Monday, August 6, 2012

Twynam Creek Learning and Development

Not all adventures go as planned. Although I would always hope to score nice weather and knee deep powder, crappy Australian conditions and busy schedules mean sometimes you have to take what you can get. I have been planning an overnight backcountry skiing trip with my mate Matty for the past couple of weeks. The plan for Day 1 was to head out from Guthega early, find a good campsite then spend the day riding powder. Day 2 we planned to ski until lunch, decamp then make it back to Jindabyne in time to have dinner and a beer with smug, freshly goggle tanned, faces.

Gear explosion the night before

Well that was the plan, in reality, our trip was quite different. It was all due to the weather, horrible blizzard conditions were predicted. This had an impact on our gear choices. I had planned to bring two small 1 person tents and then cook and eat outside. There was no way that we could do this looking at the forecast. What to do? How about bringing my heavy car camping tent which has a huge vestibule. It’s a big heavy Vango number, a great tent but not quite designed for light ski touring. We split it and stripped it and still ended up with 3kg of tent each.

Despite the weather and heavy packs we made a good start out of town on the road to Guthega. A fresh dusting held some promise.

Exciting or an ominous sign of poor weather?

Gear at the Guthega Centre, ready for action

We made some turns down to Farm Creek to get the legs going. The snow was pretty good. Matty however, not used to riding with a heavy pack was struggling. He had a couple of falls until he got the hang of the extra load.

After our first turns where Farm Ck enters the Guthega Pondage

We made our way out to the Illawong swing bridge which spans the Snowy River. We took some turns where we could. Matty, being new to split boarding (and riding on two planks) had some interesting moments on the down slopes. Two stacks in particular were hilarious (from my point of view anyway). A slow, back lean snow plough and a face plant on a narrow snow bridge.

Fun times learning to ski on a split board with a heavy pack

Despite these trials and tribulations we made it to Illawong in pretty good time. The weather, although overcast was holding up ok and we were pretty excited to get over the bridge, set up camp and then hit the slopes.

Snowy River

Pumped to get over the bridge and get some turns under the belt

We found a nice spot amongst some snow gums and set up camp. We had a quick lunch then hit the slopes. Using only our small day packs, Matty’s skills were improving fast. We made a good climb up to a ridge off Twynam Creek. Dropping in the light was really flat and we struggled a bit as we made our way down to the Snowy River.

Matty mastering the split board

Some dodgy frame grabs of our turns




At the Snowy the clouds lifted a little to give us the smallest glimpse of a sunset. We refilled our water at Twynam Creek and then skinned back to camp.

Some colours after living in black and white for most of the day


Matty was the water man

Getting back to camp

Snow gums are awesome

Our camp, not a bad spot, kind of protected with a nice view of the Snowy River below

We pulled out the down jackets, cracked the Port and settled in for the night. Dinner for me was wild mushroom risotto while Matty went for a venison stir fry, both rehydrated and recommended by John at the Mountain Adventure Centre. The Port, coupled with chocolate did its trick and we were in our sleeping bags by 9. The weather when we retired was overcast and snowy but not too bad.

At around midnight, it all changed. I was woken by sago (frozen rain) being smashed into the side of the tent. The wind had picked up dramatically, it felt as though tent was about to take off. I was sure that a pole would brake or some other catastrophic failure would occur. I spent the rest of the night trying to sleep while the Snowy Mountains battered us.

As soon at it was light, we got up and started packing, the weather was shocking and the warmth of civilisation was calling us. To its credit the Vango tent held up to everything that was flung at it that night and the massive front vestibule proved to be essential.

The tent held up well to some accumulation

Matty stoked to be alive

Battered snow gums

We are outta here

We skied back to the Illawong bridge, crossed over, and continued on our way back to Guthega.

A little dejected heading back over the bridge

Instead of contouring back around to Guthega we skinned up to the ridge (northern end of the Paralyser perhaps?) to salvage some turns for the day. We transitioned and skied about 100m vertical down to the Farm Ck bridge, stoked for at least some turns. From Farm Ck it was a quick walk back through the village. We drove around to Perisher and ate a delicious pizza at Aldo’s with the masses who were opting out of the nasty conditions on the hill, if only they had an inkling of what it was like beyond the boundaries!

Matty was stoked with his Venture split from First Light Snowboards and Wilderness Sports. Hopefully our next outing can coincide with sunny days and knee deep powder.


  1. Nice work mate! Nothing like a midnight storm to keep you restless....

  2. It was wild, never experienced anything like it.