Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Poking around early Winter 2017

A couple of weeks ago I fortuitously found myself down in the Snowy Mountains for the first major snow storm of the year. With very few skiing opportunities over the past two years I couldn't resist strapping on the skis and going for a look around the back of Perisher.

With no base, there was no chance for any turns, but so nice just being out in the snow and watching the sun set on the snowgums. As I made my way back to the village it started to snow.

We are off two Europe for a few weeks. Looking forward to getting back for some real backcountry adventures later in the season.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spring skiing

Whoooa dear reader, again sorry about that gap! You see it was not just a baby, renovating, a general malaise and life in general that has kept me away from this blog, but also a Masters degree I was doing over the past few years. Mercifully it is over.

As I write this, summer has gone and we are experiencing our first cooler days. And it got me thinking about my last day on snow last year, an incredible day in late September up in the Australian high country.

Now I never talk about my profession, it is very interesting and rewarding but the last thing I want to do in my non-work time is talk about work. Nonetheless, this tale involves my work in a small, crucial way. You see, I was able to arrange access, access that was not available to the general ski bum, at least for a few hours. With the access granted, Tim and I had a head start on the rest of the frothing backcountry animals. The snow looked epic, boot deep powder.

Main Range looking sweet

We hauled our flabby assess (in my case anyway) to Carruthers just in time to see a lone skier dropping into the bowl making some beautiful turns. How had we been beaten? Having a chat later, old mate tells me he got around the access issues by riding his bike up to the trail head at 4am, commitment!

Best view in Australia




Tim and I nailed some incredible runs, enjoyed the view, ate lots of sugar... you get the picture. An epic day in the BC.

Snow was on point


Yes this is really happening

Traditional afternoon Snowy River crossing

With so much snow around, and the official ski season over, we were able to take my son skiing for the first time. A memorable family milestone. Made even better by it being a backcountry day, earn your turns! no lifts!





 Proud Dad moment

Saturday, November 19, 2016

August BC adventures

Our little man has hit the one year mark and life is getting to a new sort of normal. He loves the outdoors and we have been taking him on heaps of hikes, the subject of subsequent posts hopefully, this one is about Daddy.

My birthday present this year was simple, a weekend in the backcountry. Having barely skied over the past year it was something I was looking forward to for weeks.

Day 1 - Mt Wheatley

A few laps of Mount Wheatley is my preferred mental reset, gear tester, snow pack reconnaissance or quick escape from civilisation. The trail head is in the middle of Australia's largest ski resort, and across the road from the epic bacon and egg rolls and coffee at Aldo's, but it is rarely skied. I spent my first night on snow , reminisced about overseas adventures, did my avalanche training meeting a bunch of legends and spent countless lunch breaks lapping Mount Wheatley while working at the resort. As a warm up back into BC travel, I spent a morning covering familiar ground.

Old faithful, low angle traverse to Mount Wheatley

View back to Perisher, so peaceful from this vantage point

Terrain is also pretty fun, lots of room to let the skis run

Plenty of room for a few turns

After Wheatley I met my buddy Matty in Jindabyne and we stocked up on food and booze for the next two days. I've been moving away from snow camping over the past few years preferring to camp at the snowline and then day trip into the mountains, seems to make the experience far less complex with smaller pack weight and more time for skiing. We found a nice spot and Island Bend set up camp and got the fire going.

Great camp site but super windy

Happy days

It was cold and windy but we had a good night by the fire. The highlight was probably both of us managing to spill our dinner on the inside of our down jackets trying to keep it warm out of the wind.

Day 2 - Guthega Trig and Mount Tate

I didn't get much sleep. It was howling gale force wind all night. I could hear the gusts coming through the valley then my tent would be smacking me in the face. It was also bitterly cold.

Don't often go full mummy but had to on this cold and windy night

Arriving at Guthega we were greeted by cold and windy conditions, very much like the microclimate in my tent the previous night. There were boot deep freshies and a little bit of sun peeping out and we were into it.

Looked good from the car park

Over the dam wall

Matty's splitboarding skills have vastly improved since our first, and pretty hilarious, adventure. We only made it abut half way up the ridge before we had to take some turns.

