Best way to ease into snowshoeing?

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by Mark F, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Mark F

    Mark F Just Registered

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    Hi all

    New to this site. In my dotage I have decided to get involved with a little bc snowshoeing in NSW - Canberra based. Purchased some msr Lightnings in the US sales and am now looking at how best to build up to good, safe whitish bc adventures.

    By way of background I am decrepit but the joints all work, I used to ski patrol at Smiggins and have some xc experience (60s and 70s) plus have lots of bushwalking experience and still capable of 15-20km a day - did Frenchmans Cap and Tharwa - Munyang last summer.

    First off a couple of good day trips, Perisher or Selwyn seem appropriate but what distance and any issues with the logistics, gear I need to be aware of? I will do these with my partner who is quite intrepid but no snow experience.
     
  2. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Part of the Furniture
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    Perisher has established some snowshoe trails. Map here. They would be a good starting point. As you would know from your Smiggins and XC days, the views from Porcupine Rocks are spectacular.
     
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  3. teckel

    teckel Old And Crusty
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    Your snowshoes are as good as they get. (assuming Lightning Ascent) I presume you also have set of poles?
    Carry a backpack to put them in when not needed.
    Have you camped backcountry in the snow before?
    Be cautious of sheet ice especially on steeps.
     
  4. Ricardo64

    Ricardo64 Active Member

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    You need to talk to Mr T.. he is the guru on Backcountry snowshoeing:cool::cool::cool:
     
  5. Chaeron

    Chaeron Well-Known Member
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  6. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Hi

    In addition to the usual hiking and camping gear you would take on a multi night trek ,such as a warm synthetic fleece jacket , stove and fuel ,food etc.

    For winter snow camping you need to have the right equipment or the chance of freezing to death is no joke. Your hiking boots must be made waterproof. This means using “Dubbin” wax and the magic spray that you can buy from shoe repair shops. The spray can has German writing on it.

    1. One 4 seasons tent that can withstand high winds, heavy snow showers and is made of a nylon fly outer and inner. No Mesh.

    e.g.

    http://www.bogong.com.au/wilderness-equipment-space-2-winter.html



    2.One winter duck down sleeping bag rated to negative 10 at least . It should be an 800 model which denotes the amount of down.

    e.g.

    http://www.bogong.com.au/sleeping/sleeping-bags/exped-comfort-800-s-bag-2.html


    3.An insulated inflatable sleeping mat which is rated to negative 10 below zero at least.

    None of your body or feet should touch the floor of the tent. So it must be full body length.


    e.g.

    http://www.bogong.com.au/sleeping/sleeping-mats/exped-synmat-9-lw.html


    4. Merino Wool full body length Thermal underwear. ‘Icebreaker’ thermal base layers are the best brand. They do not fall apart after one winter of use. They have a discount outlet in Smith st. Collingwood.


    e.g.

    http://au.icebreaker.com/en/womens-baselayers

    5.

    A Goose down vest or jacket for the night time when you are not walking. These pack down really well into a small size in your pack. I got one on sale at RAY’S outdoors!

    6.

    GORETEX type JACKET. Thigh length.

    http://www.bogong.com.au/mont-tempest-rain-jacket.html


    7.

    Water Proof Overpants. The Long Zips on the sides are very handy.

    http://www.bogong.com.au/or-revel-pant-l-black-1.html

    8.

    Knee length GORE TEX Gaiters to keep ice out of your boots.

    http://www.bogong.com.au/or-expedition-crocodiles-1.html

    9. Waterproof ski gloves

    http://www.bogong.com.au/catalogsearch/result/?q=ski+gloves

    10. Merino wool ICEBREAKER under gloves. In extreme cold layers of gloves will work better than one thick pair.

    http://au.icebreaker.com/en/mens-gloves/oasis-glove-liners/IBM207.html?dwvar_IBM207_color=001


    11. Synthetic balaclava. Quick drying and very useful in extreme cold and high wind chill conditions in the snow and for sleeping in icy weather.

