03 December 2020
Everesting Mt Feathertop has been brewing inside me for a while, but didn’t have the guts to give it a go… yet. Until now, when GOW was cancelled, Alpine Challenge postponed… and I madly needed a challenge. A challenge of my own, one that breaks me down, then makes me stronger.
It was a last minute decision to do it this Thursday, 03 December. Sweeping Prom 60 was following weekend, then nearly Christmas… HAD to do it now! I messaged Bich (she told me earlier that she wants to support me whenever I do this), she had work, but happy to drive up on Friday night. I also messaged Byron and to my surprise he was right into it, he said he’ll be there on Friday morning/around noon. Frankly, I didn’t expect anyone to be able to come up and support me at such short notice and was ready to do it solo.
My training consisted of a Mt St Leonard (via Condons), Prom 60 about a week earlier and a few short runs at Lysty.
Preparation, especially food prep was the most time consuming and stressful. Thursday morning I was making crepes, sandwiches, etc before I headed off to Harrietville at 12:30. I was already exhausted. It was a hot day, the drive was sticky, followed a police car that was escorting an ambulance from Alexandra to about Bonnie Doon (very exciting).
I miscalculated the drive and start – ended up heading out an hour later, at 17:26 instead of 16:30. According to Whearterzone it was supposed to be 12-23 C in Harrietville and 5-16 on Mt Feathertop – perfect weather!!
It was quite warm, 30 C but I enjoyed the taste of adventure as I signed into the book and headed up Bungalow Spur. I was 1 km in, when I saw the first snake… I thought they’ll be more later on. Interestingly, I haven’t seen any during my 20+ hr trip. The sandwich I had before I started has not provided enough calories. I’ve had bites every half an hour, but on a hike like this it’s not enough. On the way up I realised I forgot to pack a Spring gel and should’ve brought the Bilby for the downhill…
There were campers at Federation Hut, chatted with a few of them. I’ve put on my jacket, swapped a few things around and headed up to Mt Feathertop. Got there at 20:08, the sunset was magnificent. Saw a few people in different spot enjoying it, just sitting and chilling… one day I should do that, too. Took a few pics for a couple of Asian girls – they were really happy 😊
I had a sandwich and some other foods on the way down. Felt a bit funny, tired, tripped a lot, but OK overall. I got to the car in about 4:40 – not a bad time, I thought. Then I’ve spent 20 minutes recharging and reshuffling stuff. I had a lot of ice cold mineral water, tasted great and I was clearly dehydrated. I changed my clothes – the crops felt too tight on my tummy and the tank was pushing on my diaphragm. I was 5:05 hrs into it when I started the second ascent. Signed into the book again and continued. It felt slower and harder, but I thought I’m in for the long haul, it will get slower at every go. Eating was getting harder and drinking, too. Saw a few possums with their orangey eye.
I’ve stopped, switched off the torch and enjoyed the silence and the darkness for a few moments. Lots of stars in the sky. I must have been somewhere around old Federation Hut site, when I felt like someone switched on a light – it was the shiny Moon! So beautiful!!
Got to Federation Hut, had to put my jacket on – it’s always windy and chilly up there. I laid down on the bench outside, waiting for my tummy to settle, then I felt I was getting cold and fast, so I went into the hut. Laid on the bench, looking at the stars, waiting for the nausea to go away. I managed to eat the half banana I brought (had more food with me, but nothing felt appetizing), then I headed out towards the summit. I was shaking. Amazing how fast the body cools down. Realised I should’ve put my overpants on, so I stopped, took the shoes off, on the pants, then everything felt somehow better.
Going up to the summit in the dark is so much different to daylight!! There was a point, where I stopped and had to really look around to see the track.
Then all of the sudden, it seemed so bright! I sat down on a rock, switched my light off and enjoyed the moment thinking how f$%^ing hard it is to get up here, but oh, so rewarding! That moon was so shiny and beautiful!
Up on the top, in spite of the windchill it felt amazing! It was 2:05. Took a couple of shots, then headed down, making sure I don’t wake up the people camping there.
I tripped a lot and was annoyed with the Nebo (it was bouncing a lot, ended up carrying it in my hand), but I didn’t fall. I think it was about 4:30 when I got to the car (should’ve brought a pen to write it down).
This time around it took a bit longer to get organised and ready for round 3. I had a 3 min chicken noodle soup – the instant kind and it tasted amazing!! I can’t recall what else I had or did, except that I was annoyed with my Fenix 5 for autosaving the activity. I thought at least the Fenix 3 is still going – great!! Restarted the 5 when I got onto the trail again, around 5:05.
The hike up felt really hard; stopped a few times to recoup then just put one foot in front of the other. At Federation Hut saw a guy walking toward his tent, he asked me when I came up and looked a bit puzzled when I told him this is the third time I am here. They were heading to Mt Bogong. Gave him a few tips, they’ve never been that way. Then I saw the elderly (not that, but older than me) couple, getting ready for hiking along the Razorback and down Bon Accord. They haven’t done that, either so I gave them some tips, too.
Took a deep breath and headed towards the summit. I always wondered how that track might be to the MUMC Hut and beyond… one day! Had to stop a few times and take a breather on the way up. Wasn’t that bad, since I could enjoy the views when I turned around. There was a couple up at the summit… said hello to them, they weren’t that talkative, so I just kept going. I went a few meters further this time – so much different during the day!! Took a few shots, then headed down.
