And because everyone loves a selfie, looking across the headwaters of the Snowy River (still on kosi’s shoulder) soon after dawn. The only person anywhere close was Geoff, who was very quickly heading in the other direction. Bliss.

Another photo from last week. 7am, returning to Kosciuszko (main curvy summit) nobby etheridge to the left.

I’d rather be napping.

This weekend’s trip involved many naps in Alpine meadows.  This was perhaps my favourite; Rawson’s pass between Etheridge and Kosciuszko.  Soft grass and a cool breeze.

  1. Camera: HTC One XL
  2. Focal Length: 3mm

So so so fired up for @geoffmallo to have another crack at a2k. (and my chance to spend a few days hanging out solo in the Snowys while he does it.

My new, old bike, ‘Miffy’

On Saturday night we headed up to the Hamilton farm for the Annual Canoe Classic.

It’s the first year I’m not running a checkpoint (or paddling), but we figured we might as well give the Rovers a hand setting up as we had to go pick up the dogs regardless.

Sure enough, after a day of hanging out with the Rovers shooting cans with a .22 and welding up broken dirt bike levers, darkness fell.  And like clockwork, I found myself standing on the river bank shouting encouragement at the paddlers as they scooted past in the darkness.

I love this race. I love everything about it.  I love that it starts at dusk, and the paddlers paddle all night.  I love that it’s a solid 111km long. I love that in the stink of faux ‘charity’ events like Trailwalker overrun with corporate teams, the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic is still completely homebrew.  You might get a cotton t-shirt with a small logo at the startline with this year’s design as drawn by some random paddler - you won’t get embroided coolmax onsie’s with oodles of corporate branding. Instead of massive colour matched marquees, we slap together an old white tent from up the shed to create our checkpoint and our big letter sign is home painted and lit up with a strobe light made from PVC piping in someone’s garage.

You can imagine my delight when a paddler called out that he’d put a big hole in his boat - I bounded down to the riverbank and performed some duct tape macguyvering. I love this race. (Even better that he was from my old club and broke his class record later that night).

It might be time to actually do it again.

  1. Camera: HTC One XL
  2. Focal Length: 3mm

The last night and morning in Yosemite we got a little rain and snow, a pretty change from the blue skies.

I figured I’m join Tim on one of his last snow trips of the season, keen to try my tele’s in the usual snow-shoeing territory.  

Hannah and I headed down Friday night, we ran into mum on the way through Goulburn to drop her her new downie, and then took a break in Maccas at Canberra.  We saw -1 in Canberra! Technical footwear in Maccas:

Hannah’s on her L’s, apparently she’s driven a Falcon around North Head. That’s it. So I figured the Friday night run is a great time to cause a traffic jam through Canberra (also, most of Canberra is roadworks, so limited to 80 anyway…)  

We picked up Peter in Jindy and headed up to Island Bend to camp.  Timbo and the rest of the crew were really late getting out of Sydney, so we put up the tents in the moonlight and hit the hay.  We woke up to 2 new tents and Tim’s 4WD, none of us heard them come in in the night.  There was snow on the ground and a mob of Kangaroo’s checking out the Landcruiser.

We headed up to Guthega; the cover was amazing!  Hannah, Peter and I hit the road while the Timbo finished up the faffing, once we were off the tar and onto the dirt we lost the back of the car a couple of times on the ice, the climb pass the smiggins’ turn off was colourful but really totally ok.   It’s strange to arrive at a ski resort after a dirt road, but most people come to Guthega via the chairlifts from Perisher.  There was quite a lot of snow on the ground, and the car did need a little persuading to leave its spot beside 4WD’s in the drop off area, lucky Timbo’s a big bastard and was able to push it out.  Still, absolutely nothing wrong with a lowered skirt-wearing V8 as a snow car :)

The change in conditions between our last trip out to Little Twynam was staggering.  We were to Illawong hut in no time at all; the shrubby post-holing madness now replaced with perfect rolling fields of snow.  A huge morning migration was underway, probably saw 30 other people heading out and there was a queue to get onto Illawong swing bridge, which now had it’s approach ladder buried under snow.  Perfect conditions.

