Snowy trek not for faint-hearted

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
Snowfall Bluff Knoll, Bular Mial, Stirling Ranges.
Camera IconSnowfall Bluff Knoll, Bular Mial, Stirling Ranges. Credit: Laurie Benson/Pictures: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Climbing Bluff Knoll in pursuit of rare WA snowfall can be a tempting challenge, but history will show it’s not for everyone.

On Thursday, we set off before dawn in cold drizzle, beginning a two-hour quest through sequences of knee-high steps, icy rocks, deep puddles and blisteringly cold winds on the way to the snowy peak.

The 6km trail can take up to two hours each way depending on fitness, and snow chasers should be prepared for warmer, more gruelling sections in the first half of the trail before entering sub-zero temperatures higher up.

After navigating the often slippery and sodden track which caught out many hikers, the reward at sunrise for those who made it was spectacular: icy peaks overlooking green, sun-lit pastures more than 1km below.

Snowfall Bluff Knoll, Bular Mial, Stirling Ranges.
Camera IconSnowfall Bluff Knoll, Bular Mial, Stirling Ranges. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

However, reporting on the phenomena revealed one telling truth: it’s not for everyone.

It should be taken as fair warning that while most can complete the hike at a leisurely pace, the lure of snow can cloud the judgment of some who may be better off in a team, or not at all.

On Friday an 81-year-old Spencer Park man known as Harry was rescued by emergency crews at 1am after leaving the main track on the escarpment.

He was rescued from freezing temperatures with a leg injury just metres from the track and more than five hours after he was due home. It was a rescue operation only made possible after police managed to track his phone.

Harry was the only reported person to go missing on the hike, but he was not the only person injured; even the fittest and youngest people were seen slipping and sliding down the path as the low temperatures turned rock surfaces to ice.

Snowfall Bluff Knoll, Bular Mial, Stirling Ranges.
Camera IconSnowfall Bluff Knoll, Bular Mial, Stirling Ranges. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

For those who can make it, the experience will be a memory to hold onto for years to come.

However, just because it’s a popular trail doesn’t make it easy.

Given some demanding obstacles, no amenities and minimal mobile phone reception, for some the opportunity to see snow atop Bluff Knoll may be one better experienced with a group, or through a screen.

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