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Question Mt Bogong Huts Burnings 1978

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by Total Whiteout, Apr 30, 2019.

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  1. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Hey all,

    Does anyone have any info on the burnings of huts at Mt Bogong in the late 70s?

    This is often seen is the high (or low) point of the 'huts debate' of the 70s.

    Bivouac Hut, Maddison's Hut, and Summit Hut on Mt Bogong were all burned down in October 1978, supposedly by 'environmental vandals' (source for the date is the 2005 Graeme Butler Alpine huts heritage hut survey p. 73).

    The Butler survey also provides some newspaper sources from the period, and a quote from Mt Bogong Club Secretary, Keith Fizelle, which I'm hoping to track down.

    I've also found a mention of the burnings in Victorian Government Hansard from 1979.

    I personally find it somewhat odd the 'eco vandals' decided to destroy the three oldest and poorest condition huts in the area (seemingly not targeting the good condition huts of the area, i.e. Michell's Refuge, Cleve Cole, Ropers etc).

    Anyone got any leads?
     
  2. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I have been told that the arsonist also had a go at Cleve Cole Memorial Hut on the weekend they burnt Maddisons (Aertex), Summit and Bivouac (Mark II), but it wouldn't burn as it is mostly built from stone. Apparently there was evidence of minor burning or scorching damage. The Mt Bogong Club should be able to confirm or refute this.

    That horror weekend of arson probably has to be seen in the context of the torching of the first Johnson's Hut not long before. It may have been copycat behaviour inspired by Johnsons.

    A few people have told me they know the name of the Bogong arsonist, but I suspect that is just bluster and tall tales. While they didn't reveal the name of the alleged offender, I wouldn't have taken them very seriously unless it came from a trusted and reliable source. I once went on a hike with a baby boomer Bolshevik, eco-warrior type. He sort of inferred that he may have been involved in the Johnsons Hut arson. While I think he was trying to big note himself, I can disclose the name and context if you contact me privately.
     
  3. VSG

    VSG Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Never knew. Barstards.
     
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  4. telenomore

    telenomore One of Us

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    Interesting topic. In NSW about that time there was very strong undercurrent of anti hut sentiment. At about the same time the concept of wilderness was evolving in the minds of many who loved the Snowy Mts. The Wilderness Act in NSW was promulgated in 1978. Also around that time, huts near Jagungal, some privately owned, one in particular, was burnt down and very quickly rebuilt. Constances hut was burnt down (since rebuilt!), a little later I think, and I believe accidentally, but there is some doubt about the loss of Alpine Hut in the shadow of the Brassies. This was also burnt down around the same time as Constances and was a great loss IMO as it one of the classic huts of the early era of discovery in the snowy Mts. An accident or deliberate? the story was that it was an accident but maybe someone knows more about that as well, either way, 2 huts burning down at about the same time with the anti hut sentiment afloat is suspicious.
     
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  5. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Interesting, last night I found several letters to the editor in the Canberra Times from 1978 arguing back and forth the merits / downsides of skiers huts in the Snowy Mountains. Though no mention of arson.
     
  6. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ah yes, the unhutting epoch.
     
  7. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    When I was researching the huts chapter of my 98% complete history of Mt Feathertop, (I'll probably never quite finish it unless someone pushes me really hard to do it), I came across a lot of anti hut sentiment which people can read a brief summary of in the Federation Hut (Mark I) section. Essentially the peak body for Victorian hiking clubs was split into two factions; one which included the Catholic Walking Club was very keen to build the hut and argued it would provide an essential safety refuge as well as comfortable shelter, while the other faction led by the Melbourne Bushwalkers and the Melb Walking Club argued passionately against building Fed Hut, saying that the mountain should remain a 'wilderness' (despite it having hosted 6 gold mines in the past and a hotel more recently).

    As we know, the first Fed Hut was built, but there was some really heated and nasty infighting within the walking club community. Unaffiliated hikers were apparently even more passionate and full on. This happened as early as the late 1960s, a time before NSW started dozing huts on the Main Range, huts were "removed" from Jagungal, etc. So the pro or anti huts debate had been going for a decade, at least in Victoria, before the Mt Bogong arson.
     
