Der weisse Rausch – St Antons

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Amazing skiing film from the 1930s – thanks Rupert & Tara for the link!

“Shred the Gnar!” USA 2011

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I finally got around to sorting through the USA photos! Sorry there are rather a lot, but you know me – I like to shoot the crap out of everything! These 2 albums include my selection of Justin’s photos, & the photos roughly in chronological order. Enjoy!Ps. Video coming soon!

Pps. Read the photo descriptions – I put in my thoughts on each mountain amongst other stuff.

Pps. Thanks to Owen & Kim for inspiring me to pop over at the 11th hour, Thanks to Ullr for providing such consistent snowfalls, & most of all thanks to Justin for putting up with me for 2 weeks!

“Shred the Gnar!” Snowboarding 2011 – Part 1
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?fbid=10150534473760284&id=854415283&aid=635…

“Shred the Gnar!” Snowboarding 2011 – Part 2
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?fbid=10150534726350284&id=854415283&aid=635…

A few of the best photos >

 

A Wintery (Re)Mix

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There’s a facebook photo album of the trip here >> http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=290676&id=854415283&l=714272549c

Despite the marginal season, I enjoyed a relaxing 3 days up at the Aussie Alps last week with my mate Mr X (who must remain anonymous for legal reasons).

After spending June & July agonising over a stream of unreliable weather forecasts, It was time to bite the bullet & hope for the best. The Frog had been predicting snow all week (& he just happened to be in Thredbo during this time) but alas, it amounted to nothing much. I suspect I used up all my allocated snow-luck in Europe earlier this year, where I scored fresh snow & sunny days for 2 weeks, so mustn’t grumble!

Before heading off for my first Aussie snow mission for 2009, some last-minute maintenance was required – I had to rebuild a broken binding (I snapped the heel on 2 left-foot bindings while in Europe – no idea how!). I also discovered I have an enormous stash of redundant snowboard paraphernalia.
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The monday evening drive down to the Alps was a bit on the warm side, & on Tuesday morning we awoke to bucketing rain at the lodge. It was all too easy to roll over & go back to sleep… When I woke, some lodge members said it was raining on the hill. I should know better than to listen to what the average lodge punter says – 90% of them have only been 1/2 way up the hill & are strictly fair-weather skiers. Later I learned that conditions were quite good higher up the mountain, with a few cm of new snow, plenty of windblown, & other than the early downpour, it was only spitting in the village… Anyway, I was easily convinced to spend a day chilling at the lodge, & went for a little bush-walk around the property, then chilled with a book by the fireplace – very civilised!

New cabins at the lodge
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View from the top of the hill behind the lodge
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Border of the lodge’s property
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Wednesday morning the report was lame again – 2cm of new snow on the peaks, drizzle down lower. We did a few runs on the Super Trail which had a nice dusting on the top section, with perfect groomer action lower down. The border-cross down “Meadows” (next to World cup) was fast & fun. I braved the planet Hoth conditions at Basin/Karels (while Mr X went to solve his fogged up goggle problem) & was rewarded with 6 laps in untracked windblown! Very nice. Visibility was variable, but there was just enough definition from the rocks to see which way was down. The trickiest bit was hopping through the gaps in the rocks on the ridge – I came badly unstuck there when I slammed a huge boulder that I couldn’t see until it was 2m in front of me – I could easily have broken some bones, so was quite pleased to get off lightly with a sprained finger & ankle, & minimal board damage.

there must be a pot of gold under the till at the not-so-cheap-anymore Thredbo Bakery…
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The Basin aka Planet Hoth
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The snow on the upper mountain was starting to get warm & tending to ice-cream consistency, & the lower mountain was a giant slurpee by now, which is actually a lot of fun, so we slapped the slush around on Bushranger & the nice front-side hits on Bunny Walk. Lunch at the not-so-cheap-anymore Bakery, then a few afternoon laps of the (now soupy) Super Trail & we headed back to the cosy lodge early.

