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Chockstone Forum - Crag & Route Beta

Crag & Route Beta

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Area Location Sub Location Crag Links
All NSW (General) (General) (General)  

Blue lake - 2011
Mr Poopypants
11:05:51 AM
We ski out there a lot. You generally get great reception as soon as you get up off the valley floor, certainly by the time you get half way up most hills you'll be booming.

Charlotte's is a black hole, although you can get reception at the top of the chair or near the top of the T. If in the village, wander up behind Stillwell and you can get glimpses, but they tend to come and go.

The shoreline of Blue Lake, likewise, just climb a hill, preferably with a side facing towards Thredbo, although you can also pick up the towers around Canberra if you have a window through the peaks.

Puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.
Mike Bee
9:58:35 AM
Cheers guys, thanks for the info.
Sounds pretty well serviced really, no need to seek out a SPOT or PLB for this trip then.
12:58:24 PM
More Blue Lake Questions

Is there any sort of printed or electronic 'guide' to the ice at Blue Lake? Climb names/grades, descriptions, first ascent credits, that sort of thing?

How easy difficult is it to setup toprope anchors? Will screws work above the 'ice' (in the 'snice') or are snow pickets a better bet?

Where is the closest camping? The park gave me vague instructions to stay out of the catchment areas.

1:57:06 PM
Dont think so.
The Summer guide is out of print, but electronic copies are in circulation.
Canberra Climbers are working on new draft which will include winter climbing: but be warned it is very variable.
2:11:36 PM
On 21/07/2011 citationx wrote:
You can also ski across the snowy river at the swing bridge
>- never done that before either.

Me neither so sounds like there is a lot of the white stuff out there. Case in point, some mates had to abandon two cars on the road to Cess Jacks 2 weeks ago, which are still there entombed in snow!

3:51:01 PM
There is no ice climbing guide as it changes radically between and during the seasons. Sometimes one of the best ice faces completely disappears under mega piles of snow. Keith Bell (Canberra Climbing Association) has been working on a new guide for the rock climbing - I'll see if I can find my old version of it. Just get out there and have a look. Mike Law-Smith reckons that it is best later in the season when the days are warm and the nights still drop below freezing - hence his old habit of leaving Canberra at about 10pm on a full moon, then skiing in by moonlight and hitting the crag first light. You're lucky - a search of my backup drive found the old Blue Lake guide - winter climbing and minimal impact blurb here. PM me your email for a pdf of the full guide (anyone who wants it - no probs). Note that NPWS does not want camping in the catchment - camp up the hill (south west) at what I think is called the old soil conservation camp site - has water and protection from weather.

Winter Climbing

I've avoided using the heading "Ice Climbing" because sometimes it isn't! To say the
season is vague is an understatement.
The best time to try for good conditions is late in the season. Generally poor ski
seasons mean good ice, as there is lots of water to freeze. Good ski seasons mean lots
of snow and easy doddles up the gullies.
Once more Blue Lake is the best place to try with access from Guthega or Charlotte
(if the road's open). Watson's Crag can offer some good long routes if conditions
permit, and Mt Clarke, Club Lake and Mt Townsend have all produced good routes
when conditions are right.
A normal ice rack should be sufficient for most routes.

3:51:24 PM

The largest native animal in the Kosciuszko alpine zone is about 10cm long and
weighs less than a climbing shoe. The vegetation of the alpine zone is not adapted to
large, heavy animals such as humans and is highly vulnerable to foot and camping
impact and consequent erosion.
Since the end of grazing in alpine areas by sheep and cattle and subsequent large-scale
repair of erosion damage by the NSW Soil Conservation Service, the greatest threat
to the alpine environment has come from human recreational activity. Alpine
recreation has vastly increased in the last decade and can be expected to increase
As part of the measures taken by the NPWS to reduce damage, the public is asked
not to camp in the catchment basins of any glacial lake. For the Blue Lake/Hedley
Tarn connected lake system this includes all land encompassed by the surrounding
highest peaks and ridges and draining into either lake.
The boundary of this prescribed area on the north and east runs from the peak of Mt
Twynam to the Little Twynam peak then along the ridge of the Crummer Spur. It
then turns southwest to meet Blue Lake Creek below the moraine hump damming
Hedley Tarn. To the north and west the boundary lies along Twynam west ridge
following the line of the old Soil Conservation track. It turns south to join the Main
Range Walk half a kilometre west of the Blue Lake track turn-off. From the turn-off it
lies along the ridge of Helms moraine then turns south to below the Hedley Tarn
The most easily accessible camping sites for climbers are in the gully of Carruthers
Creek (sometimes called Soil Conservation Creek) which is crossed by the Main
Range Walk just before the rise to the Blue Lake turn-off. From this site climbers
quickly get onto the main walking track and can take the already impacted track
from the lookout platform to the climb face. The site offers good shelter and water.
When using this site please set tents as far as possible from the water, camp on the
thick snowgrass and avoid walking on the steep, stony areas around it.
Other possible sites are:
- the site of the previous Soil Conservation Hut by the Main Range Walk east of
Carruthers Peak,
- the basin at the headwaters of Strezelecki Creek,
- the saddle north of little Twynam, and
- below the moraine damming Hedley Tarn.
Campers using the latter are asked to walk only on the already impacted area
between Hedley Tarn and Blue Lake. This track passes through vulnerable bog and
wet areas and is already braided and eroded in several places. Please don't increase
the braiding by stepping off the track to avoid mud.
From the Soil Conservation Hut site, access to Blue Lake is easy by the main tracks.
Campers using the Strezelecki basin site are asked to take great care when walking
between track and campsite. Please avoid using the untracked upper Blue Lake basin
as a short cut. The stony snow patch feldmark and the bog and fen plant
communities of this area are highly vulnerable to impart damage.
When walking between the Twynam track and the Strezelecki sites impact will be
lessened if the group spreads out (single file walking creates impact tracks).
Walk only on thick snowgrass meadow and contour (zigzag) up and down slopes.
Avoid walking on anything deep, or bright green, stony, gravelly, wet, mossy or
Campers using the Little Twynam saddle will also minimise tracking impact by
following the above guidelines.
Increased impact is evident from the top of the climbs down to lake level. Climbers
can help minimise damage by descending to lake level on the sloping rock rather
than on vegetation.
Over the last few years a bare track has formed from the lake to the base of the
climb face. Where there is no rock to walk on, stay on this track rather than making
new ones.
Toilet and urinate as far from water as possible, avoid digging holes disturbed soil is
subject to frost-heave and erodes rapidly. Place tampons, disposable nappies, etc in a
strong plastic hag and carry them out with you.
Leave all rocks and stones in place. Moving them (for cairns, stove shelters, etc)
exposes bare soil which erodes. If they are moved the newly covered vegetation will
And please don't light fires; use a portable cooker.
Most climbers care about their environment. With climbers' cooperation as outlined
above, it may be possible to minimise damage to the surrounds of mainland
Australia's only carved-out glacial lake.