  8. VSG

    VSG Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Huts save lives.

    A bit like seatbelts (generally) do.
     
  9. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    A big problem is that most anti hut people dont ski or snowcamp.

    So they go to the BHPs in January with Max Temps in the 20s and mins in the teens, flowers out & the place full of walkers, bikers, horses & SUVs - its a snokzefest.

    They forget you’ll do die in hrs if caught exposed in winter.

    We’re so dumb here & ignorant here its embarrassing. Even the Kiwis laugh at our mtn management & hut culture & policies.

    And then some parks allow feral species to roam but prevent anti refuge huts... Geeeze!!
     
  10. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    This. I've talked to a few Euros about our approach and they reckon it's completely elitist and precludes people from enjoying the mountains.
     
  11. Seth

    Seth Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Is there a secret password or handshake?
     
  12. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Probably
     
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  13. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    Toilets
    More toilets...........
     
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  14. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    see 'moral hazard' arguments
     
  15. CaptainC

    CaptainC Hard Yards

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    Interesting reading the claims that some old timers knew who did it. I've recently been reading my books about the Wonnangatta murders in 1918, and there are all these claims that the old timers in the district knew who did it. They would all be dead long ago, but I think that they just had a bunch of theories. Probably the same about the huts burning down. I've had a look at Harry Stephenson's Cattlemen and Huts of the High Plains and he just has 2 sentences saying that it happened and that whoever was responsible hasn't come forward. Klaus Huneke in Huts in the Victorian Alps just says they were destroyed by persons unknown.
     
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  16. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Given Australian defamation laws it would be a brave person who said anything more. Once everyone is dead things loosen up.

    Australian defamation laws are a pox on free information.
     
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  17. Boodwah

    Boodwah One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yup.
    Imagine a well managed and manned string of huts like the French or Swiss refuges from Kiandra to Baw Baw along Alpine walking track.
    Would be epic.
     
  18. Boodwah

    Boodwah One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    You need to finish that book!
    Have some nice photos if you'd like.
     
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  19. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Oh I imagine it!
     
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  20. Boodwah

    Boodwah One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    The one we just stayed in last week has a very positive ecological footprint.
    Like the new one in Tas at Frenchman's.
    Concentrates human waste and activity in the one spot.
    All renewable energy etc.
    Run at a profit to cover costs, but not for private profiteers.
     
  21. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    Would be wonderful but I understand there's a few lower altitude areas between Bawbs and Skene where it's hard to avoid logging. That's a shame - be pro logging if you want but surely leave a 2-4 km wide strip for the AWT??

    Oh and the other thing - at the risk of sounding elitist - the huts I visit by 4WD tend to get rather abused (I assume more by casual users than by formal groups/clubs). So Even keeping a hut 500m from the nearest road/4WD track would be the go. Yes? This concern would be irrelevant in much of Alpine Europe based on what I've seen/heard. Europeans can walk /ski/shoe a few kms from a trailhead!!
     
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  22. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    Kiandra- 4 Mile, Broken Dam, Brooks, Happys, Boobee, Tibeaudos, O’Keefes, Cesjacks, Dershkos, Round Mtn, Grey Mare, Valentines, Mawsons, Tin, Schlick, Whites River, Disappointment Spur, Horse Camp, Guthega, Charlotte Pass, Seaman’s, Cootapatamba, Thredbo, Cascades, Teddy’s, Tin Mines - Mexico.
    BYO food, no bookings required, no fees (except the resorts, so close to the MR)
    164 km
    23 huts
    Seems more than enough IMO
    Yeah, nah.
     
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  23. Boodwah

    Boodwah One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Well mb leave you 'mericans to tote your 300kg packs for that then.
    The Mexican operations would just be daypacks, warm airtight refuges, bunks and blankets, staffed with permanent guardians, communal dinners, $80/night. A few would have beer on tap.
     
  24. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    Deal!
    Budweiser’s or Tequilas though?
    Single malt north of the wall. :cheers:
     
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  25. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Well as I said, the Feathertop history is on line and 98% finished. The main things it needs are:
    • A bit more stuff on the second Fed Hut
    • For me to work out how to show the captions on the historic MUMC Hut picture gallery without obscuring the photos
    • A really strong minded editor to improve the text where I waffle or where I'm a bit unclear.
    But please PM me any especially scenic photos or good historic photos and I will be very happy to add them.

    If anyone is prepared to tackle any of the three main tasks I listed, or can offer more info, corrections, etc. I will happily give them a big credit. I haven't done anything to the Feathertop history for about three years, so a bit of help may motivate me to finish the thing and get it up to the standard of my Donna Buang history which I'm rather pleased with.
     
  26. weerab

    weerab One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I spent one night in an Austrian Hutte which had 200 beds (mostly bunks) and it was reasonably priced with food and drink available. It would be a great idea for the high plains and would keep all the crap in the one place!
     
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  27. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Hasn't Parks Vic already put forward this idea with the Falls to Hotham walk? Many here did not like that idea.
     
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  28. weerab

    weerab One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes, but wasn't that a guided walk from start to finish? WRT to the Austrian hut system you could just rock up and stay for one night without doing a whole organised walk. We had actually planned a 3 hut walk but only got as far as the first hut due to too much snow on the ground.
     
  29. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The walk is only a pretence for the resorts to build accommodation in the park. The fine print mentioned the accommodation could be used for other purposes when people were not booked in to do the walk. People could also do the walk unguided book in. Then there was the exclusion of all others near the new resort accommodation. I was talking to one of the commercial tour operators yesterday who is running glamping tours on the Falls to Hotham walk and he thinks the idea of walking people up Diamantina spur to accommodation at High Knob on the Razerback is ridiculous and certainly not something he would do. This would only be another high end offer for the resorts who would no doubt start making rules for BC travellers in that area.
     
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  30. ARitchie

    ARitchie Early Days

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    Imagine something like this hidden away behind Spion Kopje for backcountry only
     
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  31. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Roper hut IS quite cosy.... with a food drop it would be awesome - as would be Westons....

    These 2 huts are under-visited in winter.....
     
  32. mr

    mr Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    And edmonsens. Hardly ever see anyone there. It has a dunny
     
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  33. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I thought it got a fair bit of patronage over winter being much closer and such a good location. It is interesting that you hardly see anyone and when I have been there it is packed with the obligatory igloo. I just don't bother going there now but I just could have picked the busy days.
     
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  34. skifree

    skifree Part of the Furniture Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Missing the irony icon?
     
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  35. Majikthise

    Majikthise Sage Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Mod note ^see what i did here ^
    Thread gets locked if it continues
     
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  36. mr

    mr Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    no irony - maybe i just got the quiet days! but most times ive been to edmonsens theres noone around or one other group...
     
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  37. skifree

    skifree Part of the Furniture Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    It's a luverly hut in an interesting site. I've only found it empty maybe twice in 25 years. Which is one reason I started dropping over the ridge to camp in the area about Johnston's Hut. The company is normally good, but sometimes overwhelming when the hut is full and there are another 5 plus tents outside. So I think you lucky to have enjoyed peace and quite there.:thumbs:
     
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  38. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    One of the best photos I have taken and one that made us a lot of money was a summer photo early in the morning at Edmondsons hut. Great line of snowgums that did not perish in the fire and with fog plus wildflowers it ended up a favourite. We had it printed on a huge canvas and sold it many times over. I remember the old dunny there that the wind would blow up. Not one to sit on when that happens.
     
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  39. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Amazing to read the ParksVIC logbooks at Dibbins, Youngs, Ropers, Cope Saddle, Westons and Edmondsons, and see how lightly they’re visited in the snow.

    By contrast Michell, Cleve Cole, Cope and Tawonga Gap appear to pick up so much more winter traffic if you go by the logbooks.

    Haven’t reviewed logbooks for Ryders Yards, Fitzgeralds, Johnsons, Wallaces to the same degree...

    Admittedly, I don’t log all my winter or summer hut visits and many others presumably don’t either.
     
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  40. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Well Team Bears were trying to organise a meeting in a telephone box but we could not find one !
    But that Coota ....Hut looks like it might have a line in!
    Sorry if we missed our moderator moderating while we were gone !
     
  41. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I don't log my trips at all but enough do so I think the log books are a fair indication of use. It is easy to get a false perception. Some people will log a day visit also which would need to be filtered. I doubt many would stay at Wallaces now the fireplace is block off. We camped there one spring before the fire was blocked to get an early morning photo but camping at the site (even in a tent) has been stopped. Nobody would check in winter. The lack of a toilet may also be a concern for some in winter so Ryders may not get much traffic. Johnsons gets booked through winter and Fitz's picks up a lot of traffic from time to time. A lot of day trippers there also. Mittagundi use Fitz's hut for winter groups but only when there is no snow at McNamarra's.
     
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  42. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    It is interesting out in the backcountry in mid winter(when snow cover is good /packed.

    Certainly Weston’s would receive less visitors as the decent with gear is a little tricky...The Team Leader not known for turning ability gets down there with a few horizontal traverses.Its a reasonable drop in altitude from the Mt Jim Massive above.

    I think those are the two reasons why it gets less visits than other huts.

    There is nothing difficult about decending into Ropers or Young’s.The distance seems to put off the bulk of skiers.....those three pole lines ensure safe passage ....perhaps weather considerations put off some from getting that far from Falls Ck.So you either go out to spend night there or you have a long day having to return regardless of weather conditions.

    But the purpose of those huts ....well the small no of visitors ....you should not use the visitor no’s as the only factor to plan works in management!!

    The desperados grovelling up from Blair’s or smashing up from Big River are the folk that you need to think of.These minority groups or individuals are the ones that most require a safe warm environment to restore their physical and mental abilities!


    After this recent dump of snow it would be a near death experience clambering up some of those steep approaches.I am sure this small minority of Park Users value those huts.

    Management need to focus more on the minority of desperados !

    Desperados Rule!
    Cheers Team Bears.
     
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  43. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Good to see Ropers, Youngs, Westons in such good nick - a lot of effort by ParksVic and volunteers to keep them in good shape.

    Paging through the logbooks of the BHP huts one also comes across @Ubiquitous Steve - cleaning up or stocking with fire wood.

    Looking forward to visiting Ropers, Westons and Youngs this winter on snow - maybe I should do a circuit tour like they did in the old days....

    Maybe Windy Corner - Pretty Valley, Tawonga huts, Westons, Youngs, Cope Saddle, Cope, Wallaces, Langford Gap, Fitzgeralds, Edmondsons, Ropers, Windy Corner. Probably manageable over 4 or 5 days if the weather and the legs hold up. Should have done a food drop...
     
  44. Kletterer

    Kletterer Thredbo Doughnut Tragic Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I was quite active on Boges etc that year. Old Mick reckoned they came from the Mitta side.
     
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  45. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you start out over Ruined Castle to Pretty Valley you could always pull a small plastic tobobaggan with a few heavy things...the groomed trail into Pretty Valley is pretty easy with such a thing in tow.Then towing stuff out to Cope Saddle and Ryder’s Huts is also pretty easy as the skidoos tend to flatten down the path of travel.Definately pick Weston’s,Young’s and Ropers Huts to stay at....if necessary stash toboggan enroute and pick up in summer?
     
  46. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Next green season i.e. March 2020 I will do a food and supply drop at Young's /SEC hut coming in on foot from Pretty Valley car park.
     
  47. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Edmondson's hut in white season is very chilly. All the heat from the fireplace goes directly up the chimney.
     
  48. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Edmonson's in September 2017. Great trip but a chilly night's sleep in the hut. Got a small fire going but not much fire wood around... Slept in the hut and hung our ski jackets over the ventilated glass windows.
     
  49. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Edmunsons needs insulation in roof.And wood stove like Ropers or Weston’s in a little insulated cattlemans looking chimney....it basically needs some work done on it ....without changing character of the hut.....but I would expect howls of protest for even thinking about it !:whistle:

    You could duplicate it with double corrugated iron walls and roof but with foam insulation between.
     
  50. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    And maybe some better windows...
     
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