Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mt Bogong (in snow), Vic, Australia


2016 October: Climb Mt Bogong in snow, Vic, Australia
                        Up The Staircase Spur; down Eskdale Spur

Mt Bogong

Mt Bogong - 1986 meters - highest mountain in Victoria

Mountain Creek Canpground is 585 meters above sea level, hence if you start the climb from the campground, it is about 1400 meters in elevation to the summit.


Prolog

The recent heavy rain made a misery for the residents of Victoria, but it is good news for us, MS and I, because it dumped an unprecedented amount of snow in the Victorian Alpine regions. And so today, we go to Mt Bogong to check out the snow.

Both of us had climbed the mountain a few times already, but a walk in the snow is always an exhilarating experience, and worth the effort to come here to climb it again. (MS is from Melbourne, and I'm from Sydney ... a looong drive for both of us.)

Before the climb, MS asked whether snow shoes are required. I said "No" as it is already mid-spring, not winter. Well, it turns out at some places the snow is up to knee deep. Without snow shoes, at some sections, the climb is a struggle. But we make it to summit without much hassle.


Previous Mt Bogong climbs

Photos and trip reports of two of my previous climbs are in:
- 2011-03  Mt Bogong & West Peak ... up and down The Staircase Spur
   http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/bogong-vic-australia-west-peak.html

- 2006-01  Plain vanila climb to Mt Bogong ... up and down The Staircase Spur
   http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2009/04/bogong-vic-australia.html

In today's trip, MS and I go up The Staircase Spur. But coming down is along Eskdale Spur.


Map

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 the Mt Bogong area is the 1:50,000 scaled map called "Bogong Alpine Area".

Below is the relevant part of the 1:50,000 scaled map.
2 small blue dots near upper left corner, from left to right:
- Mountain Creek Campground
- Start of our walk


GPS tracklog file & Route

The GPX tracklog file of our walk can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSYU9BNTdrNHJFVFk/view?usp=sharing

Below is our tracklog in brown colour.
4 small blue dots, from left to right:
    - Mountain Creek Campground
    - Start of our walk
    - Bivouac Hut
    - Michell Hut
2 red arrows, from left to right:
    - Little Bogong
    - Mount Bogong


A summary of our route is:
- Start at a small parking area (for 2 or 3 cars) 700 meters east of Mountain Creek Campground
- Walk along firetrail by the side of Mountain Creek
- Up The Staircase Spur track
- Pass Bivouac Hut
- Pass Castor & Pollux Outcrops
- Pass Memorial Cairn
- At Mt Bogong summit for lunch
- Descend via Eskdale Spur track
- Pass Michell Hut
- Down to Mountain Creek
- Along Mountain Creek back to the car


Timeline & Distance

08:01   0.0 km  Start at 0.7 km east of Mountain Creek Campground
08:22   1.4 km  At start of The Staircase Spur walking track

08:24   1.4 km  Start walking up The Staircase walking track
08:58   2.7 km  Stop to take off a layer of clothes

Take off a layer of clothes

09:06   2.7 km  Resume walking
10:22   4.7 km  At Bivouac Hut

Morning Tea

10:42   4.8 km  Resume walking
11:59   6.8 km  At Castor & Pollux Outcrops

Explore around

12:03   6.9 km  Resume walking
12:38   7.5 km  At Mt Bogong summit

Lunch & explore around

13:40   7.8 km  Leave summit
13:54   8.3 km  At sign marking the start of Eskdale Spur trail

14:00   8.3 km  Start descending down Eskdale Spur trail
14:59   9.9 km  At Michell Hut

Afternoon Tea

15:20  10.0 km  Resume walking
16:16  12.3 km  At bottom of Eskdale Spur trail
17:35  16.8 km  At start of The Staircase Spur walking track
17:53  18.2 km  End at car parked at 0.7 km east of Mountain Creek Campground

==============================================

Total:  9 hrs 52 mins
           18.2 km  Distance is from Google Earth
           21.2 km  Distance is from Garmin GPS


Weather

The weather is as forecasted:
- Cloudy in the morning
- After Bivouac Hut, half of the clouds are burnt off.
- At Mt Bogong summit, perfect deep blue sky with hardly any wind.


