Godzilla Takes a Dump on Thredbo

We checked the Thredbo cameras on Friday at 3.00pm. Decent cover up top, brown fields down the bottom with a miserable little trail of artificial snow leading to the bottom of the Crackenback chair. Not looking too good. Earlier in the week I’d run back to my old place (I’d just moved house and left all my snow gear behind) to pick up my little 153 board anticipating the dreaded “Thredbo concrete with a dusting” routine that the Frog had predicted. We all know that horrible scraping noise as you turn and your board suddenly decides to go about 20kph faster than your ass and you shortly thereafter find out how strong your coccyx/wrist/skull really is. I’ve got a baby due early August so this was the only weekend for the season for me.

During the drive on Friday night we were greeted by snow at Bredbo, some 50kms on the Canberra side of Cooma. Know that weird little pancake joint in Bredbo? Well, there were people putting chains on across the road. That’s the first time I’d seen that happen since I first started riding Thredbo in 1998. And this must’ve been around 11pm. As we got closer to Cooma, the snow was of the massive cornflake sized variety. Excited is hardly the word. And we weren’t the only ones. There were several cars bolting to Jindy from Sydney and Canberra, most totally unprepared for what was about to happen.

It absolutely puked the rest of the way to the lodge. From Bredbo all the way up. A lot of snow from below 800m. At the Cooma servo around midnight there was a queue of people to the door from the register. As the road iced up the scenery resembled a weird video game as drivers pulled up all over the place as cars started sliding, people atttempting to fit chains, refit them etc or just plain gave up. There were a LOT of utes just parked by the side of the road, and even a few 4WDs (some rather new and expensive ones too). Even Tom’s trusty 81 Rangie with narrow tyres (officially a classic next year Tom reckons) started to
lose grip at one stage. We drove through a blacked-out Jindy. We pulled into the snow covered lodge about 2.30am, the lodge also being blacked out. We barely got the gate open by using rugby tackles to bash through all the snow around it.

Saturday morning we compared notes with others in the lodge – the snow had started dumping at about 3pm Friday at Thredbo, a car had rolled on the road (someone said that there was actually a death involved) causing a 2-4 hour total standstill on the Alpine Way. Between 3pm Friday and 8am Saturday 65cm had landed, the largest overnight dump since 1987. On the drive up to the mountain we passed more abandoned cars including the car that had rolled and a Merc wagon that had almost slid right off the
road down the creek embankment.

We caught one of the opening lifts and enjoyed a ride straight under the chairlift over, through and under 2 foot of fresh. The brown tracts of mountain were all blanketed now. For some weird reason, the freak weather that had produced all that snow also produced a very warm morning, and though the pow was lovely and dry up Karels and Basin it got progressively heavier below Kareela Hutt. Boarders were doing nose dives anywhere remotely flat! And digging yourself out while overheating, goggles fogging up, use the Force Luke….yes, riding 2 foot on a 153 cm deck is bloody hard work in those conditions, not that
I’m complaining mind you…

By 10.00am we were stuffed from riding the Bluff and the supertrail, the pick of the turns being the high section off Karels above Golf Course but then the ride through Golf Course was just a chopped heavy pow nightmare to get back. At about 11.00am it started getting properly cold. It just kept snowing. For the afternoon Basin of all places actually yielded the best runs, there was no-one there, we could pretty much pick a fresh line every run through dry powder. Back at the lodge we learned that anyone in non-4WD vehicles weren’t able to leave the lodge until 1.00pm due to the amount of snow on the drive. I’m sure SOME
desperados made it out though. With 2 foot of fresh you’d just find a way…

Saturday night meant another 20cm as the Wallabies showed the Springboks how to move a ball round a field and it was nice and cold in the morning meaning drier pow, less effort, more speed and bigger smiles. Despite being school holidays there was hardly anyone at Thredbo all morning. Unbelievable luck. Plus the groomers had done their work the night before so the trail was super smooth with the new pow sitting on top of the smooth base. Yum, kinda like Niseko but, um, not as dry and, er, not
as much snow. I don’t remember the Supertrail piste ever being this much fun (except on last years’ Top to Bottom race practice runs heh heh). Of course we had to track up the trees as well…

Judging by the forecast,anyone going this weekend would be well advised to set your bindings back, pack some chains, some garden gloves to put the chains on, a torch, a powderskirt, some driving patience, a strong back thigh, a long board or even a Fish! Enjoy it cos I won’t be there and it looks like a bloody good forecast!

Derek Chan

Snow at the lodge 1
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Snow at the lodge 2
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