It was mid July 2014 when my son Joe and I set out on an overnight snow shoe walk in the Victorian high country. Our destination was Mt Howitt, one of the most scenic places in the Victorian Alps which we had previously only walked to in summer – as a day walk from the Snowy Road carpark. But as we would find out the trip in winter was much more challenging and required more time than we had planned for. From mid June to the end of October the abutting four wheel drive network (from all four directions) is seasonally closed to vehicles, much of which is under snow for a number of months. The maps showed that there was no real quick access to Mt Howitt during the peak of the snow season and that the nearest trail head is up to 30 klm away. After assessing the options we decided to walk in via Bluff Hut on Bluff Track.
Visiting a fairly remote area of the Victorian high country in winter would be a new experience for us. There had been an unusually large dumping of snow in late June and July this season which had transformed the alpine landscape into something that beckoned us to explore. Late on the Friday we drove through Mansfield, Sheepyard Flat and up the Howqua River to the seasonally closed gate on Bluff Track (at Bluff Link Rd) where we parked our 4 wheel drive. The next morning after a night in our swags on half a foot of snow, we donned our packs and MSR Evo snow shoes and set off for Mt Howitt.
As it turned out we under estimated the time it would take to get to Mt Howitt and made the decision to turn around at the half way point (at 14 kilometres).
Map showing route walked.
Not far into our walk near Bluff Hut.
Looking back towards the Bluff. Our walk was along a four wheel drive track which was mostly obscured, as it was deeply buried by snow, causing us to follow the GPS at times and keep to the ridge. There was no sign of other visitors. Apart from a few cross country skiers based at Bluff Hut we had the place to ourselves. The forecast was for good weather.
After about 8.5 kilometres we arrived at Lovicks Hut for lunch and a rest. Alt. 1477 metres.
After losing the track for a while we eventually found it again as we headed towards Picture Point.
It was mid afternoon and we realised that we were not going to achieve our objective of reaching Mt Howitt in the three days that we had free. After snow shoeing for over 14 klm we called it a day.
We located a nice protected site for the tent near Picture Point at 1640 metres elevation. It was a cold night but we kept warm in our thermals with lots of layers.
The view close by our camp site was magnificent. L to R – Crosscut Saw, Mt Howitt, Mt Magdala. Click for larger image.
At sunset. Click for larger image.
The next day on our return. Mt Lovick in background. Another fine day.
On the way back we took a short cut across the face of Mt Lovick. Walking along the exposed face was a great experience.
Joe at 1680 metres.
More awe inspiring winter scenery as we descended to Bluff HutLooking east towards The Long Spur. Click for larger image. Even though we didn’t make it to Mt Howitt it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip. We intend to return next winter and allow 4 – 5 days so we can hopefully get to Mt Howitt!
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