Trip Report: Mt Stirling with the Hard Core Hikers

Only 1 week after my kids trip to Mt Stirling I was back at Stirling again with a group from Melbourne’s Hard Core Hikers. The weather forecast wasn’t ideal but I was keen to get onto the mountain and cover a few miles so I left Melbourne at 4am to get an early start on the trail.20160820_Stirling_HCH_010

I had to walk for about 50 minutes from the car park at Telephone Box Junction to reach skiable snow. I wasn’t sure how steep Bluff Spur Trail would be and whether I would be able to ski down it so I took my snow shoes for the return journey just in case. It wasn’t very steep so I didn’t end up needing the snow shoes. Although unfortunately there was heaps of morons using the trails this weekend without skis or snowshoes and chewing up the track.

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It was quite windy and unpleasant at the summit. The surface was very icy in places and I had to hold onto this sign post to prevent myself being blown backwards on the flat ice.

It wasn’t the original plan but we camped at Bluff Spur Hut along with another large group of people building an igloo and a handful of regular people who were probably annoyed there was so many people there. There was probably 30-40 people camped there on the Saturday night. I ended up doing a few laps around the summit, past the GGS Hut and back to camp which was quite a nice circuit. It would have been good to explore the area more but the wind was quite unfriendly above the treeline.

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The Hard Core Hikers seemed to spend a lot of time drinking tea. These were the most Hard Core ones – the less Hard Core members of the group were sitting by the fire in the hut (where admittedly I found myself later having dinner). One of the members seemed pretty hard core as he was sleeping under a tarp.20160820_Stirling_HCH_023

Bluff Spur Hut provided welcome shelter from the near constant snowfall. With about 20 people in damp clothes, the wood heater going and 15 stoves running it go so hot and steamy I thought people would start taking their pants off. Fortunately someone cracked the window to ease the sauna-like atmosphere before people started putting their keys in a bowl.20160820_Stirling_HCH_029

It snowed most of the day so I cleared the snow off the tent before I went to bed.20160821_Stirling_HCH_036

And in the morning it looked like this. Clearing the snow by kicking and whacking the walls of the tent during the night worked for a while but in the end the snow had nowhere to go. I reckon we received about 30cm of snow during the day and night. It turned to rain and sleet on the second day.20160821_Stirling_HCH_042

My trusty snow shovel got a good workout when it came time to pack up.

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I thought I would take advantage of the fresh snow to ski down the untouched Bluff Spur Trail. The snow was sticky and slow (which suited me) but absolutely stunning as the snow-laden branches hung low over the track.20160821_Stirling_HCH_04520160821_Stirling_HCH_047

The mountain seems to be well signposted and if you have the Trail Map it is pretty easy to find your way around.20160821_Stirling_HCH_049

I practised my skiing for a while at Dugout Bowl. I am sure there are more graceful ways to stop than this. Unfortunately my skiing skills are even worse with a pack on.

It was not long after this I got smacked in the top of the head by a falling piece of ice/snow from an overhanging tree. It hurt a lot and I wished I had a helmet for trip back to the car.20160821_Stirling_HCH_050

The igloo people managed to construct quite a large igloo from snow blocks formed in plastic tubs. It took about 15 people approximately 10 hours to make. I think they all slept in tents but had they slept in it that would have been pretty hard core.

It was a good weekend with interesting conditions. I got to explore a new area and meet some great people who are passionate about the outdoors. Thanks to the Hard Core Hikers for organising the trip.

I would like to get back to Mt Stirling and at 3 hours from Melbourne it is doable for a weekend trip. A damn shame it costs $70 for resort entry! See link for Entry fees

Trip Report: Mt Stirling snow camping with kids

The winter of 2016 hasn’t been kind to Mt St Gwinear (my closest mountain) so for our annual kids trip it was time to explore new ground. So we decided to head up to Mt Stirling – the cross country cousin of Victoria’s Mt Buller.

In addition to the usual suspects my boy decided to join us for the first time as well as my mate James and his 3 youngsters. So we ended up with 3 dads and 7 kids this year.

Having never been to Stirling in winter I was keen to get some local advice and Craig from http://www.stirlingexperience.com.au/  was very helpful with tips on where to go and where to camp noting the relatively short distances that kids can cover.

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We went in mid August and it was about 2km to get to the snow from the car park at Telephone Box Junction (TBJ) so we decided to get a ride to King Saddle shelter with Craig in the Unimog. It wasn’t a tough decision……pay the small fee for the bus ride or listen to the kids complain about carrying their skis and walking in their ski boots.

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Once we had unloaded our mountain of gear and hit the snow everyone was happy.

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If you want to take your kids snow camping you will be carrying a heavy pack. It’s unavoidable until the kids are old enough to carry all their own gear.

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James and Audrey on the Fork Creek Trail.

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We camped at the appropriately named Machinery Shed. The distance was about right for our group: there was flat snow to camp on, a portable toilet and a picnic shelter. The best part was a nice ski slope running through the campsite which kept us all entertained for hours.

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The girls decided to build some snowmen although I don’t understand why they had to go a two hundred metres through the bush and down a gully to find the spot to do it.

SAFETY TIP: I make my kids carry a whistle and small torch at all times in the snow.

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The toboggan got a fair workout.

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The weather was really good but it was handy having a shelter with tables and chairs.

HOT TIP: Take the kids for a brisk walk up a hill before bed time to make sure their hands and feet are all warmed up.

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This would have been a good photo of my Keron if I had tensioned the guy lines. A floppy tent isn’t a good look.

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The weather was so nice on the second day that we hung around until after lunch before heading back to King Saddle.

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Fraser found out that tobogganing isn’t much fun on gently sloping snow.

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The Fork Creek Trail was about right for the skills of our group. Descending this small hill with a pack on was pushing the limit of my skiing skills.

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We met this very amusing guy…..let’s call him Alpine Party Man. He was on his way back from a party somewhere higher on the mountain with his home made sled and 19 litre steel beer keg! He said his sled weighed 55 kg on the way up the mountain so understandably they had to drink all the beer to keep the weight down for the return journey. That is serious commitment.

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On a final note – when the sign says “Caution: Remove Skis here – patchy snow past this point” do you think these 4 geniuses would pay attention? No way. They got to ski for another 100 metres before ending up like this.

For a low-res trail map check out the link here: Trail Map

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