Pictures - Mountain Creek Campground

1)  I camped here the previous night, at Mountain Creek Campground which is located by the side of Mountain Creek Road. From Kiewa Valley Highway near the town of Tawonga to here is about 10.5 km on the sealed Mountain Creek Road.
- For many people, this is the starting point of their hike to climb Mt Bogong.
- As MS has a 4-wheel-drive car, he is able to drive us about 700 meters east of this camping area; and we start our walk from there ... see photo #2.


Starting point of our hike

2)  This is it, the start of our hike, 700 meters east of Mountain Creek Campground.
- There is a small parking area by the side of the firetrail for about 2 or 3 cars.
- And a metal box with a register book inside for logging one's walk.


Firetrail along Mountain Creek

The initial part of the walk is on a firetrail along the south bank of Mountain Creek.  The terrain is quite flat, and the track crosses a few side creeks ...

3)  ... This one for example: The large amount of water is due to melting snow. Fortunately there are footbridges over the creeks, so our shoes won't get wet. This pic is taken from such a footbridge ... you can see the track and the creek cross each at the centre of the pic.


4)  We reach a junction about 2.1 km from Mountain Creek Campground. The firetrail keeps going east. But here we turn right, south-ish, into The Staircase Spur trail.


The Staircase Spur trail to Bivouac Hut

5)  Typical track condition up The Staircase Spur ... quite good
(Photograph courtesy of MS)


6)  There must have been a powerful weather event recently to snapped this tree in half.


Bivouac Hut

7)  We come to Bivouac Hut.
The white stuff in front of the hut is snow not yet melted.


8)  Inside Bivouac Hut - just one room inside


9)  Plants around Bivouac Hut ~~~
Does anyone know the name of this plant on the ground?


The Staircase Spur trail to Memorial Cairn

10)  On The Staircase Spur trail ... The higher we go, the more snow on the ground.
- Lower pic: MS taking photos.


11)  Beautiful scenery from the edge of the tree line ~~~
- Yellow arrows: Our route to here ... roughly
- The dead trees were due to a devastating bushfire some years ago.
- Bivouac Hut can't be seen from here. It is well behind the hill with the dead trees.
- The green valley is Kiewa Valley.


12)  Further up The Staircase Spur trail, we get a glimpse of the summit of Mt Bogong.
- Left arrow: Mt Bogong summit, directly south
- Right arrow: West Peak, south-west-ish
In 2011-03, I climbed Mt Bogong & West Peak ... photos and trip report are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/bogong-vic-australia-west-peak.html


13)  This view is from north to north-east. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
- Yellow arrows: Eskdale Spur ... our return route in the afternoon is along the top of the spur.
- Red dot: Michell Hut on Eskdale Spur ... see photos #53 and #54.


14)  Further up the slope and looking towards north-east ~~~
- Yellow arrows: Eskdale Spur ... our return route in the afternoon is along the top of the spur.
- Red dot: Michell Hut on Eskdale Spur ... see photos #53 and #54.


15)  (Continuation to the right of the previous pic) ~~~
Climbing further up the slope, we can see Mt Bogong clearly now.
- Red arrow near upper right corner: Mt Bogong summit
- Small red dot: Memorial Cairn ... see photo #22.
- 2 upward pointing yellow arrows on the right: Our route to Mt Bogong summit (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
- The other 2 yellow arrows: Eskdale Spur ... our return route in the afternoon will be along the top of the spur.
- Michell Hut on Eskdale Spur is just outside the left edge and just miss out to be in this pic.


16)  The snow becomes deeper further up we go. We are half-regretting we didn't have snow shoes with us. In some places, like in the lower pic, the snow is knee deep. Fortunately both of us are wearing gaiters which keep the snow at bay.


