Sam’s Not-so-great Sentinel Sunday


With last week’s cold snap and this weekend’s sunny forecast, I was very keen to go down again. After many rejections from potential partners, I finally persuaded my old aquaintance Anthony to come down. Easygoing, and with a wealth of experience in every adventerous outdoors activity under the sun, he came well equipped with a comfy 4wd, annual national parks pass, and what must be one of the oldest pairs of Dynafits kicking around in the country. Also out for the weekend to ski the Sentinel, were a french couple Clem and Pierre, who I’d been introduced to by chance on thursday night by a mutual friend. We ended mostly skiing together.

A damp night at Island Bend was followed by a sunny morning. We parked at a crowded Illawong Walk trailhead, and slogged out the muddy Illawong summer track with just a bit of suffering. Once over the Illawong bridge there, was only one section of grass skinning.

We set up camp on the one patch of grass in the Twynam summit bowl.

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A leisurely lunch followed – a bit too leisurely for me, I was keen to go skiing. The frenchies set up camp on the Little Twynam saddle on top of the prominent rocky bluff – a great spot.

We climbed Twynam and then Tenison Woods Knoll for a stunning afternoon.

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A brilliant corn run down the Avalanche Gully down to Strezlecki Creek followed. Real quality.

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These are actually some other guys tracks, he picked the line of the afternoon. (Ours were a lot like that though!) There were a lot of people camped on Sentinel Ridge actually, great night for it.

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A tough bootpack out followed. I tried walking up the exposed grass and scrub up the ridge skier’s right of Strezlecki Creek, but quickly went back to just going on snow. Definitely trying Ant Ridge next time. Some wanker filmed us with a drone.

We rested on top of a rock outcrop offering a great view.

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Unfortunately descending an icy Twynam east face to camp, the loose pin holding my tech binding toe lever in place, finally vibrated all the way out, and the toe lever fell off completely at some point during the descent. I was like “It’s still good, I can just pull the toe wings open and closed by hand!” When I pulled the wings open, the unrestrained springs exploded spectacularly. It was not “still good”. I found all the bits except one, and so wasn’t able to put it back together.

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I knew the pin was loose, and Plum actually sent me new toepieces under warranty because of this issue (excellent fast service I have to say!), but I was lazy, and figured I could just keep using the old ones till the end of the season, and pushing the pin back in with my thumb whenever it started coming out! Hot tip: when your binding manufacturer says your bindings are stuffed and sends you new ones, don’t keep using the old ones becuase “they’re still totally ok”. I actually have two brand new toepieces sitting in a box at home.

I improvised a great frankenbinding using a bit of cord cut off the guy lines on my tent to create a front bail, and then taking the cam straps off of my crampons and using them to cinch the boot forward into the bail. I could then click into the tech heel, and I reckon I could have skinned too.

Cheers to James and Louis who were camped nearby, and scrounged some repair materials to help me in case I needed them.

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We had a stunning windless night with a clear sky and full moon. I wandered up to the frenchies camp for a chat and a nip of spirits from the flask.

The next morning I got to sleep in and sit around eating, while the others did the hard work of skiing the Sentinel in perfect weather and snow conditions. Actually, the performance of the frankenbinding was so good, I went for a few runs near camp as a consolation prize.

When Ant finally returned, we packed up and skied back down to the bridge. Two section of grass this time! It’s melting fast…

The walk back to Guthega was actually a pleasant walk, although carrying the skis and heavy pack really sucked at times, we did earn it. But the beautiful Snowy River just about made up for the sweating.

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