Hey Team. This is a work in progress. We are just verifying some things and writing the tours up as we go. The information in the below tour descriptions relate to the MSC Map. These tours are suggestions, and they give a good indication of what terrain exists and any hazards to expect, camp spots (the good, the bad and the ugly), and also area descriptions to the popular ski/ride bowls in the vicinity of the tours.
• Out and Back to POS REF 20 - 2 Day Tour
• Round Trip via Mt Cope and Ryders Huts - 3 Day Tour. Always pack and plan for an extra day when touring.
A fun, easily navigated tour with long ups and downs. Wax will be handy to keep momentum up as some of the descents get pretty mellow.
OK, let’s start here. This is an itinerary for a tour that gets you to Cope Hut. As one of Victoria’s few purpose built ski huts we organisationally have no conflict in saying ‘make yourself at home’. Now of course you need to carry a tent for safety sake, beyond that, this hut is an important part of our cultural heritage and a great place to start exploring the ‘BHP’ for the first time ski tourer.
>POS REF 18. Lake side Knoll. -36.882360, 147.268250. A small promontory on the ridge above the lake beyond the XC trails.
Having slogged it out of the resort you now stand beyond the perimeter pole line to the resort. The telegraph line and poles head up west (WSW specifically) over the saddle to the ‘cattle grid’. Your leaving formal navigational aids here and working a course using geography. Following the first, steepest and southern most drainage of the three creeks that connect within a short distance from leaving POS REF 18. The initial west bank of the creek is a steep traverse and prone to wind loading ascend a few points west of the creek for a saddle, to then descend (keep the skins on, its only 20m vert) back to the basin to pick up your creek and head to the next waypoint.
>POS REF 19. East Knob. -36.894535, 147.281551
The 2km route to East Knob heads SSW before making a defined SE course from 1640m contour to the broad saddle at 1740m at the around 1.5km. Follow the subtle ridge south E / ESE to the high point amongst the lightly treed area of East Knob at an altitude of 1790m.
>POS REF 20. Cope Hut. -36.906541, 147.291961
Heading now on a course South East (SE) descend to the saddle bang on 1700m, over a distance of 1.5km. A delightful stash filled tree lined corridor and the perfect angle to get used to skiing with an overnight pack. At the saddle you push on past the intersection with the pole line at pole 537 and head a few points South of due East, follow the poles to the hut on the South side of the valley 200m further down the eastern side of the saddle. Bang, home for the night.
There is good terrain around the hut and also ESE in the vicinity of Middle Creek.
END OF DAY ONE.
Decision Time: From here you can tour out to the summit of Mount cope POS REF 21 and enjoy the gentle treed glades on the return to the Cope Hut, or push beyond on the WSW bearing to the Ryder Huts.
>POS REF 21. Mt Cope. -36.927035, 147.281072
From Cope Hut to Mt Cope Summit head First SSW on the High Plains Road (No Poles / Flat) to pick up the NW spur (at 1km) and ascend to the summit (1km further). Contingencies note: From the summit of Mt Cope, all descents W through to North will intersect with the AAWT numbered pole line. Following these in a NE direction will return you to POLE 537 and Cope Hut.
Pushing On for the round trip
Following that WSW bearing from the summit trig involves navigating treed slopes with on a usually windward aspect. Care is required. Staying true to the bearing you will find a passage between the gum groves and some small crags until your blocked by the aqueduct. Before cursing it’s existence be thankful for the clean energy it contributes towards down stream. If your lucky you may find a drift that bridges it, if not your options are to ford it, or follow it NW to the bridge (near cope saddle) 1km away before back tracking or changing course to the bottom of the bowl. From here the Ryders Huts sit roughly 40m elevation on the promontory WSW above the valley floor a distance 500m further.
END OF DAY 2
>POS REF 22. Ryders Huts. -36.931478, 147.260467
From here descend to the valley on a NNW traverse to Cope Saddle, the bridge and Cope Saddle Shelter. A funny conspicuous hut with a red roof. Good if your caught out… not a great place to hang out. Continue to POS REF 47. Either by way of the pole line (not numbered, and not to be confused with the AAWT poles headed East West from the saddle. Or if blessed with good visibility make for the higher ground from the saddle on a more NW bearing to then change over and descend to POS REF 47.