17)  This view is centred towards west.
- Red arrow on the left edge: Mt Bogong summit, towards south
- Red arrow in the middle: Little Bogong, towards west
- Red oval: Pollux Outcrop
- Small red circle: Me ... going to Pollux Outcrop to investigate
- Large red circle on the right: Castor Outcrop
- View to Mountain Creek Campground is blocked by Castor Outcrop.
- The green valley to the right of Little Bogong is Kiewa Valley.


18)  This view is centred towards north-west. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
Compared to the previous pic, this one is a little higher up the slope.
- Red arrow: Little Bogong, towards west
- Red dot: Mountain Creek Campground, towards north-west
- Horizontal red oval: Pollux Outcrop ... see previous pic.
- Vertical red oval: Castor Outcrop ... see previous pic.
- Yellow arrow in the middle of the pic: Our route in the early morning along Mountain Creek
- Yellow arrows on the right: Our route along The Staircase Spur, towards north-ish
- The green valley to the right of Little Bogong is Kiewa Valley.


19)  Continuation to the right of previous pic ~~~
- Yellow oval (towards north-ish): You can just make out our track on the snow along The Staircase Spur. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
- Yellow arrows: Eskdale Spur ... our return route in the afternoon will be along the top of the spur.
- Red dot: Michell Hut on Eskdale Spur, towards north-north-east ... see photos #53 and #54.


20)  Higher up the slope again (Click on the image to enlarge it) ~~~
- This view, from west to north-north-east, combines photos #18 and #19 into one panorama.
- The Staircase Spur dominates the centre of the pic.
- Doorway Creek flows on the left side (west) of The Staircase Spur.


21)  Mt Bogong summit is the rounded mountain top.
The direction we are heading is the snow pole; and keep going in that direction to the rocky tip. The Memorial Cairn is just over the tip.


Memorial Cairn

22)  The Memorial Cairn ~~~
The words are:
    Sacred to the memory
    - of -
    Georgine Gadsden
    Edward Neave Welch
    John J. McRae
    Who perished here during a Blizzard
    About August 2nd 1943.


Looking back at The Staircase Spur & Eskdale Spur

23)  Compared to photo #19, we are higher here. Otherwise, the views in both pics are similar.
- Smaller red Oval: Memorial Cairn of the previous pic
- Larger red oval: A section of The Staircase Spur ... we walked along its top earlier on. The Staircase Spur continue on to the Memorial Cairn.
- Single yellow arrow on the left: Our route along The Staircase Spur (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
- The other 2 Yellow arrows: On Eskdale Spur ... Our return route in the afternoon will be along the top of the spur.
- Small red dot on the left: Bivouac Hut on The Staircase Spur ... photos #7 and #8
- Small red dot near centre of pic: Michell Hut on Eskdale Spur, towards north-east ... photos #53 and #54


Memory of 2011-03 climb with Ricky

24)  The scenery of the previous pic reminds me of the Mt Bogong climb Ricky and I did 5 and a half years ago in 2011-03. We reached the same place and Ricky took this picture of me:
- Upper pic, red oval: Memorial Cairn
- Lower pic: Few year later, Glenn Van Der Knijff used this photo as the cover of his book "Victoria's Bogong High Plains"!
Photos and trip report of the 2011-03 climb that I did with Ricky are in this link:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/bogong-vic-australia-west-peak.html


To Mt Bogong summit

25)  Not far to go now to Mt Bogong summit ~~~
In both pics below, the summit is behind the rocks, the red arrows.
After summitting, we'll follow the yellow arrows to Eskdale Spur.
- Lower pic: This one is taken in the direction of the summit after we reach the red arrow of the upper pic.


