Tag Archives: travel

Wine, kangaroos and Jindabyne

With the warmer weather and longer days, we have been able to pack more into our snow trips than just endless skiing.

This trip we stayed at a lovely lodge in Jindabyne and enjoyed some après-ski with wine, cheese and dips – all of which taste better after a day of skiing (and being starving from missing lunch).

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Sitting around with Dad, Mark, Linda and Zac drinking wine and eating cheese

I haven’t stayed in a lodge other that the SASC lodges before, but was comforted to find that Gundaroo lodge in Jindabyne has the same alpine-community feel.

On the second day of the sunny weekend we were joined by Linda and Zac. We were able to split the two-days free skiing to give them one each – which is a great move by Perisher to get more people on the mountain, and great for us because it means more people to ski with! To avoid the long line that the free-days-skiing-to-friends-for-Freedom-Pass-holders had created, we drove to Guthega to start the day. I hadn’t driven to Guthega before (I wouldn’t have had the guts in my car when the road was snowy), but it’s a very nice drive – if you hang on.

Windy Guthega Road
Windy Guthega Road

On the way up I was struck by how many dead trees there are – apparently this is due to the eucalyptus weevil.  This horrible little sucker has a particularly craving for snow gums and eats the new growth, eventually causing the trees to die. It seems like there is a whole layer of growth coming back in the forests though, so I’m optimistic the trees are going to be OK.

Less snow and dead trees
New growth creeping up through the dead trees on the way to Guthega.

It makes me happy to see animals get more active again in the spring. We had a great lunch at Eyre and were joined by a very curious and healthy-looking snow-crow.

Less snow and dead trees
Snow-crow at Eyre

We visited Island Bend, a beautiful camping area on the way to Guthega. A mob of kangaroos popped up their heads and looked at us, just like we looked at them. There were also wallabies, wombats and echidnas.

 

 

Kangaroos at Island Bend near Guthega
Kangaroos at Island Bend near Guthega
Beautiful river at Island Bend near Guthega
Beautiful river at Island Bend near Guthega

Australian animals are seriously cute, and a little bit scary. I have a lot of admiration and a healthy respect for the spines and claws. I’d love to stay at Island Bend in the summer and hang out with the critters. I imagine there are some great bushwalks in the area, and plenty of beautiful scenery. This landscape might be the perfect ease-out of snow-life for me: beautiful gums and mountains, but nothing attached to my feet.

Beautiful river at Island Bend near Guthega
Beautiful river at Island Bend near Guthega
Beautiful river at Island Bend near Guthega
Beautiful river at Island Bend near Guthega

Jackets off and sunnies on

This third weekend in spring was another great time spent at the snow.

On the triple with Dad and Mark
On the triple with Dad and Mark

Having bought the Perisher Freedom Pass again for 2015, Mark and I got 2 free days skiing to give to a friend this year. We thought this was a great thing – and obviously so did a lot of other keen snow-goers judging by the long snake of a line at the Perisher ticket sales.

Free tickets loaded up on Dad’s pass, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast (with a serious good vegie burger) at the bottom of Eyre. we’d been up since 5am, so Dad polished off breakfast with a gluwein – very nice choice.

Breakfast with Dad at Eyre

The day was a scorching (for the snow) 9 degrees with not a breath of wind. I haven’t skied without a jacket before (as far as I can remember), but the weather on Saturday demanded you strip off some layers. I got down to a long sleeve top and absolutely loved the freedom of it! My jacket is not particularly restricting, but  without it I could move so freely! The sensation of wind on my arms and chest as a flew down the mountains was also amazing (if a little fresh).

Feeling very free this spring at Guthega
Feeling very free this spring at Guthega

Although less, there was still plenty of snow to ski the mountain, with Mount Perisher the place to be (as usual).

Dad skiing Olympic
From the top of Olympic we can see the mountains starting to peek through the snow.
Dad skiing Olympic
Dad skiing Olympic

Dad loved the feeling of layer-less skiing so much that on Sunday he wore only jeans and a skivvy on the slopes. Unfortunately, Sunday brought a slight wind chill, and my very cold and colourless Dad admitted that his clothing choice was one of his very infrequent mistakes.