Mr X scores first tracks
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After learning that Charlottes Pass scored 8cm (I know – big whoopee – but beggars cant be choosers!) the day before, we figured that we might as well check it out, as both Mr X & I had always wondered what it was like, so why not check it out when it’s crap everywhere else anyway. So Thursday morning we drove around to Perisher & hopped straight onto a caterpillar bus to Charlottes Pass. The snow was so slushy that the cat could hardly grip it – we slipped around the place often treading water (literally!) in low gear! It was like driving on melted gelato. The bus also vibrates intensely, which has the pleasing effect of a massage chair, so we blissed out on that for the whole 30min drive – looxury ;)

The slusherpillar bus
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On arrival at Charlottes Pass, I was struck by the sheer cuteness of the place. It’s just so unlike the usual skiing in Australia experience. The village is tiny & clustered around the single pub/restaurant, & everything is right next to the ski lifts. There are hardly any people around – mostly families with small kids. It’s very quiet – no cars of course – just the occasional caterpillar bus or skidoo to break the silence. I would love to take the whole family there for a week one season -it’s ideal for small kids.

The Charlotte Pass secret space-rocket launching facility
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I just love these caterpillar tracks
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The whole area was shrouded in fog, so visibility was seriously limited, but we managed to pick our way down from the double chair finding a few choice boulders to drop on the next run. The snow was soft & largely untracked at the top, gradually turning to sticky ice-cream 1/2 way down, so you had to keep on the trails to maintain any sort of speed. We explored the main area within an hour, & soon found the fastest snow was right down the t-bar & poma lines. In most resorts, you get a sound spanking from ski patrol if you ride the lift lines – but in Charlotte Pass, we actually asked the lifties if it was ok, & they all said “Ride where you like, as long as you don’t hit anyone”. So we proceeded to session the t-bar lines most of the day, catching untracked ice-cream & rock-drops at the top, then blasting in & out of the faster snow to the bottom. It was like some of the t-bar areas at Persisher-Bliue, bit steeper overall, & with much more interesting terrain.

Gradually the fog lifted, revealing some nice trees right off to skiers left which looked like they would be well worth exploring on a powder day. By this time I had a nice little jump circuit worked out, & was pleased to find that despite lack of practice I can still throw a 360 (backside & frontside switch) off a reasonable sized lump :)

Charlotte Pass panoramas (click to enlarge)
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All the staff were mellow & friendly, & told us you can easily get fresh tracks for 2 days after a dump. Given how quiet the place was, & the fact that its 99% beginners & families, I’m sure this is true. I’ll be back next powder day for sure :)

In the interests of getting home at a reasonable hour, we headed back to the lodge early, had a civilised shower then an easy drive home via the Cooma food factory, according to LPL tradition :)

The rest of August is looking distinctly un-wintery, so fingers & toes crossed for a cold blast in September…

Grizzly Day

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Harsh reminder about frigging around under cornices and not seeing that big-ass tree in the middle of your line… http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/three-die-in-nsw-snowfields/2008/08/17/1218911460341.html

Three die in snowfields

Ben Cubby and Kerry Coleman
August 18, 2008

AN AVALANCHE in the Snowy Mountains killed one man, and two others died in skiing accidents on a day of tragedy at the NSW snowfields yesterday.

A skier was buried under several metres of snow and ice near Mount Kosciuszko about 1pm, triggering a large search and rescue operation. In separate incidents two other skiers hit trees on slopes at Perisher Blue.

The avalanche victim was a 22-year-old from Wentworth Falls. He had been skiing with four others in a remote area five kilometres from Charlotte Pass in the Kosciuszko National Park, and was caught under a collapsing cornice, or overhanging crest of hardened snow.

His companions escaped and raised the alarm about 1.30pm. Police co-ordinating the rescue called on emergency teams on snowmobiles and a rescue helicopter was brought in from Sydney.

Earlier yesterday, a 59-year-old man from St Ives, skiing a run called Outer Limits at Blue Cow, slammed into a tree and died at the scene. And as emergency personnel rushed to rescue the avalanche victim, another man died in Sun Valley at Perisher. The 48-year-old Jindabyne man had negotiated the Olympic run, regarded as challenging for experienced skiers, but lost control at the bottom and struck a tree.

By 5.45pm, the search teams had found the body of the avalanche victim where it had been buried in snow for more than four hours. “The body of a man has been found in Kosciuszko National Park following an extensive search and rescue operation this afternoon,” a police spokesman said.

The avalanche happened near Blue Lake, in a ridge area favoured by ice climbers. The temperature plunged below zero late yesterday, and rescuers had to contend with snowdrifts of up to 10 metres, said Gary Grant, the general manager of Perisher Blue.