26)  Looking back at MS climbing up the slope ~~~
- Small red oval: Memorial Cairn ... photo #22
- This view is similar to photos #20 and #23, but obviously we are now even higher up.
- Left red oval: The Staircase Spur ... we walk along its top all the way to here.
- Right red oval: Eskdale Spur ... Our return route in the afternoon will be along the top of the spur.


27)  (Continuation to the right of previous pic) ~~~
The rounded top at the centre of the pic is the top of Eskdale Spur. Our return route in the afternoon will be along the yellow arrows.


Mt Bogong summit

28)  This is it ... Mt Bogong summit. Ah, love the virgin snow we are going to walk on towards the summit cairn !
- You can see from the pic, it is very flat at the top.
- Red arrow: Top of Eskdale Spur
- After lunch at the summit, we'll walk along the yellow arrows ... first to the top of Eskdale Spur, then descend along its ridge.


29)  MS and I on top of the cairn at the summit of Mt Bogong ... 1986 meters, highest peak in the State of Victoria


30)  The 3 pics below cover the entire 360-degree panorama from the summit ~~~
- Upper pic, from south-west to north:
     • Red arrow on the left edge: Mt Feathertop, towards south-west
     • The other red arrow: West Peak, towards west-south-west-ish
     • Red circle: Hooker Plateau
     • Photo #31 zooms in onto Mt Feathertop, West Peak and Hooker Plateau.
- Middle pic, from north to east, and continuation to the right of previous pic:
     • Red oval: Towards east-north-east ... The white stuff in the red oval is not cloud. It is the central part of the snow-covered Kosciuszko National Park.
     • Yellow arrows: Eskdale Spur ... Our return route after lunch is along the top of the spur.
     • Red arrow: Towards east-ish ... Highest point of Eskdale Spur ... we'll walk towards there after lunch.
- Lower pic, from east to south-west, and continuation to the right of previous pic:
     • The hiking sticks at the bottom of pic are mine  :-)   Without them, it would be almost impossible to walk on the snow.
     • Red arrow: Mt Feathertop, towards south-west ... same as the one the in the upper pic, thus completing a 360-degree panorama


31)  Zooming in the direction of Mt Feathertop of the previous pic ~~~
- Upper pic, from south to west:
     • Left red arrow: Mt Feathertop, towards south-west ... I climbed it 2 years ago in 2014-10. Photos and trip report are in this link: http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/mt-feathertop-vic-australia.html
     • Right red arrow: West Peak, towards west-south-west-ish ... I climbed it together with Mt Bogong 5 and a half years ago in 2011-03. Photos and trip report are in this link: http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/bogong-vic-australia-west-peak.html
     • Red circle: Hooker Plateau ... from here to West Peak, you walk over this plateau.
- Lower pic: Zooming in onto Mt Feathertop


32)  Zooming in the direction of Kosciuszko National Park (red oval in the middle pic of photo #30)
- Upper pic
     • Red rectangle: Towards east-north-east ... Central part of the snow-covered Kosciuszko National Park ... see lower pic.
     • Yellow arrows: Eskdale Spur ... Our return route after lunch is along the top of the spur.
     • Red arrow in the middle of the pic: Mt Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak
     • The other red arrow: Ttowards east-ish ... Highest point of Eskdale Spur
     • Small red dot: After lunch, we'll follow the snow poles to this red dot, then turn left towards the red arrow and follow the yellow arrows down Eskdale Spur.
- Lower pic: Zooming in onto the red square of upper pic, ie central part of Kosciuszko National Park ... The 5 red arrows point to, from left to right:
     • Mt Twynam (inside the clouds and not visible), Australia's 3rd highest peak
     • Alice Rawson Peak, northern most peak of Abbott Ridge
     • Mt Townsend (also inside a cloud), Australia's 2nd highest peak as well as being the highest peak of Abbott Ridge
     • Mt Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak
     • Highest peak (unnamed) in Etheridge Ridge


33)  A few Bogong Moths (Agrotis infusa) are blown off course and end up here at the summit.  Here is one of them.
(I think it is a Bogong Moth. Correct me if I'm wrong.)


