Trip Report Mt.Stirling XC ski trip.July 15th 2019.TBJ to Howqua Gap Hut & back.

Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Your correspondent in the field awoke at 0530 on 15/7/19 to prepare for the drive to Mt.Stirling. Also enlisted for the Nordic Ski mission was TP who had not been on planks for years . We made good time on a chilly Monday morning and arrived at the Mirimbah toll booth without any delays or queues.
The sign said "2WD must fit chains here" at Chain Bay 2 or was it No. 3?. I just dropped the AWD Tee mobile , equipped with All terrain snow and mud tyres, into low gear and crawled up to TBJ.
While TP was getting booted up I went to chat with the Ski Patrol about conditions and to leave a trip intention form. I selected an easy route for TP 's foray into Nordic skiing. I also chose my Madshus Epoch skis for him to ski on while I opted for my Fischer Explorer Crowns: Both from my quiver and both BC skis.
The route out to Howqua Gap Hut had been skidoo groomed but a further 8 cms of dry fresh snow had fallen since and as we progressed, the BC skis proved to be a good choice. Other than a lone Skater we were the only ones to have fresh tracks. We surmised and postulated that with the heavy low level snow fall the lone skater may have been off to ski the entire Circuit road in a day. He looked like a fit kind of fellow and his tracks seemed to go past the Howqua Gap .

We set off from TBJ and I gave TP a quick refresher on classic Pattern base skiing especially the diagonal stride , both with and without the ski poles. TP borrowed some old op shop Nordic poles from me that I happened to have lying around but he did purchase his own Fischer NNN BC boots from EMC, which meant we could and did swap skis during the day so that he could experience the differences in different kinds of skis, since all my skis have NNN BC bindings.

I seemed to take off and find my ski legs quite quickly and reached the River spur junction after an hour or less and there I ate some food. It was sunny that morning but it did cloud over and cool right down on the return trip. TP appeared after a while and he seemed to be doing okay on the XC planks. With some fine tuning and some more tips and feedback on his basic diagonal stride he seemed to start to move with some rhythm but not quite with the optimal glide that makes Classic XC skiing much faster than walking.
I really enjoyed the sunshine and fresh soft dry snow and the beautiful scenery along the Circuit road.
Eventually we arrived at the Howqua Gap hut. I started the fire and we ate some proper lunch , we had a quick rest and I filled in the hut log book . The scene outside was classic Buller/ Stirling winter postcard stuff.
The ski surface was littered with fallen debris from the windy snowy stormy night before and there were many fallen trees across the road closer to TBJ.
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We hammered it back and used the slight declivities in places to get some small free rides but the day was mainly about building diagonal stride fitness in readiness for the next day 's ski touring at Falls Ck. TP liked my lighter , slimmer BC XC skis made by Fischer
We arrived back at TBJ just before 1600, having set out from TBJ at 1030.
So we must have skied about 15 kms in a day and the next day we went and skied 16 kms at Falls Creek , going out to The Park via the Paralyser and back to Windy corner at Falls Creek/ BHP.
I am happy to be not skiing tomorrow ;-P !. I am having a 'rest day' at work .
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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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Some more photos from an immensely enjoyable day of XC skiing at Mt. Stirling.
Don't knock skiing the lower trails, they have a charm of their own when conditions are right.
Some of the esteemed Estonian ski school staff were looking for students to teach Nordic skiing to, while other staff there at Mt.Stirling were out on various vehicles, busy cutting fallen logs with chainsaws and keeping the road from Mirimbah to TBJ clear of snow. They know how to run a hill for XC skiing. I heard that the upper trails were more profusely strewn with fallen timber.
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snowgum

A Local
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Some more photos from an immensely enjoyable day of XC skiing at Mt. Stirling.
Don't knock skiing the lower trails, they have a charm of their own when conditions are right.
Some of the esteemed Estonian ski school staff were looking for students to teach Nordic skiing to, while other staff there at Mt.Stirling were out on various vehicles, busy cutting fallen logs with chainsaws and keeping the road from Mirimbah to TBJ clear of snow. They know how to run a hill for XC skiing. I heard that the upper trails were more profusely strewn with fallen timber.
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Good & pics blog by the way. Will be there in a month, let's hope the snow hangs on.
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Jul 29, 2015
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When are you up Bogong next? We'll be up in a fortnight.
Hi TW. I don't have firm plans to ski at Mt.Bogong so far this season .I did not manage to do a supply drop at CC hut during Autumn 2019 .I will do one next green season including putting a metal supply box into the Members' storeroom.
I did do a supply drop near Faithful's hut on the Eastern BHP .I did get the Bogong Club newsletter. I will go to the Bogong Club AGM / dinner if I am in Melb. on the First Friday night in August.This season I am more likely to snow camp at JB hut and ski tour out from there.
 
