After yet another ‘day of the week’ on Friday, due to Nicole ‘Chucking a Snowie’ at Hotham on Monday, another day off was going to be a stretch, so we had to content ourselves seeing the various Facebook posts from our friends and look forward to the forecast sunny weather.
It was particularly gratifying to see the snow accumulate over the previous weeks, as September is by far my favourite time of year to ski. From a commercial point of view, the season pretty much ends with the Interschools, and in years where there is snow the Spring skiing is usually fabulous. Longer days, better weather, corn snow, slush bumps & low crowds are a feature of the next few weeks.
For some inexorable reason the hordes that are happy to fight for a measly strip of snowmaking in June/July seem to ignore the fact that the skiing is finally good, heading off to Noosa & Port Douglas. Suits me down to the ground.
So with all this in mind we were up early and waiting for first chair:
As the Bull Run Chair is open early at 8:30 we started with a couple of runs on Hog’s Back which was great skiing if you could line up the drifted snow and avoid the scraped sections. Second run I threaded it perfectly and had a ripper. The snow from the previous storm remained particularly cold & dry and the quality of skiing was particularly un-Australian.
From there it was time to hit the top lifts when they opened at Nine and we made a beeline for the Chutes.
As with Hog’s Back there was some superb snow in the Chutes but also some exposed ice due to the wind so you had to be particularly careful, and we had one run that we definitely weren’t keen to repeat.
But after a few laps there it was time for a coffee and we heard that the Federation area was skiing well so we headed in that direction. There was some lovely fresh snow in Boulders but it was definitely thin, on my third run I took a tumble after hitting a submerged object.
The main drag of Federation was the usual zoo – for some reason it attracts average skiers like flies to shit – it sounded scrapy and there were a few rocks pointing through so we gave it a wide berth.
We then did a couple around the Grimus area, and when walking up to the Summit Hut to hit the chutes again we ran in to a friend who convinced us to do a run off the backside of the Summit”
We did one more run in the Chutes and it had some more traffic which scraped it further back to the ice, it was still OK but we decided that was enough in the steeps until either the next snowfall or corn cycle.
Saturday night remained cold and the lovely cold, dry snow was still present on Sunday morning, even though the mountain was somewhat ‘skied in’ the quality was still very much there. We started on groomers hitting up Standard, Wood Run, Men’s Downhill, Summit Slide etc and once the weariness from the day before was worked out of the legs we had a few runs in the Southside area, and then on McLaughlin’s Shoulder but we were drawn again to the Summit fire watch tower, heading for some lovely soft snow in an undisclosed location. Fortunately it was still there and the quality again was stunning. Each run we skied a little further down, which meant a larger hike up, but it was certainly worth it.
Afterwards we did a token run down Cow Camp just to say we did it. The snow is thin and it was pretty ordinary, but one mustn’t miss an opportunity to ride the Tirol T-Bar.
The snow this weekend (and probably the previous Friday) is as good as it has been all year. The upcoming weather system looks like it might be equal parts rain followed by snow, so there’s every chance that this weekend could be the high point of the year.
Even though it’s as good as it’s been, there still isn’t a hell of a lot of snow. The Summit/Fast One areas and Southside will stick fat through to the October 7th closing as there is shitloads of snow in those areas (plus the snowmaking groomers) but warm weather will quickly make a mess of the lower runs – given this year the snowfalls have been pretty meagre under about 1550m altitude.
So while we’re headed for a good spring and I’m very much looking forward to it, if you like skiing to the bottom of Federation, Cow Camp & even Sun Valley/Bull Run I would do it quickly as I can’t see it surviving a decent rainfall or warm spell.
We took some video footage out in the Chutes on our iPhones, here it is:
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