To Eskdale Spur

34)  We have lunch at Mt Bogong summit, then it is off to Eskdale Spur.
- Upper pic:
     • Yellow arrows: Eskdale Spur ... Our return route down Mt Bogong is along the top of the spur.
     • Small red dot: We are following the snow poles to this red dot. Then we'll turn left and follow the yellow arrows down Eskdale Spur.
     • Red oval: The sign says "Staircase Spur Tk" ... see the lower pic.
- Lower pic, zooming onto the red oval:
     • We won't be going down the Staircase Spur. We'll go along the yellow arrow to Eskdale Spur.


35)  Now at the small red dot of photos #32 and #34 ~~~
The snow poles go to the right of the pic ... to Audax Point, Lendenfeld Point, Tadgell Point; and then to Cleve Cole Memorial Hut. But MS and I turn left (north), follow the direction pointed by the sign to Eskdale Spur.


36)  From where the previous pic was taken, looking back at the snow poles going all the way to Mt Bogong's summit cairn ... the tiny black dot.


Top of Eskdale Spur

37)  Now at the top of Eskdale Spur and looking down the spur ~~~
We'll walk on top of the spur, first to Michell Hut, the small red dot. And from there down to Mountain Creek.


Down Eskdale Spur to Michell Hut

On the way up The Staircase Spur, we met one guy going down. He must have got up really early to climb Mt Bogong.

38)  Now on our way down we meet this couple climbing up. Otherwise we have the entire mountain to ourselves for the whole day.  Victorians, don't you like snow climbing ?!?!?  You miss all these beautiful white scenery !
This couple carry all the overnight camping gears plus skis/snow board. They said They'll camp around the summit, then ski down ... A super fit couple !!! ... I'll find it difficult to carry all these weight up such a steep high mountain like Mt Bogong.

Oh, and they climb up in ski boots ... not an easy feat !


39)  We are descending along the top of the spur towards Michell Hut, the small red dot.


40)  The snow-covered Staircase Spur dominates this pic ... we walked up along its top to Mt Bogong this morning.


41)  Looking back at the top of Eskdale Spur ... we've been descending along the snow poles.


42)  Further down the slop of Eskdale Spur and looking back up along the spur.
Mt Bogong summit is just beyond the right edge of the pic (red arrow).


43)  (Click on the pic to enlarge it.)
At the same place as where the previous pic was taken, and looking down the mountain ~~~
- Small red dot: Michell Hut (on Eskdale Spur) ...  we are heading there.
- Red oval: Granite Flat Spur
- Snow-covered spur on the left: The Staircase Spur ... we walked up along its top to Mt Bogong this morning.
- The spur on the right: Eskdale Spur ... we are walking along its top down to Michell Hut.
- The valley/river in the middle of pic, between The Staircase Spur and Eskdale Spur, is unnamed in the maps I have access to.


44)  Panning across to the right of the previous pic:
- Small red dot: Michell Hut (on Eskdale Spur) ...  we are heading there.
- Snow covered ridge on the left together with Michell Hut form the Eskdale Spur.
- 3 red dashes: Granite Flat Spur
- Red Oval, east-north-east: The white stuff in it is not cloud. It is the central part of snow-covered Kosciuszko National Park.


45)  The Staircase Spur on the left, and Eskdale Spur on the right ~~~
- The scene is similar to photo #43; and also continuation to the left of the previous pic.
- But this pic is taken a little more down the slope.


46)  (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
Much further down the slope now and towards the right of the above pic ~~~
- Left red oval: Eskdale Spur
- Smaller red oval on the horizon: Towards east-north-east ... The white stuff in it is not cloud. It is the central part of snow-covered Kosciuszko National Park.
- Right red oval: Adax Ridge
- Spur in the middle of the pic: Granite Flat Spur
- Between Granite Flat Spur and Audax Ridge flows Snowy Creek Bogong Branch.