State Emergency Service volunteers and park rangers had prepared to stay overnight at the site of the avalanche, where temperatures were expected to drop to between 5 and 10 degrees below zero.

“They’re much further out than we are and the high snowfalls we have been experiencing in the past two weeks mean search patrollers … have to deal with a lot of snow, on top of cold temperatures,” Mr Grant said.

The deaths stunned the close-knit alpine community. “Usually we only get one death in a season, but three in one day is unheard of,” a Perisher resort worker, Scott Carle, said.

Police were still trying to contact relatives of one of the dead skiers last night. It was the first time there had been multiple skiing fatalities at an Australian resort on the same day. The accidents happened in clear sunny conditions and with good snow cover.

Meanwhile, four of the six Australian climbers rescued after being trapped by heavy snow on New Zealand’s highest peak for 36 hours have arrived in Sydney.

Terry Cole, Melissa Clerke, Gerald Osman and Jennie Landon were rescued on Saturday morning after being trapped in a blizzard on Mount Cook.

Ms Clerke’s parents were critical of the lack of response from the Department of Foreign Affairs. The family had to call NZ authorities to obtain information about their daughter.

Banking on Freshies

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Lads at top of Golf Course Bowl

Apparently the Bank holiday weekend is usually the busiest of the year. Perhaps all the public servants in Canberra get the Monday off? Or maybe every bank employee in NSW hits the slopes to spend their huge dividends? Not sure, but either way I was glad I managed to catch an overnight ride to the snow on Thursday night with Matt, Phil & Dan, to get at least one day of riding in before the masses arrived.

We arrived in Thredbo carpark at 9.30am to heavy rain… uh-oh… where was the blizzard? Gradually the rain turned to sleet, & then snow! A bit soggy but smiling, we headed for the chairlifts, & although we stayed slightly damp all day, the mountain was basically empty & the fresh tracks just got deeper as the day progressed. We hooked up with 4 of Matt’s other mates, & had some awesome runs off the bluff with 7 of us racing each other back to the lift, leaving tracks like a swarm of hungry ants. Dan was having his 2nd day snowboarding ever, & was happy to mess about at Merrits all day.

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Matt points out the sick freshies next to Fridays Flat

Owen rolled up from the South Coast in the evening, & met us for a thorough over-stuffing at “The Bowlo”. Saturday morning brought us blue skies & the report that 45cm of snow had fallen in the past 24hrs. Woot! Merrily we chugged up the Alpine Way, only to become stuck in a huge traffic jam 3km before the National Park gates. Noooo! It turned out there was a fatal car accident just after the gates, claiming the life of a young female ski instructor. Tragic, especially because she wasnt wearing a seatbelt – the 2 male lifties in the car walked away from the accident (they did have seat-belts on). Just goes to show you cant be too careful on those alpine roads…

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Watch for that black ice, kids

Going on (erroneous) reports that the road would be closed for 4hrs+, we headed back up the road to Perisher Blue. Blue Cow & Guthega were surprisingly quiet, & after some fast freshies off the Ridge chair, we did several runs over the back of Mt. Blue Cow down to the Guthega Road, which was awesome – only 3 other tracks, nice pitch, interesting glades, rocks & trees to navigate. Guthega was also a total blast, with fast fresh lines full of wind-lips & hits that I hadnt ridden in years.

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Top of the Guthega Road run

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And the bottom

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A tall roadside snow-wall for Oz

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Anarchy in the Ski-tube

After a few drinks that night, we were reminded of how rubbish Jindabyne nightlife is, & retired to the lodge for some wine & dubstep off the laptop to send us off to sleep.

Sunday presented another cracking bluebird day, & Thredbo was oddly quiet, so we ravaged the scraps of powder near the groomers before seeking out the mythical charms of the Black Forest… This area rarely disappoints – we were greeted by completely untracked, deep, dry powder! Matt & Phil both loved it, & coped uncomplainingly with the junglist-stlyee exit ;) We scoured the rest of the resort for a few spots of fresh, but the jelly-legs soon took over & an early return orbit to space-station Sydney was launched at 3pm, with our crew of happy blizzardnauts glad to be back at mission control by 10pm.

