Sunday, February 5, 2012

Running Mt Stirling and Mt Buller

With a week off from work the first stop had to be the Victorian high country and the Mt Buller and Mt Stirling Alpine resorts. In Winter the resort is jam packed with Aussie skiers trying fit in as much time on the slopes as possible during the short lived snow season. Summer brings something new altogether. The two peaks are connected by amazing mountain bike and hiking trails, offering endless running possibilities and down time in a chilled out, near empty resort town. We spent our days running and biking, and then relaxing to a cup of coffee and 360 degree views of mountains disappearing beyond the horizon. 

We had marvelous weather and ended up staying longer than initially planned - it's just so damn beautiful . My first run was around Mt Stirling on the ~16km Summit Loop (see map of the trails here). The trail was initially a little overgrown, but soon connected on sections of fire trail and single track through beautiful snow gums and views out across the Australian Alps. It was great to run some bigger hills and then have the reward of a summit! The resort has  invested heavily in signage and free trail maps, so navigating is easy! The runs were also a good opportunity to test the comfort level of some new Salomon gear (Exo compression running shirts and shorts) - all I can say is that they are pretty damn awesome to run in. 

The start of the Summit Loop:

Emerging into the alpine and running amongst startling white Snow Gums:

Summer in the Australian Alps:

The summit of Mt Stirling (1749m):

Running across to Stanley's Bowl, Mt Stirling behind me:

The next run was on the Stonefly mountain bike trail starting at Howqua Gap. The trail is 6km of uphill (250m vertical ascent) on flowing single track taking you through Alpine Ash forests, across pristine stream  and into some pretty peaceful wilderness. The trail then loops around and heads back down for 4km. Because it is built for mountain biking it flows and allows runners to work on descending technique without too much fear factor involved. From there I connected on to trails to take me to the Mt Buller summit (1804m) to finish off a wonderful run.

Running up to the Mt Buller Summit:

Views out across the Australian Alps:

Evening sun across the summit:

Mountain layered upon mountain as the sun sinks:
Mt Buller ski slopes in summer:

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