[SUBW-A] Trip report - Skiing the Cascades

Roger Butler R.Butler at lake.com.au
Tue Aug 6 18:44:48 AEST 2002

Party members - Siobhan Toohill, Ben Kong, Jan Hu, Chantel Chong, Roger

Organising the trip down wasn't that easy, with Ben working until 9pm on the
Thursday night and Siobhan having trouble taking time off work.  Ben thought
our idea of leaving at 9pm was psychotic, but it actually turned out to be a
great plan.  We made record time out of Sydney and arrived at the Berridale
Hilton at 1:45am.

After a rainy night, we drove the short distance to Jindabyne and
breakfasted on healthy bakery treats, such as bacon and egg pies (what a
concept!).  We hired skies at Paddy's, drove to Dead Horse Gap, and were on
the slopes early.  We skied south up the Thredbo River until we came to a
bridge, crossed the bridge, and headed up the ridge on the other side.
Siobhan led the way at a great pace, and we were soon skiing down the other
side towards Cascade Hut.  We followed the fire trail and managed to ski all
the way down, with the snow only getting patchy towards the bottom.  But we
had no such luck in the Cascade Creek valley and had to walk the last 500m
to Cascade Hut.

Negotiating Cascade Creek was the trickiest part of the day.  Ben found a
spot just wide enough to jump across, and I did the same.  Siobhan had to
brave the freezing waters, shedding boots and socks.  We made ourselves very
comfortable in the hut as the rain started, and rejoiced when it turned to
sleet, and then snow.  The hut is one of the older ones in the park, with
hewn timber walls and a corrugated iron roof (with only a few holes!).  It
has a dirt floor, a table, sleeping platform for about 4, and most
importantly, a fireplace.  This we huddled around as we dined on cheese and
biscuits, chicken curry, macerated fruit, and daiquiris.

The snow turned back into rain overnight, but relented on Saturday morning.
Our task for the day was to meet up with Chantel and Jan, who'd driven down
for the weekend and were to meet us for lunch at the bridge over the Thredbo
River.  Rather than take the easy option of following the fire trail back,
we headed straight up onto the ridge line from the hut and down the other
side.  This shorter route was always going to be tougher because of the
scrub.  We learnt on the way up that scrub-bashing on skis has both upsides
and downsides.  The upside is that you sit above the scrub and don't get
scratched.  The downsides are that bushes get on top of your skis and
getting around trees with 2m skis is tough.

We reached the top in good time and established mobile contact with Jan,
telling him where we were and almost communicating where we were headed.
Unfortunately, he and Chantel thought we were camping on the mountain,
rather than in the Thredbo Valley, and came to meet us!  We skied on
obliviously, down an open valley.  This was our undoing, because we missed
the opportunity to retain the ridgeline before the valley ended.  Instead,
we were forced to bash sideways across a steep ridge that got harder and
scrubbier the further we went.  The snow hadn't settled on the steep slope
and we were bashing though scrub.  Walking wasn't any easier, because we'd
drop off the snow and fall through the bushes below.  Hours later, we
emerged into the valley.

We'd missed Chantel and Jan, and sent them on a wild goose chase up to the
mountain we'd just vacated (luckily by an easier route!).  We were cold,
tired, wet, and the snow was falling relentlessly.  Ben found a snow bridge
across the Thredbo River and we made camp on the other side.  I skied off in
search off Chantel and Jan, following tracks that were at least a few hours
old.  At 5pm, it was time to turn back for camp and I gave a few last cooees
from a mountain top.  I found out the next day that they'd heard my calls
and responded with whistles, but I didn't hear them.  Apparently, they had a
great night on the tops.

Back at our camp, we tried out the club's 3 person Snowdome tent, which was
quite comfy for 3.  It's not as well designed as an Olympus, but not bad.
The snow continued through the night and we made a late start on Sunday.  We
skied back down to the bridge.  Then Ben and I headed up the fire trail in
search of Jan and Chantel, while Siobhan played on a slope and then skied
back to the car to do some work (?!!!).  We found them towards the top and
skied various different routes back down.  It was an early trip back to
Sydney, via the Food Factory in Cooma of course.


PS.  No photos this time.  While throwing my pack over Cascade Creek on the
second day, the camera fell out of my pocket and into the water.  Expensive
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