For my Pre Mount Feathertop Blog CLICK HERE
“The perfect playground for aspiring Australian want to be mountaineers”. I’m well aware of my inexperience within the mountains or the outdoors in general for that matter, I can’t even set up my own tent! Someone like myself is a liability to experienced mountaineers, hikers or trekkers and for this reason I need to learn the basics. I would be one of those climbers on Mount Everest who get’s the serious climbers into trouble. I’ve got the strength, fitness and positive attitude but that’s it. The only way to stop being a liability is to observe, learn and apply new skills learnt from experienced mountaineers, this can be hard especially for Australians living in such a big country with little mountain ranges. However the Victorian Alps and Mount Feathertop in particular is a place were a good amount of training can be done. I was lucky enough to be taken under the wing from a very experienced and knowledgeable hiker, trekker and mountaineer, Nick. Over the course of three days Nick taught me invaluable alpine winter camping techniques, crampon techniques, ice axe techniques and just general mountain safety and ethic rules. This was all done on one of Australia’s most beautiful mountains, Mount Feathertop. We approached the summit via the Bungalow Spur (not the Razorback). Getting to the summit via the Bungalow Spur is a 12.5km endeavour and the camping spot at Federation Hut is 10km into the hike. Our plan was to head up to Federation Hut late Friday night, set up camp and then summit Saturday morning.
We stuck to the plan and left the car at approx. 7:30pm Friday night. The hike is a steady, constant uphill 10km, plenty of tall trees surrounding the track and snow and ice covers the track about two thirds up. We arrived at Federation Hut at approx. 11pm, it was a cold and windy night and honestly I was happy to dump my 25kg pack. From there we set up camp, ready to head for the summit the following day. As I said before it was a cold night, with the temperature ranging between 0 to -10 degrees Celsius.
We woke up Saturday morning ready for the summit. It was only a 2.5km walk with crampons or snowshoes. We were using crampons, I even had my double layer mountaineering shoes to practice for future mountains. Walking to the summit is nothing too difficult if you’ve got snowshoes or crampons. It was a perfect location for me to practise my crampon technique, in particular the French step. A method of walking with crampons where all points of the crampons are engaged on the ice. Whilst walking up a slope your placing one foot over the other with the sides of your feet. Walking forwards I was also getting in the habit of pointing out my toes, keeping a greater space between each foot to prevent any accidents whilst using the crampons. It took us about 1-2 hours to reach the summit, it was a beautiful day the sun was out and you could see the surrounding mountains, clear as day.
Once up we took in the view for a while and went back down, getting back to camp about 1 hour later. As I said not a difficult summit, but a great training ground. There’s also avalanche risk and plenty of slopes to practice self-arrest so this further makes Mount Feathertop a great place to train. Once back we had lunch and I decided I wanted to summit again, so I did. This time heading up by myself, heading up I was reminded over and over again how beautiful the mountains are. The fresh air, the views and the solitude makes them a great place to reflect and to appreciate the good things in life. Once I made my second summit I head back down to camp and was all of a sudden overwhelmed with exhaustion, happy to be back at camp I ate dinner and just sat, not talking, just listening to the fellow campers gathered around at Federation Hut as they cooked there dinners. After a while I went to the tent and fell asleep, it was another cold night.
In the morning we packed up and set off back down the mountain. This weekend was a great experience for me. Nick was a legend, constantly filling my head with mountaineering and camping knowledge, it was a great learning experience for me. Nick was also great company and I couldn’t thank him enough for letting me tag along.