47)  Looking back up Eskdale Spur and Mt Bogong (red arrow)


48)  Further down the slope and looking back at the panorama of Eskdale Spur, Mt Bogong, The Staircase Spur ~~~
- Red arrow: Mt Bogong summit
- Red oval: The green Kiewa Valley
- Small red dot: Bivouac Hut
- Spur between Mt Bogong and Bivouac Hut: The Staircase Spur ... Earlier this morning, we walked along the top of this spur to Mt Bogong summit.
- To the left of Mt Bogong is Eskdale Spur.


49)  Zooming in onto the right side of the previous pic at the green Kiewa Valley ~~~
- The mountain range across the bottom of the pic is The Staircase Spur.
- The small red dot is Bivouac Hut.


50)  Me and a dead snow gum (Photograph courtesy of MS)


51)  Before we dip under the tree line, a final look towards Kosciuszko National Park.
- Upper pic:
     • Red oval: Central part of Kosciuszko National Park
     • Red arrow: Direction of Granite Flat Spur
- Lower pic: Zooming into Kosciuszko National Park ... The 5 red arrows point to, from left to right:
     • Mt Twynam, Australia's 3rd highest peak
     • Alice Rawson Peak, northern most peak of Abbott Ridge
     • Mt Townsend, Australia's 2nd highest peak as well as being the highest peak of Abbott Ridge
     • Mt Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak
     • Highest peak (unnamed) in Etheridge Ridge


52)  Shortly after the previous pic was taken, we dip below the tree-line.
The snow here is quite deep, knee-deep at places.


Michell Hut

53)  We arrive at Michell Hut.


54)  Inside Michell Hut - just one room inside


55)  Colourful tents near the hut ~~~


Down Eskdale Spur to Mountain Creek

56)  Going down Eskdale Spur ~~~
Upper pic: Water from melting snow flowing on the track down the Esdale Spur


57)  We come to an area full of fallen trees. What happened here? Why were so many trees fallen?


58)  Some more fallen trees further down the track. What caused such a big tree to be uprooted? Looks like it is a recent event. (Photograph courtesy of MS)


59)  An interesting dead tree with a hole


Foot track to Mountain Creek

60)  At the end of Eskdale Spur track ~~~
This is also a junction. Going further forward is to a firetrail that goes to somewhere.  We turn left into a foot track which will take us to the bank of Mountain Creek.


61)  Along the foot track


62)  Plenty of wattles in full bloom all along the foot track


63)  Many of these Dicksonia fibrosa along the way ~~~
Dicksonia fibrosa likes to hold on to its dead leaves, producing a distinctive brown skirt that distinguishes it from other tree ferns.


64)  MS and tree ferns
Can someone please tell me the name of these tree ferns? Thanks.


65)  At some places, the foot track can be quite wet, due to water from melting snow.


Along Mountain Creek back to car

66)  End of foot track ... we are now on a firetrail along Mountain Creek back to the car.
Note the interesting tree ferns crowding the banks of this part of Mountain Creek.


67)  Heavy running water in a side creek that runs into Mountain Creek ~~~
We need to cross a few of them ... On this part of the firetrail, there is no footbridge. So wet shoes and wet feet are unavoidable. If you wish to keep your feet dry, then either climb down The Staircase Spur; or if you really like to walk on Eskdale Spur, then do it at the end of summer when most of the snow will have been melted and there won't be so much water in the side creeks.


68)  I almost step on top of this Highland Copperheads (Austrelaps ramsayi) by the side of the firetrail.


Summary

Love the snow scenes !

The first week of October is always a good time to climb the high peaks in Victorian alpine area ... enough snow to jazz up the scenery, but not too much to inhibit walking with normal hiking boots. Two years ago at almost the same time, I climbed Mt Feathertop, not far from Mt Bogong. Compared to today, much less snow then, but still lovely.

Photos and trip report of the Feathertop climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/mt-feathertop-vic-australia.html

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