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Phil in the Phorest

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Matt communing with nature

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“Where’s my 9-iron?”

By Al Ferg.

First Dump of ’08

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The snow season started well back in April with a big dump, then went into hibernation until last week. Some reports were predicting up to a metre over the course of the week, but the first part of the front turned into a total fizzer. Al, in his eternal optimism, had caught a bus down to Termeil with the plan to zip up for first tracks on Wednesday morning, but there ended up being no point rushing. Instead, we enjoyed a leisurely cruise through a beautiful sunset down to Jindabyne, thinking Thursday would see some action from the next front. Again, a bit of a fizzer, but it did start dumping through the day and accumulated about 25cm by nightfall, right down into Thredbo Village. Al had been amongst it all day, starting with rock hopping early, turning into freshies by the afternoon, while I’d just hung out in the Alpine Hotel doing a bit of work and waiting for it to fill in.

We zipped up to Dead Horse Gap on sunset in the peak of the blizzard, and there was enough snow accumulated to ride about 2kms of downhill pitch on the main road towards Thredbo. The chaos on the road back to Jindabyne was amusing to begin with, but the novelty soon wore off after an hour of 20kmh behind a bus that refused to yield for faster cars…

It was all worth it on Friday morning though, as a total of 45cms had fallen in 24 hours, really filling things in properly. I wouldn’t call it “all-time” as we couldn’t access some of the better terrain, but it was easily one of the better days you’d expect to get during the season…

By Owen.
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Niseko aka “Bali on Ice”

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Owen sporting his crusty powder demon beard
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Owen’s blog – sorry, its now invite only – very exclusive ;) – covers my week in Niseko quite nicely, but I will add a few observations & pics.

After a mad, hung-over, last-minute dash to Osaka airport, I was seriously relieved to spend the day mostly sleeping on the plane/bus to Niseko.

I stayed at a lovely little Japanese lodge near the bunny area, & was lucky enough to score my own room (with a view). The pad had free wifi, which was incredibly handy for skype phone calls, weather reports, etc.

Osaka – Club Clapper

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Train-station breaker crew
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“Check my bouncy ride, cracker!”
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Virtually straight off the plane from Sydney, our intrepid snowboarding techno-heads (Al Ferg, Matt Costain, Mikkachops & Colin) ventured out to Club Clapper (say that with a Japanese accent for a cheap laugh). It was in a tiny basement club, with a dancefloor that was totally pitch black except for an single strobe light. You’d have to wait for it to flash so you could find where you left your beer – which it only did every 20 seconds!

Crub Crapper Cam

There wasnt a lot of what I’d call dancing going on – more just shuffling to the beat – but given that nearly everyone on the dancefloor was chain-smoking, this was probably all the effort they could muster. The music was absolutely wicked (it got better than the sample in the above video as the night went on) & I swear I heard some of the best techno & DJing skills I have ever heard! In fact I was enjoying myself so much that I stayed on long after the other lads left (they had to catch an early bus to Hakuba).

Spot the crackers…
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Despite the language barrier, I made friends with all the DJs, live acts, promoter, club manager & all their partners. I was shouted numerous beers & tequila shots, & ended up being the token “baka gaijin” (crazy white guy), dancing like a maniac until 6am! & They even fired up a laser for us at about 4am. What a brilliant night! :)

Link – Breel wasnt playing that night, but he’s a very friendly techno producer dude who, uhm, herbally enhanced my enjoyment of the evening ;) . Breel’s MySpace page.

TO BE CONTINUED…

JapPow 2008

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From untracked powder ridges to earthquakes, Nip-hop DJs to Arm-wrestling Karate experts, heater-less snowboarder squats to dark Osaka techno clubs – the 2008 JaPow mission was a seriously saiko adventure!

So read on, in an upwards blog stylee…

Topographic Tamagochi

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This one’s a beauty for the dedicated snow-geek – topographic maps of the whole Japanese archipelago! It’s in Japanese so pretty tricky to find the ski resorts… I’ve found a couple & will add more if/when my Japanese friends identify some of the locations.

The Map site is here – watchizu.gsi.go.jp.

Niseko is here & partly here.

Rusutsu is here.

& this one is just really cool & craggy looking – I can just imagine Samurai climbing all over it, hunting Kamoshikas!
;)
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