>POS REF 47. The Bridge. -36.905268, 147.256079
Care is required in the vicinity of the bridge to ensure you don’t fall into any of the many surrounding water pools. And the fast flowing Cope Creek . Having crossed the creek the pole line will take you to Pretty Valley Shelter. However to complete the round trip your course is to ascend Tank Hill (1km / 120m elevation gain) on a bearing N, or skirt slightly east of it to avoid the flat ground along the ridge and shelter from the element and make for Rocky Knoll beyond it at the same elevation. From the saddle between tank hill and West Knob, the drainage creates a geographical route back NNE from Tank Hill, NE from Rocky Knoll, to the start of the tour and familiar surroundings at POS REF 18. Taking the higher ground avoids the flat land through the saddle at the top of the catchment.
END OF DAY 3
• Out and Back to Fitzgeralds Hut via Murum Point and return via Holland’s Knob - 2 Day Tour.
• Round Trip via Mt Nelse and Edmondsons Hut - 3 Day Tour. Always pack and plan for an extra day when touring.
Strong Navigation required with minimal navigational aids. A good building clock for the other longer harder tours out here.
A classic intermediate tour through the snow gum groves and out onto the proud barren terrain synonymous the ‘Bogong High Plains’ with Mt Nelse and Hollond’s Knob. Two Huts for overnight shelter at Edmondson’s and Fitzgeralds Huts. This one is a creeper, starts mellow… get burlier as it goes.
Starting out from Windy Corner, save your energy because this is an intermediate tour and there will be plenty of action later. Whilst you could sweep down into the rocky valley creek to join the tour at the northern end of the dam wall… or follow the XC trail out there via the nordic bowl. Either way this starts at the parks boundary / intentions book after crossing the wall.
POS REF 17. Parks Vic Intentions Booth. -36.872350, 147.297174
Fill out the form, hump that pack and set off along the XC trail along the High Plains Road in the direction of Omeo. After 1.8km you will come to the intersection of the Big River Fire Trail signposted as the start of the Mt Nelse walk. Follow this and the poles just before pole 700 in an open glade. From here you leave the navigational aids and follow an bearing E for 400m and an elevation gain of 20m to change bearing to NE and climb 80m higher over 600m. Now veer due E again to ascend to the high Murum Point 1800m.
Alternatively, if you have a good experienced group you can, from POS REF 17 ascend the Heathy Spur to ‘Nameless Knoll’ POS REF 16 -36.863763, 147.310076 to drop back to Pole 700 on a bearing E. Making sure you pick up the east facing gully not the south which delivers you back pretty darn close to where you started climbing. Adding 120m elevation gain and loss over 3km compared to 20m over 2.5km. A significant addition to the tour at the outset. But heck, your out here so do what feels right. Freedom is yours…
SEE INSET MAP D
Murum Point 1800m. -36.870506, 147.345092
A quick changeover as it’s always windy up here, and now for some fun, follow the sweet stash lands of the ‘Murum Track’ down E initially, then veering S over 1.5km and a 180m vert descent to the ‘Langford East’ aquaduct. -36.880454, 147.352162
Follow the aqueduct for 1.5km to the intersection with at the next sharp inside bend and gully on the trail -36.880858, 147.364243 , the bottom of a bowl known as Fitzies Creek, and ready to climb. From here skin up favouring the east tree verge in the open valley, with any luck, having traversed in a N direction at the top of the second last tree chute about 90m elevation gain ( at the 1780m contour) sits Fitzgeralds hut. Soak it up, this place is awesome.
Fitzgeralds Hut -36.876517, 147.365022
This is the place from which the brave souls who kicked this whole ski touring thing off in this state started their epic traverse skiing from here to Harrietville in the 20’s. Contemplate that your now on the eastern side of the range and the headwaters of the Big River and later the Mitta Mitta, with East Gippsland below. Probably one of the best huts in the high country. Sparse and simple, a couple of bed decks and a fireplace. All you need really.