Saw more people on Bungalow Spur on my way down… I managed to have some Greek yogurt, tasted really good.
Can’t recall the exact time, but I’ve opened a Spring gel and I just couldn’t finish it, so I was putting it from one pocket to the other… then forgot about it.
I thought I’ll slightly step on it downhill, I’ve wasted so much time with stops. I was going quite nicely, thinking I intimately know all these rocks, trees I had to climb over and under, roots… and what an amazing body I have! No, I don’t mean the shape, but the functionality, the structure – took me through so much… when I tripped and landed on my hands and knees. If anyone landed this way on a downhill, would know that it’s not that easy to stand up. First thing I did, I swore. There is no one nearby – I thought. Then I slowly pulled myself together, stood up, checked the damages, then walked on. A few hundred meters later, after a switchback, I see this couple sitting and enjoying their tea. First thing I’ve asked was if they heard me swear -they said no, then we talked about what I was doing, what they were doing, where they were from, where I was from, what shoes I was wearing and so on… surely a few minutes and it was getting hot.
By the time I got to the car, it felt hot. I’ve wetted the triangle bandage in the creek, washed the dirt off the scratches and cooled myself down a little.
Had to change crops again, didn’t want the dust to sit in the wounds, giving a drive by something to look at. It was hot. Very hot. Unpleasant hot near the car. Had some cold watermelon (yummmm), took some mineral water in a plastic bottle then get on with it.
Byron messaged me that he’s getting on the bus, should be in Harrietville by 1:45, he’ll head straight up Bungalow and will catch me on the way. I kept looking back and thinking that things are getting really out of hand – I’m so out of the schedule, it’s not funny and this heat is not helping. Can’t eat, can’t drink. Even the water made me sick. How am I going to do another 3.5 of this?! As I was hiking up, I decided to pull the pin. Go up to 5000 m, then turn around and head straight back. It wouldn’t be fair on Byron and Bich.
Then Byron messaged me that he has a taxi booked to Harrietville, will be there at 14:30. I asked him to cancel the taxi, I won’t be going on. I sat down on a log and tried to reach Bich, so she doesn’t leave. Told Otto, then kept going up. It felt soooo hard!! It was really hot and I knew every step I go forward, I’ll need to come back. There were hikers on the track, some of them not so kind – must be from Melbourne… the locals were all very nice.
I was looking at my watch (Fenix 3) until I reached 5000, then took a U turn and headed down. Have no idea how I got to the car… I know I spoke to Suzie, Otto, Byron… kinda sleep walking. I was and also wasn’t looking forward to that ice cold beer at the pub – was afraid I’ll just throw up.
Once at the car, I’ve changed my top (the car was an oven inside), had some chips, then drove to Harrietville Hotel Motel – where I managed to book the night. Everything seemed to be booked out, apparently there was a music festival in Harrietville that weekend.
Bought a pint of Harrietville Lager, checked in (with the beer in my hand), then walked down to the river, sat down and rested my legs in the ice cold water – felt really good.
Had some of the food I’ve brought in the Thermos, steak and mash potato with cornishons. Never slept this well in a motel before.
All up it was a great experience. I still pushed the limits and feel I came out stronger. Realised I can still climb and recover quickly. I didn’t use my poles; brought them along but only for safety. Since there were people up at Federation Hut, I didn’t feel I needed them.
- Greek Yoghurt satchel
- Cold chocolate milk
- Mineral water
- Spring gels – I think I had the Hill Aid and Canabery, Long Haul got all over my pack in the pocket, had to wash it at the creek
- 3 minute chicken noodle
- Coffee – from my usual cup
What I would do differently
- Need to find a system for charging electronics – I’ve spent too much time fiddling with cables and making sure things are charged (2 watches, phone, head torches)
- Use the good torches on the downhill as planned – and not forget about them – makes a huge difference
- Find a way to carry the gear that I need to put on at Federation Hut and to be able to do that quickly – I stuffed around for too long with this
- Start fresh
- Minimise idle time – it adds up very quick
- Have food, drinks and clothes at Federation Hut, if possible
- Not rush the first hike
- Take some more pics
- Jot down the actual time next to planned time
- Make sure the Fenix 5 doesn’t autosave
- Lululemon Fast and Free crops and tanks
- Salomon jackets – a light one and a thicker one for the night segment
- Salomon W/P overpants – LOVE these!! They are lightweight and they fit like a glove. They are so comfortable and yet protective. One of my dearest gear.
- Saucony Peregrine 10 – this pair has already made some pretty long runs. I have 737 kms in them and they are still good.
- Salomon S-Lab 12 l pack – maybe the 2018 model, but I like it because of the pockets in the front, I can keep my phone (with the charger) in one of them.
- I started with a pair of possum/merino socks (Salamanca market), but they started to hurt my heels. Only on the uphills. I’ve swapped them for the iOMerino socks.
- Brought along a few lamps (Ay Up, Bilby, Atomic Beam), but I ended up using the LED Lenser 5, Nebo and carried a mini Petzl as a backup backup.
- Triangle bandage – multi-use 😀
Max elevation: 1920 m
Min elevation: 561 m
Total climbing: 5233 m
Total descent: -5204 m
Total time: 22:39:10