Trip Report Mt. No. 3 Refuge Hut BC XC snow camp and ski tour to King Saddle.July30,31 & Aug.1st 2021

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Your correspondent in the field left a supply drop in the bushes near Mt. No. 3 Refuge hut in the Mansfield state forest and I recorded its position with a waypoint on a GPS device in 2020. The Melbourne lockdowns in winter and Spring 2020 disallowed this trip and the chance to utilize these goodies in a snow camping setting. I retrieved these items in Nov. 2020.

. So In March 2021 I took a friend up there to camp the night and I hid a fresh supply drop of canned/ tinned victuals, combustibles, candles, firelighters, and so on.
The window of opportunity finally opened with a break in lockdowns , permission to leave Melbourne from Stairman Dan, plenty of snow down to King Saddle in the Mt. Stirling ski trail report and relatively benign but possibly wet weather for terrain above 1300 M. to 1540 M. in The Buller/ Stirling area for 3 days .

So on 30/7/21 @beefa skiing and I met before dawn at my home address, loaded up the two chainsaws , skis , packs etc. and drove up to Mansfield from Melbourne and onto Tomahawk Gap at the top of Carter's road.
The road was clear of fallen trees and DEWLP seem to have a presence up there.

We got our equipment and ourselves ready for the slog up the closed winter road that is an endless series of steep ascending switchback turns. Road No. 3 ascends 400 M. in elevation in about 3 kms.

Day ONE. July 30th 2021
Saddling up the packs with ski gear strapped to the packs and slogging it up Road No. 3.
We stopped to add micro spikes to our bushwalking boots somewhere after the locked gate.

Once the snow became 10 cms deep on the No. 3 road we changed to ski boots, BC XC skis and skins to get up the hill with heavy packs.

It was a tough slog to reach the hut. There were a number of big wash outs closer to the top of the switchback road section, where we had to take the skis off and walk/ post hole or side step along narrow fingers of washed out snow , down 50 cms in depth to the mud and then back up onto the snow pack to continue.
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We met a couple out for the day , (a skier and a snow shoe walker) out there and a school group from Timbertop school too.

The snow cover improved as we ascended.
Finally we reached the summit area of Mt. No. 3 which is well over 1550 M. ASL. It was very scenic and quite windy and cold.
 
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Day 1.We both felt fatigued by the time we reached the road sign stating how far away the hut was. It was 1.4 kms away . I was spent , hungry and thirsty by that stage and had to make myself ruddy well finish the trek / skin / ski in.
Since neither of us have had much experience carrying heavy multi night packs on BC XC skis we left the skins on the whole way to the Hut in order to reduce the glide and keep up right and in control of our skis.
It was a relief to sit down, eat , drink some water and warm up in the hut by starting the fire.
The water tank at the hut was frozen so melting and boiling a lot of snow was one of the jobs for the evening at camp.
After lunch snow tents were erected, dry non sweaty base layers were donned by me , the supply drop was located and retrieved and a short ski without heavy packs was under taken after resting. The snow on Road No. 3 at 1490 M. ASL was very good for classic XC skiing without skins and without heavy packs.
This was GOOD!.
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By then it was almost sunset and time to cook and eat , dry out skins , dry out other gear and relax with the warm and dry hut all to ourselves. It is a bleeding good hut. Not a decrepit hovel at all .
There was plenty of cut firewood there too.
:)
 