Was excited to get amongst it

First run was fun, a bit of crust under the fresh but nice open turns. We hammered up to the ridge and took it all the way to the trig. The weather was gnarly at the top on the exposed ridge, we could barely stand up. I took a moment to take some shots of the snow battered trees and we then dropped west down to Guthega Creek.

Little bit of light in the clouds

Gnarled snow gums are my favourite

There was some crust, but mostly it was just 200 vertical metres of perfectly spaced trees in boot deep pow, so good.

Love the run off the back of Guthega Trig

Upper Guthega Creek

We had a quick lunch and booted up Mt Tate as far as the weather and ice allowed us. Matty was stoked to be able to use his crampons. Our run down Tate was awesome, big open turns. A quick transition and we climbed up again and dropped in south to the little log footbridge over Guthega Creek. I must have been cold, wet, tired, hungry or all of the above for all this cause I didn't get any photos except for our happy faces crossing the creek. Some legend had put the mesh steel back on, no more sketchy slippery log hopping, thanks!

Matty crossing Guthega Creek

So stoked someone put the mesh back on!

Another cold night by the fire with the bitter wind ripping through the valley.

Day 3 - Gills Knob and the Pyramid

At around midnight the wind stopped, blessed calmness, I slept like a baby. Rocking up at Guthega we were greeted by perfect a backcountry day. We didn't have time to hit the main range, Matty had to drive to Sydney to catch a flight to NZ for more riding, so it was a quick few yo-yos on Gills Knob.

What a day!

Large guided tour heading out

We ducked around the back of the main ridge and crossed Guthega Creek. We made good time up to the Tate ridge line. It got pretty hot and we dropped some layers, Matty more than me!

Hot work

Getting near the top

We time our run down the Pyramid perfectly, that moment when ice melts but isn't slush, it was fun.

Some of our turns down The Pyramid

We had a quick feed then hoofed it back up to the ridge line. Tramping through the snow gums we came across a group of BC ladies having lunch, they were pretty impressed with Matty who had once again dropped all his layers.

A quick transition and another great run down to Guthega Creek and that was it, our BC weekend done. We hit the road with some more classic memories in the bank.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Barren Grounds

Bit of a gap, but I have a good excuse!


Our son was born last July, a whirlwind of change and good times. Approaching nine months he is a happy little dude who loves climbing and standing up. God help us when he learns how to walk!

So yeah, adventures of the wilderness type have been a bit light on over the past year. We have still been doing some nice walks, exploring the pram friendly tracks around our home and also lots of time at the beach surfing and playing in the sand.

A free morning recently presented me with a great opportunity to check out the Barren Grounds Nature Reserve which is a short drive from our house.

I took the Griffiths Trail which was in really good condition and I quickly made it my first stop, a lookout north to Lake Illawarra.

North to the Illawarra from Barren Grounds Nature Reserve

Small section of temperate rainforest on the Griffiths Trail

Woodland typical of the environment on the opening section of the Griffiths Trail

There was some beautiful wild flowers and the escarpment reminded me of the heath of Tasmania.

Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea australis)

Christmas Bells (Blandfordia nobilis)

Fuchsia heath (Epacris longiflora)

Barren Grounds Nature Reserve heathland

Drumsticks (Isopogon anemonifolius)

Not sure

I followed the Griffith Trail all the way around to a natural stone bridge across Lamonds Creek. While sitting having lunch I noticed some small flowers and assume them to be some type of orchid. Identifying them back at home I found them to be carnivorous!

Stone bridge at Lamonds Creek, Barren Grounds Nature Reserve

Fairy apron (Utricularia dichotoma)

Spoon-leaved sundew (Drosera spatulata)

On the way back I took a short diversion to Cooks Nose where there was a great lookout to the south taking in the Kangaroo Valley.

Kangaroo Valley from Cooks Nose lookout

I had intended to keep going and check out some of the other side tracks but it was really hot and I was spent. So good to get back out into the bush and so much more to explore the Barren Grounds NR and the adjacent Budderoo NP.

Our son is getting to an age where we will be able to enjoy the outdoors together and we are looking forward to spending more time in the bush and sleeping under the stars. Winter is not far off and we are excited for some snowy adventures. So hopefully more time outdoors and some more blog posts.

Great morning out