Monday, October 20, 2014

Spring Skiing, The Sentinel and Mt Carruthers

Our last big group ski for the season is becoming a bit of a tradition. A big day out followed by a night of camping with beers and stories around the fire. This year we continued the tradition. Rohan, Mark and Marcin the mad Polish man arrived at my house in Berridale late Friday. After a few beers and stories of toilet practices gone wrong while snow camping, a recurring theme it seems, we hit the hay.

Angry Wagyu bull I met on the drive to the mountains

Kind of excited too

We were up early and at the turning circle around 8:00 to meet a host of people; Belly, Rimey, Tim, Dave, Richard, Carl, Mrs Skifree and Paul the telemarking sheep farmer. After a mostly uneventful wet crossing of the Snowy River and walk/ski to the saddle above Soil Con Creek we assessed the skiing out to the Sentinel.

Multiple gear explosions as everyone gets ready for the day out

Boot packing up the Main Range Trail

Looking out to The Sentinel, the boys weigh up the options

The Sentinel, a beautiful peak

The group split with the snowboarders electing to head over to Little Austria and Carruthers while the real man decided to take on the Sentinel.

For our first run we dropped off Sentinel Ridge, the snow was pretty firm and not that great. Huge dimples, like giant golf balls, played havoc with our cool carbon layup skis.

Frame grab of me on our first run off Sentinel Ridge, the dimples were not fun

We then bush-bash contoured around to the south east face of The Sentinel. Some of us donned crampons and climbed to the peak while others experienced snowboarder-esque screw issues with their new crampons. Those of us that climbed to the peak dropped in while Rimey and Mark met us at the bottom after skiing another line off the ridge.

Mark with some classic Australian backcountry ski conditions

Stoked to finally be able to ski The Sentinel

Watsons Crags

Sentinel peak and Mt Townsend

Paul drops in

Hats off to Rimey who after surviving a nasty fall last summer, and subsequent recovery, is back to carving up lines way out in the middle of nowhere.

Classic style, Rimey drops off Sentinel Ridge

The climb out was long and hot.

Crampons on and straight up

We made our way back to Carruthers for some afternoon lines into Club Lake. I met up with some old mates, Ryan and the Snowy Mountains' own bush carpenter Dougs (and here).

Hey Dougs, where's that single malt?

The run down to Club Lake was beautiful, just the right amount of softness and steepness to really let the skis run.

Mark drops into The Elevator, a pretty nice Australian chute from Carruthers down into Club Lake

Frame grab of me skiing off Carruthers

While the fitter members of the group booted up for another run I started the climb up to Mt Lee for my preferred last run of the season. Looking back I saw some tele gold by Paul the telemarking sheep farmer.

The awesome terrain off Mt Carruthers into Club Lake

My last run down Mt Lee was fun, beautiful wide open turns all the way to Club Lake Creek then drift hopping all the way back to the Snowy River. We finished the trip with a memorable night around the campfire discussing snow camping toilet etiquette and tales of youth misspent.

Classic night

Roos around the camp site in the morning

We wet a line in the Thredbo River but no luck as usual

A glacial erratic I encountered on the way home?

Lucky to see hundreds of endangered Hoary Sunray

Thank you everyone for the good times out on the hill. Another great season with plenty of good snow and backcountry learning opportunities. Enjoy summer.

An edit by Rohan who really loves 80's rock!

Sentinel and Club Lake SD from Rohan Verco on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Sunny Spring Day on Mt Tate

Nothing to strenuous, just a fantastic morning out in the sunshine with my buddy Belly and other friendly BC folk.

Belly on the approach


Belly, the fruits of our labour

The view from Mt Tate looking south towards Mt Twynam, Tenison Woods Knoll and the north face of Watsons Crags

North face of Watsons Crags, terrain I hit in my last post

Twynam West Spur and Tenison Woods Knoll, still looking so good

Our turns off Mt Tate


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

North Face of Watson's Crags

I approach the western faces of the Main Range with wonder and trepidation. It’s a massive effort just to get out there, to ski the western fall and get back to safety in a day is just about the hardest thing I do each year. Nonetheless, every year I get an itch for the steeps of the west. The skiing is epic, just super dangerous and serious hard work. Last weekend the stars lined up and I had an opportunity to hit the Main Range.

I met some buddies at Guthega who were in town for the annual Splitfest. They were hitting Tate but I was keen on getting out amongst the big mountains of the western faces. I have been battling a dodgy back all season and wasn't sure how it was going to hold up so the plan was to poke my way out to Twynam, if it felt good I could drop in otherwise just enjoy the view.

My goal, north face of Watson's Crags (thanks to Tim for the pic)

The ski out to Illawong was uneventful except for the fact I did it in 35min, a new record for me. I Ran into a large group of BC travelers at the bridge and quite a few others camping and touring around. Great to see so many people out and about.

Large group heading out for a few days

Possibly an old mate Doug C heading out to Watsons Crags?

The ice around Twynam was diabolical, I used my crampons and axe in anger for the first time and was thankful I had them. I skied out to Twynam and my back was feeling ok so skied all the way out to the northern face of Watsons Crags. A couple of skiers were eyeing off the crags but it looked very dodgy and icy.

First look at Twynam West Spur

Watson's Crags, hectic! perhaps the same to fellas from the other shot up on the ridge, Doug C maybe?

The Gash, still there and looking nasty

I decided to drop into Siren Song, some buddies had ridden it on Thursday and it looked good.

I was nervous dropping in but had an incredible ski down on great corn, a highlight of the season. I spent the rest of the day yo-yoing my way east towards Watsons Creek.


Evidence of a massive slide from earlier in the season

Lunch in Watson's Creek

These dudes were booting up the Triple A, an impressive effort!

I made great time on my return skin up Watson's Creek. One foot in front of the other with my weary legs. I stopped to have chat to some fellow BC travelers while enjoying the afternoon light.

Anderson Crags

Mt Townsend North Spur with Mt Bogong way off in the distance


Looking back to where I skied, farmers are burning off way out past the mountains

The ski back from Twynam was shocking. Ice the whole way to Illawong and then to Guthega, a terrible ski for my tired body.

I met up with Belly, SPG and a few other splitters at Island Bend for a great evening by the fire. Many thanks to SPG for hooking me up some thai food, much appreciated! Thanks also to the Splitfest crew for organising Friday night. Good to have a beer, catch up with familiar faces and win some tat.

Great to give my back a work out and get some turns on the western faces in the bag for 2014.

A post script and amazing story. When I got back to the car I was absolutely shattered. This lead to a semi Paleolithic hunt for chocolate and a gatorade that I had in the car with associated gear explosion. After camping out and visiting some friends in the area I was packing my car for the drive home and realised I didn’t have my GPS. I drove the hour back to Guthega, and there it was, exactly where I left it in the car park. Amazing really, 20 hours later and a full car park. So happy it was still there.