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Spion Kopje Trip Report - Skied 28 September

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by Drt, Sep 30, 2019.

  1. Drt

    Drt Hard Yards

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    Our group of three headed out Friday morning from Windy Corner for the Grand Final long weekend backcountry ski. This year Spion Kopje was on the menu. We were all using downhill skis with AT bindings, Walk Mode enabled downhill boots and skins. My setup consists of Icelantic Nomad 95 skis, Marker F10 Alpine Touring Bindings and Tecnica Cochise 120 free mountain boots. Virtually no snow from Windy Corner to the Dam Wall meant walking with skis on our backs. Slightly overcast skies kept the temperature down as we then clipped in and headed out over Heathy Spur Track towards our camping destination of Edmonsons Hut.

    Snow cover was almost complete all the way to the Big River Fire Trail. Only a few small sections of 30m or so had us carrying our skis. The snow was typical late spring softness which meant that skins were not required even for the short uphill sections. There was a snowpatch long enough to ski from Heathy Spur down the gully directly opposite Edmonsons Hut. We only realised this after skiing down the wrong snow finger and ending up on the High Side of Nelse Creek. We had encountered a few groups heading out, but only one stopped at Edmonsons for the night.

    Upon making it to the Hut, we set up camp for a couple of nights and were witness to a fiery sunset display as some bad weather approached. Luckily the front seemed to miss us as only a few drops of r*** were felt, and the temperature plunged throughout the night to about -4C just before sunrise. Everything had frozen mega solid, so our morning was subdued as we took our time preparing for a day out on Spion Kopje.

    We skinned out of Edmonsons up to Big River Firetrail, looping around behind Nelse and Nelse North to the junction with Spion Kopje Firetrail. The snow cover was almost continuous the whole way with walking kept to a few short patches. It took about an hour to get out to the junction. Once on Spion Kopje itself, the real fun began! The whole south facing 5km spur had basically top to bottom cover, except for the gully sides where some rock/heath broke thru.

    A beautiful bluebird day with a cool breeze meant skiing in a light puff jacket. The sun and increasing temperature had transformed the snow into typical late spring corn which meant some of the steeper faces were on the cards. Our plan was to start at the highest point of Spion Kopje (almost 1900m) which is about 600m from the firetrail junction. We then skied down the huge faces which generally got steeper as you got further into them, gliding towards the treeline.

    The snow cover above the treeline was fabulous and untracked. We stopped once we got to the trees, but it looked like you could have gone right down to the bottom of the gully. The first run was approx 1890m down to 1730m. We then put our skins on and slogged our way out on a slight diagonal to the next gully. It was REALLY hard work, especially down at the treeline where the gradients were steep.

    By our third run, we got to a section about 1.5km in from the start which had some mid section drop offs which were the steepest sections we encountered for the day. Choosing our lines carefully, we made our way thru this section and then blasted into the open valley below. Only the snow conditions had allowed us to take that line - the snow so soft and forgiving you could shift weight onto your heels a little to arrest forward momentum. The hikes out were taking about 45 minutes as many rests were needed, and we enjoyed the fabulous scenery. The day was not only about the ski runs, but enjoying our time out in the environment.


    (Spot the skier! - Spion Kopje)

    For our final run we spied a clearing in the trees which elongated the length of the run to about 900m long. This one was not as steep (would still be a difficult blue), but just as fun as we left three sets of adjacent S's all the way down to about 1680m. All up, we had covered only about a third of the total length of the spur and it had taken about 5.5 hours, lunch break included.

    The sun was starting to set and the temperature cool, so we skied back along the top of Spion Kopje, and then over to Baker Spur. One final run down to Edmonsons awaited, the gully half shaded by now. We found the snow had already started to freeze in the shadows, so kept to the sun drenched face with a run of 1890m down to 1720m and into Nelse Creek to collect water for the evening meal.


    (Baker Spur)

    The terrain out on Spion Kopje is navigable by solid experienced skiers which was made fairly straightforward by the fabulous conditions of bluebird and corn. For me, this is THE best time to make a trip to Spion Kopje!
     
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  2. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Fantastic trip report, I've hiked it plenty of times and been out there on old style "skinny skis", but now you have me desperately yearning to ski it properly!

    But the snow will be gone by the time I can persuade a couple of my slack friends to get off their bums and head out there with me. Thanks for motivating me to get out there early in the next ski season.
     
  3. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    That is Mt Nice.
     
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  4. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    a.k.a Mt.Nelse West.(1893 M. ASL).It is Victoria's 3rd highest point after Mt.Bogong and Mt .Feathertop.
     
  5. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I like my name better.
     
