Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Leather Barrel Creek

Well, after the massive disappointment that was the 2013 Australian ski season, I was looking forward with hope to the 2014 season. May came and went, as did June, with bugger all snow. Then Snowmageddon happened, a huge season starting dump. This was followed by Snowmageddon II another massive dump.

I had been lucky to score some great resort skiing corresponding to the falls, then finally, last week, the stars aligned for a backcountry trip. Gear was recovered from off season storage hidey holes, reconnections were made with grizzly ski buddies, feet were taped and hamstrings were stretched.

We arrived at Thredbo early, marveled at the beauty of the day and caught the lift up, saving our lazy selves the 400m climb up from dead horse gap. With our steely backcountry gaze we left the hecticness of the resort and made our way to The Ramshead and Leather Barrel Creek, our destination for the day. As always, the view to the south and west was spectacular.

Always love the view to the south and west

Transition time with the Twin Humps

Into the Leather Barrel

I watched Belly dropped in to The Couloir and carve some beautiful turns into the fresh snow.

Belly in the lower section of The Couloir

Rohan and I skied a different line to the south, into the Golden Gully, an incredible shaped gully with beautiful snow.

Me dropping down to the Golden Gully

The push and transition at Leather Barrel Creek was spectacular.

Beautiful down in Leather Barrel Creek

As usual, I was exceedingly slow in my transition as I mucked around with my camera(s) and gear. This gave Rohan a chance to climb up around 50m and sneak some turns in.

Rohan in some great snow in Leather Barrel Creek

Belly was a little further to the north owing to his first run. We all met up at the top of the Twin Humps. Despite the beautiful view, we quickly transitioned and dropped in as it was crazy windy.

View to the Ramshead Range from the Twin Humps

Looking down the Twin Humps

The first 50m from the Twin Humps were super sketchy due to windy, rimey, icey crap. We all managed some safety turns until the good snow started a little lower. Not just good snow, blower Australian pow, a rare treat.

Rohan finds the soft stuff

 He loves the DPS

My turn

We spent the next few hours working our way north along the big face. Skin, ski, eat, repeat. Exceptional conditions provided we didn't go to high into the icey wind affected stuff.

Belly found some nice open spaces

We could see lots of people out enjoying the conditions

Great skiing on the lower slopes

These guys took on the skin from hell

We took our time climbing out of Leather Barrel Creek up to The Ramshead. Rohan, being ridiculously fit, dropped into our first line one more time. Belly and I were shattered and pushed on to the peak.

On our way up The Spur

Some of our lines from our morning run, another group of three also hit it

Belly, I also had plenty of these moments

The last 50m of vertical were really sketchy. I had misplaced my crampons over summer so had to manage with just my skins. I found a sliver of snow and just got enough purchase to make it up, it was pretty scary. Crossing to the east, over the Ramshead Range, things settled down and Rohan and I took a break. Belly, gaining some sort of second (or third, or fourth) wind claimed The Ramshead.

View to the south

And to the south east

We had a pretty cruisy ski back to Thredbo. What was not cruisy was skiing our worn out legs down the late afternoon frozen, crowded, whatever km length Supertrail (5.9, 3.4 I don’t know but it’s the longest run in Australia). My legs were jelly, I spent pretty much the entire time in an ungainly survival sideslip.

Getting to the car and pulling off my boots I felt a joy I had not felt for many months. A sly content smile, a warn out body and a pair of battered feet in a cosy pair of ugg boots.

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