Boundary on Eyre with Dad
Boundary on Eyre with Dad in jeans and a skivvy

It has been fascinating to watch the mountain change this season. I’ve been reflecting on when I tried to cover as much as my face from the bitey cold as possible, to carrying sunscreen in my CamelBak to avoid a sunglasses/goggle tan (which didn’t work by the way).

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Watching the glossy melting snow slow slide down in the distance is beautiful – it’s a little bit sad because it means this fantastic season is over – but it’s mainly beautiful.

 

Happy bunny ears at Guthega
Happy bunny ears at Guthega

We enjoyed a beer and gluwein at Guthega Inn for their last day of the season, and noticed just how much the mountains have changed since a few weeks ago – you can see the dam and river now!

Beautiful view from Guthega Inn looking a bit more springy
Beautiful view from Guthega Inn looking a bit more springy

It has been a seriously great season – I hope to go up one more time before it closes, but if not, that’s OK. Mark and I have skied 19 days and only missed 3 weekends. We’ve watched the snow come and the snow melt. We have improved at skiing and boarding more than we thought we could and we’ve managed to share these amazing experiences with family and friends. It has been the BEST winter.

Beer on Guthega Inn's last da this season
Beer on Guthega Inn’s last day this season

 

Spring brings out sun, smiles and teletubbies

Spring skiing is great.

Bathing in sunshine on Olympic
Mum bathing in sunshine on Olympic

 

The sun is out, people are smiling (maybe they were before but I couldn’t see through their balaclavas) and the lines are shorter. Sure there’s also some grass to dodge, but with the increased visibility that’s hardly even a challenge!

Needless to say, I enjoy my skis gliding along the soft spring snow – especially alongside my mum’s skis.

Our happy skis
Mum’s and my happy skis on the t-bar

This fine September weekend Mark, Mum, David and I stayed at Kahane lodge and got in as many turns as possible.

Smiling chair selfie
Smiling chair selfie

This weekend was particularly exciting because Mark decided to leave his snowboard on the rack and try some skis on his feet (I don’t think this has anything to do with my last blog…). This meant that for the first time we were four skiers!

Four sets of happiness
Four sets of happiness
Mark on skis for the first time
Mark on skis for the first time

I’m not sure if Mark is just super-talented or if snowboarding skills are transferable to skiing, but he was surprisingly good! On the first day Mark was having a go at parallel turns and by the second day he could competently ski a blue run – colour me impressed! I imagine he was able to progress so quickly because 1. he’s naturally good at things, and 2.  he knows how snow works, how edges turn and what it feels like to be on the mountain in a flow of other skiers and boarders.

Being super-considerate, Mark spent most of his time learning solo and let Mum, David and I get off the green runs and onto the black.

Most difficult! Most fun!
Most difficult? Most fun!
Style-plus
Style-plus on ‘Dogleg’ off Olympic.
David zooming
David zooming down Dogleg

Now, there’s one extra thing about spring skiing that brings a smile to my face – the crazies. By this I mean the people who see the sunshine and simultaneous feel the inspiration to ski without a shirt, in shorts, or best yet, in a teletubbie costume.  Note that I’m not praising the people skiing in onesies. I find these frustrating because they are not a substitute for a real costume and the people in them are often unnecessarily loud, but then again, I bet it is fun to ski around as a onesie-lion or giraffe.

We had a great laugh when, at the top of Guthega’s Freedom Chair, a group of teletubbies skied off and surrounded an unsuspecting David. This is particularly funny because  that little brother of mine had a childhood fear of fully costumed people (he didn’t like that you couldn’t see their eyes – fair enough). Although he’s 19 and much braver now, I bet a wall of teletubbies skiing toward him brought back some fear!

Skiing teletubbies
Skiing teletubbies

In case my love of spring skiing isn’t clear – here’s why:

Through June and July the snow is coming, in August people flood to the lifts and September brings the sun, the smiles and the teletubbies.

