Tim Bates is no stranger to adventure in out of the way places, being a prominent figure in 4WDing circles: he has featured in 4WD Action’s DVDs, presented a 4WD TV show and heads out bush so often that you might have spotted stickers on fourbys saying “I have been on Tim Bates' 4WD Adventures”. He’s also written an STT in the mud review for us before.
An unusually large snowfall at the end of June saw Tim and his fellow 4WD enthusiasts driving to the Victorian High Country to see the snow firsthand. With brand new S/TMAXX tyres fitted and snow chains packed just in case, Tim set out to conquer Mt Skene. Here’s how his Coopers held up in the snow:
Our trip began in the High Country town of Mansfield, where we all met at the local bakery for a hearty breakfast of a pie and sauce to start the day. Rolling out of Mansfield, we headed towards the town of Jamieson where we took the seasonally-closed Jamieson – Licola Rd bound for the summit of Mt Skene. This road can only be driven by obtaining a permit from 4WD Victoria during the seasonal track closure period. These permits are generally only given out to 4WD clubs under very strict guidelines.
The road surface was in great shape for this time of year despite the rain, so there was no need to air down just yet. After climbing to over 1,000m above sea level there was still no sign of snow, which had us all wondering when we would begin to see it.
But, at approximately 1,170m above sea level there began to be a glimmer of hope. Small patches of snow were appearing on the roadside and before we knew it, the skies opened up and large white snowflakes began to fall all around us: such a beautiful sight to see!
Now was a good time to deflate the S/TMAXX’s to 16psi in the front and 18psi in the rear tyres.
Just one week before we started this trip, the Victorian High Country didn’t have any snow on the ground. But with its very unpredictable nature, it had cut loose by dumping record snow falls in just a few days that surpassed some records that had stood for over 30 years. For this very reason, I hold so much respect for the mighty Victorian High Country, and I never take it for granted. It will grab you when you least expect it.
With a little more altitude there was almost a line we had crossed that put us directly in deep snow on the track, and it wasn’t long before our wheels were cutting a track through 30cm of fresh powder snow.
I carried snow chains as I always do when heading out in this kind of environment for safety reasons, but the chains were not needed due to the low tyre pressures of the S/TMAXX. Plus, following the 4WD in front of me made forward motion quite achievable.
We had a few interesting moments around some of the bends in the road from the 4WDs in front sliding in the freshly laid snow. But good vehicle control combined with the low tyre pressures allowed the S/TMAXX tyres to work at their best.
We had reached the summit of Mt Skene at an altitude of 1,558m above sea level. We spent a few hours at this point having lunch and took the opportunity for some great photos, and to just take in the amazing spectacle as snow continued to fall quite heavily around us.
The mighty Victorian High Country is a beautiful place at any time of the year, but to see it covered in snow truly brings out its beauty. It’s something that all should try and experience at some stage.
A fantastic trip was had by all, and I look forward to this trip again next year.
Tim Bates 4WD Adventures
You can follow or join Tim's adventures by joining the Batesy's Facebook Trip Page group.
Are you planning a winter trip? Call us on 1300 COOPER to find the right tyres for the job, or read more about the S/TMAXX.