END OF DAY ONE
Unencumbered by packs you can ski / ride down Fitzies Creek beyond the aqueduct to the tall forest at 1500m. the southerly aspect hold the snow well and late in the season. A fun loop coming back up via Kelly’s track and even scope out Kellys Hut on the return. Plenty of options once your here.
Next move, should you choose to continue on the outward journey is to make from the hut to Hollond’s Knob. A distance of 1.8km and an elevation gain of 80m. Usually facing straight into the wind.
For the Two Day intinerary: Descend from here to the Big River Fire Trail (pole 746) a distance of 1km due W. A relatively quick trip out and down the groomed XC trail and pole line.
Hollond’s Knob -36.863550, 147.350744
From the high ground, all aspects NW to W create Hollond’s Bowl and below the gully of Hollond’s Creek. Descend this to an elevation of 1620m. Yes, thats a long way down… to changeover and skin up the tree chute heading W from the creek junction at -36.851182, 147.356506
The Climb to Mt Nelse South
Ascending the tree chute you will enter out into a lightly wooded broad ridge. At a distance of 900m (elevation 1660m on your right is Johnston’s Hut. A private hut, with emergency shelter. We’ve found the inhabitants to vary from hairy and welcoming to bald and uninviting. Read into that what you will, it’s refuge if your late and in need.
From the hut, with any visibility you will be able to see your objective looming above, Mt Nelse South. A climb of 240m awaits over only 1km, bearing WNW, this is a climb. Soak it up, take notes for later from this distance as there are hidden lines aplenty on this reticent aspect of Victoria’s third highest massif.
Mount Nelse South (1882m) -36.843903, 147.340730
Take a break before you top out on the lee of the hill. The changeover on top is always a brisk one unless you really ‘luck it’. Ready to slide? Grab that compass (watch) and follow it true SW through the first pole line, across the barren white expanse, to the skiers right hand end of the treed groves midway down the slope (with the second pole line running to it. This is the location of Edmondson’s hut. If you cross the second pole line you need to stop and follow them W to the hut. Without visibility this is all feels like ‘needle in haystack’ navigation yet, assuming you ski from the summit SW, pass the first poles and follow the second, without skiing into the grove or beyond you will find refuge.
Edmondson’s Hut -36.847743, 147.333405
Another banger of a hill shack, but this one sees a fair bit more traffic. From here the return journey is via the description for High Plains Drifter tour POS REF 14 and Nelse Creek description. END OF DAY TWO for 3 day itinerary.
Not for the faint hearted. This is an all time classic long high alpine journey. Should be done in the direction described. Some very steep (45˚) skiing with long ascents and descents. Requires some pretty well honed navigation. There’s a short loop (Intermediate) and the grand traverse (Advanced) which is a full value 5 day adventure. Could be done quicker however you’d miss the opportunity to explore the side trips like Spion Kopje, and the Duane Face. We don’t state where to camp overnight for fear of suggesting a team travel too far for their own ability. The available options are mere mentions along the way.
>POS REF 01: From Windy Corner car park your heading past the toboggan slope, along the XC trail to the first clearing below and East of the road. Skins off and down to the creek on a ENE bearing. Cross the creek taking care at the safest available crossing at 1520m elevation. From here you should be in the vicinity of another gully headed ENE. Ascend the right hand bank and follow this round and turn SE after a distance of 200m. This gully opens out into a wider bowl with the Roper Lookout XC trail at its head. Once on the XC trail turn left (NNW) to the point at which the terrain above opens out into a widening open gully. Ascend this back on that ENE bearing to an elevated high point with conspicuous rocks, ‘Rocky Top’.
>POS REF 02: Rocky Top -36.861858, 147.302731
From here head NNE over a descent of vert 80mover a short 200m run to the Sunny Side bowl and ‘Camp Dirtbag’. This is a great little hide-out for those looking to venture near, not far. And a plentiful variety of gentle terrain to explore.
