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CHAINS  SNOW DRIVING

There is no need to fear driving in the snow, but common sense and practice are necessary. In the northern hemisphere many people must drive daily on snow covered roads without the use of chains. Because of variable weather conditions chains must be carried at all times during winter on alpine roads. Immediately after a heavy snow fall the authorities will require fitting of chains because of reduced traction on steep or shaded icy sections and to avoid congestion due to drivers not experienced in the snow.

It is essential for your safety and convenience that you PRACTICE FITTING CHAINS at least once before leaving Mount Beauty ~

If you encounter snow on the road ahead, do not panic, do not stop, slow down gently, engage a lower gear and be very gentle with the accelerator, brakes and steering. Unless you lose traction wait until the FIT CHAINS HERE sign before fitting chains, then fit chains in the designated CHAIN FITTING BAY without blocking the road or other cars. Once your chains are fitted your car will have more traction and you will be able to travel slightly faster, up to 30/40 k/h.

After a heavy low level snow fall you may encounter snow on the road at a sharp shaded bend at the bottom of a dip about eight kilometres before Falls Creek and about twenty two kilometres from Kiewa View. Prior to this dip you will come to the first and only signed overtaking lane, two kilometres further on you will come to a designated chain fitting bay though rarely do you need to fit chains so far down the mountain. The second left hand corner after you pass through the chain fitting bay is the top of the rise before the dip. There is a Yellow sign on the left  which says "Caution Icy Corners Falls Creek.We3 recommend that you slow down to 40km at the top of the rise and always approach this corner with caution as there may be some ice on the  road even when there is no snow. It is not normally necessarily to fit chains at this point even after a heavy snow fall. Often the road will be relatively clear of snow past this point until you are within five kilometres or less from Falls Creek. Be careful not to actually come to a complete stop on this bend or on the small rise following this bend. This would cause you and the cars behind you to loose traction at this difficult spot. If you do not feel confident to negotiate this bend and the rise following it without chains fit chains at the bay immediately before the dip.  Leave plenty of room for others to pass safely.

About one kilometre further on there is another spot requiring extra care and concentration.  After a wide hair pin bend called the Turnback at the intersection with McKay Power Station Rd, the road to Falls Creek climbs fairly steeply for a short distance. You should use the wide area at this bend to safely start the climb with enough momentum to climb this rise without applying too much acceleration when there is a light cover of snow. Once passed the first corner the gradient reduces and you are unlikely to need  chains prior to arriving at the Falls Creek entrance ticket booths at Howmans Gap 5.5 km before Falls Creek village. 

After this point you are on the north side of the mountain. With sufficient sunshine and good road clearing the snow may be thin enough and soft enough to drive to the day car park without chains.

Chain fitting is not frequently required during a normal season at Falls Creek. However heavy snow falls down to a low altitude will necessitate chains during the night and first thing the next morning.

Note you must fit chains where directed. 

Be aware though that some chain fitting bays are small and may be crowded when you arrive. If this is the first bay you have come across for some distance there  is often another one or two bays in the next few hundred metres. If you still have good traction it may be possible to continue on to the next bay where you can more safely fit chains out of the way of passing traffic. Do not be indecisive. Either find a spot to pull over and fit chains or keep going. Do not stop in the middle of the road, put your gear in the path of on coming traffic or stand or lie in the path. The vehicle behind you may be proceeding to the next chain fitting bay around the corner.

If hiring chains for the first time you must insist on a demonstration and then practice, before you head up the mountain. The following tips may also assist.

  1. Chains should be fitted to the driving wheels. Normally the small hook goes on the inside of the wheel, large hook to the outside.

  2. It is often easiest to fit the hooks if you fit the chain over the wheel, then move the car forward about a of a wheel turn, and do up the chains with the hooks in a more convenient position.

  3. If you are not experienced in the use of chains, it is often advisable to stop at the next fitting bay and tighten and adjust the chains.

  4. It is a good idea to carry a few elastic straps. These can be used to secure the end of the chain to avoid it hitting the body work and criss-crossed across the hub to keep the chains tight.

Fitting chains unnecessarily is not advised. Driving on chains with no snow or insufficient snow or driving too fast with chains will damage tyres over a period. In the long term this can become a safety hazard in high speed highway driving. When you drive out of the slippery snow and into the slush on the way down the mountain remember to remove your chains.  The road from Falls Creek does not go up and down appreciably above the snow line. Therefore other than caution at the first mentioned shaded corner it should not be necessary to re-fit chains once they have been removed on the way down the mountain.

 

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Revised: August 21, 2012