Australian ski resorts may be closing for the season this weekend, but the back country is still open for those eager to earn a few more turns – for Victoria, especially on Bogong, their highest peak, reports Abby Vogelsang.
Late September is an excellent time to explore Australia’s highest and most elusive slopes.
No snow at lower elevations and on the north sides of most mountains makes it possible to hike to the base and sometimes the top of many ski runs.
Hiking can take half the amount of time and effort otherwise spent snowshoeing or climbing on skis.
Most experienced skiers and boarders will know about the poor reputation of September snow.
Although it’s heavy to ski in and wet to sit on, spring snow is generally more consistent and forgiving than the ice/powder mix off-piste skiers contend with during the Australian high season.
September snow conditions can allow intermediate skiers and boarders to try runs that would otherwise be above their skill level.
While easy access and carving is nice, the real advantage of spring skiing is the weather.
September skiing goes hand-in-hand with t-shirts and bucket hats, long sunny days keep the snow soft and your backpack light, Birdsong and running streams replace the sound of howling wind.
Just don’t forget your sunscreen!
Going backcountry doesn’t always mean roughing it.
With most Australians locked out of regional Victoria, the amount of people staying in mountain huts is much lower than usual.
Sleeping in or camping around huts means you can enjoy the additional facilities and shelter they provide.
Many of these buildings are living pieces of history that were built and are still maintained by old cattle farming families.
Others were purpose-built for hikers and skiers in the first half of the 20th century when these sports where first popularized in Australia.
While some are little more than ruins, others, such as Cleve Cole hut, are lovingly maintained by independent clubs and make great bases from which to explore the Victorian high plains.
There is no time like the present to extend your ski season and give back country skiing a try and for urban or out-of-state readers keep this one on your bucket list, there will always be next year!
Mt Bogong Access
The quickest and safest access to Cleve Cole hut in Winter, for competent 4WD’ers, is via the Mulhauser Spur.
People with offroad vehicles can access the hut from the Eskdale spur.
Those with 2WD or low clearance cars can hike to Cleve Cole hut via the Staircase spur.
The Granite Flat spur is another easy way to reach the hut, but is only open in summer.
It should be noted that in order to reach Cleve Cole hut from the Eskdale, Staircase and Granite Flat spurs, skiers have to travel over the top of the mountain, which can be very dangerous in bad weather.
Michell Hut, located on the Eskdale spur is also a good base for backcountry skiing when snow cover on the North side of the mountain is good.
See you up there – Abby Vogelsang