It’s a great feeling when you look at the weather for your ski trip, and see snow falling at elevations of 500m on friday, and cold bluebird days saturday and sunday. We’ve all been feeling the vibe this winter! The UNSW Outdoors Club exec retreat was held at Alex’s parents place in Harrietville, and in between meetings we drove up Australia’s most New-Zealand-like road to Hotham, and got in three excellent days of skiing.
We bought lift tickets for the resort on Friday in the teeth of the storm. After fitting chains, we got powder turns in the car on the drive up! It was very cold in the parking lot, and painfully cold on the Gotcha chair. I skied at Hotham four years ago but barely anything was open. This time however it was on.
It was a little frustrating not having local knowledge on a powder day, I never did find Notice Board, and there was an out of bounds “adventure” or two (sorry Damon). But it was more than made up for by the skiing. Heavenly Valley was great but the highlight for me was the EXTREME! zone. We skied Mary’s Slide, Coles Bowl, and Gotcha into the Chute, knee deep, light, steep and fall line with technical exits onto a hilarious traverse out. The EXTREME! zone has got to be some of the best in bounds terrain in Oz. We even managed a run down the moguls of Brockhoff although I needed a rest or five.
On Saturday the sun came out as predicted, and it was time for Australia’s best road-accessed “sidecountry”! I had a tip from Liam that “Mount Blowhard is like having your own private Mary’s Slide”, and also discovered this excellent guide from the Mountain Journal. (As an aside, it’s very sad to see Graeme Nelson commenting on that post – RIP).
Every trip needs a crew – there was myself, Matilda and Jarrod on alpine touring gear, and James and Niels on splitboards. We also had a sweet ride in Niels’ beloved Land Rover Defender, seen here parked at Baldy Hollow.
We did a couple of runs into the main bowls with a big slog out, then skied the shady SW face. Conditions were a bit cruddy and icy in places but definitely deep & steep, proper skiing. James shot some film on the GoPro.
We finished the day off by sessioning a small bowl just off the road, before driving up to a lookout to drink beer while overlooking Mount Feathertop, the only mountain in Australia that really scares me.
On Sunday we decided to hit up the Razorback. There were a couple of other groups out and about and we had great fun on the steep east facing slopes.
After lunch we skinned up the other side of the valley for a tree run.
Finally, we drove up to the highest point on the road, and strolled a couple of hundred meters or so to the nearby summit of Mount Hotham. After negotiating a section of ice and sastrugi near the summit we found the south west face and skied out to the carpark at Baldy Hollow. With some help from a minibus full of self-proclaimed bogans, Niels made it back to the car, and our last run was over.
A brilliant trip.