Snow Trials – Tom Thumb & Mt Arthur

Reuben VK7FREU and the author decided to try out our SOTA gear in the snow with a short walk to make sure we had everything optimised for snow before heading out on a longer bush walk.

The Hobart City Council has a website that lets you know which gates are shut on the Mt Wellington Road which is really handy – Sunday morning 19 July the road was reopened to the top!

http://www.hobartcity.com.au/Recreation/kunanyi_Mount_Wellington/Pinnacle_road_status

We arrived at the Big Bend parking area and the external thermometer was toggling between zero and one degree!

One Degree Outside - rug-up!

One Degree Outside – rug-up!

We chose Mt Wellington and the Big Bend track to Tom Thumb, Mt Connection and Mt Arthur.

Start of the Big bend track - toboggan tracks visible!

Start of the Big bend track – toboggan tracks visible!

We headed down the track which was covered with about 100mm of light powdery snow. Any areas of the track that contained water were frozen and places to be avoided as they were icy and very slippery!

Any water was slippery ice!

Any water was slippery ice!

The fire water holes that are at regular intervals along the Mt Wellington tracks were covered with about a 20mm thickness of ice!

The snow covered fire trail.

The snow covered fire trail.

We soon realised that walking through powdery snow was like walking in loose sand and not like just walking along a dry fire trial. We saw a variety of animal tracks in the snow including wallabies and pademelons.

Complete wallaby print - tail, feet and hands.

Complete wallaby print – tail, feet and hands.

About four kilometers along the trail is the turn off to Collins Bonnet and about a kilometre further on you come to a cairn marking the turn off to Tom Thumb. The last 500m of the track it was only our foot prints and animal prints in the snow! The first part of the trail is a bush bash and with ice and snow on the bushes this made quickly for a wet and cold start! We looked around for the track but to no avail. We decided to abandon and not get soaking wet and come back when it’s dry.

Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb

We stopped for lunch before heading back up the hill to tackle Mt Arthur. The weather was starting to close in and we could see Collins Bonnet being engulfed in low cloud. We got to the turn off (marked with Cairn) to Mt Arthur and headed in to the Hut. We said hello to two other bush walkers who were just getting the fire going in the fireplace. We climbed up to nearly the top as the wind really picked up and the chill factor was high!

We tried to setup the squid pole and inverted V but the wind beat us and the screw on cap of the end of the squid pole decided to come un-glued! Frostbite was starting to affect the ends of fingers (the author was wearing cut off finger gloves!) and so we abandoned radio operations and headed back to the Big Bend track after some photos.

Collins Bonnet and Collins Cap from Mt Arthur

Collins Bonnet and Collins Cap from Mt Arthur

We picked up the track again and back to the car and home.

Learnings:

  • Warm “water proof” clothing is essential!
  • Gaters to waterproof your lower leg and stop snow getting into the top of your boots!
  • In snow things do not look the same – track markings, paths, cairns, etc!
  • Full snow gloves are essential not woolen cut-off finger gloves that get wet and stay wet!
  • We took a tarp that was excellent to lay on the snow and put the gear on.

It was a good learning experience and I think Reuben and the author are set for our longer treks into snow covered parts of VK7.

73, Justin, VK7TW

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