Thursday, September 1, 2011

A night out on Mount Wheatley

I have wanted to spend a night out camping in the snow all season, the logical progression in my continuing backcountry development. I have been scouring the internet over the last year for killer gear deals and have finally got enough kit to spend a night out safely. I was at a bit of a loose end last weekend and thought it would be a good opportunity to spend my first night snow camping testing out my gear.

Packing at home I couldn’t find my sleeping bag anywhere. Turns out some friends who were visiting last week had accidently taken it to Sydney! Not to worry, I had my girlfriends bag. My 35L pack only just fit everything in it.

Spring has come early to the Australian mountains so I wasn’t too fussed about the skiing. I was more excited to build my campsite and settle in for the night. There is a nice little mountain adjacent to Perisher called Mt Wheatley. It is relatively close to civilisation so is a great place for baby back country steps.

I left the resort at 5:00pm, very late but I was only going a few km with a vertical climb of around 200m. The local hills put on a beautiful light show for me as I claimed some vertical.

I found a great spot looking over the resort tucked into a gully out of the wind. After I made camp I hiked the final 50m or so of vertical to the top of the mountain to check out the view. I spent some time taking photos of the village and the night skiing going on in the resort. I had to prop my camera up on stumps, rocks and my gloves, I really should bring a tripod.

Once back in camp I made my standard tuna pasta with chilli and settled in to the latest issue of Time. By around 9 I was ready to climb into my sleeping bag and crash. My girlfriend’s bag was nice and warm although it was a little short and I couldn’t quite get the hood over. I got a bit cold around 4am and had to put my down jacket on, otherwise, it was a good nights sleep.

I watched the sunrise through my tent door. The burnt out snow gums created a beautiful silhouette.

I had a leisurely breakfast and cup of tea then began packing up camp. The soft snow from the previous night had frozen solid making it difficult to retrieve my tent pegs. Eventually I was ready and skied back to Perisher.

It was an awesome experience camping out. Other than using my gf’s sleeping bag my only complaint was the size of my pack. I think i'll have to start looking for one around the 60L mark. I can’t wait to get back out there.

1 comment:

  1. Loving your night shots! very impressed that you didn't use a tripod. It is relatively easy to use other things but sometimes you have to compromise composition but looks like you made do! ;-)

    You should enter a couple in the photo comp.