After the bridge we had a wee bit of morning tea, Hannah, Peter and Wobbly headed on, and the rest of us cruised up to a band of trees for lunch.  Steve made the thickest coffee I’ve ever drunk (and completely black), turns out we each had 3 shots worth, and for whatever reason the next hills were an absolute dream to get up.  We rounded the last corner to hedley tarn, to see 3 people across the valley digging in!  It was Hannah and the boys.  I stopped to take some photos, Hannah called out to hurry up and help dig! Too funny, we decided there was absolutely no advantage in hurrying up, so we took more photos and had a chat while we watched them dig in the distance.

 

Soon enough we joined them, and did some building of our own.  

Once we were done with camp some decided to duck over the hill and check out the Tarn (they’d made camp here to be out of the wind), Timbo and I decided what the campsite needed was a Scotch amphitheatre, so we took some shovels, sit-upon’s and scotch up the hill a little. Tim picks the spot:

Our view from the kitchen Scotch Ampitheatre:

The guys got back from the Tarn, and we settled in to cook dinner.  The gear test for the weekend was my home-brew caldera-clone, I left the jetboil at home.  It worked a treat pumping out water, at least 3 potfulls - but then as darkness really fell we couldn’t get it to light again. Without the cloud cover the night was very cold, I think this might have been the reason.  Even using an MSR pocket-rocket as a flame thrower we couldn’t get the sucker to work, so I used Tim’s trangia to finish up my spag bol - I’m a bit confused as to why we could get his to light as they’re both metho stoves (although we had to use the rocket to light tim’s trangia too).  The thing is that while that cone is a monster in sydney, i.e you light it, step back and wait for it to go out before approaching it and just hope it doesn’t boil over, when we did get it to light it seemed to burn at the perfect temperature for stirring pasta on the snow. Such a fickle beast.

Finally dinner was done and we went to bed, I was excited ‘cause Hannah’d spent the last 2 hours talking up the ‘spooning of a lifetime’ I was going to get that night.    The spooning was rubbish, but you get that. We woke up to more blue skies.

The boys packed up to head off to climb at Blue Lake, Hannah and I enjoyed some faffing before heading back down to Guthega.  A shortage of Food (Tim forgot to pack any), and a shortage of fuel (Peter forgot his canister), meant I left them with my prosciutto and king island cheddar, hummus and metho and had a snickers for breakfast instead of my polenta porridge and a cuppa - Boo.  It was ok, a schnitty at the pub would more than make up for it.

The Boys heading to blue lake:

Hannah faffing:

And then we headed off.  Hannah has all the moves:

It took 30mins to get back to the bridge, we’d also left some water bottles with the guys so they could get water from the lake and not have to melt snow with limited fuel for sunday night dinner; so Hannah filled up our shared bottle.  I filmed it just in case she fell in, but disappointingly she stayed dry. After a chat to 2 guys that had just skiied off of Mt Paralyser we headed on, and were back at Guthega for lunch.  We decided to hit the road and stopped in Jindy for the schnitty, sharing the pub with 20 half-drunk rugby boys celebrating their season premiership win by dressing up as everything from Taco’s to $2 hookers. It was fun and the schnitzel wasn’t too bad either.

Another fun weekend, but the last for the winter :(

Another great weekend, back to work tomorrow…

mobilechristie 

Latitude:-36.4005 

Longitude:148.33641 

GPS location Date/Time:09/02/2012 08:53:58 EST

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-36.4005,148.33641&ll=-36.4005,148.33641&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

mobilechristie 

Latitude:-36.39542 

Longitude:148.35452 

GPS location Date/Time:09/01/2012 11:18:39 EST

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-36.39542,148.35452&ll=-36.39542,148.35452&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

mobilechristie 

Latitude:-36.32365 

Longitude:148.47578 

GPS location Date/Time:08/31/2012 23:51:11 EST

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-36.32365,148.47578&ll=-36.32365,148.47578&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Ok, here’s the trip report.  Putting up photos doesn’t tell the whole story.  In fact, this post probably won’t either. What can you do…  I’m heading out for the last snow trip of winter this weekend, so better write this one before I have another one to do!

