Having pulled the pin on a previous attempt to summit Mt Snowy due to blizzard-like conditions, we were determined to reach the summit; even if the weather was less than ideal. The plan was to reach Arthur and Emily Tarn, then head up to Snowy returning via Hartz Peak. Unsure of how much snow would be around the other side of Hartz, we packed snowshoes and set off along the main track- the first visitors for the day according to the logbook. Heading out along the well maintained track, we made quick time over the duckboards and had no need for our snowshoes or rain gear. Once we found the turn off to Arthur’s tarn, we didn’t stay dry for long- the track was pretty overgrown and boggy in places.
We reached Arthur’s Tarn an hour after leaving the carpark, but didn’t spend long as the wind had picked up and was howling down the valley. We continued uphill for about 100m, passing through some nice alpine gardens before heading back down towards Emily’s Tarn, which was surprisingly sheltered from the wind. We stopped briefly here before looking for the pad up to the Hartz/Snowy saddle, still hoping that the cloud would clear and we would have at least some views or a break in rain.
From the saddle we followed a rough pad for 15 minutes up to the summit of Mt Snowy, where we found the wind was too strong to stand up straight. On the way back we chose to follow the high route across Mt Hartz – though this proved quite slow and challenging as the large dolerite boulders were icy – but we made it to the summit in just under an hour. For the first time that day we chucked on the snowshoes as there was just enough snow on the north-western slopes of Hartz to warrant them. On our way down we passed a number of very cold and seemingly unprepared walkers post-holing their way up in blundstones and jeans.
All up 10.3kms in 3hours and 35 minutes with 698m ascent.
A big dump of snow was forecast for the weekend and the chance to surpass 99 peak bagging points was very enticing. Mt Hartz seemed to be a good candidate as reaching the summit is fairly short and the track relatively easy to follow, even in heavy snow. We were the first to arrive at the carpark and soon after made our way along the duckboards. The first 15m comprised of pushing through and ducking under snow laden branches covering the track, before reaching the open moors. Unfortunately not as much snow had fallen as I had hoped; though this was probably a good thing as it was very soft, even with snowshoes. A quick detour to Lake Esperance to check out the view was well worth it, though we couldn’t see as much as we’d like in the foggy conditions.
Once on Hartz Pass, we were hit with some very strong wind gusts and snowstorms, with pellets of ice belting us. Luckily there were a number of snow markers still visible, and we were able to follow them instead of relying solely on the GPS for navigation. Up we went, trying to avoid the patches of softer snow covering the bushes. We reached the top in just over 2 hours, but unfortunately couldn’t see more than 20m around us. Some protection from the wind could be found in the small rock windbreak where we had some snacks and a rest. Just as we were about to leave, the clouds cleared and we were able to see the Southern Ranges, Bob + Boomerang and the Picton Range.
The clearer conditions held up all the way back to Hartz Pass and made the descent much quicker, as well as more enjoyable with the occasional view of Hartz Lake, a frosty Devils Backbone and the occasional snow tornado whirling along the ridge. We were back at the car just after 12, which left plenty of time to check out something in the area that I had been keen to see for some time and to explore forestry roads.
All up 8.4kms in 3hours and 45 minutes with 518m ascent.
Getting there: The easiest way to access Hartz is by driving along the Arve Road from Geeveston. Follow all signs towards Tahune Airwalk and Hartz Mountain.