    http://www.bogong.com.au/mont-balaclava-powerstretch-s-1.html


    12.ski goggles.Wind and snow blindness/ UV protection, anti fog. Sunglasses don’t really do the job.

    http://www.raysoutdoors.com.au/Product/XTM-Force-Print-Double-Lens-Goggles-Goggles-Unisex/40635001


    13. A Space blanket is really handy for insulating the floor of your tent and if you become too cold you can wrap yourself up in it.

    http://www.bogong.com.au/lifesystems-mountain-thermal-blanket.html


    Taking extra stove fuel means you can melt snow and ice any time to drink or to cook. Always boil the snow. It takes a huge amount of snow to melt into what comes out as not much water at all ,so carrying double fuel is the way to go when packing for a snow trek.


    14. Tents in the snow need snow pegs for everything to work when pitching your tent in the snow.. You will need enough snow pegs to fasten all the guy ropes too.

    http://www.bogong.com.au/peg-snow-23cm.html





    15.

    Knowing how to stop yourself sliding down an icy slope could save your life.



    Whether you use a self-arrest ski pole or an ice axe, you need to practice so it becomes automatic.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jq9vjKwrft0


    *****15.1 !

    Taking a pair of rubber dishwashing gloves is a really handy idea for erecting and deconstructing your tent in the ice and they fit over your under gloves !.











    Keep warm and dry at all times. Snow shoes are slower than boots in green season and compared with XC skiing it is life in the slow lane for sure. I am cr*p at skiing!!.Be sure to get MSR snow shoes that have the heel lift feature. The most I have done in day pack / day hike in snow shoes would be about 14kms in perfect spring weather on the Main Range. With a full overnight pack in shite conditions the limit in terms of distance looks closer to 10 km per day . I like to get to the campsite/ hut by just after lunch time, dig in , set up the tent, cook ,eat and chilax before it gets dark. That also includes cutting dead snow gum branches for firewood, finding any running water that is available and doing a pack free [possible summit area] ramble before dusk .
    On overnight snow camping trips to : Mt. Bogong; Mt . Feathertop; The Razorback ;Mt.Nelse ; Mt Stirling etc. an ice axe, snow shovel ,Kahtoola micro spikes, whippet ski pole/s all come with me so the pack is ridiculously heavy.
    I have not done it yet but BC trips from Bradney's Gap picnic area involve a steep elevation gain and bush bashing in order to reach one of the huts in the Jagungal wilderness. That will happen one day/one year in white season.
     
  7. Xplora

    Xplora Active Member

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    For starters, avoid fresh powder. You can still sink in it and then the snow falls on top of the snowshoe which you then have to lift out. Remember that snowshoe walking it is a fair bit harder than walking on normal ground so forget about the 20km days. If you are packing in then thread some good elastic cord through the compression straps of the pack to make a spot to hold your snowshoes when not needed.
     
  8. skifree

    skifree Part of the Furniture
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    Have chat to staff (maybe Katherine) at the Wilderness Sports shop in Perisher when it opens, which will be real soon.
     
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  9. Mark F

    Mark F Just Registered

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    Thanks all

    I will limit a day to about 10km and will try the Porcupine Rocks walk for a first off then 4 mile hut out of Selwyn if snow conditions allow this season. I expect I will get started after my Larapinta trip in a few weeks.
     
