Thursday, September 20, 2012

Skiing Around Mt Tate

Well, another week and another solo backcountry ski mission. Despite enjoying the challenge of the conditions last week, and the amazing views, my BC ski itch had not really been scratched. I again got to Guthega early for an attempt at the western faces. As I was getting ready I was feeling a mix of emotions; excitement, laziness, dread and foreboding. For some reason I couldn’t get my mind at peace. I was focusing on the three hour slog out to Mt Twynam and the possibility that the steep slopes would again not be safely skiable, especially solo. Looking at Mt Tate from the carpark, I could also see some nasty dark clouds blowing over from the west.

Clouds roll in from the west out Mt Tate way

I considered alternate options; Mt Tate? A resort day? A ski up to Horse Camp Hut? A Sunday breakfast and the newspaper at home? A compromise was in order and I set off for Mt Tate. A much shorter hike with some good terrain.

Guthega trig and with Mt Tate in the background

I skied the crusty snow down to Guthega Dam, crossed over and started to make my way up the Guthega River. I crossed the creek at a very dodgy bridge. The wood had a fine layer of frost making it incredibly slippery and forcing me to clamber over on hands and knees.

A very slippery bridge

I continued up to a nice looking face a few hundred metres up from the bridge. The sun was poking through the burnt out snowgums making for some stunning silhouettes.



I couldn’t resist taking some turns down to Guthega River. The snow was still firm but with a nice layer of corn.

Getting ready to drop in

I came into some trouble climbing back up from the creek. I hadn’t planned my route very well and was struggling with the steepness and firm snow.

Deceptive terrain, harder than it looks to climb

I was struggling to get purchase on the ice and switched to boot packing. I stopped for moment to take some photos and heard the familiar sound of a snowboard screeching on ice. Turns out it was my buddy Dave, we had a bit of a chat and both continued on our way.

I finally cleared the steep, dodgy terrain and got above the tree line. From here it was an easy skin to the ridge line that ultimately leads to Mt Tate. At the ridge there were some nice views.

Lines off Twynam West Spur, plenty of snow left in them


Looking out to the western plains

Past the Guthega Trig to Jindabyne and beyond

Guthega, Double Trouble, Farm Creek and the back side of Mt Back Perisher and Mt Perisher

I had a great run back to the dodgy bridge over the Guthega River. The snow had softened up nicely.

Lower section of the run, the burnt trees remind me of the aspens in Japan

Old lift bits and pieces

After crossing the bridge, which was a lot easier without the frost, I had an easy and non-eventful ski back to the car. Stripping off at the car I could clearly make out my turns up on the ridge line.

leaving a mark


Another day of BC skiing and as always it was a learning experience. There is still heaps of snow around so hopefully a few more days in it yet.


  1. Nice work again mate. That 5th pic of the trees and their shadows is a cracker....something about it.

  2. Thanks Darren, it was amazing light through those burnt out snowgums, cheers.