The Bogong Rover Chalet is 11k’s from Falls Creek.  Totally off the grid it has 2 generators, a wood fired water boiler (Theodore) and a wood fired stove.  You ski in on a Saturday, ski out the following Saturday and carry all the fresh food and booze you need for the week.  Everyone takes turns cooking, chopping wood and keeping the place running throughout.

Days are spent touring the high-plains, or riding the tow rope.  I’ve never seen snow conditions like this year before.  Last year we dragged sleds full of power-kites over 11k’s of unsealed road and firetrail.  Then we waited all week for snow cover and wind which never came.  This year, unbelievable cover, unrelenting wind, and not a power-kite between us!

When we woke up at Mt Beauty for the 7:30am bus I was afraid the dark greasy roads would mean rain-affected cover and a horror show ski in.  Thankfully as we wound up the valley towards the trail-head at Falls Creek the rain turned to sleet, and finally to snow!

We used the Nordic shelter to get ready for the ski-in at Windy Corner, there was enough fresh on the road that the coach lost traction when it had to stop and restart for a parked car – business time!

On the way up to the Dam wall we came across the guys from last week heading out.  Given the fantastic snow conditions I was really surprised to see many of them on snowshoes, not tele’s.  That they even had snowshoes with them was strange, but they were an older group.  Evidently the wind across the dam wall and around the bank was the worst they’d ever seen.  Frankly I didn’t care, so long as there is cover and it’s not raining on the ski-in I’ll happily live with anything.

The trip in flew by.  The dam was terrible, but compared to the sleds from last year, (and being on Tele’s instead of a split-board), it was a fantastic run.  Just over 2.5 hrs in, which wasn’t too bad. I even got some aqueduct alone time, just when the sun started to peak out.

Post dinner drinks were taken in the kitchen.  Note Ryan’s scotch face. Katie is new to scotch and doesn’t quite have it down yet.

Sunday morning always feels like the start of the week – hot cups of tea in bed by the cooks of the day (me), is entirely civilised, and a tradition of the chalet that makes life so much easier.  The storm was still cranking outside, we’d had 10cm overnight, and there was still pumping wind through the valley – up high it looked even worse.  Instead of “Ski-Skool” on Cope Hut Slope, we moved it to Wallace Hut, and taught Sarah to ski.  (I worked on my tele moves too).  After skool, the kids decided to head back to the chalet via the high-road and the home slope.  I took Sarah back via the gentle slope and the aqueduct.  The home-slope isn’t as forgiving as it sounds - Sarah would find that out on Monday.

Monday was another rubbish day for touring up high, but we’d had enough of being cabin bound, so decided to head up to the Rocky Knobs. Plus, we’d caught 2 small (native) mice overnight (one was caught after it’s night trip to my face) and we needed to rehome them.  We headed up the valley to Cope Hut gate, I’ve never seen such polished ice, and I was wishing I’d packed my skins.  I think it took about 1hr from the Chalet to the Gate, (ok, maybe 30mins), but man it was a slog.  Once we were up on the high-plains we crept around the lee-side of the hills and found some really nice stashes. 

And Cornices

Lunch was the typical Bogong affair; crackers, cheese, salami and dried fruit, along with mystery soup.  Dan let out the mice, and I quickly learnt that my legs look like trees to a stunned marsupial. Lesson learnt.

On the way home we had a bit more ski-skool, but the wind was really taking its toll; Katie, Sarah and I were cold enough to call it a day. 

We straight-lined it from Investiture Point, right down into the top of the home-slope.

Our Home Slope:

Sarah found a creek (target fixation much),

And then she got really good at traversing steep terrain

On Tuesday we finally had some good weather – Tour Day!  We got our act together and hit the road for Pretty Valley Hut. It was beautiful, the wind had finally died down, the sun was shining and everything was like icing.  We took the middle road – not down the valley, but up and over each spur on the way to the valley.  Earning turns was actually really worth it!

