Yesterday was a ripper – Instagrams hashtagged with #aussieskier were rolling in from all 5 major Australian resorts and they were stunning. aussieskier.com/social & our Facebook Page were inundated with bluebird shots, of note were some sent from Hotham’s Gotcha/Orchard/Extreme Area literally within minutes of it opening for the season. This little community we are building is working very nicely, I’m extremely grateful to those contributing and I hope that readers are appreciating the pictures.
So late yesterday afternoon I received a text message form a friend asking if I was keen for a day trip tomorrow, and after a quick check of the weather there was no reason to say no so we agreed to meet at 5:30am and get on the road.
Fog in the valleys, no wind and clear skies at sunrise was a great sign that it was going to be a good day. The car thermometer was reading -3C/-4C from approximately Merton, through Bonnie Doon and the rest of the drive & a very heavy frost was visible in the valleys. I thought this temperature was prime for an inversion but was pleasantly surprised to check the Buller AWS and see that it was reading -6C.
The drive was quiet and we made it on the hill in good time, it was looking glorious.
Today the new Burnt Hut chairlift opened so we made a beeline to check that out. Burnt Hut is a much better run without lift towers in the middle of it, and a electric powered quad is a massive improvement over the old, noisy unreliable diesel triple. Also the new load station location gives a great view up to Summit Slide and Grimus Chair, although it makes some lines that I like skiing a little obvious.
The new lift has a safety bar system designed for child safety, and I have to say I far prefer it to the system on Howqua. The bar goes between your legs and I find this arrangement far less claustrophobic and restrictive than the Howqua spring-loaded flap.
The old Trainer T Bar has been replaced by a carpet which is good in theory, but unfortunately terrible in application. The line did not appear long but due to the slow speed of the carpet, and also the pitch of it it runs really, really slowly. There would not have been more than 20 people in front of us, but in the time we waited a friend of mine lapped BHS and then skated off towards Bourke St on the low road before we managed to load. Obviously there are more options to exit the area when the trail to Grimus is open, plus Cattlemen’s Trail, Dam Run, Chalet Creek & Tyrol etc. But with the volume of traffic that the Horse Hill Quad can bring to that area I think it’s going to be a massive bottleneck for those who want to go back to Bourke St.
We eventually made it back to Holden Chair and headed up to check out Wombat & LBS – both had firm & fast cover & were skiing well.
Wombat Bowl is a good illustration of the snow levels of the main snowfalls – it has largely been up high with the lower altitudes still requiring a lot of snow.
After a quick spin on Family it was time to check out Summit. Again it was firm & fast, we went across to fast one which had a pretty good cover, and quite firm underneath. As with many other areas it needs only 20cm more snow to really be in action. My friend had never hiked up to the Summit Hut so we wandered up there to take in the views:
Some more laps on LBS/Wombat – this shot shows that Southside/Yurredla is again about 20cm short:
Shot on the way out of Cow Camp/Chalet Creek/Dam Run:
Worth noting is that Shakey Knees is covered, groomed and just waiting for the lift to be fixed. I don’t have an ETA on that. This will need to be a huge priority as I would estimate that this weekend will be a busy one. It is traditionally busy due to school holidays, and with stunning snow images flooding the Internet in the last couple of days I am sure social media will definitely drive some visits.
Overall the day was great, stunning bluebird skies all day, with the only detraction being the relative lack of snow. In isolation things look pretty bloody good for the 5th of July but knowing that our neighbours only 75km NE as the crow flies received a serious amount more snow is the cause of a little frustration.
I reckon 20cm of new snow would open Summit Slide, cover Fast One/Slalom Gully, open Outer Edge, Southside/Yurredla and Standard. At this stage it appears that we are due for some new snow early next week, I will write a snow forecast post covering this weather system when it is a little closer and the outcome more clear.
As well as these pics I uploaded many more to Instagram with the #aussieskier hashtag, these are visible on aussieskier.com/social as with a number of other pictures from our great contributors – Two of Australia’s top female skiers in Jenny Owens and Emily Bamford got in to the #aussieskier action today which was great to see & we welcome them to our community.
Who else went skiing today? Let us all know what it was like in the comments below: