Back Country Awareness Please read the following articles before considering going back country and research widely. Do not use information provided here as textbook accuracy as anyone can edit it. Double check anything found here and consult with experts before heading beyond the resort boundaries. People die in the back country every year, don't add your name to the list.
Mount Bogong. Good old Mount Bogong. Hard slog walking to get there, and with a wonderful other worldly feel when you're up on the summit ridge, distant farmland and lower ranges far below. The mountain is a big, arching ridge that folds around Cairn Creek and looms above Mount Beauty. The big, south-facing gullies and slopes offer superb skiing, generally getting gnarlier as you head westwards. The northside is rockier and more impressive but tends to burn off more quickly. There is some good winter climbing near the top of Staircase Spur around the Pollux and Castor outcrops.
The walk in is hard no matter which way you do it, but its always worthwhile: a sense of remoteness, fantastic alpine country, wonderful skiing/ boarding, and gentler sections down towards Cleve Cole hut, where the snow gum forests come in.
AWESOME !! The biggest runs in Victoria
- RATING: Approach Steepness – is hard, shortest is Eskdale spur. You need to allow minimum of a thre hour climb with gear to summit ridge. Other approaches tend to be considerably longer
- ELEVATIONS: Mount Bogong is the highest peak in Victoria (1986 metres) and has some very decent drops into Cairn Gully in a good season, at least 700 vertical metres, although less steep in the lower basins.
Access and Trip
Thankfully there are no roads up the mountain, making it quite a commitment to get in there. The most straight forward approaches are from Mountain Creek (accessed from Tawonga on the Kiewa Valley Highway, by taking Mountain Creek road). The two most popular routes are:
Staircase Spur. Turn in to Mountain Creek picnic area and drive another 2 km to where you can park at the locked gate. A few km of flat country gets you to the base of the Staircase (sign posted), then a long haul through foothill forests eventually brings you out into gorgeous snowgum country on a bench-like ridge at Bivouac Hut (roughly 1,350 m asl). The country from here is especially badly burnt out, with intense regrowth along the steep haul up to the treeline.
Eskdale Spur. If you continue past the Mountain Creek picnic area, on Mountain Creek road, you will start to climb into the ranges. At a saddle, there is a right hand turn (dirt, 2WD in most conditions) named Trappers Gap track. Turn here and follow this for a few kilometres to an obvious saddle with a parking spot on the left. Eskdale Spur trail starts here. It is shorter than Staircase and more direct and also starts about 300 metres higher, so is quicker and easier than Staircase. The only caution here is that the road can be quite slippery in wet conditions, exercise caution especially on the descent down Trappers Gap road into the saddle.
Much of the trail has also been burnt, through to the treeline (except for one gorgeous area of alpine ash where you can normally get water. Michell's hut is reached not long before treeline, it was recently rebuilt after being destroyed by fire. The camping here is not as nice as at Bivouac hut. Continue on and climb the final, quite impressive ridgeline to the summit area.
Granite Flat Spur (accessed from Trappers Gap road, or from The Hollow Way south of Mitta Mitta)
Quartz Ridge (from Bogong Creek Saddle). You can either walk in via the Bogong High Plains or hike up from the Falls Creek road along Big River fire track. Both these are considerably longer than the three options above. Another alternative is to leave the Falls Creek road just above Bogong Village and walk along the tramline to Bogong Creek Saddle. (Some groups have even been known to build a trolley with train wheels and pull it along the tracks!)
From Mount Wills or The Omeo Highway via Big River Saddle and Long Spur along the Alpine Walking Track.
From the Bogong High Plains via Roper's Hut, Duanne Spur, Big River and T-Spur (a very big descent and climb out).
There is a longer approach on difficult roads (requiring 4WD) via Mulhauser Spur and Bogong saddle, to the ENE of Bogong. There is discussion around access on the Backcountry forum at: http://forums.ski.com.au/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=371862&page=2#Post371862
One benefit of this approach is that you climb the mountain via Cleve Cole hut (roughly 2 to 2 1/2 hours walk from where you park) through forest rather than having to cross the peak itself to get to protected camp sites and the hut. This makes sense if you are heading in during a patch of bad weather as crossing the mountain is not fun in bad conditions.
