Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Leather Barrel Creek

Well, after the massive disappointment that was the 2013 Australian ski season, I was looking forward with hope to the 2014 season. May came and went, as did June, with bugger all snow. Then Snowmageddon happened, a huge season starting dump. This was followed by Snowmageddon II another massive dump.

I had been lucky to score some great resort skiing corresponding to the falls, then finally, last week, the stars aligned for a backcountry trip. Gear was recovered from off season storage hidey holes, reconnections were made with grizzly ski buddies, feet were taped and hamstrings were stretched.

We arrived at Thredbo early, marveled at the beauty of the day and caught the lift up, saving our lazy selves the 400m climb up from dead horse gap. With our steely backcountry gaze we left the hecticness of the resort and made our way to The Ramshead and Leather Barrel Creek, our destination for the day. As always, the view to the south and west was spectacular.

Always love the view to the south and west

Transition time with the Twin Humps

Into the Leather Barrel

I watched Belly dropped in to The Couloir and carve some beautiful turns into the fresh snow.

Belly in the lower section of The Couloir

Rohan and I skied a different line to the south, into the Golden Gully, an incredible shaped gully with beautiful snow.

Me dropping down to the Golden Gully

The push and transition at Leather Barrel Creek was spectacular.

Beautiful down in Leather Barrel Creek

As usual, I was exceedingly slow in my transition as I mucked around with my camera(s) and gear. This gave Rohan a chance to climb up around 50m and sneak some turns in.

Rohan in some great snow in Leather Barrel Creek

Belly was a little further to the north owing to his first run. We all met up at the top of the Twin Humps. Despite the beautiful view, we quickly transitioned and dropped in as it was crazy windy.

View to the Ramshead Range from the Twin Humps

Looking down the Twin Humps

The first 50m from the Twin Humps were super sketchy due to windy, rimey, icey crap. We all managed some safety turns until the good snow started a little lower. Not just good snow, blower Australian pow, a rare treat.

Rohan finds the soft stuff

 He loves the DPS

My turn

We spent the next few hours working our way north along the big face. Skin, ski, eat, repeat. Exceptional conditions provided we didn't go to high into the icey wind affected stuff.

Belly found some nice open spaces

We could see lots of people out enjoying the conditions

Great skiing on the lower slopes

These guys took on the skin from hell

We took our time climbing out of Leather Barrel Creek up to The Ramshead. Rohan, being ridiculously fit, dropped into our first line one more time. Belly and I were shattered and pushed on to the peak.

On our way up The Spur

Some of our lines from our morning run, another group of three also hit it

Belly, I also had plenty of these moments

The last 50m of vertical were really sketchy. I had misplaced my crampons over summer so had to manage with just my skins. I found a sliver of snow and just got enough purchase to make it up, it was pretty scary. Crossing to the east, over the Ramshead Range, things settled down and Rohan and I took a break. Belly, gaining some sort of second (or third, or fourth) wind claimed The Ramshead.

View to the south

And to the south east

We had a pretty cruisy ski back to Thredbo. What was not cruisy was skiing our worn out legs down the late afternoon frozen, crowded, whatever km length Supertrail (5.9, 3.4 I don’t know but it’s the longest run in Australia). My legs were jelly, I spent pretty much the entire time in an ungainly survival sideslip.

Getting to the car and pulling off my boots I felt a joy I had not felt for many months. A sly content smile, a warn out body and a pair of battered feet in a cosy pair of ugg boots.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spring skiing with Holly

Well, quite the break from the blog. 2013 was always going to be difficult. While I did manage to get out a fair bit, there was much more of this.

Painting is a mugs game

Looks good when its done though

And this

The new skirting boards impressed the Mrs

And attending of these

D & C's wedding at Newcastle

my new brother in law

Happy at the wedding

Than this

Lady Northcote Canyon Kosciuszko National Park

Nonetheless, the odd adventure did take place. Lets go back to October and my last day out skiing in 2013 with Holly. The week before Peter and I had scored some great late season snow off the back of Thredbo and I was keen to hit it again. There were lots of people around enjoying the spring conditions both inbounds and out in the BC. Getting ready in the car park I ran into both Darren and Skifree, regulars in the Australian BC.

We bought our cheap passes and got the lift up to Eagles Nest. The Basin was immaculately groomed and we couldn't resist bombing a few laps.

We hit the Summit Trail and made our way out to the Ramshead Range.

Leaving Thredbo

The rock pyramid and a random nordic skier

She made it

Still heaps of snow off the south ridge of Kosciuszko in spring

The snow was actually pretty fun and Holly and I spend some time laying turns.

Holly has really improved over the past couple of years and is really enjoying her skiing. What she isn’t enjoying is her heavy touring rig; Salomon Quests and Marker Tour F12 bindings. She has had really difficulties with heal lift in the quests causing some nasty blisters. Probably time we coughed up for a light Dynafit rig for her.

