Growing up in WA, it’s no surprise that Melody and Cedric hadn’t seen snow before. Lucky for them, XTM hooked them up with some bomber snow gear to keep warm on their first foray into Alpine hiking. Check out their guide from a first-timer’s visit to Mount Buffalo.


Highlights

  • Snowshoeing across a mountain ridge with 360 degree views
  • Sunset colours over snowy mountains
  • Squeezing through boulders at Mahomet’s Tomb
  • Picturesque mountain forest drive

The Lowdown

Cedric and I recently headed into the Victorian alpine region to experience snow for the first time. Being from sunny WA, we were transfixed by the beauty of the white peaks and loved hearing the sound of snow crunching under our boots.

For our very first snow adventure we spent the day hiking around Mount Buffalo National Park, followed by a snowshoe along the Razorback Trail. Thanks to XTM Performance for bringing this adventure to life, and for keeping us warm and dry while doing it!

First-Time Alpine Hiking On Mt Buffalo (VIC) by Cedric and Melody Tang, XTM Performance jacket, sunset in the snow, backpack

Hello Snow, Hello Mount Buffalo!

The morning started off with a lovely drive up to the national park through beautiful alpine ash and snow gum forest, past waterfalls and icy lakes. We did this adventure in early July, and there had been a little bit of snowfall recently: enough to form icicles on the bushes and cover the boulders in a layer of white.

Later in the month, once more snow has fallen, Mount Buffalo National Park has good spots for cross-country skiing and tobogganing – other snowy adventures for the future!

There are so many short hiking opportunities in the park, but we settled on the lesser known Corral-Castle track because we like exploring ‘paths less travelled’ – and also because the track looked the snowiest!

First-Time Alpine Hiking On Mt Buffalo (VIC) by Cedric and Melody Tang, XTM Performance jacket, snowball

A Slippery Start & A Snowball Fight

The start of the track was quite slippery, and we had to get used to placing our feet carefully. I ended up on my bum a few times! But the higher we hiked, the softer and deeper the snow became and we began packing snowballs up and hurling them at each other (perhaps living out the snowy childhood we never had?) Cedric definitely had the upper hand since his fingers were snug inside the XTM Podium snow gloves while mine were red and stinging.

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Sightseeing On The Corral-Castle Track

The Corral-Castle track has four different branches to stop along the way: Corral Peak, the Castle, the Sentinel and Mahomets Tomb. Corral peak and the Castle have beautiful views of the surrounding bushland and granite rock structures. Climbing up to these views, our bodies warmed up – it was time to take off the waterproof layer of the 3-in-1 XTM Granite snow jacket, and just use the puffy merino midlayer. We were pretty impressed with the removable inner jacket – it’s called the Backcountry midlayer and despite being super light and thin, it kept us warm even when a frosty breeze blew at the top of the viewpoints.

The Sentinel is also worth popping by to see: it’s a large granite boulder, standing tall and straight like its name. However, our favourite stop along this hike was Mahomets Tomb. Here the path winds through large granite boulders. The angles of the rocks intersect each other in interesting ways, making us stoop and turn sideways to find a way through.

First-Time Alpine Hiking On Mt Buffalo (VIC) by Cedric and Melody Tang, XTM Performance jacket, granite boulders

Picnic Time!

We finished the morning’s hike with a picnic down near the start of the track. There are picnic tables, but they were wet from the snow, luckily we could spread out the waterproof outer layer of the Granite Jacket on the bench to keep our bottoms dry. If we had more time, we would have loved to check out the Cathedral Rock trail which starts across the road from the Corral-Castle one.

Hightailing To Hotham

Now that we’d had a taste of hiking in shallow, icy snow, we were ready for some fluffier, deeper stuff. We timed our arrival at Mount Hotham so we could hike for a few hours along the Razorback trail to catch the sunset out along the ridge. Summiting Mount Feathertop via the Razorback trail is an amazing overnight adventure for experienced hikers during winter, or something worth tackling during less snowy seasons.

First-Time Alpine Hiking On Mt Buffalo (VIC) by Cedric and Melody Tang, XTM Performance jacket, snowshoes

Snowshoeing Along The Razorback

For us first-timers, a few hours snowshoeing on the track was adventure enough. We strapped our snowshoes on and zipped our jackets up – it was much colder up there. The great thing about the Razorback hike is that the views are immediately sublime. You’re walking on the ridge with mountains left and right. Looking towards the west, you can see the misty blue layers of lower mountains and on the eastern slopes there’s the distinct texture of dead trees. Intense fires in 2003 burned the trees, and now the blackened bark has fallen away, leaving these ghostly pale trunks.

Snowshoeing was great fun, we felt invincible as we crunched our way along the trail – none of the timid footsteps we’d had in Mount Buffalo. We hired our snowshoes at a local ski store in Harrietville where we were staying, but you could find them at any of the ski hire stores in surrounding areas – they were $38 each for the day.

We found that regulating your body heat is pretty important out in the snow. While hiking up a slope, things can get warm fast. But as soon as you stop, the cold sets in again. The XTM Granite jacket made things easier: every time things got warm, there was a quick zip to let the armpits have some air. When things got cold: all zips were up to keep the warm air close to the body.

First-Time Alpine Hiking On Mt Buffalo (VIC) by Cedric and Melody Tang, XTM Performance jacket, beer pocket opener

Beer & Sunset – A Legendary Combo

At last, the glory of sunset arrived! As the sky became bright orange and pink, we stopped hiking, pulled out the bottle opener that’s attached to the jacket pocket and cracked open a couple of locally brewed beers. In the cold air, we looked at each other with glee! Our first snowy adventure had been a wonderful success. No doubt the first of many.

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Essential Gear

How To Get There

For Corral-Castle: Search ‘cathedral and hump track’ on Google Maps to find the picnic area. The Cathedral and hump track is to the west of the road; the Corral-Castle track is to the east of the road.

Read More: All-Seasons Playground // Mount Buffalo (VIC)

For the Razorback: The Razorback hiking trailhead can be found on Google Maps and is opposite Diamantina Hut on Great Alpine Road.

Read More: Traversing The Razorback // Alpine National Park (VIC)

Activities

  • Snowshoeing
  • Hiking
  • Snowball fights!

Skill Level

Beginner to Intermediate – with the right gear, this adventure is a great introduction to exploring snow-scapes by foot. Moderate level of fitness needed for the Razorback. Make sure you check the weather forecast before you head out!

Distance / Duration

Corral-Castle track is 3.5km (about 1.5 hours) return plus another 30mins to an hour to fit in the side tracks to Mahomets Tomb and the Sentinel. May take longer depending on snow level.

The Razorback can be done as a 22km/7 hour return hike to Mount Feathertop. Or just do an out-and-back shorter section like us.

 

Terms & Conditions

In the know about the snow

Fresh Tracks At Kirtle Burn Hut // Backcountry Skiing On The Pisa Range (NZ)

Extend Your Ski Season By Unlocking The Backcountry

Four Wheel Driving In The Snow! – Winter 4WD Adventure // High Country (VIC)