Great view atop Eyre
Great view atop Eyre
Perfect rest rock
Perfect rest rock on a perfect spring day

Skiing with a boarder

Some skiers would argue that boarders are their natural enemies – they push the snow off the runs, take forever to strap in, ride lifts sideways and often seem to have far more confidence than ability.

You won’t find me leading any charge to expel boarders from the mountain; I ski with a boarder.

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Me and Mark (my boarder)

My ideas about boarders are based on my observations of Mark, who has been boarding for about 9 years.

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Our gear chilling out on the roof racks together.

There are some challenges for a skiing-boarding duo:

  1. T-bars are not a boarder’s lift of choice.
  2. Boarders have to strap-in and unstrap, which can be time-consuming.
  3. Snow-boards do not traverse as well as skis.

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Good news everyone: these challenges can all be easily overcome!

  1. Although Mark doesn’t like t-bars, when we do ride them I get a hug – which is particularly great on cold days.

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    T-bar ride = one long hug
  2. I get a short break at the top and bottom of lifts as my boarder unstraps
    .

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    I have time to enjoy the view and snap a photo while Mark straps in.
  3. Skiers are blessed with both independent foot movement (for skating) and poles (for pushing). Skiers, be more generous and lend a boarder your poles for any traverses or particularly flat runs. It’s fun to ski without poles anyway.
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Mark using my poles on the traverse to Blue Cow.

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If the incline is too steep to push – they can walk in those comfortable shoes of theirs.

Of course some boarders are no fun to ski with, like some skiers are, and these people are probably not that much fun to be with off the mountain anyway!

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It’s the person strapped to the board that matters.

Capturing the feeling of skiing

It’s hard to recover from a great weekend on the snow – not because I’m tired or my muscles are sore. I find it hard to deal with walking not gliding; to look at a ceiling rather than endless blue sky; to adjust to the normal pace of life.

Don’t get me wrong, my day-to-day life is pretty good, but it doesn’t measure up to the feeling of skiing down a snow-covered slope on a bluebird day.

That might explain why tonight I have spent more time than I’d care to admit taking a video of me skiing down Olympic and turning it into a montage.

Skiing down Olympic
Skiing down Olympic

Man, that was a good run.

The stills are fun too:

ski4ski6

Breakfast and First Tracks? Stay on Snow!

Surely, any day tripper will say a good breakfast and first tracks is too much to ask for!

There’s no better way to enjoy the snow than staying in on-mountain accommodation. It means a 7am wake-up  allows you to be first on the mountain after a leisurely breakfast and the only traffic to contend with is the enthusiastic skiers at the bottom of the first lifts to open.

First light on the mountain
First light on the mountain

We stay at Kahane Lodge in Perisher, which is a Southern Alps Ski Club lodge. It’s a beautiful lodge full of warm and friendly people.  The resident managers cook delicious breakfasts and dinners and the views from the windows are beautiful.

View from our room at Kahane
View from our room at Kahane

Kahane  lodge sits opposite the Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth T-Bars, and (with the amount of snow we’ve had this year) they’re just a short ski over the creek away.

Of course, it’s a bonus if there’s perfect weather and a day on the mountain when you don’t have to drive home in the afternoon lets you ski a little bit harder.

My favourite times on the mountain are early morning and late afternoon – beautiful light and no lines. I like to chase the lifts as they open and run from them as they close.

Sun going down after a great last run on Mount P.
Sun going down after a great last run on Mount P.

Once the sun drops over the back of the mountain, the lifts close and temperature drops, it’s time for Après-ski a.k.a schnapps (butterscotch and apple from the Wild Brumby Distillery).

beaten by snow
The mountain beat me, but it was a good fight
Glass of schnapps on the balcony after a huge day on the mountain
Glass of schnapps on the balcony after a huge day on the mountain

The best part of staying on snow? Getting to do it again the very next day!

There and back again: Perisher from Canberra

The snow is the best day trip from Canberra. We have made it 10 weeks in a row and have got it down to an art.

