Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ridiculously Cute Mountain Critters

Last week I had the incredible opportunity to go pygmy possuming in Kosci National Park. Definitely something I won’t forget. We truly have some amazing little critters in this country.

Mountain Pygmy Possum

Holly pretending to be a ranger and ecologist

Antechinus, careful they bite!

Broad Toothed Rat, sort of like an Australian guinea pig.

A few moths

...and a common bush rat for reference

To follow up on my pygmy possuming day, I was hanging around the Jindabyne NPWS office and came across an orphaned swamp wallaby joey. Mum had been killed in a car accident and the cute little thing was being cared for by one of the dedicated LAOKO volunteers.

She spends most of her time as a pouch potato in the back pack

Occasionally she is allowed out for a cuddle

Even rarer still, she gets out for a bounce around

Then its nap time

Mt Perisher in March

I went up Mt P a few weeks ago. Although it was for work I managed to snap some quick shots and enjoy the view. It was interesting seeing the terrain without snow. I was amazed by the size and number of rocks that are beneath the main run, Exhibition.

The Exhibition rocks

It was beautiful at the top with views over Perisher Village and the Main Range.

Perisher Village with cloud stuck in the Thredbo Valley

Mt Tate area



Nice day in the office.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Cascade & Rennix Trails

Saturday – Cascade Trail

A few guys at work have been talking about going for a ride on the weekend. I have an absolutely crap bike and to date haven’t been too keen. However, while hanging on my balcony one Friday my neighbour/boss asked if I wanted to go for a ride, it sounded fun so I was in.

We were going with another neighbour who is one of the keenest and most experienced riders and backcountry fellas in the area. We met at his house on Saturday morning and were on the road to Thredbo around 8:30.

Did I mention my crap bike? I got it for $150 as an ex hire from a store in Jindy. It is basically a piece of crap. The best things going for it are that it has disc brakes, front suspension and it moves. Not to worry I thought, it would be ok for the ride.

We decided to do the Cascade Trail to Cascade Hut. It is 8km each way and has some really nice hills. At the carpark we got our gear together, it was at this time that I realised my front brakes were feeling a little light on. Upon further inspection it became apparent that the disc pads had some how fallen out meaning I had no front brakes. I made the decision to take on the ride anyway, I still had rear brakes right?

We hit the ride and it was immediately evident that my fitness is a little low at the moment. I managed to struggle up the hill to Bobs Ridge, it felt like a km of vertical but was closer to 200m. There is a really nice run down to the hut, unfortunately with no front brakes it was more survival. I spent the descent with a locked up rear wheel, it was kind of fun but not ideal.

We got to the hut in around an hour and half. Our guide reckons he can do it in 45min normally. We had a quick break and took some photos. It’s a really nice spot.

We got back on the bikes and hit the road back up to Bobs Ridge. Me and my boss were really struggling at this stage and took numerous breaks on the way up. When we finally hit the top our guide was having a nap under a tree. The run back to the car was again a locked up rear wheel affair but still fun.

The mountains are looking awesome, can’t wait for some snow on them.

We met the ladies at thredbo and had a nice expensive lunch in the village.

Sunday - Rennix

On Sunday me and the gf were keen to do a walk on the main range. I had a few ideas but the weather was shocking at high elevations. We turned around at sponars and considered what to do with the rest of the day. Driving back we noticed the Rennix walk turnoff and thought it would be worth a look. We parked, got our shit together and hit the track.

Rennix has got to be one of the most boring walks I have ever done. The whole track is 13km return. We managed about 2km before we were over it and turned around back to the car. Some of the highlights included a small orange butterfly, a mountain grasshopper and a tree with a big glob of caterpillars on it.

Seriously though, there were a few nice spots. At one point we could see the main range.

And there were some nice flowers and old trees around.

We got back to the car went home and hit the couch.

A pretty good weekend all up.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Deeper USA & Canada: Vids

I had plans to make an awesome vid of my trip using my new Canon 60D and my gopro. I got heaps of gopro footage but not enough other footage. In the end I decided to make two vids, one of the gopro footage showing the ski stuff and one of the randoms footage I got with the DSLR. Check them out!

