Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Schlink Pass 4 Hut Challenge

I bought myself a bike a few weeks ago. A proper bike too, not a $150 special with no front brakes like my last one. Since I got my new baby, a Giant XTC 29er (incidentally, how awesome are 29ers!) I have been getting out and about on the trails around Jindabyne and the Kosciuszko National Park. Last week a sunny Sunday presented me with the opportunity to do a ride I have been thinking about for awhile, I’m going to call it the The Schlink Pass 4 Hut Challenge.

I parked at the Munyang Power Station and started up Munyang-Geehi Rd. The ride begins with a heart starter 300m vertical ascent from the Snowy River to the montane forests above. Despite my flash bike I was struggling by the last switchback and stopped to “take some photos” of the hydro power generation pipes.

The climb to start, much more fun on the return journey

Its not a water slide its Snowy Hydro infrastructure

After considerably reducing the number of beats my heart has left in it, I claimed the ridge and enjoyed some nice downhills and flats to the turn for my first hut of the day, Horse Camp Hut. As a relatively “low hanging fruit” this was my fourth visit to Horse Camp. As usual I admired the bright red door and peaceful setting.

Hut number 1 for the day

Holly’s entry in the log book after our Christmas card debacle

I walked the bike up a steep little hill behind the hut and met up with the Snowy Hydro aqueduct trail. Snowy Hydro don’t miss much, every little stream had a sluice gate directing water into the aqueduct.

I continued along the aqueduct trail and eventually met back up with the Munyang-Geehi Rd.

Near the intersection with the main Munyang-Geehi Rd.

As I turned onto the road I noticed two people jogging around 100m behind me. I put in some solid pedals but to my horror, they were gaining on me (jogging, remember I am on some super-duper bike). Just as they were about to catch me I took the turn to Whites River Hut, the second on my list for the day. The joggers turned off the main road and started on the hut access road, still gaining on me. It was now that I came across Whites River, (from which the hut gets its name) I took some speed into the crossing and made it to the other side. The water nearly came up to the top of my fancy 29 inch wheels. I turned back to see the joggers stuck on the other side of the river, there was no way they were getting across, I was saturated but had defeated them.

Whites River Hut was built in the 1930’s but was partially burnt down in July 2010 by an errant stove. My friend Dougs recently rebuilt the hut with some assistance from volunteers.

After a quick bite to eat it was back across the river and I continued north and up to Schlink Pass at 1804m.

It was a nice gentle downhill for a km or so to hut number 3, affectionately known as the Schlink Hilton owing to its size. The hut has number of rooms and even a slow combustion fireplace. A working bee was in full effect and I got back on the road after a quick lunch before someone handed me a paintbrush.

These guys had special access, cars are not normally permitted

After climbing uphill for pretty much the whole day, I welcomed a few km of fast downhill heading south from Schlink Pass. It wasn’t long however before I once again detoured from the Munyang-Geehi Rd to take another aqueduct trail, Disappointment Spur, to my final hut for the day.

Riding along I started to notice large numbers of Flightless Mountain Grasshoppers on the trail and I was doing my best not to hit the funny insects. Incredibly slow moving, both the females and males are flightless, although the males can manage a sort of jump to get away from predators. The females are particularly fat and dung looking. They do have one defence however, an amazing brightly covered back side that they will happily show you (if you continually try to poke them like I did).

Females and male flightless mountain grasshoppers

Attempting to avoid squashing the grasshoppers I came across Disappointment Hut, my final hut for the day. Also known as ‘Aqueduct Shelter Number 2’ it was built in the 1950’s. I was hoping that the name was intended to be satirical but it was not to be, the hut is indeed a bit of a disappointment. It has only one room with a double bunk and no fire place or nearby running water. It did have a certain quaintness however and if you look through the burnt out trees the view was pretty nice.

Hanging around Disappointment Hut were large numbers of Kosciuszko Grasshoppers. These little guys getter brighter as the day gets hotter. Judging by the iridescent greens and blues on display, they were running pretty hot. Seems it was a day for the insects as I didn't see any snakes and only the occasional macropods.

Kosciuszko grasshoppers and unimpressed hairy caterpillar

With my objectives achieved for the day I had a great ride down Disappointment Spur burning the vertical metres I had claimed in the morning.

View over to the perisher range

My ride ended back at the Munyang Power Station, around 24km. The Snowy Hydro boys were gearing up to make some power.


  1. It's nice to see what you've been up to while I was away :) nice work

  2. Very jealous mate! Those switchbacks do my head in every time....

  3. Nice day out! Are you in Jindy over easter? Would be nice to meet you (and Holly) for a coffee if you are. I think you should be able to see my email?

  4. Thanks, Darren its definitely a slog at the start!

    Ozgirl, we are heading to Thailand for a week, have to catch up for a ski during the season

  5. Great looking ride and love a hut. The Whites River Hut is looking pretty flash :)

  6. Thanks Greg. Whites River is looking good, hopefully they can finish the fireplace for the coming ski season.