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  6. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    While it is the easiest of the three highest points in VIC. to reach from the valley floor on 2 legs it still requires some effort. I have done it a few different ways. I am plotting a XC ski based trip up there in September 2020, either that or The Fainters. Either mission may well commence from Bogong Village and involve some uphill toil with a big pack carrying skis, ski boots etc.
     
  7. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Everyone I know calls it Nelse North West. I reckon that makes sense because the summit area of Mt Nelse is T shaped:
    • the southernmost high point is formally called Mt Nelse
    • The northernmost high point (at the junction of the T) is formally named Mt Nelse North
    • Government produced maps show a bump between Nelse and Nelse North named Nelse Central
    But there are two obvious high points to the east and west of Nelse North, sticking with the established theme, it makes sense to call them:
    • Nelse North East for the one with the monster snowdrift that often lasts until February
    • Nelse North West for the highest point on the whole bloody range or mountain.
    Now people can call the two high points without formal names whatever they like, but I doubt "Mt Happy-camper" or even worse "Mt [name of some hack politician]" would meet with universal approval.

    Nelse North West is logical, uncontroversial and realistically it is the only name that would not be opposed by anyone.

    * Presentation ends. *
     
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  8. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Booooorrrring.
     
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  9. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Just to clarify, what i think should be named Mt Nice is what is labelled Mt Nelse West on this OSM map (from Windy Map App if you need to know) .

    Are talking about the same hillock?

     
  10. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Subject to confirmation of the above location confirmation, I oppose.
     
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  11. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    And to answer the question on everybody's lips, yes the line to the South South West right to the bottom of the creek from Mt Nice is very very nice.
     
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  12. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Oh I'm quite okay with it being named Nelse West rather than Nelse North West.

    It's just silly names like Mt Happy-Camper that I'm opposed to. Plus we all know if this debate gets too drawn out and the local council and/or state government get involved, they are likely to name it after some political hack or someone politicians deem "worthy" that we have either never heard or, or if we have heard of them, a person whose views or actions we disagree with.

    Do you really want a Mt Bracks or a Mt Kennett or a Mt John Setka? :eek:
    Nelse North West is infinitely preferable to those alternatives!
     
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  13. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    They already have Abbott peak in NSW, and possibly once the dictatorship is completed then we will have 'Mt. Dear Leader Dutton' somewhere.
     
  14. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Victorian politicians are worse, they have a long tradition of naming things after themselves.
    • Towns are named after premiers: Bright, Serviceton, Healesville.
    • Geographical features named after premiers include O'Shannassy River, Nicholson River, Patterson River and dozens more.
    • Towns named after state cabinet members: Stawell, Foster and a few others.
    • Every speck of greenery within 5 km of my house has been branded "Councillor Jane Political-Hack Reserve" or similar
    Don't think that the state government or local council won't do that sort of thing again if they think they can get away with it!
    * Rant ends. *
     
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  15. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    "Councillor Jane Political-Hack Reserve"
    LOL:confused:
    The Irony is that many politicians are not that Bright, nor do they offer us good public service, nor foster a sense of respect by actually representing the wishes of the electorates.. Spring street is a sheltered workshop of sorts for those who cannot find anything more gainful to do with themselves .Canberra is worse.
    Look at Turkmenistan. The capital city Ashghabad (City of Romantic Love, I kid you not that is the meaning in Persian) has many golden statues of their dear leader that are automated to face and rotate and follow the arc of the sun from dawn to dusk.
    Only 2 more terms of Dear Leader Dutton and we will have that too.
    By then many of us will not be around to see it because we will be in the clink for dissent.

    I prefer the name Mt. Nelse West.
    Or we could name it after the obese now one legged Blues Rock Guitarist from Woodstock era band "Mountain", thus making the peak "Mt. Lesley West".


    :cool:
     
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  16. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    It has been called Maisie's knoll before in honour of a pioneer conservationist who did a huge amount of work up there. A much more fitting name.
     
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  17. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    The problem with the Masie's Knoll idea is that it's a very polarising name. Masie Fawcett worked with the mountain cattlemen during and after the war to minimise soil erosion. They gave her complete access to their operations, together they tried a few ideas on improving things and based on what worked and what didn't work, they modified their operations, destocked a few areas etc. They felt they were getting useful information on improving the management of what they saw as their ancestral lands.

    Then Fawcett came out and recommended that those same people she worked with be thrown off their land. The Mountain cattlemen felt used, betrayed and cheated on. Generations later some still regard her as an especially nasty person.

    So if you are a strong and uncompromising conservationist, Masie will be your heroine. If you're a local who has lived in the area for many generations, you will probably regard her as the lowest of the low. I'd suggest naming anything after her would create a shitstorm. Whether local MPs and councilors would allow it is also doubtful.
     
  18. legend

    legend One of Us

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    One name being thrown around awhile back is Mt Brookes - after Stuart Brookes of VMTC fame.
    He did a huge amount for bushwalking from the 40s to the early 2000s when he retired from map making (70 years of map making). He helped instigate the Vic BSAR in 1949 with the police. He assisted with the early years of BMLC (in the early '70s he was invited by the various walking and S&R agencies to see what could have prevented the deaths of five students and an instructor in the Scottish Cairngorms) and was board member from 1973 - 1978.
     
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  19. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Personally, I'm a huge Stuart Brookes fan boy. I still use his old maps as they show things like water points and practical off track routes that are absent from more recent maps. He also gave me permission to reproduce his 1949 map of Mt Donna Buang for my online book on the history of that mountain. Furthermore, he's not controversial, everyone likes him!

    Of course he's not a local to that area and naming the "north western prominence" of Mt Nelse after anything might cause the whole mountain to gradually become known by the new name of the highest point on the mountain.

    Regardless of where it is, I'd be quietly pleased if something was named after Stuart Brookes, I reckon he deserves that. However I'm still prepared to put up a major fight to stop the "north western prominence" of Mt Nelse being named after a political (or a politicised) figure and the mountain cattlemen would probably do the same to stop it being named after Fawcett.
     
  20. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    And Mt. Cope was in fact Mt. Jack and the name changed in favour of the mining court judge of Beechworth. Jim and Jack pioneered the area for cattle. I actually know someone on the naming council and I doubt politicians gain much favour these days. In the end, if it were to be named, then it would probably go to the indigenous land owners to decide but even they have trouble agreeing on names. Maybe just leave it without a name. Would not want to upset anyone, especially cattlemen, who along with miners caused a huge amount of damage to the area.
     
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  21. Wally

    Wally One of Us Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Good to know. I was born in Serviceton. Flat land out there, but it was famous for the longest train platform between Melbourne and Adelaide for a long time. Sorry, off topic.
     
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  22. Telemark Phat

    Telemark Phat Pass the butter Ski Pass: Gold

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    She should get a peak named after her, she did remarkable botany, ecology and along with Alec Costin in NSW was an international pioneer in the new field of Alpine Ecology.

    [​IMG]
    Masie's pretty valley plot in 2005 before grazing was banned. On the left had been grazed, on the right had not.

    I suppose its up to your own value systems on whether or not you value threatened to endangered alpine ecologies, or the businesses of a handful of families.
     
  23. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Oh I'm not denying the value and importance of Fawcett's work, as you said, she was an important pioneer in parts of her field. But there is little doubt that naming anything, even something small and unimportant, after her would be controversial and upset plenty of people.

    So naming something big and important after her is especially provocative, it's almost taunting the decedents of the people who saw her as betraying their trust and forcing them off the land that often had been in their families for many generations. After all there are two sides to every debate, and while I slightly trend towards one side, it would be rather self-centred to say that my thoughts and views are more valid or worthwhile than the farmers / mountain cattlemen's views

    I especially dislike anger and conflict, but that's what would happen. I reckon we have to get along with others, even if we disagree with them and we shouldn't go out of our way to upset them. There are plenty of peaceful and non-conflict generating alternatives such as Nelse North West or just leaving that high point unnamed. So I see no reason to polarise opinion and make lots of people unhappy by naming it after a controversial person who still generates emotion..
     
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  24. Telemark Phat

    Telemark Phat Pass the butter Ski Pass: Gold

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    What ever name you choose will piss some one off. I think we should just head it off at the pass and call it "Mt Controversy"
     
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  25. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    "the decedents"?.
    @Bogong I think you mean the descendants .Fooey on the former high country graziers,A bunch of squattocracy cowboys,. They forced the first Australians off their own land using some rather violent and unpleasant means .Although some of the mountain cattlemen are nice people such as Graeme Stoney , whose family have been running introduced hooved beasties in the greater Mansfield area( Howqua/King/ Barkly Rivers area) for generations.
    What about calling it "Mt. Politically Correct"?. The Urdu word for controversial is Muntenaza. In mangled Classical Urdu it would be "Koh e Muntenaza" . I think that has a nice ring to it and could be translated from Dari and Urdu into 'a mountain of controversy'.
     
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  26. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    George Fitzgerald named a great many places on the High Plains, including Spione Kopje. Jim Brown and Jack Wells named many others so the cattlemen have had plenty of representation. Other places named for politicians and judges and even indigenous names. Is there one name place in the mountains for an environmentalist. I would say I have a better than average understanding of the cattleman's plight and also some considerable empathy for them. There is still plenty to remember them by but it is time for them to build a bridge and get over it. That time is past. Who was Nelse anyway? Wiki has it as Mt. Nelse west so it must be official. @Drt please accept my apology for the thread drift.
     
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