From the dining room at dawn:

Groves of snow-gums

 

Snow Gum

And then, Pretty Valley.  It really is!

Pretty Valley Hut:

After a long lunch we hit the road home.  This time, we were down-hilling on the wind-blown drifts and skiing up the packed stuff.  Perfect conditions!

On Wednesday I called destination “Mt Mattress”.  I think I was onto my 2nd book by Wednesday, I’d gotten through a Michael Crichton, Patricia Cornwell and (shame of shames) Stephanie Meyer by the end of the week. We dressed Grog up in Cyril and had some tow-rope action.  The Chalet has its own tow rope, it’s really very cool, this is just the middle third:

Thursday rolled around and Katie and I were ready for some distance.  There’s a myth in the chalet about people skiing into Falls Creek (ski resort), for a beer.  Not that we didn’t have plenty of beer and scotch with us, but with the high-plains being windblown again, we decided a trip along the aqueduct would be a good way to get some k’s in, and to knock off one of the Chalet Myths.  We headed out at 8am and after a brief stop to drop the kangaroo sized rat off at the Wallace Hut turn-off, we headed into the ski resort.  There is something fantastically cool about hitting a groomed run after a 11k ski – and I did feel a bit bad-ass racking my skis next to snowboards. The beer was bloody good too.

After a stop at the bottleshop for some supplies (namely a case of beer and 2 bottles of champagne, which Rob, Ryan and Katie kindly carried), we headed back to the Chalet. 2:45 each way and we were home in time for dinner.  Myth done!  Unfortunately my feet were completely smashed with blisters and I was going to have another Mt Mattress day on Friday.  Thursday night is party night, with Friday being an early night for the ski out on Sat, you gotta finish up your booze on Thursday – it’s a chalet tradition.  Rob was giving me a lot of shit about needing to sleep, and I think Katie was just trying to outlast me, but I was smashed from the 20+ k round trip to Falls, esp that because of the snow we’d had during the day we’d been cutting trail both directions in big big wind.

Mind you, there is nothing quite like a muscle bound guy from Essex being all up in your face at 2am quoting Arnie. Love it!

So Friday I licked my wounds (or more accurately, drained the blisters), and finished my 3rd book. Some of the guys did a tour to Strawberry saddle, but it was a bit of a non-event.  For a week of fresh snow we really didn’t do many epic trips, and I didn’t stand on a single summit!  Anyway, we decided to aim for the 8:30am bus at Falls Creek, so had an early night.

I love getting on the snow before dawn, soon Katie, Sarah and Rob were far ahead of me, and with Pete, Paul, Neil and Grog back behind me I got some k’s in solo while the sun came up.  Fantastic! Wish I’d taken a photo, I never do.  The snow around the dam was groomed, unfortunately it was also rock hard, and requiring pressure right where my blisters were.  So I was in the box for the last couple of k’s.  Soon enough we were sipping latte’s at the oversnow terminal, and Bogong was done for another winter.

*sigh* back to work tomorrow…
From last week, touring to Pretty Valley, Bogong High Plains.

I’ll say it.  I’ve sneered at people’s pasta choices in hiker shelters.  Mostly just that muppet who kept dropping hints about her charitable time in Uganada, her marathon running and how she was generally fantastic, but then produced a 1kg bag of Bow-tie pasta for the group dinner. I mean, come on! Every hiker knows that while a bow-tie, shell or even spiral noodle has superior sauce holding properties that pasta’s not going to make it past day 1 in a pack.

I’ve been in the spaghetti camp for decades.  Especially spaghettini - the finer type.  Bundle it up all in a row and slide it nicely down the side of your pack.  Much like tent poles.  But even Spaghetti has its downsides.  I’m a 1-spooner.  That long handled bad-boy does it all. Everything but pasta - you just can’t eat noodles successfully with a long handled Ti spoon. 

Until now!  Ladies and Gentleman, hold on to your hats while I present:

Risoni!

It’s pasta that looks like rice!

