Underwhelming is a word that I would use to describe the weekend, and I fear with the snow that is falling while I type this word-heavy but picture-light report it will become somewhat redundant by Monday morning.
Late last week many forecasts were calling for up to 40cm of fresh snow, and while I did not believe that we would get that much I was still anticipating 15cm or so and perhaps some new terrain.
The warm pre-frontal rain period did some damage on Thursday night and the weather moved in with a vengeance on Friday afternoon. The drive to Buller on Friday evening was a sodden affair, raining for the entire trip, and we were treated to a spectacular lightning show over the alps as we were coming in to Mansfield.
As we made our way up the mountain the rain turned to snow quite low down on the road, chains were being fitted at the plough shed and the snow was consistent at White Bridge. As we ascended the mountain the snowfall became heavier and it was particularly strong as we reached the Village. However a glance at the radar showed that it was a narrow band of intense precipitation with not much behind it. 6cm of snow fell relatively quickly but by the time we finished dinner at around 9:30pm it was all over. Accompanying this front was a drop in temperature which led to a good night of snowmaking.
We got out early on Saturday morning as we knew it was the first day for all the squads – MBRC, TBR & Team Extreme so we were keen to get a few laps in before they made their way up the hill. Little Buller Spur skied well until the hordes arrived, and we very much surprised ourselves with some great skiing up on the Summit in the few centimetres of fresh snow. The poor visibility was a definite bonus as nobody was able to see what we were doing and follow us, so we had the particular areas we had chosen all to ourselves. Light snow showers came in & out throughout the day but didn’t really add up to anything. Of note was the very low crowds – apart from the aforementioned squads there were very few skiers on the mountain which was a big surprise as the weekend marked the start of the Victorian school holidays. Some of the speculation in the bar that evening was whether it was due to skiers lost to Falls Creek & Hotham due to their vastly cheaper season passes but in my opinion it is too early to tell, next weekend will be interesting to see as it is traditionally much busier. The other topic of conversation was the lines to pick up tickets and season passes – apparently the system went down at all three Victorian resorts and this led to long lines and frustrated customers.
Waking up this morning to see 1cm on the report, and much larger numbers at the other resorts did not make us want to spring out of bed, so we made a leisurely start to the day, and found that the nice snow we experienced yesterday had become an icy crust, so we didn’t last too long. We could see a tasty band of precipitation approaching on the radar but our estimate of the timing was that it would arrive too late – if you look at the last few frames of today’s Little Buller Spur camera you will see that it arrived between 4 and 5pm. So we packed up and headed off the hill to drive home – again the entire drive was in constant rain, though it was great to know this was falling as snow on the mountain.
Skyline opened midweek but had to be closed due to the warm weather on Thurs night, so I would suggest this will open again if tonight’s snow keeps up, also Shakey Knees has to be close – I was told by a snowmaker on Tuesday that it was very nearly able to be open. Also looking at the new Burnt Hut Cam, that area will be getting close and I’m sure the lift co would be desperate to get the new lift open for the school holidays.
Very few photos due to poor visibility all weekend. I also got a great pic of a dude in green stretch pants & rear entry boots in Koflers but I fear it may drive people away from the site! Half of the pics are wannabe-arty-farty pics of snow gums as you could see f*** all up on the mountain.
I’ve now settled in to watch Le Tour and can’t wait for the Alps – last year’s viewing was great as we had driven many of the roads during the road trip in our Chamonix 2011 adventure. I’ve also got one eye on the radar and another on the Buller Village Square snowcam, watching the steps disappear. I’m also seeing updates on Facebook of snow down to Mirimbah and cars sliding off the road so I’m sure that the people skiing tomorrow will have a better day than I had today.
Thanks to everyone who submitted Instagrams over the weekend with the #aussieskier hashtag – unfortunately a big storm in the US knocked out the Instagram servers and in a domino effect the Instagram plugin I use couldn’t deal with that and crashed the whole site! It also meant that a few were missed from being automatically posted on the Facebook Page, but everything is visible on aussieskier.com/social.