ALPINE TRAVERSE VIC
Winter has arrived on the southern alps of Australia with a flurry of snow that has blanketed the mountain summits and turned these meandering peaks into a winter wonderland. The two highest mountains of the Victorian Alps, Mt Bogong and Mt Feathertop, are separated by a series of ridgelines and gullies over 20 kilometres apart, making the traverse of this mountain range an epic adventure.
The crisp morning air gave us views for many miles and I remember thinking as I stood there of Wordsworth’s lines written in London in the early morning: “Earth hath not anything to show more fair…”
Harry Stevenson “Skiing the High Plains” 1926
The Feathertop Bungalow operated as a commercial ski lodge from 1925 to 1939. Were it not destroyed by bushfire, the mountain may have become a major ski resort.
We will spend 6 days and 5 nights crossing the Bogong High Plains and summitting these two wonderful mountains. Days will be spent trekking with snowshoes, across windswept ridgelines while the nights will be spent camping in the snow. This is a true winter adventure, with short days and temperatures below zero for the entire time. What more could an epic journey ask for? Wind? It has that too!
This trip is not for the faint of heart. The days are long, the climbs are big and the expedition unsupported, meaning you will need to carry your share of the food and equipment. A solid level of strength and fitness, a high level of mental resilience, and an acceptance that you’ll likely feel cold and uncomfortable for the duration of our journey are a must – facing such a challenge head-on, almost like putting yourself in the boots of a Mawson or Shackleton, and the sense of achievement at its end are worth it!
Today we will meet in Harrietville for welcome drinks and our briefing. Once the group is assembled, we will transfer to our accommodation in Mount Beauty.
Today is an early start but we have a mountain to climb. We will transfer to the Mountain Creek Campground and hike up the Mountain Creek to Staircase Spur, ascend the Spur to Summit Mount Bogong. From there we will traverse Bogong to camp at Cleave Col Hut. That’s our first summit on our Victorian Alps Traverse. 12.2 kilometres hiking (most of it up) with a 1430 meter ascent (ouch) and 240 meters down. (B,L,D)
This morning we will join the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) and head south towards the Big River. During summer Big River can cause some trouble crossing so in winter this could be a big obstacle depending on conditions. We will cross Big River and ascend to the Bogong High Plains – Camp at Roper Hut. 9.1 kilometres hiking with 811 meters ascent and 874 meters descent. (B,L,D)
As far as kilometres is concerned this is a big day, but it is relatively flat as we cross the high plains to Cope Hut. We may have a chance to visit the oldest cattleman hut in the mountains at Wallace Hut. 17 kilometres hiking with 222 meters ascent and 250 meters descent. (B,L,D)
Tonight we will sleep for the first time below the snowline at Blair Hut. To get there we will traverse toward Westons Spur with lunch at Westons Hut. 13 kilometres hiking with 167 meters ascent and 688 meters descent. (B,L,D)
What goes down must go up again, and today we have to make up the 700 meters we lost the day before to reach Feathertop. As this is such a big day and our last, we will rise early. After we cross the creek and follow the road to the beginning of Diamantina Spur, we are essentially on the Razorback trail to Feathertop. When we reach the junction tree instead of heading to the summit (though some may wish to) we will set up camp down at Federation Hut. We will overnight at the Federation Hut campsite for our last night on the mountain. (B,L,D)
This is the BIG day! The ascent of Feathertop is the most technical and steepest of the trip. We will head out before the sun rises, hopefully getting to Mt Feathertop summit just as the sun peaks over the horizon. Then it’s back to camp for a hearty meal before the final 3.5 hours of our epic traverse. Waiting for you in Harrietville is a hot shower, a comfy warm bed and a great meal. Oh, and the accolades of the bar staff. Accommodation at Snowline Hotel. 17.2 kilometres hiking with 782 meters ascent and 1361 meters descent (yes you will feel it). (B)
Breakfast in Harrietville, debrief and departure. (B)
There is only a handful of extreme treks in Australia, and this one is right up there. We will spend 6 days above the snowline (mostly) which in itself is an incredible experience. It can be beautiful one moment and then disappear in a snowstorm the next. Blue skies can give way to subantarctic winds and freezing conditions. I know this doesn’t sound like I’m selling it, but this trip is not one we need to sell. You just have to want to do it and have a story to tell of another incredible part of your life. Who’s coming?
- Two night’s accommodation twin share in Harrietville
- Transport to and from the trail
- Use of snowshoes and poles
- Fully guided
- Hassle-free supported camp
- All camp equipment, ie tents, cooking equipment etc
- All meals and snacks from the morning of Day 2 to the lunch of Day 7.
- All permit and camping fees
- Personal clothing, backpack, mattress, sleeping bag
- Transport to and from Harrietville
An Important Note(s)
For this trek to run we need a minimum number of 4 guests to join.
We have a range of equipment available for hire if there is anything you don’t have including backpacks, sleeping bags, and rain gear. Please get in contact with us to discuss!
Winter invites white; white invites silence; silence invites peace. You see, there is so much peace in walking on the snow!
Mehmet Murat Ildan
We combine a hotel and tents on this expedition. In Harrietville, we will be staying at the Harrietville Snowline Hotel which has become an icon of the area for its great food and hospitality.
On the traverse, we will spend 5 nights out in a tented campsite. We use Mountain Designs Kaon 3 person tents on a twin share basis, i.e. there’s 2 of you in a 3 person tent, which makes for plenty of room! We provide 3.8cm self-inflating mattresses and all cooking equipment. There are no designated shower facilities on the trail or at the campsite, but there will be pit toilets at the campsite. While we are sleeping in tents, each of the campsites also has a hut that can be used in the evenings for cooking and socialising if the weather is less than favourable!
Snowshoes? How does that work?
Because we will be walking Feathertop and Bogong in winter, the trail will be covered in snow. To do that in normal boots would be almost impossible let alone very uncomfortable, cold and wet. You see, our boots are perfect for walking on solid surfaces, but on snow, they just push right through as the snow is very weak.
To overcome this we use snowshoes. These clip to your boots (a little more on your boots soon), and what they do is displace your weight over a much wider area, thus keeping your feet and legs on the surface of the snow rather than in it.
We will show you the technique to walk with snowshoes as there is a particular technique which you will pick up in no time.
So that the snowshoes can clip to your feet, you will need a boot (not a shoe as melted ice can easily come in from the top) and the sole of the boot needs to be quite rigid (not so flexible like a runner). The boot needs to be waterproof. Wool or synthetic socks that wick water are essential.
With these points in mind, we know you are going to love snowshoeing the Razorback.
What's the weather going to be like?
Great question and who knows? Yes this is winter and yes it will be cold, but even in winter, we can have beautiful blue sky and sunny conditions. But guess what? We can also have the opposite, with snowstorms, whiteouts, and high winds. We will be able to handle most situations, however, our guide will have the latest weather forecast for the ridge and they will assess if the weather is appropriate or not. This is all part of the adventure and while we hope for the best weather we always prepare for the worst.