  • You can put it in a ziplock bag, and it won’t punch through like sharp spaghetti!
  • It will happily nestle in anywhere - unlike conformist spaghetti
  • You can eat it with a spoon! A Long handled spoon! No need for a fork!
  • It doesn’t hold the sauce - IT BECOMES THE SAUCE! perfect for a meaty dehy-bol sauce.
  • It’s freaking indistructable! I challenge you to ruin the cookability of this pasta!
  • And, last but not least, it sill has the ability to kill my mate Geoff with it’s special Wheat powers - Because with all it’s super-skills, it’s still just freaking pasta!

HOORAY FOR RISONI!

Having recently acquired a set of 2nd hand Outtabounds Crowns I’ve spent the past 2 nights cleaning them up.  Tuning base & side edges, epoxying the chunks, using paint thinners to take off old tape and gunk on the top side, and then waxing to clean out the bases.

There’s heaps out there on tuning resort skis.  And lots on tuning cross-country ‘skinny-skis’, but not a whole lot on tidying up teles with pattern bases.

So, for the next guy or girl that is embarking on cleaning up some old backcountry tele’s for prosperity, here’s the lessons I’ve learnt.

Even waxless skis get filthy.  You can do a hot-wax like on any old skiis.  I mostly did this because the tuning kit I borrowed didn’t have any cleaner.  

Even waxless skis dry out.  So you need to get wax into the base, even where the pattern is.  I’d say, even more so with the pattern as the base has more surface area exposed by volume and so can dry out far more quickly.  it’s also more vunerable to the chipping you get when it’s dried out.

This will create a problem though - getting the wax out of the pattern.  The best way, hands down is to:

1. Wax that sucka up.  Get the ski really warm and get the base to soak it right up.

2. Let it cool down, maybe leave it a night, so the wax inside has cooled.

3. Get a Heat Gun, and an old scratchy beach towel.  And a willing husband for the extra set of hands to hold the gun while you wipe.  Heat the surface of the pattern in a smallish areas until it goes opaque and then liquid.  With a fresh section of towel, wipe across the pattern, i.e. edge to edge.  This way you can take the wax out of the pattern without heating it out of the base itself.  By not wiping down the ski you’re not pushing it back into the deep pockets of the pattern. The stuff in the base should have cooled overnight.

4. Then treat the tip and tail of the ski as you would any resort ski.  The base of a drill bit works a treat to get the wax out of the channel. It’s homebrew, but hey, it works.

You’re done.  You can make another hot pass over the pattern with the heat gun and you’ll see if you’ve left any wax on the pattern as it will colour up.  The towel should have worked well - now you’ll have waxy, glossy skiis, and a pattern with bite :)

The towel works better than a dremel, brush, anything.  Without a proper heat gun you could probably use a hairdryer - you’re heating the wax on the surface to get it out of the pattern, not the whole base.  The iron itself won’t heat well into the pattern depressions where the wax pools and so you loose the bite of the pattern before it heats the whole ski up.  Wiping the wax with the towel before it’s liquid results in gooey wax smear.

We headed down from Sydney on the usual Friday night run. After a slight hiccup caused by my smashed phone and Tim’s sicky from work I met Tim & Hannah (Chapman siblings) and ‘Steve’, who I’d *never* met, but was a friend of the Chapmans. It took about 2hrs of driving before Steve worked out I was Christie with my madien name-we’d paddled the Hawkesbury Classic for the same Kayak club a few years earlier, it’s a small world after all.

The weather was looking pretty bad on the BoM - High winds, low visibility and a thunderstorm for Saturday night.  We figured we’d stick to the main range plan until the last minute, and then make a decision.  A kindly tweet from @geoffmallo (he was down there with his kiddies) as we pulled into Cooma around 11pm confirmed rain at the Thredbo Diggings campsite, so we took the chance under the clear sky to pull out tents and headtorches.

The campsite was like soup.  But was still the usual late night buzz of strangers pitching tents at 1am in the morning having just driven down from Sydney. It’s always a fun mix of technical tents and k-mart specials too, means you can stand back and admire your rock solid tent, while also sneering at little domes bowing to the wind like a kneeling camel.  While the Diggings is only at 1300m, the wind absolutely barrels down the valley and I don’t think I’ve ever camped there without getting a pounding.