NB: There is a great over view of all trails into Bogong available at: http://wikiski.com/wiki/index.php/Bush_Walking#Mt_Bogong_.E2.80.93_the_big_feller
The routes themselves are reasonably limited in that they all cross over the long and exposed summit ridge. Bushwalking notes are widely available for all the access routes.
In terms of skiing, there are a vast range of options. At the more gentle end are the snowgum woodlands below Cleve Cole hut. For deeper, steeper runs, there is a map of named routes in Cleve Cole hut.
Its all pretty obvious when you're there:
- there is lots of easier stuff in the centre of the Cairn Creek valley to the south of the summit itself. As you go westwards (towards Quartz Knob and under Hooker Plateau) there are steeper and harder gullies and shutes squeezed between rocky ridges and outcrops. The high and exposed Hooker Plateau provides a great (though very exposed) spot to camp and try out all the great slopes at that end of the mountain.
- The west face below Quartz Knob is also really impressive. The ridge itself, which drops quite steeply to the south and Bogong Creek Saddle is excellent in its upper sections. There is a beautiful basin in Bogong Creek below Stirling Gap (as you head out to West Peak). My personal advice is DON'T EVEN THINK of descending off West Peak onto Little Mount Bogong unless you love endless and steep scrub bashing.
- North side. Some of the higher sections of the gullies between Staircase, Eskdale and Audax Ridges and the big drops below (and east of) Audax Point are also fantastic. You can ski the basins and climb back out via the ridges.
I haven't really checked out the direct northern face between Black Saddle and the top of the Staircase but it is certainly impressive looking.
- lower down near Cleve Cole hut. As you descend the ridge from Tadgell Point towards Cleve Cole you drop into (largely burnt) snowgum woodland. As you follow the snow poles towards the hut there is a nice broad and open slope that ends in Camp Valley, which is always a nice end to the day if you're camping in or around the hut. There is some really nice skiing through the trees out along and below Horse Ridge (the east side is well protected in bad weather). As noted above, there is a map of described runs in this area located in Cleve Cole.
The Mt Bogong club website has lots of impressive shots of the mountain, which allow you to get a sense of whats on offer: http://www.mtbogongclub.org.au
The summit area is incredibly exposed, and like all alpine areas, conditions can deteriorate very quickly. Whiteouts are common and the summit ridge can be very icy. Slab avalanche risk should be assessed in the gullies – particularly on the northern face, which is more affected by direct sun and down in the main valley on the southern side of the summit ridge (Cairn Gully). Winds on the summit can be intense, making it impossible to travel safely - best bet is often to just hunker down (build snow walls and set up camp), especially out on West Peak/ Hooker Plateau area.
There are some serious rocky sections in the steepest gullies under West Peak and into Cairn Gully. If your skills are up for getting into this area, best bet is to check things out from the ridge above Cleve Cole to get a sense of the lay of the land first time before you head in there.
When approaching the mountain via Eskdale Spur, note the cautions about the access road from Trappers Gap.
If you have not climbed the mountain before and are approaching via the most common routes - Staircase or Eskdale, be aware that it can be slow going to get up and over the mountain to Cleve Cole hut from the treeline at the top of the spurs. If the weather is bad, visibility is poor, or your group is tired, consider camping at or near treeline (this side of the mountain is generally fairly well protected from weather) rather than battling on over the top.
The skiing is often great in spring, but watch those early summer season lightening storms - probably quite rare but certainly exciting when they happen as there is no quick way down. So if its late season and warm and you get rapid formation of anvil head clouds, have a look around for your quickest descent, just in case!
Mobile Phone Coverage
Generally really good, as there are a range of relay stations on different sides of the mountain. As always, it tends to drop off in the gullies.