The Return

Sights and Sounds

Friday, March 18, 2011

Deeper USA & Canada: Part 5

Day 15 – Sunshine Village
I got picked up by my sisters boyfriend, Troy early on Day 15, my last day skiing. The olds were crook and my sister had to work so it was just Troy and I. I had arranged a meeting with some of the SSV ops staff which went well and then hit the slopes.

It was a beautiful day up the hill, clear skies with wispy clouds around. Absolutely freezing though at around -25.

We hit some of the inbounds terrain and then headed out into the BC.

In Revesltoke I got chatting to my old mate who had told me about a backcountry run from the top of Wawa Ridge to the Sunshine carpark along Healy’s Creek. We had a pretty good idea about where it was and decided it was the day to hit it. We had about an hour skin out to Wawa.

When we got there I couldn’t resist putting in some turns down the main face.

I skinned back up to the peak and we tried to find our route. There were some nice views of Banff and Bow Valley, the surrounding terrain and also some cool Cairns that people had built.

We dropped in taking it very cautious. There are a number of routes but there is a rather large cliff band around half way down that must be avoided. We did some nice turns down to a flatter part and planned our descent.

When we got to the trees we noticed some ski tracks which we followed for a bit. We saw an awesome looking chute with what seemed like access to the Healy Creek ski out. I dropped in first and got some great deep turns down to the treeline.

Once in the trees I continued cautiously trying to place ourselves. As I was heading through the trees my worst fears were realised, the trees stopped abruptly and I was standing on top of a massive cliff! I turned around to see Troy, who is not keen on heights, looking very nervous.

I had a quick look around but there didn’t seem to be any safe route down from where we were. The depth of the snow and the steepness of the terrain preventing me skinning out so boot packing it was. What followed was around an hour of hiking in waist-chest deep powder up a 45deg chute, not much fun!

Back up we go

We finally made it back to the top of the first chute we hit and hooked up again with the old ski tracks. It was getting pretty late and the temp was dropping fast. The impromptu boot packing had left me lathered in sweat which was quickly freezing. We decided the best option would be to follow the ski tracks, failing this approach we would have hiked the hour back to Sunshine.

Following the tracks around 50m the terrain funnelled into an amazing chute for about 200m vertical. After this was a long avalanche path all the way to the ski out. The snow was exceptional, boot deep dry powder. Unfortunately the boot packing had turned our legs to jelly but we managed to get down safely linking a few turns.

Troy at the bottom.

We skied out along the Healy Creek hiking trail back to the Sunshine car park.

I was a bit frozen and shell shocked

We had skied around 800m of vertical, an epic run. Next time I do it I will know how to avoid the massive cliffs.

Troy works at a nice Italian restaurant in Banff and had arranged for us to go there for dinner. We absolutely stuffed ourselves and had a few beers to toast the days adventures.

Day 16 – Canmore

With the skiing all done and injury free I spent my last day in Canada checking out Canmore with the family. We went to an amazing thrift store full of old retro ski gear, if only we could get this stuff back in Oz. It warmed up a little and we had a nice time wandering around the town.

I spent my last evening wandering around Banff watching the sunset with my sister.

I cooked dinner for everyone and crashed. I was hoping to have a few beers for my last night but the week of skiing, hiking and getting lost had taken its toll.

Day 17 – Going Home
I got up early on Day 17 and got the transported to Calgary. The view was again amazing flying over the Rockies.

I had five hours in LAX watching Deadwood on the lappy then it was home to oz.

Once in Sydney it was a quick luggage shuffle then the aeropelican back to Cooma, picked up by my beautiful understanding girlfriend and then the drive up to the snowies.

All in all it was an amazing adventure. From the first few days skiing in the Cascades and wandering around the Pacific North West to the epic powder and good times of the Canadian Rockies.

My gear held up good and I made it home safe and injury free. I had only nearly killed myself on two occasions, not bad. I got home to my house in the snowies pumped for the coming oz season.