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Question Lost Plain,Wellington Plains,Kelly Hut etc. BC XC skiing???

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by Mister Tee on XC Skis, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Hi
    Has anyone skied the terrain around Lost Plain, Mt. Arbuckle, Mt. Reynard and the Wellington Plains?
    What is winter access out there like? There is no snow clearing on the Tamboritha or Howitt roads . What about skiing past the winter gate on the Howitt road? With a base camp at Kelly hut or Guy's hut you could possibly day ski tour as far as the Snowy plains air strip and back in one day if you are fit , conditions are fair and firm and you started early .
    Any photos, anecdotes or advice would be welcome.
     
  2. Chaeron

    Chaeron Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak Ski Pass: Gold

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  3. weerab

    weerab One of Us

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    My very first weekend on XC skis was in that area. It was about 40 years ago so memory a bit vague. We just drove up the road in an old Holden until the snow got too deep, then parked it at the side of the road. We skied a few km up the road before setting up camp with four guys in a Bushgear one pole tent, no floor. We took off without packs to some derelict hut on the Snowy plains. That was my intro to XC and I still love it. Thank you Ray Kompe!

    Also remember a lot of 4WD people sitting around a huge fire drinking beer, very envious!
     
    #4 weerab, Feb 4, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  4. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Drove the Bluff track last week for the first time. And Stirling to Craig's Hut.
    Didn't bend much.
     
  5. GS

    GS Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Skied a bit around that area but mainly half dayish type tours as part of 4WD trips to the snow, mainly 80s and 90s when the road was open much further.
    Often has very limited snow cover which limits the potential, however can be great if you're lucky. Doesn't require much snow on the road for it to get very busy with long delays as vehicles get bogged and block the way for others (think 2WDs with or without chains in 30 cm of wet heavy snow).

    Mid week is the go if you can manage it. Definitely worth a look after a decent dump to low levels, particularly if you can get to the Gorge where the gate is. Plenty of space to camp there and then ski off in any direction.

    Not sure if the Reynard Ramblers Nordic Ski Club is still in existence, they did have a website at one stage which was good for info.
     
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  6. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I rode a horse from Licola up to Howitt and down into the Wonnangatta in the 80s. Beaut country for that.
    The old cavalry saddle rotted out on the way and it took a day's stitching at one of the huts to fix.
     
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  7. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    The Reynard Ramblers Nordic Ski Club conducts instruction, tours and camps in this area -contact Des Sinnott 03 51 454383 or Elaine Ferguson 03 51 471172.

    I got this from the interwebby. I am not sure if the details are still current and in effect.
     
  8. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    That trip into Licola is a bit of a twister!!
     
  9. legend

    legend One of Us

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    The Snowy Plains can be a great ski, but depends so much on conditions. Most years you can drive to the Gorge Car Park (barrier across road soon after), but a 4wd is good to have as has higher ground clearance. Roads are not maintained or cleared and trees are often down. Some conventional 2wd vehicles get stuck in snow and do block the road from time to time.
    But if you do make it up there, there is great skiing over Mt Arbuckle and Mt Reynard.
    If you basecamp near Mt Lookout, and if snow is good, then a day trip out to Bryces Gorge is possible - only managed this once, but very spectacular. Another good day trip (if low snow levels and good cover) is out to the upper branch of the Caledonia River and looking into the gorge below.
    I have managed to ski over Mt Wellington and out to Millers Hut twice (4wd essential to Millers Gap via Valentia Creek) but snow from the SE low pressure is essential for this and you need to go soon after the snow falls (If you can see snow on Mt Wellington, Gable End, Pinnacles, etc from the Princes Hwy between Bairnsdale and Sale then conditions are good).
    Unfortunately the Snowy Plains etc are in a snow shadow area - the Baw Baws can be good, but only 50km away as crow flies the SPs often miss out. Nothing like an adventure to get up there and see what it is like.
     
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  10. CaptainC

    CaptainC Addicted

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    The area around Mt Arbuckle is the most tricky part of the road. With Arbuckle rising steeply on the west and high trees that bit of road doesn't get much sun during winter and a heavy snowfall there can take a while to melt. If you're going overnight you might want to check that heavy snow is unlikely. On weekends you usually get a few 4WDs getting into the locked gate, which helps making a track for smaller cars. During week days I think you would be likely to be on your own.
     
  11. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Some of you know that I drive an older model RAV4 AWD which is designed for some off road use. The new ones are very much soccer Mum mobiles.
    :p
    .I would be carrying a chainsaw, snow shovel and wheel chains if I were to attempt to drive up to the gate near the Gorge car park in white season.
     
