for me & left me in a good place. We had achieved something special, seen magical scenes and experienced glorious nature you couldn't have wanted for more.
The End
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Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Sat 05 Sep, 2015 1:36 am
by Mortar Art
You know, I was just starting to wonder about that area south of Crosscut, and now, I think you've put it on my list.

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Sat 05 Sep, 2015 2:44 am
by GBW
That's a great report walkon, beautiful pics and it sounds like you had a the snow cone is your account of the AAWT...I've saved a slot for you!

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Sat 05 Sep, 2015 7:33 am
by walkon
GBW wrote:That's a great report walkon, beautiful pics and it sounds like you had a the snow cone is your account of the AAWT...I've saved a slot for you!

thanks mate

I couldn't resist the snow cone lol we had a big laugh. Thanks to all the people who messaged me to do a trip report. I enjoyed reliving the adventure again, it was so worth it.

I've already done a aawt report. Highlights package really i should get it moved accross now that there is a dedicated aawt section so that it is in its rightful place. Have to catch up again G

Re: Great Dividing Range crossing, Snowy Range to Stirling

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2015 9:12 pm
by sim1oz
Wonderful trip report. Sounds like you both had an amazing time. Got me reminiscing about our last few snow trips. Sounds like I need to put that combination on our list. Thanks for sharing!!!