Distance: 6 km (8 km to end)
Elevation gain: 630 m (930 m to end)View mapDownload GPS track
Red Ridge is the unofficial name for the ridge to the south of Read's Tower and to the north of Mt. Buller. It is a spectacular snowshoe trip that affords one of the best, easily obtained, aerial views of Spray Lakes.
The route up the ridge begins a few hundred meters south of the Sparrowhawk day use area on the south side of the creek flowing from the Sparrowhawk Tarns basin. Do not mistakenly take the very well packed and heavily used ski/snowshoe trail on the north side of this creek as it heads up Read's Tower, not Red Ridge, and it is very difficult to cross the creek and ascend to the ridge from this route. While there is no trail up Red Ridge, simply follow the ridgeline and avoid losing elevation and you'll break out of the trees to spectacular views after about 2.5 km of moderate ascent.
The open ridge is windswept with either packed snow or bare rock. We replaced our snowshoes with microspikes when the snow gave way to rock, but within a few hundred meters the snow was again knee-deep in a small treed section of the ridge. With a bit of perseverance this isn't a problem, but be aware that the cornices overhanging the ridge are huge and be sure to avoid them. The ridgecrest also has several "gaps" in it, meaning that walking in a straight line will lead you straight onto a cornice. This is no problem whatsoever as long as you're paying attention.
We ended up stopping about a kilometer short of the end and highpoint of the ridge, but continuing apparently involves only mild scrambling in one or two places. It certainly didn't look too difficult from where we stopped. Regardless of where you stop however, the views from the area just after breaking out of the trees are fantastic; everything beyond that is a bonus.