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skifree

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Looks like a great trip.

But your “I’m having the time of my life and this is more fun than (insert fun activity here)” expression is hard to make out.:):thumbs:
 

Skiain

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I headed out from TBJ to Mt Buller and return, this morning. The road up was clean and in good condition, there was snow at TBJ today but not really skiable for the first 500m or so around the Circuit Rd. The cover was thin and patchy up to 5cm, with storm debris littering the road. The grooming had graded down to gravel in places and a freeze/thaw was occurring in the tyre tracks from management vehicles that had sawn the fallen timber from last week. As altitude increased and as the road crossed Bluff Ck, the debris thinned, snow quality was more consistent and the grooming was effective. Temperatures hovered between 1C - 4C throughout the day, with sleet/rain/snow alternating most of the day on the Southern flanks and the Corn Hill Track. Snow cover was a consistent 5-15cm with occasional washouts, a metre or so in width.

Aside from 4 dog-sled teams on the Corn Hill Track, close to Stirling Rd, I did not see anyone else for the day. The return trip was faster as the snow had firmed a little, and there were extended downhills. It did take some concentration to avoid thinning patches, stones and gravel, especially getting closer to TBJ. The day was generally wet...both the snow and the air.

Debris 1km out from TBJ along Circuit Rd
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View towards Mt Howitt and Mt Magdala from Corn Hill Track on the way to Mt Buller
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One of 4 dog-sled teams, the only others I met all day on the trail
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Brief storm across the southern slopes of Mt Buller
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
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Thanks for the photos. Mt.Stirling is predicted to get a 20 cm top up of snow this Tuesday. I am going up on Wed. for a XC ski.
http://www.janebunn.net/mt-stirling
Ms. Bunn is now on board for 20 cm s PLUS on Tuesday. Wed. will be amazing IF this happens.
The snow did not come on 23-24/7/19. It was old boiler plate. Mainly rubbish but I was out skiing so something good happened.
 

tcornall

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Jul 12, 2019
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Anyone care to comment on what a XC trip from Buller to Stirling via Howqua Gap would be like at the moment? Trail conditions? How much of all that nice white stuff is left, how patchy? Or even improved, since Mr Tees report? (not expecting improvement...)
 

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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Anyone care to comment on what a XC trip from Buller to Stirling via Howqua Gap would be like at the moment? Trail conditions? How much of all that nice white stuff is left, how patchy? Or even improved, since Mr Tees report? (not expecting improvement...)
My guess is that you will be walking with skis off a quite bit. Wait until the next snow fall and then see how you get on. The soothsayers are predicting some fresh snow on August 11th or thereabouts . This season has been a not so good XC season for snow cover so far , really . My friend and I were lucky to get some deep fresh cover for skiing out to Howqua Gap and back to TBJ . It was memorable.

http://www.janebunn.net/mt-stirling
 
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tcornall

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My guess is that you will be walking with skis off a quite bit. Wait until the next snow fall and then see how you get on. The soothsayers are predicting some fresh snow on August 11th or thereabouts . This season has been a not so good XC season for snow cover so far , really . My friend and I were lucky to get some deep fresh cover for skiing out to Howqua Gap and back to TBJ . It was memorable.
Thanks, I was looking at your photos with jealousy and longing, sigh, have resigned myself to a bit of a wait. I can't get up there until at least Aug 9th anyway, so maybe we'll get lucky with a dump 'tween now and then.
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

Not your average unconventional eccentric.
Ski Pass
Jul 29, 2015
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Melbourne, Lockdown-i-stan .
soundcloud.com
Thanks, I was looking at your photos with jealousy and longing, sigh, have resigned myself to a bit of a wait. I can't get up there until at least Aug 9th anyway, so maybe we'll get lucky with a dump 'tween now and then.
I am watching and waiting. Things are looking like late Sept. everywhere for XC in Vic. at present . Even the Fainters as seen from Mt. Beauty yesterday had only the very tops with snow cover. Langford Gap was skis off to reach the hut for lunch, it was that patchy and icy. The next big system is said to be coming in three stages , possibly the first front will arrive on Thursday August 8th.

https://www.mtstirling.com.au/snow-report/
http://www.janebunn.net/mt-stirling
Yes, we are all itching for some XC ski therapy. Bring on the fresh snow!
 
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