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Jul 29, 2015
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Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
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Day 2.
A day trip with day packs down to King Saddle shelter and the Razorback huts at the Mt. Stirling resort .
There was continuous snow cover the whole way there and back. The track from Mt. No. 3 refuge hut to the cattle gate had icy sections and was full of sticks that had fallen during the VERY windy night that passed on Friday night .
The winds were less severe once we dropped down into the Tall Mountain Ash forest .Visibility started out OK but became less so as the day progressed.
We ate lunch at King Saddle shelter. The wood burner was not burning and warm so we could not sit for long after eating. It was drizzling a bit here and there while we were within the resort boundary.
There was some skidoo grooming being carried out by the ski patrol between King Saddle and The Razorback hut.
@beefa skiing had a face plant crash when he hit some debris that had left a hole in the ski track where the ski patrol had cut a fallen log and cleared the ski trail out to The Razorback huts. We had a chat with the ski patrollers on their snow mobile , two women , and then skied down the freshly skidoo groomed Razorback Huts track and headed back up to our camp site.
It took us about 2. 5 hours to reach our camp, skiing up hill on softening snow cover. It was a 15 km day.
There were a number of fallen large trees freshly down and blocking the ski trail . We had to click out of our NNN BC bindings and post hole through the obstacle course a few times.
We saw other ski tracks closer to the hut.
When we got back to the Hut the sun came out and the wind had abated and we found a group of skiers on AT gear with skins had come up from Carter's road.
With no steeps to hammer down and the wrong gear for the terrain they got bored , cancelled their plan to crash
the night in the Hut ( They had no tents :-0 ) and went back down to Tomahawk gap and off to the Mansfield pub. So we had the hut to ourselves , again.
 
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Jul 29, 2015
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Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
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Day 2.
31.8.21
Skiing down to The Mt. Stirling Resort area.
We obtained a good view of Mt. Buller on the way.
We both picked up a bit speed skiing down hill. I did some stem Christie turns but in evading a protruding stick or two I had a crash .
@beefa skiing also had a spill.
I have muscle memory and have learned to crash in a controlled manner, safely (most of the time) on my left buttock . The surface was soft and it did not hurt.
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
Ski Pass
Jul 29, 2015
12,485
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813
Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
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Day 2.
Heading back UP the hill to our camp at Mt. No. 3 refuge hut , past the cattle gate on Road Number 3.
. It became foggy and the fleeting views of Mt. Cobbler and Mt. Buffalo slipped away .We climbed out of the tall Mountain Ash forest and back into the snow gums. We saw
many fallen trees.
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Jul 29, 2015
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Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
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Day 2.
Back at camp we had company but they decided to go away after a while which suited us better.
They were not Nordic skiers at all and had their own thing going on. It is a comfortable hut to sit in with just another one or two people but 6 or 7 becomes a crowd.
The sun came out at about 3 pm and I relaxed in my tent and changed into fresh dry not sweaty base layers after smashing it out up the No. 3 road.
Later I went for a ski with just the camera to get some pictures in
the sun and to escape from the no tent A/T gear and skins skiers for a while.
The red thingies on
the white side of the road markers were almost touching the snow in some places.
We settled in for the evening with hut back to ourselves. I think @Carola would have loved this trip :).
We were expecting rain all night and the next day but what we got was a surprise and a total bonus the next morning.
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We had to ski to the pit loo each morning . The snow was at least mid shin deep. It was quicker and easier to XC ski to the Shite house( as seen in the above photo).We skied around the camp site corral because the gate closest to the dunny was blocked by snow.
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Good solo late afternoon XC skiing with lovely sunshine and snow gums and views of the countryside down near Merrijig.
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Jul 29, 2015
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Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
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Day 3 . 1/8/21
7 or 8 cms IMHO of fresh snow fell overnight. I got up in the night to wee and got hammered by wind driven snow that was just puking out of the sky.
We ate breakfast , got the fire burning again in the NECTAR wood burner, in order to help melt the wind driven rime, ice and snow that was caked onto our skis and thaw out some of our camping gear so that it became easier pack up.
It was very cold and clear and the snow was very fresh , quite dry and sticky.
There was No glide to the loo . The snow stuck to the ski bases.
We got moving at about 10 am, hid the empty supply drop buckets in the snow / scrub and skied off and proceeded to skin up Mt. No. 3..It would have been tricky trying to herringbone up that hill with those big packs.
We met two other pack carry ski tourers who said they might head for The Razorback Hut to camp.
The weather was very clear and mild and the scenery looked great caked in fresh snow. It was easy on the ski legs too.
We took lunch near the top of the switchback descent and changed back into hiking boots with micro spikes for the wash outs, steep turns and plenty of r*** damaged slush.
Some rock apes had taken trail bikes up past the locked gate and driven right up the No. 3 road in the slush until they could not get any further.
What absolutely brain dead knuckle draggers.
The snow cover had been also foot printed to death lower down so even if we could ski with heavy packs down such a steep winding jeep track the snow cover was kaput. The best skiing was on 31.7.21. We got our gain for all the pack carry pain.
In the end we reached my car and then after getting ready , putting on clean clothes we went to visit the Tomahawk hut on the way back to Mansfield.
I sent a message or three to some people back in civilization to let them know we were safe and after a caffeine hit at a café in
Mansfield we went back to Melb..
Mission accomplished!!.
Oh boy , I slept so well that night on my return.
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Jul 29, 2015
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Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
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Day 3. 1st August 2021.
It was a slog going up Mt. No. 3 on skins, but the scenery was showing off.
The mission was coming to a successful conclusion and with bonus fresh snow and sunshine. Ms. Bunn and BOM had got it wrong and we benefitted immensely from this erroneous weather forecast.
The result was the opposite of what we had expected on that Sunday.
We rejoined the Mountain ash forest and stopped at Tomahawk hut. There I found a full tube of Swix F4 paste glide wax in the hut.
It is perfect for de clogging your ski bases when the snow is super fresh and sticky. I gave it to @beefa skiing and recommended it to him that it to be carried in the day pack for XC skiing at all times.
@beefa skiing told me he was in the Search and rescue party at Tomahawk hut ten years ago when the person who vanished in the area first became lost/ went missing.
There is a plaque at the hut in memorial to the man who never came back from his deer shooting trip.
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Jul 29, 2015
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Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
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Excellent snow cover on the Mt No 3 road
Yes, we had it all going our way :) :ski: . We were LIVING THE DREAM !.You won't always get that. We were just lining up all the ducks that weekend, just gone now. The R*** on Sat. night would have decimated the snow cover closer to Mt. Stirling's lower trails. Higher up it fell as fluffy and dry sticky fresh snow at Mt. No. 3 refuge hut .I would expect King Spur Hut a.k.a Hut No. 36 would have got fresh snow on Sat. night , same for the Cricket Pitch both at Mt. Stirling.
 
