A strange thing happened at Mt Buller on Saturday.
The drive up on Friday night was eerily quiet, we left at the same time as always, and for the first weekend in August you would expect to catch the ‘conga line’ just out of Yea and follow the tail-lights all the way to Buller, but in this case there wasn’t a soul on the road and we made excellent time. Unfortunately we were greeted with frozen pipes in the lodge so we had to melt some snow to cook our dinner!
We left the lodge in the morning in good spirits with snowflakes flying and a few cm on the ground in anticipation of a good day. However in a fashion that can only sum up the fortunes of Mt Buller in this bizarre 2012 winter, by the time we were at the top of the Holden chair it was a deluge of rain and we made a beeline for the safe haven of Koflers.
We weren’t alone & it was packed. The mood was the same as the previous saturday morning – glum faces due to the weather outside and text messages/Facebook/Instagram updates from elsewhere reporting OK conditions. I was bummed – K2 and Line Skis had a demo tent set up at Koflers and my main mission for the day was to test out a number of skis for the fast growing Gear section on aussieskier.com.
After we had lingered for a while we noticed that the people walking in didn’t look quite as saturated as earlier so we thought we would head out for a look. It had stopped raining and there were some flashes of clear sky amongst the clouds. So I slid around to the demo tent, grabbed some skis and got to work.
Each run though the middle hours of the day got better & better. Due to the demos being in the Koflers area we stuck to the Summit/Koflers/Howqua triangle and proceeded to have an absolute ball.
It was the first session this whole winter where I actually felt like I’ve been skiing. Yes I know groomers on snowmaking have been open all year, but if you reckon that constitutes skiing then this blog is probably not for you.
However the incremental snow gains over the last week have definitely added to the base and there was a nice cover of soft snow on Fast One and you could ski it hard & fast from top to bottom with only a few rocks & the odd shrub to look out for. There was a nice bump line down towards the Howqua chair where the APSI examiners were holding the Level 4 resit exam – it was great to catch up with my old colleagues & see them put the candidates through their paces. The examiners were stoked with what was available for the Bumps & Free Run component and it looked like a good & fair test of their abilities. It also reminded myself that it was now 10 years ago that I passed that particular exam.
As the day wore on the temperatures got colder and the chilly SW wind dried the snow out, which meant softer more powdery textures on top but the wetter base had formed up into more firm conditions.
We did Lap after Lap in this area, changing skis from the K2 & Line ranges, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We also managed to avoid the Wombat chair for an entire weekend, hoping this can be the first of many.
We followed it up with some drinks at Apres and then headed to the Whitt for a good friend’s surprise 50th birthday party. A good time was had by all and this continued until the wee hours at Grimus. Unfortunately somebody managed to take home my Black North Face down jacket, and left behind their own. Mine is a Large but the jacket left behind was an XL. So if your black North Face puffy feels a little squeezy, head to the reception at Grimus to make the swap.
Sunday morning consisted of a sore head, and when we heard of the windhold it made the decision to keep sleeping an easy one. We headed up after lunchtime and after a thorough session of microdermabrasion we did a couple of runs, had a hangover cure at Koflers with a bunch of the patrollers and headed back to Melbourne.
During that chat with the patrollers they mentioned that Southside was not far off opening, which proved to be true with its opening today. We are expecting a decent storm on Thursday which has the potential to add to the cover and hopefully open further terrain.
I will report back on the prospects of this storm tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone who continues to add Instagram photos tagged with #aussieskier – check them out on aussieskier.com/social and on our Facebook page. We have now received over 700 photos this season from all resorts and it continues to grow.
I am just about to launch a competition for Videos submitted with Viddy with the #aussieskier tag, I have a prize pack from Volkl/Dalbello and am working with Oakley and K2/Line skis for further prizes, so keep an eye on the blog and our Facebook Page for more details.