Shredbo

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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…

bf3
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!
bf2
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

Whakapapa Extreme Ski Competition Highlights

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From “Juice TV” (whatever that is).

These Kiwis show no Whaka’n fear as they hurl themselves off cliffs & rocks at Whakapapa.

Owen’s Queenstown Report for 26/08 to 02/09/2006

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OK… OK… we should’ve been here last week – stop rubbing our bloody noses in it ya kiwi bastards. At least that’s what I felt like saying to every git on the lift who kept talking about the foot of fresh they’d scored 3 days before we got to Queenstown. Freshies or no freshies, it was still a good chance to do a good scout around the area.

First up, the costs and logistics of getting there were cheaper and easier than any trip to the Australian mountains. We sourced a standard package deal that cost about $1500 pp that included direct flights from sydney to Queenstown, 7 days car hire and accomm and a 5 day pass that could be redeemed at any mountain and most of the other activities in the area if the weather closed in (jet boats, bungy etc.). We were even able to throw some credit card loyalty points at the bill to bring it down to around $1200 each. Bargain!

Flying direct was a doozie – a comfortable 8am flight (chauffeur driven to the airport by Mr Ferguson), 3 hrs in the air with a spectacular route over Fiordland and the main range, and on the ground around in time for a late lunch after grabbing the car and finding the hotel.

Queenstown itself is a proper alpine village to rival anything in Europe with loads of good restaurants, bars and shops and plenty to do if you’re not up the mountain. The crowd there’s also much more international than I would’ve expected, and you were just as likely to be on a lift with a german, irish or japanese as you were some bogan farkin ozzie.

Our hotel was a 10 minute buzz up the hill to Coronet Peak on a road that didn’t make you feel like you were going to drop of the edge at every corner. I’d always pictured Coronet as being the lamest of all the mountains in the area, so thought it’d be a good place to warm up on the first day. It was pure bluebird skies when we got there, and had been cold enough to keep the snow from a few days ago crisp and fluffy (although no fresh lines to be had). Being a Sunday we expected the worst crowd-wise, but the high speed quad and six seater chairs accessing the summit meant no more than a few minutes wait at any time. Although the peak’s only 1600m and base 1100m, the groomers are well spaced and there’s plenty of high speed thigh burners to have a good play on. There’s also plenty of good beginner’s runs and it’d be a perfect place to take the kiddies or anyone else just starting out. On a powder day the back bowls look like they’d be fun too, with a number of steep chutes to drop and a couple of spots you could ride out to the road at the end of the day. As far as terrain parks go, Coronet is definitely the least developed but still had a couple of decent kickers and a few rails.

The next day we did the drive around to Cardrona, which takes about an hour from Queenstown, up the road towards Wanaka. The first view you get of the mountain as you pull into the car park is of a perfectly manicured park running the entire length of the front valley, serviced by a high speed quad. This is complemented by two beautifully cut half pipes accessed by another lift (not high speed) that can be ridden one after the other. The park quality was definitely on-par with anything I’d seen in Europe or North America, with the riders to do it justice too. A cat track takes you around to the other side of the mountain serviced by another older quad. The groomed terrain is awesome – super wide runs and a number of big, open bowls to fang down at high speed – but I couldn’t see much in the way of off-piste terrain that didn’t require a big traverse for a few short turns down a couple of chutes. The north westerly wind started to pick up while we were there, which slowed the older chairs way down and meant there was a big choke on the only high speed quad. On the opposite side of the valley to Cardrona is SnowPark – a dedicated terrain park only mountain – so if you like big booters, this is definitely the area to check out.

Day 3 took us to The Remarkables, only 15kms or so from Queenstown, 11kms of which is up a vertigo inducing dirt road. The mountain is north-facing, so was copping a good whack from the north westerly wind, but there’s two big basins that are quite well sheltered. The snow was a bit worse for wear here, as it’s more susceptible to a daily melting in the sun and overnight re-freeze. The main downside to the Remarkables is all the lifts are older quads, but this is balanced by the off-piste terrain that can be accessed. If it was a big powder day, I’d be heading straight here for the big chutes and steeps that you can get to with a quick traverse or hike over the back. The classic run is “Homeward Bound” which drops a couple of kms straight down to the road where you get picked up by a regular shuttle bus and back to the base station. Even without new snow, it was still quite fun in the afternoon as the snow softened up. The terrain park here was also quite good, but the half pipe wasn’t serviced by a lift which meant loads of trudging if that’s your thing.

The wind still hadn’t abated by day 4, but it was still sunny so we did the 1 1/2hr drive up to Treble Cone from Queenstown only to find they had one of their two main lifts on wind hold and a mega queue cramming the one still open. The thought of standing in line all day was too much, so we zipped back down the hill and kept driving up the valley into Mt Aspiring national park and hiked up to a glacier instead (without boards) through an awesome hobbit forest underneath constantly avalanching peaks. TC is apparently the pick for off-piste, and they’re likely to approve a new $20m gondola in the next few months that goes right from the valley floor. Wanaka’s a cool town too – much like a bigger version of Jindabyne and definitely the hang for all the cool kids (BYO studded belt and do-rag).

We didn’t want to get stung by wind hold on day 5, so did the quick zip back up to Coronet Peak to see what was happening. The lifts were open, so we went up for a couple of runs before the gusts started hitting 100kmh and they shut the whole mountain. So – back in the rental car to burn some more unlimited kms to a national park near Te Anau (Fiordland) for another hobbit hunt through an ancient beech forest. It’s only when you go into these original forests that you realise how much the Kiwis have flattened the original forests right up to the snow line in most cases. A few trees left on some ski runs might actually mean they can keep lifts open on the windy days! The clouds were rolling in over Fiordland, and there was a glimmer of hope for a dump on our final day…

Of course it wasn’t to be, so we headed back up to Coronet for a final day’s sliding. Amazingly, when I went to the ticket window and asked if they were offering any rebate for the previous day’s wind-hold, they gave us totally FREE replacement tickets for that day. Being so used to Australian mountains bleeding you dry at every opportunity, this was almost the highlight of the trip, but this is actually a normal experience in NZ. Skiing and boarding is still an accessible holiday you don’t need to re-mortgage the house for and the mountain managers seem to have this weird policy of keeping customers happy so they consider coming back again.

And so, on our final morning, the rain rolled in behind the hot north westerlies and shut down every mountain in the area. The big dump never came, the helis never took off, but we left already thinking about the next trip there…

Owen

Mt Aspiring

The Remarkables

Remarkables Panorama

Cadrona

Coronet Peak

NZ Alps

Decent dump makes up for r**n

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All resorts did suprisingly well from the snowfalls following the r**n on Thursday. Thredbo & Charlottes Pass both reported 25cm, Perisher Blue 15cm. Unfortunately for the Mexicans, the Victorian hills all received a bit less.

Perisher Blue

Thredbo

The forecast for around the 2-3rd is improving, so cross all your appendages that we will see some more typical weather patterns for the rest of winter, & those stupid blocking high pressure systems will finally weaken!

This is the best I have seen the Unisys MRF look all season – check the big finger of blue reaching up to the mainland on the 2nd, that’s what we like to see :)

Kosciuszko park fees petition

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This year, the fee to enter Kosciuszko National Park has risen from $16 to $22 per day. Next year it will cost $27. Yearly passes are also increasing. Why the price hike? Read on…

What is this campaign about? (from www.knpfees.com)

By the time you read this you may already be painfully aware of the new range of fees being charged to enter the Kosciuszko National Park in the Snowy Mountains of NSW.

The fundamental reason for these massive increases in fees, as I see it, is to fund the new water and sewerage infrastructure in Perisher Valley.

The NSW government owns and operates the water and sewerage infrastructure in Perisher Valley and they want to expand it.

Thredbo and Selwyn Snowfields own and operate their own water and sewerage plants and it is NOT paid for by the NSW government but instead by the leaseholders.

I have questioned both the NSW government and the National Parks and Wildlife Service as to why they are making visitors to Thredbo and Selwyn Snowfields pay for the new water and sewerage infrastructure in Perisher Valley when Thredbo and Selwyn Snowfields are already paying for their own.

The most informative reply I have had was from the Parks and Wildlife Division of the Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) stating that: 80% of fees collected at the Kosciuszko Road tollgates (entrance to Perisher) goes towards paying for Perisher Range infrastructure works and 20% to projects within KNP, while 100% of fees collected at the other entrances to the Kosciuszko National Park go to projects within KNP.

It doesn’t matter how you word these statistics, it still comes down to the simple fact that because visitors entering Kosciuszko National Park, regardless of whichever road they use, pay the same entrance fee, they are ALL fundamentally funding the Perisher Valley water and sewerage infrastructure. Saying that visitors to Thredbo and Selwyn must pay a higher proportion of park projects than visitors to Perisher Range have to pay, it still does not appear to me to be a fair or equitable fee structure.

This is not a user-pays system as far as visitors to Thredbo and Selwyn Snowfields are concerned.

A visitor to Perisher uses the Perisher water and sewerage infrastructure and pays for it through their entry fees.
A visitor to Thredbo who does NOT use the Perisher water and sewerage infrastructure still pays for it through entry fees as well as having to pay for using the Thredbo water and sewerage infrastructure through costs factored into all services within Thredbo.
The same applies for a visitor to Selwyn Snowfields.
In my opinion, this is unjust and inequitable and if the NSW government is to charge all park visitors for paying for the Perisher water and sewerage infrastructure then they should be paying for the water and sewerage infrastructure for all areas within the Kosciuszko National Park. Together with the high cost of fuel, the higher park fees are anti-tourism.

I urge you to sign the petition to at least reduce the fees to Thredbo and Selwyn Snowfields, if not all parts of the Kosciuszko National Park.

Richard Pascoe

If you agree with this, protest against the price hike by signing the petition at www.knpfees.com

Some snow after the r**n

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After a horrible amount of r**n yesterday, the forecast snow has arrived, & apparently it’s snowing a lot lower than expected – in fact I just heard it’s snowing in Jindabyne!

So it’s good news for those heading to the alps this weekend! It’ll be interesting to see how much snow actually falls today.

Thredbo 8am

Thredbo 12pm

First Tracks in Surry Hills

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Huey just cant get it right this year… bugger-all snow falling in the alps, & now an early hail storm for Sydney…

From this Sydney Morning Herald story.

Some city streets were covered in ankle-deep hail and callers to talkback shows were reporting the Anzac Bridge covered in “snow”.
“There’s hail stones all through the street and the cars are finding it hard to drive because it’s incredibly slippery. It’s about four inches deep – it’s close to ankle deep,” said Forest Lodge resident Elissa Blake.

First tracks in surry Hills

“Fancy a game of marbles?”

Slippery Street

Pyrmont ski report 15/8
Wet and heavy going in patches with a fair cover across all runs. Best picks are Harris st for beginners and the approaches to the Harbour bridge for the more advanced. Although this run will get heavy traffic later in the afternoon.
Cover: 1cm

Thredbo report 31/7-3/8 by Al Ferg

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The lodge now has broadband & a wireless router, so i can do on-site snow reports – sweet! We have also had the place to ourselves all week, which has been luxurious – like staying at a rich uncles huge house :)

This weeks LPL crew consists of me – al ferg – & my 3 brothers, andrew, douglas, & graeme, plus andrew’s mates alex & mick. Rob, Pat & Clare also joined us for a couple of nights at the start. I’m pretty excited to be snowboarding with all my brothers for the first time, as we all love our boarding, so it’s a great excuse to have a holiday together.

It’s been a suprisingly impressive week on the mountain, considering how little snow has fallen this season. On Sunday night it snowed 10-15cm, & Monday was blizzards/windy, so Thredbo was fairly quiet, allowing us to bag all the best fresh tracks all day long. Once the in-bounds powder was mostly tracked out, we braved the blizzard & headed high to the Golf Course Bowl (GCB), & were amazed to only find a couple of tracks & all the upper glades full of powder! The snow depth started to run out 1/2 way down, with heaps of bushes still poking through, so there was a 10 minute walk through the bush to the Funnelweb run, but that was a small price to pay for being amongst the first people to ride the GCB this season!

Tuesday the sun was out & suddenly the place was packed! It seemed like all the locals & 1/2 of Canberra had the day off, & were making the most of the best conditions yet this season. We still managed to find plenty of untracked snow, & checked out the terrain parks.

All week the temps have stayed very low, so the snow has remained cold, dry & soft, which is pretty unusual for Oz. This afternoon, it snowed huge fat flakes for about 2 hrs, falling straight down in zero wind, producing around 3-5cm of fluff on top – nice! A couple of laps of on the GCB produced more lovely freshies, & even the cornice of far skiers right of the upper GCB is nicely formed now.

Hopefully there will be more snow tonight – friday freshies would be a superb way to end an awesome week :)

Al Ferg.

Monday – fresh tracks at 9am on the Supertrail

Monday – Graeme bashing the Bluff

Monday – Graeme in the lower GCB

Monday – Douglas contemplating the bushy hike-out in the lower GCB, while Graeme digs himself out of a hole

Tuesday – the lads at the top of GCB

Tuesday – back-lit vapour trails in the tracked out glades of the lower CGB

Wednesday – Douglas flicking a 180 off the funbox at High Noon

Thursday – snow depth indicator at the exit from GCB

Thursday – dumping on the Funnelweb

Thursday night – Michaels crevasse… (sorry ladies, this was just too funny, I had to put it in!)

NZ dump as seen from space

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I just love this image… Such a massive area blanketed in snow. An interesting article about the storm from the Earth Observatory web page.

Winter Storm in New Zealand

A powerful winter storm swept across New Zealand on June 12, 2006. The storm brought strong winds that gusted up to 130 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour) and at least one tornado, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Heavy rains triggered floods and landslides along the western coast of South Island, and snow blanketed the central part of the island. This wild weather, said the ABC, knocked out power in Auckland, on North Island (not pictured), and throughout the Canterbury region, shown here.

On June 13, skies were clear when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this photo-like image of South Island, New Zealand. Snow covers the Southern Alps, making the finger-like glacier lakes stand out like sapphires against a field of white. The snow stretches to the sea on the east side of the island. It is here, in the river basins and valleys east of the mountains and around Christchurch, that deep snow closed roads and isolated communities, say news reports.

The impact of heavy rain along the western shore of South Island is also evident in this image. Mud-laden water, full of sediment from landslides and run-off, flows into the Tasman Sea from the many streams that run out of the mountains. In the ocean, the muddy water is tan and fades to a cloudy green as the sediment disperses.

Click here for hi-res version (well worth a look – its lovely!)

More NZ dump photos

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Roadside air on the way to Mt Hutt

Timaru airport – only 27 metres above sea level!

Mt Hutt view from Methven

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