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Jul 29, 2015
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Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
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Incidentally, Carter's road camping area is shut and is subject to some work being done to it by DEWLP.
If you are heading to Mt. Stirling to XC ski via TBJ and wish to camp a night before or after skiing , then somewhere below the snow line for camping such as Sheep yard Flat would have to suffice as a camping spot.
 
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pegasusSki

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I tried to convince @Boots or 2 Planks to come and try real proper snow camping and multi night BC XC ski touring but he piked out .
He said he didn't like the cold. What kind of BC XC skier doesn't like the cold ? :-0.
old chap! - some skiers are Side Country skiers out of a resort who "tour" on say frames - to get the turns. They like the phys.

Many would have no reason to sleep outside.

You are more of a resort side-country cross-country tourer on NNN-BC. I'd say you haven't yet gone BC and you've done no turns at all - really. Sleeping on Mt Stirling is not really BC. It's still side-country and cold. I think.

Different strokes for different folks. What's your thoughts? To be properly BC you'd need to be around the backs of those peaks in NSW.
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Jul 29, 2015
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Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
soundcloud.com
old chap! - some skiers are Side Country skiers out of a resort who "tour" on say frames - to get the turns. They like the phys.

Many would have no reason to sleep outside.

You are more of a resort side-country cross-country tourer on NNN-BC. I'd say you haven't yet gone BC and you've done no turns at all - really. Sleeping on Mt Stirling is not really BC. It's still side-country and cold. I think.

Different strokes for different folks. What's your thoughts? To be properly BC you'd need to be around the backs of those peaks in NSW.
Mt. No. 3 refuge hut is NOT part of Mt. Stirling resort at all ( It is in the Mansfield state forest and feels quite remote in winter) and we schelpped in via the back way which is quite a slog coming via Carter's road and the steep switch back up Road No. 3 .
We drove in with 2 chain saws in the boot of my car just in case.

To suggest that only The Main Range and the Jagungal Wilderness is the real B.C. is not something I can agree with you about.
Vic. has plenty of BC touring terrain.
Next ski season in 2022 I hope with some major track clearing during the green season , the route into Cleve Cole Hut via Mulhauser track and the Long Spur will be totally doable on skins with a heavy pack .
The same could be said for approaching Mac. Springs hut from Gorge Gap on the Howitt road and camping at the Barstard's Neck for one night en route.
I am game for that next season too!!
 

pegasusSki

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PS you know you are a tragic when you zoom into photos to look at people's skis!!
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Jul 29, 2015
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PS you know you are a tragic when you zoom into photos to look at people's skis!!
I was using my Madshus Epoch skis and NNN BC boots rather than my new Annum skis and Excursion boots last weekend in the Mansfield State forest simply because they are lighter to trek in with strapped to the pack and I have yet to wear the Plastic Garmont Excursion 3 pin boots in.

If we had no pandemic and lockdowns then I would be skiing that new set up right NOW!!!.

The terrain out there on Road No. 3 is totally skiable in NNN BC. No issues there.

I came to this pastime from Bushwalking. What I do in winter as seen in this trip report has strong links to Bushwalking .... on planks.
 

chriscross

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The Foothills
old chap! - some skiers are Side Country skiers out of a resort who "tour" on say frames - to get the turns. They like the phys.

Many would have no reason to sleep outside.

You are more of a resort side-country cross-country tourer on NNN-BC. I'd say you haven't yet gone BC and you've done no turns at all - really. Sleeping on Mt Stirling is not really BC. It's still side-country and cold. I think.

Different strokes for different folks. What's your thoughts? To be properly BC you'd need to be around the backs of those peaks in NSW.
A couple of harsh calls there, pegasusSki.

"...to be properly BC you'd need to be around the backs of those peaks in N.S.W." ?
Is this a new definition of BC? Which doesn't exist in Victoria? Feathertop, Bogong not BC? Fainters, the Bluff? The Rocky Knolls feel like BC to me, even if it's technically lift assisted side-country. Or are you just looking for some debate in your break from boring tiling? Skiing out the back of Stirling summit certainly requires some BC skills, even if you are not very far from a marked trail, a hut or a pole line.
Mr T deserves some kudos for his efforts. He may well be "a cross country tourer" as you say but he gets out there under his own steam and mostly avoids resorts ( and the hefty entrance fees which apply to enter them). But I do agree that to be a competent and safe out of resort skier, you need to move on from the concept of 'bushwalking on planks' and develop some core skiing skills.
 

pegasusSki

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A couple of harsh calls there, pegasusSki.

"...to be properly BC you'd need to be around the backs of those peaks in N.S.W." ?
Is this a new definition of BC? Which doesn't exist in Victoria? Feathertop, Bogong not BC? Fainters, the Bluff? The Rocky Knolls feel like BC to me, even if it's technically lift assisted side-country. Or are you just looking for some debate in your break from boring tiling? Skiing out the back of Stirling summit certainly requires some BC skills, even if you are not very far from a marked trail, a hut or a pole line.
Mr T deserves some kudos for his efforts. He may well be "a cross country tourer" as you say but he gets out there under his own steam and mostly avoids resorts ( and the hefty entrance fees which apply to enter them). But I do agree that to be a competent and safe out of resort skier, you need to move on from the concept of 'bushwalking on planks' and develop some core skiing skills.
yes, I meant any BC country which includes all those you mention.
I think I got out of bed on the wrong side that day.....I did actually ponder this a bit more (but forget where I got to).
 
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
Ski Pass
Jul 29, 2015
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13,023
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Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
soundcloud.com
But I do agree that to be a competent and safe out of resort skier, you need to move on from the concept of 'bushwalking on planks' and develop some core skiing skills.
I have been planning to get intermediate free heel ski lessons and use a ski lift for enhancing and rehearsing the skills for this project for two consecutive ski seasons. However the Pandemic and lockdowns have thwarted my plans.
 
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