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  10. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    I own and use MSR REVO Explore snow shoes with the matching tail extensions . They add floatation in heavy snow when carrying a pack . These snow shoes have the heel lift feature which makes going up steep slopes [as seen in the trip report pictures] easy , just like walking up stairs. The Crampon at the toes and the metal frame with teeth all around grip well in steep icy conditions such as we saw in early Aug. 2016 going up the Eskdale spur of Mt. Bogong( see this forum for my trip report and photos ).
    I use an adjustable Exped hiking pole with a snow basket on the bottom and a whippet self arrest pole.The whippet is handy and the snap lock is easier to adjust than the screw lock Exped pole in freezing conditions. Ski shop hire gear XC ski poles don't usually do the job because I need to shorten or lengthen the poles for the ascents , steep uneven traverses and descents.
    I use my summer Keen hiking boots which are goretex lined. I smother them in saddle wax and the spray them with water stop spray , all the hail the German made magic spray that the cobbler sells.I use only one pair of woollen socks. Two thick pairs of socks leads to cold feet because of constriction of circulation.
    Snow camping.
    1. Always take a snow shovel and always keep it inside the tent at night. If there is a blizzard overnight then you will never find any of your gear again in the morning. Black diamond make whippet poles and good snow shovels that you can clip to your pack with carabiners.
    2.Always dig your tent into a low site so that 50 % of it is sunk out of the wind and is below the rest of the snow surface. Use/make snow bricks snow to stop spin drifts in wind driven powder snow conditions but do not completely block the ventilation at the ground level so that the tent fly cannot breathe.
    3. Use a tent that is high roofed and has 3 crossway poles to be able to withstand dangerously strong winds and heavy snow falls. I use the Wilderness equipment 4 seasons tent. It is not ultra light but has never let me down in some atrociously abysmal weather conditions. The floor is like tough rubber on the inside.
    4. A huge space blanket is a must as the floor liner of your tent before you put the insulated sleeping mat and negative 18 sleeping bag down as your bed. Plus it can be used to save a life if you find somebody has been hit with 'hypo effing thermia' as Ubiquitous Steve would describe itLOL. It weighs F.A. x 2 and can be carted around in a dry bag that can be strapped to your pack.
    5.I like to dig a trench at the front door of the tent so it is easy to put your boots on, kind of like sitting on a chair and leaning down to your toes. Of course wrapping your knee high gaiters and boots up in plastic bags and keeping them inside your tent at bed time is a must or they will freeze like rock overnight and you won't be able to wear them the next morning.
    5.1 microspikes are handy for walking around icy campsites at dusk and dawn, such as at Edmondson's hut on the Bogong High Plains.( see my trip report on this forum for that ).
    5.2
    I do NOT snow camp above the tree line. Some people do BUT , IMO too much can go wrong up there because the winter weather in the Oz Alps can kill you and that is where it is the most exposed.
     
    #10 Mister Tee on snow shoes, Jun 17, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
  11. Chaeron

    Chaeron Well-Known Member
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  12. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Track up from Bradneys Gap goes steep big time before you come on to Dargals Firetrail.....it's a really energy zapper....then from memory it's pretty straight forward down into Pretty Plain Hut....

    This is a useful track to know as it's an easy drive to Bradneys Gap ....no chains necessary...and close to Khancoben...I think you can still drive up there in winter cos the barrier is further up the roadway.
    Team Bears have done it in summer.....and we can remember it's bloody steep especially before the ridge is reached.But it's very direct distance wise going into Pretty Plain this way.
     
    #12 Ubiquitous Steve, Jun 17, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
  13. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    One of my Bushwalking friends went up from Bradney's gap over Easter 2017 and she said it is a 1300 M climb to Pretty Plain Hut !!.She said that track is VERY overgrown.
     
  14. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Ok.did she mean the track heading up to Dargals FT(Bradneys FT). or was it in reference to the track the comes off heading due east from a point Sth of the first intersection with DFT.The one that heads on over towards Grey Mare FT is known to be overgrown.And it can be used to pick up the little foot trail that heads Nth towards Pretty Plain Hut.
    I was referring to Strombo Fire Trail.

    .all I can remember is being a sweating mess as I grovelled upwards and upwards and it was as steep as the first part of Bon Accord Decent.And you went over one little hill at first and I think over a creek before it started to climb moderately but then the incline increased.
     