4:12:29 PM
do you really need to just spout NPWS spam at us all?

4:32:30 PM
Cut and pasted - didn't look that big in the squidgy box. But, if it means that the place is better looked after, no probs...
Mike Bee
4:50:52 PM
Any updates on the latest conditions at Blue Lake?
Has the warmer weather thinned out the snow but improved the ice (as you'd expect)?
8:03:47 PM
there was at least one party down there the last weekend...
8:27:09 PM
We went on Saturday with climbing gear and high spirits. Met some climbers who were on their way out and they told us the conditions were terrible.

High temps (8degrees) during the last week meant that any routes that had formed were pretty rubbish. Short and hard to protect was how they described it and not worth the slog!

We ended up dumping our gear and just going for a ski (also rubbish conditions) instead.

Hopefully the temps will drop down again soon. This is my third failed attempt to get out there!!
8:34:06 PM
I can tell you that the "snow" is fscking rubbish. it's all ice. from the top of twynam to the swing bridge across the snowy i skied on, perhaps, a total of 5m of snow. the remainder was varying thicknesses of ice. I reckon that blue lake would be amazing.
Basically, for the last week it's been around the +5 degree mark during the day and around the -5 during the night. It's the most amazing freeze/thaw cycle.
Ice - Excellent+++
Snow - rubbish++++
a lot of the snow no longer exists. hard to get a ski run even from guthega to the first bridge there's so little snow left. then from the top of the first ridge down to the flats in front of illawong hut there are quite a few bushy patches that you have to walk or scratch your skis on. Lots of shrubs exposed around spencers creek and on both sides of the snowy river below ~1700m (i say that because i reference the 1712m feature just across from illawong hut on the perisher map).

Post edit: wowsers about the rubbish ice conditions that gm84 just posted. figured that the freeze/thaw cycle would've helped it.
Mike Bee
10:30:23 AM
I'm heading over on Sunday, hoping to stay out till Thursday.
I expect this large front that is hitting today and tomorrow will fix up the snow conditions, but probably not do a lot for our ice climbing aspirations.
3:36:02 PM
On 17/08/2011 Mike Bee wrote:
>I expect this large front that is hitting today and tomorrow will fix
>up the snow conditions, but probably not do a lot for our ice climbing

Wouldn't count on it. 1-2cm of snow. After rain yesterday. What forecast are you looking at?

Thu 18 Aug 2011 A few snow showers. 80% 1-5mm -1 C 1 C
Fri 19 Aug 2011 A snow shower or two. 50% 1-5mm -4 C 4 C
Sat 20 Aug 2011 Chance of snow showers. 30% 1-5mm C 4 C
Sun 21 Aug 2011 Chance of snow showers. 20% < 1mm -2 C 6 C
Mon 22 Aug 2011 Partly cloudy. 30% < 1mm -4 C 7 C
Tue 23 Aug 2011 Mostly sunny. 20% < 1mm -4 C 9 C
Wed 24 Aug 2011 Partly cloudy 20% < 1mm -2 C 10 C

I wouldn't expect much of a season at all is left, especially with all those top temps...
Mike Bee
4:39:50 PM said that NSW should get up to 15cm tomorrow.
5:32:02 PM
These things really are all over the place (I saw a forecast on Sunday for between 10-20CM of snow too,, but this had disappeared on the monday when I got into work and hasn't been seen by me since). Seemingly, that cough IS getting worse and may just affect my ability to work on Friday...

8:19:35 PM
We were in there 20-22nd Aug. 3 days of excellent weather but limited ice. Just one 8m 50degree thick smear on the east and a 5m thin vertical next to the gully up to twynam. All the larger gullies on NW and W had cornice threats with recent obvious collapses. Still good to get out. Built monster snow cave for 4 on S of soil con creek. Should be there till Oct for anyone interested.
3:08:19 PM
Anyone got an udpate of the snow conditions?
It's currently snowing and I'm considering a day trip tomorrow (Sat). Would need to know that there was at least some sort of base left for current snow to assist making it a pleasant trip....

8:54:39 PM
When all the good ice is covered by a good snow-fall, is it steep enough to get a snow climb going? Or is it not really worth the trip out there? I have never been out there so I don't know the lay-of-the-land.

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