The day starts at 4:30am when Mark and I wake up to I just can’t wait to be king from the Lion King (trust me, it’s a great way to start the day in a good mood, I couldn’t stand waking up to a buzzing alarm).

We throw on our ski gear, make a coffee (frothed milk and all – I love our Aldi coffee machine) and take our gear down to the car.

I have my car fitted out with far more gear than I had at the start of the season and it makes the drive a lot easier (and safer). Ski racks on the roof give us plenty of room in the Rav4 and driving lights brighten the dark morning drive.

Light starts to break through the horizon about 1.5 hours into the drive at Cooma, and it’s beautiful.

Very heavy, but beautiful fog, on the Monaro Highway
Very heavy, but beautiful fog, on the Monaro Highway

I love the landscape at Cooma – it looks like a Fred Williams painting. The trees could be inky squiggles and the rocks ink blots.

Light breaking at Cooma
Light breaking at Cooma

Once the light is up over the beautiful landscape it doesn’t take long (pending any powder-day traffic) to get to the ski tube. We jump on that, and just before 8:30am, we’re on the snow. Everything going well, we can get from bed in Canberra to skis-on in Perisher in 4 hours.

This Saturday was supposed to have bad weather (rain/snow) come over during the day, so every moment of sunshine felt stolen. We got the absolute most out of every fair-weather run.

We started marking the perfect corduroy in Centre Valley. Since we’ve been skiing every weekend, my legs don’t hurt/get tired anymore, so I gave myself the challenge of making my muscles ache for Sunday. We headed over to Mount Perisher as soon as it opened and had some amazing runs. It’s so much easier to ski aggressively when you can see the snow in front of you (not the terrible visibility of last Sunday which made me feel like an
uncoordinated baby deer trying to stand up). With the confidence of sight, I surprised myself with how fast I was skiing and how good my turns felt.

My tracks on were the first down The Cleft off Leichardt on Saturday morning
My tracks on were the first down The Cleft off Leichardt on Saturday morning
My tracks on sun valley
My tracks are up there on Sun Valley

As soon as Olympic opened at 10am we were on the T-bar. When did they start grooming the side of Olympic? I don’t know who made this decision, but I want to give them a giant hug and buy them some chocolate. You’ve heard my enthusiasm for long, steep runs (i.e. Parachute, which is now unfortunately closed), and now I have another run to pine for all week. I don’t know what this run is called, and I don’t care. It’s seriously beautiful.

Excitement building on the Olympic t-bar
Excitement building on the Olympic T-bar

No time for a break, we headed over to North Perisher and then Blue Cow to make the most of the mountain. I love the runs off the Ridge Chair, but equally I love riding it and watching the mogul skiers. If doing the moguls isn’t impressive enough, they do flips! Check out this video.

At the top of the chair the beautiful views fill in for the entertainment, and then long, scenic, leg-burning runs take me down to the bottom.

Great shadow at the top of Outer Limits at Blue Cow
Great shadow at the top of Outer Limits at Blue Cow
Great view at the top of Outer Limits at Blue Cow
Great view at the top of Outer Limits at Blue Cow

Being human and all, Mark and I took a break for lunch. We met up with some friends and I suggested we eat at Guthega Pub. I had talked up the food and the view, but when ee went there at 1:30pm, the staff said the weren’t taking any more lunch orders. We didn’t want to miss out on the great view, so ordered some German beer and mulled wine instead. The liquid lunch filled the belly, and as usual, good company can make up for almost anything!

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They wouldn’t serve us any food, but the drinks, company and view were good

We skied until we got kicked off the mountain and jumped on the tube home. I met my challenge – my legs were sore. The long, dark drive home was broken up by a delicious dinner at Bredbo Woodfired Pizza. The pizzas were delicious, and being the first solid food we’d eaten since breakfast, they were demolished. We were home by 8:30pm and crashed on the bed. We get a lot out of our 16 hour day trips to the snow.

 

Long road home
Driving lights come in handy on the long road home to Canberra.