The carpark (© Image Greg Robinson 2004)

Not up Mt. Feathertop
Sept. with Greg, Ed & Liz, 2004


The wind was howling up to 90 km’s an hour as we jumped out of Ed's car. Our weather can rival Scotland’s in its foulness any day. We opted not to do our planned route along the Razorback ridge to Mt. Feathertop where I’d intended to climb some of the gullies as the others skied down them. The mountain was 10km’s away and well beyond our 30m visibility. Why I still packed my climbing tools and crampons I’ll never know. I could have saved a few kg's by leaving them in the car.

Into the wind we went. After some fussing about the route we found our first destination – a numbered snow pole. These poles are placed at regular intervals along the lengthy Alpine Walking Track and simplified the task of locating the exit from the car park. Without them we’d probably still be walking in circles around the car.

The buffets of snow and wind grew and fell as we moved from pole to pole. Everyone on skis except for me – the world’s most impressive non-skier. I plodded along on excellent snowshoes provided by Ed after I couldn’t get any for hire. Sure beats plugging holes in the snow!

The afternoon passed uneventfully and without shortness of breath. We sidled from the carpark around Mt. Loch and wandered down its far side. Greg did a couple of turns down a little slope before we crossed a snow bridge over a creek and arrived at Derrick hut. Here we stopped for some lunch before heading a couple of k’s along the track to pole 125.

The fun began as we ventured into the burnt out snow gums in search of what proved to be a very elusive location, the Quintet Mine Huts. After perhaps an hour of bumbling around, taking bearings and “I swear it must be here somewhere” we set up tents including my new (Macpac of course what would you expect from Macpac Man?) Minaret.

The snow eased. The wind lessened. Greg and Liz skied down the hill through the trees. Ed dug a snow cave. I played with the tent guy wires on my new toy and ambled around the clearing. I investigated some star pickets and iron sticking out of the snow by a tree at the edge of the clearing.

Greg admires Macpac Man's new Minaret.

Ed & Liz smile for the camera

It snowed most of the night. I know this because I stuck my head out of the tent to test a new headlamp’s high-beam LED. Impressive! (If only Macpac made head torches...)

We awoke to a gorgeous clearing sky and views across the valley. Patches of blue above us promised a fun day ahead as we packed our stuff away at a leisurely pace. No alpine starts on this trip!

Plodding back up the hill we were soon too warm and stopped to put on sunscreen and take off some jackets. Liz stuffed the front of her salopettes with so much stuff she felt embarrassed by her extra shapely figure.

The burnt snow gums are so beautiful in their glistening, icy shells but the views across the peaks in the clear air are heart wrenching. Where have all our forests gone? They have been burnt to a cinder and will take years to recover from this savage beating – unusual in its magnitude even here in the land of fire.

At the top of the hill Greg had skied yesterday everyone that could ski (namely everybody except me) dumped their packs, removed their skins (from their skis not their bodies) and tore off down the slope. I wandered off to explore a corniced ridge…

I needn’t have bothered. My attempt to climb it resulted in me burying myself up to the waist in drift snow at every step. Had I removed my shovel from my pack I could have dug my way up the slope more easily than climbed it. Like I said, climbing equipment would have been better (lighter) left in the car. Such is the life of a wanna-be mountain climber in Australia.

Greg's mittens  (© Image Greg Robinson 2004)

After lunch we plodded our way back past the ski resort bunnies who were embarrassingly inquisitive (and in some cases dangerously ignorant) towards the car.

Its amazing what you can see up here when the weather is clear. Mt Feathertop beamed white in the distance, beautifully coated in snow. The Razorback beckoned. What a gorgeous trip it would have been! A quick photo later and we were on our way to Bright for a beer. A (toilet) stop at McDonald's on the highway (and somebodies snuck in a thick-shake and a burger against sensible politics) and we were on our way home again. Not much of a climbing weekend but a fun way to spend a couple of days in the snow all the same.


Epilogue: A hunt around the WWW on Monday revealed that the Quintet Mine huts had been burnt to a cinder in the fires last year. Alas, another piece of our heritage succumbs to the calamity of global warming. At least our navigation wasn't at fault - we were in the right location.

Greg poses in front of the Razorback Ridge. Mt. Feathertop is in the distance.

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