  12. legend

    legend One of Us

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    If heavy snow is predicted, park at Lost Plain (the road's highest point). As said in past posts, the eastern side (beyond Lost Plain) is the most sheltered, gets minimal sun and has deepest snow, and has the steepest gradient. Trees or large branches regularly come down due to snow, but are often cleared by the many bigger 4wds coming in (no guarantees though).
    In the mid '70s, we were almost stuck at Lost Plain (before the days of subarus) when a blizzard dropped close to a metre of snow overnight. Lucky they were towed out by a convoy of 4wds. We knew blizzards were predicted, but not how much would fall, so we elected to park on Lost Plain, had a long walk / ski to Kelly's Hut near Mt Reynard, but skied back to Bennison Lookout (snow was below the lookout).
     
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  13. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I led a walk up that way that I unwisely dobbed a Doddle before the event. Down Dry River into the Wonnangatta, up to the Barry Range and the Viking, and then around via Speculation, the Crosscut Saw, Howitt and back to the road and a shuffled car. The steeps and the unmarked section around the Viking took a lot more time than expected. Two 10 hour days and one 12.
    Coincidentally my 4WD club is volunteering next month and we may be asked to do some maintenance on that water tank in the dry Barries.
     
  14. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    I have made a mental note to scout out Mt. Murray in Green Season 2018/19.
     
  15. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    By the end of the month the Howqua side access to Howitt should have had road works finished. Bluff Tk was being worked on a couple of weeks ago.
    From Sheepyard you can take the newly maintained Brocks Rd (2WD) to the end and then King Billy Tk down to the Mac river and up the other side to the Howitt Plains/carpark (lifted 4WD). Or you can start with Brocks, then Link, Bluff Tk up to Bluff Hut, across to Lovicks hut, Picture Point and the King Billy Tree, then to the Brocks/King Billy intersection (lifted 4WD and some driving smarts for that).
    It's a spectacular drive.
     
  16. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    I plan to walk or ski some of those routes at some stage.
     
  17. Chaeron

    Chaeron Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak Ski Pass: Gold

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    King Billy Track is an awesome drive - +1 on the lifted 4WD. Glad they’re doing some work on Brocks - the last bit up to Picture Point had become quite rough - some over-use.
     
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  18. Chaeron

    Chaeron Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak Ski Pass: Gold

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    The route drops significantly below the snowline in places and there are multiple seasonal closures which would mean a significant walk in.
     
  19. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    I walk A LOT .Walking does n't deter me really.
     
  20. Chaeron

    Chaeron Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak Ski Pass: Gold

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    Time on snow vs, time getting to the snow......

    Having said that, IF one has the time nothing is as awesome as a loooong walk...the longer the better.... except a looong ski!
     
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  21. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    If there is good skiing to be had then bring it on sooner than later.In green season I am a very avid bushwalker.Bushwalking and trekking led me to snow shoes and snow camping and then that led to XC skiing and now surfing.At age 48 I am making the most of my time and good health.
     
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  22. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    King Billy is seasonal closure - can't recall Brocks - so at the minimum to get to the Howitt Rd in winter it would mean a big drop into the Macallister and a big climb out. Coming up there from the south is occasionally done, involving a long ski on the Snowy and Howitt Plains risking marginal snow cover.
     
  23. legend

    legend One of Us

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    Last time we skied out to Howitt we used Brocks road (2009). There is a barricade about half way between Upper Jamieson Hut and King Billies. It was a long walk, some snow over the K Billies, Magdala, Big Hill and Howitt - 2 days to get to Mac Springs. But it was great to finally base our selves at Mac Springs for the week - no one else out there. 2017 would have been a great year to be there.
     
  24. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Good effort Legend.
     
  25. neilmny

    neilmny One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Looking at Vic Emergency maps the gate is about 4km before the No.2 Saddle or Divide (not sure which name is correct).
     
  26. hongomania

    hongomania One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Open to where?
     
  27. GS

    GS Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I can’t remember where the gate was, I don’t recall ever reaching it. We typically only went up there when there was plenty of snow and drove as far as we could before we ran out of time or the snow halted progress. I should check the old VMTC maps, they probably have the original gate position marked.
     
  28. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Many maps, including information provided directly by Parks Vic have the gate on Brocks Road located much higher than it is. The locked gate is now just east of the Cairn Creek track. I believe there was a gate higher but for reasons which I am intimately aware of, the gate was shifted to avoid some steep slippery clay which requires mud tyres at low pressure and a good run up to get past.
    Lots of climbing before King Billy's that way which is why most go via Bluff Hut but still a day and a half at least to Mac Springs.
     
  29. GS

    GS Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I was meaning the old gate location on the Howitt High Plains road when it was further along from The Gorge
     
  30. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Sorry, wasn't quite sure but I thought I should add it anyway as the discussion included Brocks Road and it could be helpful. We triple checked maps and even spoke with the ranger in Mansfield in person who pointed out where the gate was on Brocks road. Well, actually where it wasn't was pointed out so we set off early one morning to make it to Mac Springs that day. In a stroke of good fortune the lock had been cut and the gate was open otherwise it would have been a hard slog and two days more on the trip. Given the ranger had OK'd us to drive further up to where she thought the gate was, we did. On our return we found a please explain note from the ranger with a lock for the gate. Needless to say the ranger(s) apologised when the error was pointed out.
     
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