From Camp Dirtbag the route heads E up the creek, following it for a distance of 800m before making for the ridge top a further 300m N up a clear wide face verged by gums.
>POS REF 03: Nelse Creek Chute. -36.855392, 147.320747
Ok. Now this is where things suddenly get really serious. From here on a bearing of NNE extends a very steep tree chute descending 100m vertically over 200m. Do the maths… that’s darn close to a 45˚ face. An angle that requires a strong ability at steep skiing given you have a full pack. The aspect is prone to avalanche, particularly wet slides in warm conditions given its northerly aspect. Also note potential for wind slab avalanche from cross loading if there’s been recent snow.
Also important to note here is that your route navigates the steep treed face directly across the valley to the North. Its worth making a mental note of the chosen route from here as theres a vague route up narrow tree chutes only visible from this vantage point.
From POS REF 03 it is possible to skirt these difficulties by taking a wider arc skier right across the flat ridge ENE for 500m to then descend the next tree chute at a more moderate 25˚ descent. Still prone to avalanche yet not as burley as the Nelse Creek Chute.
Either way, at the bottom you will have arrived at the creek. Time to rest, top up that water, count the hours left in the day… decide to ether continue, camp or detour up Nelse creek to Edmondson’s hut for the night, 2km to the NE at an elevation of 1760 (80m vertical from the creek).
>POS REF 04. This is the climb up and out of Nelse Creek heading NW which you saw from POS REF 03 (with any luck), ascending WNW you navigate steep treed terrain to climb 160m vertical gain over 1.5km, to crest the spur at a vague saddle (-36.843231, 147.307862) on the Baker Spur. Again study the opposite valley for your escape from North Nelse Creek up the east ridge of the grand Spion Kopje.
North Creek Tree Chute. From the saddle you change to downhill mode and again prepare for action. This time, whilst not as steep as Nelse Creek Chute, this tree chute is narrower and twice the height, and lower down has some very tight ski width gaps between to descend between trees. At the top the chute is poorly defined as a gap in a sparsely wooded hill side, then as the pitch increases options narrow. Take care. Prone to wet slides avalanche in warm temps, and wind slabs from cross loading if there’s been recent snow. A vert 200m descent to the elevation of 1540, almost as low at the Rocky Creek crossing below windy corner… the only way is up!
>POS REF 05 North Nelse Creek -36.838222, 147.305456
Your now in the bottom of a heavily wooded steep sided valley. The remoteness of this spot really steps up having ‘closed the door’ descending the chute. The only way out is up the creek. At a distance of 500m you arrive at a ‘the dogleg’ (-36.837051, 147.311057) in the creek and a promontory that offers the flattest option for a camp around. Take stock of the situation… there’s more burly skinning beyond.
>POS REF 06 East Ridge / Spion Kopje 1850m -36.827213, 147.289539
Now for a really big haul. from 1560m to 1850m, a 300m vertical ascent over a distance of 2.5km with the bulk of that vert in the first 1km. Lots of steep kick turns up a narrow and technical tight gully. Hard…
The reward is the view, and if you have anything left in the engine the opportunity to ski the classic south face of Spion Kopje.
Spion Kopje / The East Face. Take a good look at this from Falls Creek Resort, maybe even snap a shot. The obviuos line descends from the POS REF, that said what is obvious from across the valley could get weird when your on top. Known avalanche terrain, also notoriously icy on occasions. then again, one of the draw card faces of the North BHP so get amongst it if you have any energy spare. It’s a big area really and you could dedicate a trip to this objective alone.
>POS REF 07 The Crows Nest Bivvy -36.821107, 147.294300
Nestled just below and in the lee of the Crows Nest 1750m is an area known as the ‘Crows Nest bivvy’. A flattish promontory above the creek surrounded by low thick healthy gums. Great protection out here given your now out on the front of the range and face the full brunt of the prevailing North and Westerly winds. From POS REF 07 head North into the creek and navigate a course above the east bank. There’s a few fun drops off the crows nest to entertain camp with at the end of the day.
>POS REF 08