    #14 Ubiquitous Steve, Jun 18, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  15. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    I am not sure if we are talking about the same spot or if my friend was talking about that either ,but the map uses the word " steep" twice from Bradney's gap picnic area to the track junction with Dargal's FT. Now the first part of the Bon Accord spur walking track ascent when it rises up from the Creek crossing is very character building :-0,so too is the descent from the Razorback down to the Bon Accord hut ruins. That is a nutcracker!!..If it is as steep as that then I am fascinated and I have to do it !!!. ;-P
    The Pretty Plain hut is located off track due East from this junction. However without a set of reliable GPS co ordinates finding the hut in shite white season weather could be impossible.I will have to scout this route out myself in early or late Green season with a map and compass before taking my chances in white season.With Victoria and our high country huts which are often connected by pole lines there is less chance of becoming just another Tim Holding.( A Former Victorian Govt. Minister for becoming lost in the white season Back country :p ).
     
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  16. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Coming out of Pretty Plain heading back to the car at Bradneys:thumbs:...I came pretty direct through the little snow gullies then up side of a small ridge....but that is pretty easy when you are going to intersect the track running at a right angle to u on the ridge..you just need to make sure you know on the map where you come back into this ridge track.When u go in summer check out the hut to the north of Pretty Plain...located at other end of Dargals FT but I think there is a ford in there as well..and Grey Mare to the SthEast then u will have a good grasp of tracks and things for exploration in winter.:thumbs:
    The steep bit would be hard stuff in snow shoes...
     
  17. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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  18. ladycamper

    ladycamper Dedicated Member
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    Sounds like op bought well. Always avoid yowies as they scoop up snow when you walk which will feel heavy and annoying.
     
  19. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Yowies are a joke. Go for MSR snow shoes with the heel lift feature.
     
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  20. Gimp

    Gimp Dedicated Member
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    A lot of snowboarders and skiers set out for day trips from either Guthega or DHG usually around 7 a 8 am. Hit them up to join in the fun. We've gone out with peeps just shoeing, some even walk down the slopes we board down and meet up at the bottom. Snowshoeing boarders may be good to follow in regards to attack angles rather than skiers/splitters.
     
  21. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Bears want to see Mt T thro a board on his back and try his hand at boarding.....:emoji_bangbang:
     
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  22. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    I think me on a snow board may have the same result as me on pattern based XC skis. Namely more time falling over than actually moving anywhere.At age 47 and a bit , I can't bounce back very quickly from hitting the often icy white season ground at any velocity. I suspect I may have come to the point where I am not prepared to risk breaking bones and not actually going anywhere . I am not going to change my alias to "Mr. T. who was on snow shoes but is now in traction after trying snowboarding once".
    On snow shoes I can confidently cover quite a bit of B.C. ground in white season with a 25 +kg pack on my back.
     
  23. Mark F

    Mark F Just Registered

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    Thanks for that suggestion Gimp. That's my second step.
    1. get comfortable with snowshoes in a resort environment (important for my partner)
    2. Graduate to non-resort day trips.
    3, Move onto overnight and longer trips.

    I noticed in reading several hut logbooks that there now seems to almost no activity in knp north of the highway during winter compared to 10+ years ago. While snow dependent, the terrain seems quite conducive to snowshoes (walked much of it).
     
  24. Telemark Phat

    Telemark Phat Part of the Furniture
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    You can already use XC gear. Why would you consider hobbling yourself with show shoes?
     
  25. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    If you know how to XC ski properly and can do it with a full overnight pack then that is THE way to do multi night white season B.C. touring. If you have never learned to ski well (or at all ) then you are on snow shoes.The fire trails North of the Main Range , N.S.W. , out to places such as O ' Keefe's hut and the like would be very good for snow shoes as well as XC skis. You do need to be fit, good at navigation in effluent weather and well equipped .
     
  26. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Well-Known Member

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    Easing into snowshoeing?
    Put snowshoes on; then walk.
    really that is almost all there is.
    Only thing to remind yourself of is to follow the fall line and don't try and traverse steep slopes
     
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  27. Mark F

    Mark F Just Registered

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    I could XC badly 20-30 years ago - now 67. Like Mr T I prefer to stay upright.
     
  28. tele-whippet

    tele-whippet beard stroker
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    Hi Mark, backcountry skis/boots/bindings have made a quantum leap in evolution in the past decade regarding weight, performance, safety, uprightness and fun ---- so don't completely disregard donning some planks.
    However as long as you're out there enjoying it.