The BoM, Ranger and Snowcams at Thredbo Sat morning confirmed our suspicions, nothing up high was happening this weekend.  Still, we packed like it was and headed to Thredbo so Tim could get a B&E roll, and we could have a few more people tell us it wasn’t a good idea.  Judging from the snow-cams, we weren’t going to see much in the way of views (or pole-lines).

NB.  @geoffmallo said it was a good idea.  Something along the lines of, you guys have all the gear and all the experience - it will be a fun adventure so go.  He then pulled away in his Forrester of kids headed for the magic carpet at Perisher.  I think his idea of fun and mine is somewhat different.

While sipping latte’s at Thredbo some skiers who’d already done runs from the top of the resort confirmed there wasn’t much fun to be had up high. So we headed up to Dead Horse Gap, figuring we could pack one daypack between us, put on snowshoes and head up in the treeline until the weather got too bad. Possibly the heaviest and most unfun snow I’ve ever walked in at the start. Like a slushy with the added bonus of the odd shrub-punch-through. We headed up through alternating groves of snow gums and clearings, the wind reminding us what was on offer up high. At least the sleet started to turn to snow as we got a little altitude.

It was worth it though.  Every now and then the snow and wind stopped, the sun poked through and we were rewarded with beautiful views through groves of Snowgums.  And aside from one Snowshoer right at the start, not another soul.

Hannah and Steve went ahead, my cough still causing me a lot of grief (and fitness). Eventually Hannah and Steve found a nice protected spot for lunch and we stopped to admire the view.  

In that moment the sun came out and we had views down to the Pilot. Lunch eaten we decided to head back down to the car. The temptation of the distillery was too much, and the idea of setting up camp at the diggings had certain appeal.  Steve had a swap of his MSR Evo’s for my MSR Lightnings (and did far too much running around), and on the final slope to the car Tim did a mad impression of an emperor penguin - face forward stomach slide down the chute my ass had just created.  Once back at the car the others briefly checked out the cascades fire trail while I packed up, my cough was back with a vengeance.

We headed back to the Diggings and set up camp (again) in the daylight, got changed and made for the Distillery.  

Wild Brumby has a lovely little fire and a huge still, and we settled in for the afternoon.  After the first Pint Tim really wasn’t too happy about being designated driver, and I figured with my flu I probably shouldn’t drink much anyway.  Hannah was drinking small amounts of high-alcohol drinks in little glasses.  It’s important to note that these weren’t actually shots.  Apparently it’s her tenting process, shots small drinks instead of beers means no midnight stops.

Some of our down-hilling friends also staying at the Diggings were headed to Jindy for Dinner, so we relocated to the Bowlo for dinner.  Geoff and his kidtourage also joined us, unfortunately the combination of the kiddy-entertainment crayons and an afternoon of beers proved too much for Tim and he rose to the crayon-eating challenge.  Once the adults are eating crayons and talking about playing big-game-buck-hunter it’s time to take them home.

The next morning we headed up to the Perisher side of things after a bakery stop of course, and checked out Rennix walk.  We’ve all driven past it a few times and figured it was a good chance to check it out.  It was a nice fire-trail with some views back to the main range.  Oh, and the sun had come out.  By the time we were back at the car the dusting of snow had pretty much burnt off.  I stupidly hadn’t snow-sealed my new boots, and after wet feet on the june long weekend was paranoid about getting wet feet again.  Which was silly, because it was only a day hike.  But I wore my snowshoes far far far far longer than I really needed to.  Like a chump.

Views out to the main range.

Again, my chest infection was really slowing me down, so I headed back and the others went on, evidently the higher you got the better the views.

We were back at the car around lunch, so headed down to Thredbo river and ate the Spag Bol we didn’t eat for Sat night dinner.  Full bellys, we hit the road back to Sydney.

A good weekend, but many more coffee’s & beer’s drunk to miles walked.