Report by Owen Lansbury.

 

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Snow forecasting is generally good enough to be able to pick a decent dump at least a week in advance, so when the latest one appeared on the charts it was impossible to not do the mad dash down to catch it. Forecast was for about 30cm of fresh over 2 days with temps down to -10 and the snow level to 500m. If you’re lucky, something like that happens once a season, but generally happens every 3-4 years – “The legendary dump of 1998″ etc. As it turned out, the bulk of the moisture hit Victoria, but a decent 25cm hit Thredbo, and with the wind chill factored in, the temp was -28 degrees (Colder than Antarctica that day apparently)! The wind also pushed huge quantities of windblown powder into epic stashes on the eastern sides of the ridges – we ended up hiking out of chest deep snow in some spots.

Day one saw us (Me, Al and Justin) milking the easy powder bowls like Golf Course, and with very small crowds, we were able to get some serious mileage done. Al and I even had enough energy for a late Stanley’s run down the steeper chutes which were seriously loaded with pow – each turn triggering fully enveloping face shots and setting off sloughs that you’d try and out-race before the next turn.

By day two the fresh snow had backed off and for first tracks the groomers were as good as anything you’d find anywhere in the world – absolutely flawless corduroy to the bottom of Supertrail that meant you could go very, very, very fast (Apart from Al, who passed on the 80-100kmh bomb runs for whatever measly scraps of pow he could find in the trees between runs because perfect groomers are “boring” ;-) .

That afternoon had us gamble on an old favourite having enough snow to get out at the bottom without too much pain, and Ullr blessed us with arguably the best session in there of all time with a very easy exit (Justin may disagree somewhat on this point). I figure that it’s a once in 50 year phenomenon being able to do this spot, as it was cleared out by the fires in 2003, but now the undergrowth is coming back through and the dead trees are starting to fall – so even if there’s another fire in the next decade, there’ll still be too much heavy timber on the ground to really clear it out properly. The saplings are now hitting the 2m plus mark, so our easy exit may be a 1km bushbash down hill in the next couple of years.

Friday saw big crowds descending as the word got out about the conditions, but by then the vast majority of stashes were tracked out – all except one glistening gem shimmering across the valley. I made a deal with Al for a crack at this first, as we’d need the energy early to hike back out. An easy traverse took us to the top of a well proportioned wind lip that then led into the mouth of a perfect steep powder bowl dropping down about 300 to 400m of vert. I’ve done this line a couple of times in the past, and it’s by far the best run in Australia for sheer speed, snow quality and the perfect fall line – It’s 30 of your best high speed powder turns in one hit, which add up to the snow equivalent of high grade crack. Even after the 40 minute hike up and out of there, your first instinct is to go and do it again, except for the fact your legs don’t work anymore.

I should just let the pictures do the talking…

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Al heading off to the first tee
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Chilly trees
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Satisified customer
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Pick a line
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Welcome to the jungle!
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Not everyone appreciates a $94 bushwalk
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Don’t stop til you reach the big red X
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We started up there somewhere…
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… and the snow’s so good I’ll just keep my mouth agape for the rest of the day