Anyway, it was a lovely spring day out sharing the mountains.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spring Turns on Mount Kosciuszko

This season has left me… uninspired. False starts, irritable visitors and sunny days has meant my gaze has been focused eastward, towards the coast. While I have had some great resort days, the Backcountry this year has been frustrating. The days I have managed to get out there I have encountered poor weather with even poorer snow, but great company.

A windy day out on Guthega Trig with Rohan and Mark.

Rohan and Mark up Guthega Trig

Windy transition, Mark is Mr Slow!

A wet day touring on Mount Tate with Damian and Dave. I had borrowed Holly's lovely Lumix camera, unfortunately, these are its last photos.

Damian and Dave heading up Mount Tate

The last photo Holly's camera ever took, on our way back to Guthega, saturated

And finally some nice turns in the Perisher sidecountry before it turned to slop with Belly.

Belly and his new lib tech split, north Paralyser trig

Dropping north towards Guthega

Not to be too negative, its always great to get out in the BC with good friends and sometimes the turns are secondary to the funny things that happen and the conversation.

Anyway, contrast this with the surf!

Ledgy reef on the NSW far south coast

A frame goodness

So when my buddy Peter, aka Fast Rimey, made the trek up from the Melbourne for some BC action I was a tad apprehensive. I had just returned from another trip to the coast and scored some great waves and was considering a day relaxing at home. Nevertheless, we arranged to meet in Jindabyne and drove up to Thredbo. At the Thredbo base there is no snow, however, the liftys gave us the heads up that there was snow at the top so we clicked in for the ride up.

Peter's new Praxis BC

There is snow up there!

They were right, there was plenty of snow at the top, and with a dusting of fresh, it actually looked pretty good. So good in fact, we did a few runs on the Basin, the only lift still spinning for skiing at Thredbo.

Top of Kosciuszko Express looking towards The Basin and Signature Hill

The time came to hit the BC and we made our exit from the Basin top station. Our destination was the southern ridge of Mount Kosciuszko, terrain I had scoped out earlier in the season.

Getting out there

We skied out along the base of Signature Hill and came around the northern Ramshead. It was here we encountered our first of a few interesting backcountry travellers for the day. A group on Nordic skiers (the ski style, not the region!) having a tilt at the Aussie 10, the ten highest peaks in Oz. They were really pushing it and managed a quick hello as they shuffled past.

We topped out at the ridge and got a great view to the west. We could clearly see the Victorian high country and the terrain we were heading to looked tasty.

The Pyramid

Looking west into the Victorian high country

We did a terrible run down the western face of the Ramshead through horrible wind affected ice to Cootapatamba Creek.

Fast Rimey works his way down the dodgy ice 

Kosci cornice

From the creek we transitioned and worked our way up the south east face of Kosci. As we approached the top, a fellow skier dropped in and got some nice turns back to the creek letting out a few hoots, the snow looked great. We had a quick drink at the top took some photos then skied over to a steeper face we had been eyeing off. The drop in was a little intimidating, steeper than anything I had skied for awhile. There was some lingering ice beneath the fresh but I got into a rhythm and enjoyed my run down.

View from the top


Me dropping into my first run (courtesy Richard)

My turns

Rimey hitting it


Stoked with our first run, we hit the trail and made it back to the top relatively quickly catching up to the lone skier we had watched drop in before and also a snowboarder booting up. We had a quick chat then hit it in fairly quick succession. The run was mellower, but way longer.

Me dropping into second run (courtesy Richard)

 Our work

We had a bite to eat with our fellow BC travellers. The skier ended up being Richard from Richards Report, a buddy of my ski bum father. While enjoying the food hit and sunshine we noticed two hikers approaching. Obviously lost, they asked us how to get back to Thredbo. They were heading towards Leather Barrel Creek and I would hate to think where they would have ended up if we weren't around to get them back on track.

Lucky fellas

Richard and the snowboarder started their climb back towards Thredbo but Pete and I were keen for one more. As we got back into climbing mode a large group of ladies skied down from the Ramshead being guided by K7. We gave a quick g’day then started our climb. About half way up it was evident that the ladies were pretty fit, they were starting to reel us in. I managed to hold them off but Rimey, stopping for a drink had them nipping at his heels for the last 50 metres or so.

Climbing back up for more, you can just see us on the right (courtesy Richard)

They're coming!


Rimey maintaining his lead for the final push

We had a chat to the group and took some photos for them. A couple of the ladies were keen to have a look at the face we had skied for our first run so Pete and I guided them over to the intimidating drop in. Not everyone was up for it but one of the girls, Melissa was keen to have a crack. I dropped in first then took some photos of Pete and Melissa coming down. As per the first run, there was some ice beneath the fresh at the top followed by beautiful dry fresh snow lower down.

The ladies and Mount Kosciuszko

Pete drops into the face


Melissa carving it up



We met back up with the rest of the girls who had skied a nice looking line similar to our second run. We transitioned then had a pretty easy climb and ski back to Thredbo finishing with some bonus turns to the lift and a delicious beer at the River Inn.



 Its a great spot

It ended up being a fantastic day out in the mountains, perhaps my best BC day for the season. I'm reinvigorated and ready for a few more, 2013 isn't over yet!