Mount Bogong via Eskdale Spur and the Staircase, December 2021

Finally the time had come for me to summit Victoria’s highest mountain, Mt Bogong. I came close to it a couple of years ago on a section hike of the Australian Alps Walking Track – on a side trip from Cleve Cole Hut, but the weather wasn’t great so we gave it a miss at the time. The mountain wasn’t going anywhere so I was confident that I would get another opportunity one day. And so that time came in December 2021.

Our group of four made the trip from Melbourne, starting early Saturday morning and arriving at Mountain Creek Campground late morning. Our chosen route was to walk the track along Mountain Creek to Camp Creek Gap and ascend Eskdale Spur. We would descend via the Staircase.

Although the temperature was relatively mild in the low 20’s, our walk up the spur was in the afternoon and the hottest time of the day. So we managed to work up a bit of a sweat on the steady uphill climb. Some people coming down the hill told us they saw quite a few snakes; fortunately for us we saw none. Probably too distracted with trying to breathe! We stopped for a break at Michele Hut as well as numerous other short stops on the way to take in the great views and catch our breath.

After Michele Hut the trees thinned out and the climb became much more exposed. We had a clear, calm day and so no issues as we made our way up the last part of the ascent. There were still a few tiny patches of snow around.

And finally we made it up to the top of the spur. There is no dramatic peak but a large plain with the peak of Bogong a few hundred metres west and Cleve Cole Hut a few kms south east. As the sky was pretty cloudy we decided to leave the peak to the morning and make our way to our camp for tonight at Cleve Cole Hut. As we got closer to the hut we came across some magnificent snow gums and wildflowers.

The area around the Hut is fantastic. Lots of flat grassy areas to pitch a tent. In really nasty weather the hut can be used for shelter. Beautiful clear mountain water nearby.

Camp for the night

I decided to take the tent for this trip as we were not 100% sure we would be camping at Cleve Cole. If we had camped near the peak there would be zero chance to hammock camp. Plenty of trees at Cleve Cole though. Oh well, I guess it’s good to suffer in the tent now and then to appreciate it more when I get back to the bliss of a good hammock sleep.

As it turned out I slept ok in the tent, certainly not the worst sleep I’ve ever had. I thought I had found a very flat, level patch of ground but I did find myself sliding to the left and head end a bit. The joys of ground sleeping!

After breakfast and packing up we made our way to the peak of Mount Bogong. Unfortunately we were surrounded by cloud so we did not get any views. We took some photos at the cairn but did not linger long as the cloud did not clear and it was quite windy and cold. We also saw a lot of Bogong moths at the cairn.

Then it was time to descend via Staircase Spur. It is supposed to be the shorter but steeper option between it and Eskdale Spur. I noticed much more people using Staircase Spur than Eskdale, with many day walkers and runners simply doing a return walk via the Staircase rather than a loop taking in both spurs.

It was a slow and steady walk down – the views opened up as we made our way below the clouds.

And then we were into the trees and pretty soon back at the car to get changed into clean clothes and make the long drive back to Melbourne. It was great to finally make it to the summit of Mt Bogong and have (mostly) fantastic weather to do it in.

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