Ascent of Mount Bogong on 2016-04-08

Climber: Jude NS

Others in Party:Pierz N.
Date:Friday, April 8, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Bogong
    Elevation:6516 ft / 1986 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mount Bogong had long been on my list to climb, being the highest and most prominent mountain in Victoria. My original plan for the ascent was more ambitious - to circuit around from Spion Kopje, over the Grey Hills and the Quartz Ridge, climb Bogong, and then climb Mount Nelse West before returning over Spion Kopje. This would have been three-day effort, but considering our limited time, we opted for the traditional two-day "up Staircase Spur, down Eskdale Spur" approach - not so much of a peakbagger's route, but a classic, for sure.

On the morning of the ascent, we decided to shave off 2km by driving up the 4WD track to the base of the Staircase. It was risky in our little hatchback, requiring numerous stream crossings, but we made it without trouble. We parked up and began ascending. As promised, it was a punishing climb - punishing of lack of fitness in particular. Loaded with a heavy pack, I struggled up through the mountain gums at a snail's pace. While climbing a full 1,300m, the spur was just 6km in length, but each time I checked the GPS I was discouraged by my incremental progress. As promised there were several flattish steps on the way up that offered a little respite, but in the end they only increased the gradient when the track did climb. At 1,400m altitude, we broke out into snow gums near Bivouac Hut, where we ate lunch. From this point, the terrain grew rockier and wilder, with the impressive tabletop plateau of Bogong coming into full view. We broke out of the trees just below 1,800m, emerging above the rocky outcrops of Castor and Pollux. The views were simply sensational all around, from the nearby Eskdale Spur, across the rocky face above us, and to the Kiewa Valley far below. The summit plateau seemed much closer now, and we were spurred on up the last steep climb, almost completely forgetting our aches and pains. At last, we topped out on the flat, barren summit plateau, and strolled up to the enormous cairn. Exhilarated, we climbed on top of it and admired our surroundings. While slightly hindered by smoke haze, the views of the Bogong High Plains were exceptional, and stretched far as Mount Cobberas near the NSW border. If anything though, the plateau of Bogong itself was most interesting visually, dropping off into rugged cliffs in the south.

After ten minutes on the top, we set off for our campsite for the night, at Cleve Cole Memorial Hut. Following the ski poles eastwards along the undulating plateau, we slowly descended towards the tree line. The gentle terrain made for relatively quick and easy walking, and soon enough we dipped back below the tree line and into a stand of rare, unburnt snow gums. Not long after, we arrived at Cleve Cole Hut, where we pitched our tent at the pleasant campsite. There were two other groups of hikers there that night - five individuals in total. Enough to make good company but not too many for it to feel crowded.

The next day, we headed for the Eskdale Spur, our route of descent. First, we retraced our steps back over the high plateau, before halting at the turnoff just a short distance from the summit cairn. From here we began our descent down the rocky ridge, paralleling the nearby Staircase Spur. While it looked more straightforward than our ascent route, the Eskdale we agreed was the slightly scarier of the two, and arguably the looser underfoot, although that might merely have been because we were now heading downhill. The going was quite slow and painful, as such long descents usually are, but this was partly made up for by the fact that the views probably exceeded those from the Staircase. Not long after reaching the tree line, we stopped for lunch at Michell Hut, which was situated in a stunning location roughly 1,630m in altitude. From there the going seemed better, but quickly dropped off again and became very ankle-unfriendly. A familiar pattern continued down to Camp Creek at 1,100m, with steep, painful sections broken by a few gentler inclines. From Camp Creek, we ventured along a footpath through lush ferns and talk mountain gums to the Mountain Creek road. From there, we followed it back for 4km to the car.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Mount Bogong's summit plateau from the snow gum-clad slopes of the Staircase Spur (2016-04-08). Photo by Jude NS.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:YDS Class 1
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy

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