Mt Loch to Harrietville via Swindlers and Diamantina Spurs

Discussion in 'Backcountry Trip Reports' started by jimmyharris, Jul 19, 2013.


    jimmyharris Active Member

    I was lucky enough to get out snowshoeing for a couple of days just after the last decent snowfalls. I caught the bus up to the Mt Loch carpark and then headed out via Swindlers Spur and down to Blair Hut for the night. The next day saw me climbing up Diamantina Spur to Federation Hut and then down Bungalow Spur to Harrietville.

    There was plenty of snow even down in the valley and I didn't see any other tracks at all until I reached Federation Hut. Walking down Swindlers Spur was tough, with the snow often reaching mid-thigh (I'm 6 foot tall) even with MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes. Diamantina Spur was quite a challenge, again with very deep and unconsolidated snow, and I was moving at 1km/hr at some points!

    A great trip and I realised (once again) just how hard it is to travel in fresh snow without any previous tracks...

    For anyone heading up that way, be aware that the Tom Kneen (MUMC hut), North Razorback and Bon Accord Spur tracks are all still closed due to bushfire damage. There are hundreds of trees that fell on the Bungalow Spur track and Parks Victoria has done an amazing job to re-open that track. It's sad to see the devastation that has occurred since my last trip that way.

    Mount Feathertop panorama by jimmyharris, on Flickr

    Keogh's and The Orchard chairs remain silent by jimmyharris, on Flickr

    Obscured view across to the Razorback by jimmyharris, on Flickr

    Resort boundary lies here by jimmyharris, on Flickr

    Small rise on Swindlers Spur by jimmyharris, on Flickr

    Blair Hut campsite by jimmyharris, on Flickr

    Mount Feathertop by jimmyharris, on Flickr

    Looking up the Diamantina Spur by jimmyharris, on Flickr

    Federation Hut and toilet in the distance by jimmyharris, on Flickr

    Dead trees on Bungalow Spur track by jimmyharris, on Flickr

    More photos are in the Flickr set at
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2013

    GS Addicted Member Season Pass Gold

    Great photos! Thanks for posting.

    Going by your last pic, I suspect we'll have many years of falling trees along Bungalow Spur.

    oh, and nice tent [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013

    TeleXC Active Member

    Very nice, I added you on flickr. What camera do you use? I can't figure out how to get the exposure right on my SLR when I take photos of snow, they come out grey usually. I also find it tricky to find a good appetures for landscapes without having to use long exposures
    Snow Blowey

    Snow Blowey Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    Great shots.

    sjm Active Member

    Nice, I particularly like the second one, thanks for posting.
    Snow Blowey

    Snow Blowey Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    Set your camera up to spot meter from centre auto focus point. Set camera on manual control. F16. Point centre autofcus point at bright white snow in the general direction you are shooting and half press the shutter. Adjust exposure time until the exposure meter reads +1. You now have your exposure settings locked. Compose the shot, focus and press the trigger.

    To give you a rough starting point at around 9am you would be looking at the following:
    Iso 100, F16, Time 1/60th

    Middle of the day:
    Iso 100, F16, Time 1/250th - but you are wasting your time at this time of day because light is too harsh.

    Adjust between those.

    For handheld early morning and late afternoon you will probably have to open up more unless you have a solid tripod and a remote trigger.

    Use same principle of choosing expsure based on spot metering results on the brightest part of the planned shot.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2013
    Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Nice pics.....You must have been stuffed at top of Diamantina Spur....good effort..thanks for post...

    jimmyharris Active Member

    Thanks for the compliments - I must say that photography for me is a large part of the enjoyment I get from these trips.

    @TeleXC - I use an older Canon EOS 500D with the new 18-135mm IS lens. It's still not what I'd describe as light, but it beats the EOS 5D III with 24-105mm L lens that I used to carry. Quality is nearly as good too I reckon. I shoot all my photos in raw format and don't worry too about the exposure until I get home and process them in Adobe Lightroom.

    @GS - Yes, I think we will see years of regular tree fall on the track. There were already probably 10 or so trees over the track that had come down since the track had last been cleared. The Soulo is a great tent but a bit more than I needed at the very sheltered Blair Hut! I'd been planning to head up to the BHP but I was already buggered after coming down Swindlers Spur so I headed down the valley instead.

    @US - Sure was buggered by the top! And then I had nearly 1km of deep and untracked snow on the Razorback which didn't make things easier. Heading down Bungalow Spur was a great relief.

    BillyKidd Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jimmy, excellent photos and captions - really good stuff.

    TeleXC Active Member

    Thanks snow blowey for the tips, I find it so hard to get the snow the natrual color/brightness it should be, those tips should help
    Snow Blowey

    Snow Blowey Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    Camera is designed t meter at 18% grey because there are very few truely white things in the world. Snow is white so to get it white you have to tell the camera to overexpose it, hence Ev setting of +1.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2013

    philthree Active Member

    As per all above - fantastic shots.

    I think you have the makings of a new forum Jimmy H, Snow Snaps or how to take a better snow pic.I have learnt something new already - now to get near a mountain with snow.

    tele-whippet beard stroker Season Pass Gold

    Thanks Jimmy, great shots.

    wannaski Dedicated Member

    Those pics are just amazing !! I want one of those hanging on my lounge wall [​IMG] Great lighting tip too - I've had the same problem with the snow looking grey when the pics are printed .
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2013

    EarnYaTurns Active Member

    Looks like a great trip! Hard work in fresh snow. Fantastic photos, thanks.

    VSG Pool Room Season Pass Gold

    Some of the better bc pics I have seen in a while.

    Thank you.

    jimmyharris Active Member

    Thanks again all. I'm hoping to get away for a 4-5 day trip in two weeks so hopefully I will have another trip report soon. I'm thinking a Bogong circuit from Mountain Creek at this stage but will have to wait and see what the weather/snow is like.

    turn-earner Active Member Endless Winter

    Awesome photos, love the untouched snow in one in particular- ripping
    Jay Woo

    Jay Woo Well-Known Member

    Great trip with excellent viewing via your photos.
    Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Well-Known Member

    Ascending the Diamantina spur in snow and ice. Lawdy Mama, you have really achieved something. The weather looks like it was kind too.