Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mt Bogong (+ West Peak), Vic, Australia

2011 March: Climb Mt Bogong and its West Peak - Vic, Australia

At 1986 meters, Mt Bogong is Victoria's highest mountain. I had climbed it in January 2006. ( Refer ) This time, West Peak (1962m) is added as an additional destination since it has a better view of the surrounding countryside.

Hiking route:
- Start from the picnic and camping area at Mountain Creek Road
- Up the Staircase Spur to Mt Bogong summit
- Then westward to West Peak
- Return trip is retrace previous steps

Elevation of the climb:
Mt Bogong is 1986 meters above sea level. However, since the picnic and camping area is 585 meters above sea level, hence the climb is about 1400 meters in elevation.

There should be a number of books describing this walk. The one I have access to is "Australian Mountains: The Best 100 Walks" by Tyrone Thomas & Sven Klinge

Survey and Mapping Victoria issued a series of maps called "Outdoor leisure Map". They are very useful for hikers, full of interesting information. The one for this area is the 1:50,000 scaled map called "Bogong Alpine Area".

Hiking distance and time:
It is a day trip.

To West Peak and return is 21.5 km. If you only go to Mt Bogong, the return trip is 16 km.

In his book, Tyrone Thomas said it is an 8 hour return trip to Mt Bogong alone. In 2006, Bill and I did it bang on 8 hours. But this time, Ricky and I made it to Mt Bogong and West Peak and back all in 8 hours! Considering the side trip from Mt Bogong to West Peak and return is 2 hours, hence we can say we only need 6 hours to get to Mt Bogong and back ... a pretty good effort.

To get to the picnic and camping site at Mountain Creek Road:

On the Kiewa Valley Highway, at the town of Tawonga, turn east into Mountain Creek Road. Travel for about 10.5km on the sealed road. Just before a one-lane bridge, there is a large picnic and camping area. This is where you park your car and it is the start of the Mt Bogong climb.

If you have a 4-wheel drive, you can drive a further 2km up a narrow trail until you reach the Staircase Spur trail junction. There is just enough room at the junction to park about 2 cars.

Water Requirement:
For this trip, I carried 3 litres of water, as there won't be any water on the Staircase Spur trail.

At 7:45am, Ricky and I start the walk from the picnic and camping site at Mountain Creek Road. This stretch of the walk is very flat. There are a few creeks to cross. Except the first one, all them have bridges for you to walk over.

2 km later, we arrive at the junction to the Staircase Spur trail. Once you turn into it, the trail becomes steep. It only flattens out 2.5 km later at an engency shelter called Bivouac Hut. Compared to my 2006 visit, the old toilet here is now replaced by a brand new one.

The trail after the Bivouac Hut is not so steep. But when you reach above the tree line, you can see, looming steeply ahead, the Bogong tops of Audax Point, Mt Bogong, Hookers Plateau, West Peak ... etc.

The final ascent is again quite steep. There are snow poles guiding you to the top. At 11:00am we reach the summit. This is a pretty good effort ... because in 2006, it look me 4.5 hrs to get to the top. This time, it is only 3hr 15min ... all due to Ricky's fast walking pace.

The Mt Bogong summit is not a classical conical top. It is on a large domed shaped plateau, very flat, hence you don't get a good view of the surrounding areas. As we have plenty of time, we decide to head towards West Peak, 2.8 km westward ... because we figure from the map that from there, we should get a good view of the Kiewa valley. And indeed we are not disappointed. (Scroll down to see the photos.)

I suspect many day-trippers would be happy to simply reach the Bogong summit and wouldn't be bothered to explore further. I strongly recommend that they go over to West Peak too. It is not far - 2.8 km (40 min) oneway from the Bogong summit. But in that case, one should start the day early to allow time for the extra excursion.

From West Peak, it is possible to simply bush-bash one's way NNE straight back to the picnic and camping area. But we retrace our steps and are back by the car at 15:45. All up, it is a pleasant 8-hr day.

Here are the timelines:

07:45 Start walking from Mountain Creek Road picnic and camping area
08:10 2 km later, arrive at start of Staircase Spur trail

----- 0 min rest

08:10 Start walking on Staircase Spur trail
----- (15 min rest at Bivouac Hut)
----- (15 min rest at Castor & Pollux Outcrops)
11:00 6 km later, arrive at Mt Bogong summit

----- 30 min rest

11:30 Leave Mt Bogong summit
12:05 2.8 km later, arrive at West Peak

----- 40 min rest

12:45 Leave West Peak
13:25 Back at Mt Bogong summit

----- 10 min rest

13:35 Leave Mt Bogong summit
15:20 Back to start of Staircase Spur trail

----- 0 min rest

15:20 Leave Staircase Spur trail
15:45 Back at Mountain Creek Road picnic and camping area

----- Total: 8 hrs, 21.5 km


1.) We climb Mt Bogong via the Staircase Spur. Don't be fooled by the short 6km distance. The elevation from here to the summit is 1,400 meters. Although elite athletes training to conquer Everest can run up and down in 2 hrs, it will take an average climber about 4 hrs just to get to the top. We did it in 3hrs ... pretty good.

2.) Paul going through the rain forest

3.) Spitfire or Sawfly caterpillars copulation on the ground ... group sex orgy!!! The last time I was here, they did this type of act hanging on the leaves ( see photo in ). They are now getting dirtier!!!  :-)

4.) We are above the tree-line now. I am taking some photos.
If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see a faint track through the green spur slightly left of the centre of this pic ... that is the track we just walked through. And the spur is called Staircase Spur.
The above photo is now the cover picture of a book by Glenn van der Knijff, titled "Victoria’s Bogong High Plains"

5.) Mt Bogong summit is the highest point in this photo. We will also climb West Peak which is the 2nd little knob from the right edge of this photo.
If you click on the photo to enlarge it, near the top left hand corner, you can see snow poles guiding you up the slope ... that is where we are heading now.

6.) Mt Bogong summit ... almost there.

7.) It so happens there is a 120-km race today (which can take up to 48 hrs to complete). Part of the race goes through this summit. Here are 2 race officials manning the check point.

8.) Photo time ... Paul & Ricky

9.) Paul on the roof of Victoria at 1986 meters!!! What a great feeling!!!

10.) As you can see from previous photos, Mt Bogong summit is not a classical conical shape. It is on a flat plateau. Hence you can't see much scenery. We decide to head towards West Peak (which is the far away little knob near the centre of this pic and just sticking out behind the dark mound). From there, we should be able to get a better view of the countryside.

11.) West Peak is in the distance, not far to go now.

12.) Ricky and Paul reach West Peak

13.) Here, at West Peak, we can see the green Kiewa Valley running through the length of this pic. The town of Mt Beauty is where the blue pond is. (The blue pond is slight left of the centre of this pic ... click on the photo to enlarge it.)

14.) Victorian Alps mountain range

15.) From West Peak looking back at Mt Bogong - which is the gentle rounded dome near the right side of this photo.

16.) We are retracing our steps back to Mt Bogong summit. Click on the photo to enlarge it and you can just make out the 2 race officials standing there.

17, 18.) Small alpine flowers near the summit.  Are these Helichrysum Bracteatum or Xerochrysum bracteatum?

19, 20.) More small alpine flowers near the summit.

21.) On the way down, we meet these young girls carrying camping gears going up. You just have to admire them ... because I'll find it a real challenge to carry such a heavy pack up an elevation of 1400 meters!

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