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.

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