[SUBW-A] Trip Report - Skiing (in the snow!)

Richard Wood rwood at Physics.usyd.edu.au
Tue Jul 30 14:07:30 AEST 2002

Trip Report - 2 weeks in the snow - Guthega - Jagungal Wilderness - Guthega 
- Guthega - Guthega - Guthega (or so it seemed...) - Main Range (Blue Lake 
+ ice climbing)

People: Alex and me and all those various other people who have written 
reports for their various stints... and Andrew Jacob and Andrew Mitchell 
for the ice climbing

Alex might have some additions/changes to this he may want to post...

As per Bad Dave "the Door Sausage" "B.S." Noble's (we also noticed that 
entry in the logbook..) report a couple of weeks ago, we headed down for 
the weekend of the 13th with Siobhan and Dave "the Door Sausage" "B.S." 
Noble, and as a result, we'll have to be moving a motion that Dave "the 
Door Sausage" "B.S." Noble's digital video camera be turned off at all 
times when essential bushwalking fluids are being consumed...either that, 
or we need an alternate recording device so that we can correct the false 
editing of Dave "the Door Sausage" "B.S." Noble.

However, we were thankful for the help in lightening our packs of the 
vintage port - after the saturday night we didn't really want to touch it 
again for several days anyway.

Thus we headed off on the sunday afternoon for Consent Stephen's Pass, 
heading up Pounds Creek and then over Tate, visibility was pretty bad 
though, and we seemed to be finding lots of knolls that weren't Tate, but 
it eventually cleared enough for us to see the 70m or so to Tate just as we 
were sidling beneath it, so we headed up and bagged it. Then it was a ski 
down the main bowl into the Guthega River valley for camp, a rather 
interesting descent due to low visibility, crap snow + ice, and darkness 
descending...but we eventually got down with the stars beginning to appear, 
and set up camp. The next morning dawned so nice, that we headed back up 
Tate for some great views, then with the sun softened surface, had a great 
run back to camp.

It was then that we decided that, even after a massive food dump at 
Guthega, and a box with Andrew Jacob, we still had way too much food, so we 
dug another pit, and dumped yet more food to pick up on the way back. Then 
it was beautiful weather for the ski along the rolling grounds, 
unfortunately still rather icy though...and down past Dicky Cooper Bogong 
to Schlink Hut, where a group from Newcastle Uni were already set up for 
the night, rather studiously cramming a book of  "109 telemark tips". The 
next day, the weather was closed in, so we took the low road with Newc Uni 
to Valentines hut for lunch, and managed to spot a "frozen" wombat on the 
way - the only reason we knew he wasn't frozen in the snow, was that over 
about 10 mins, his head moved about an inch, and when we came back 4 days 
later, he was at least 100m away from where we spotted him...

Grey Mare hut was the destination for the night, and to our (and their) 
surprise, there were two other parties already there. One guy was from the 
army, and was doing the Kiandra to Kozi, and showed us his pair of skis 
which he had drilled the base grip in himself. Anyway, a warm night was had 
by the fire, then with the weather rather sh tty the next day, we had a 
relaxed morning before heading too Dershkov's for some serious warmth with 
the Ultimate 500. Here there was another party! Thus the double glazed hut 
was soon a sauna, and T-shirts and shorts became mandatory. That afternoon, 
the snow was falling, but with nothing else to do, Alex practicised his 
tele's whilst i headed part way up the big J (mt jagungal), With the 
weather pretty blistering above the trees, the skins came off just before 
the final up bit, and then it was an awesome run down on the freshly laid 
powder amongst the trees.

The next morning saw Alex cook up some "egg and bacon" smells for the other 
guests the fact that we didn't have any egg or bacon caused us some 
amusement.... But then it was up the big J for real, hitting the top about 
11 or so i think, with fine weather it was awesome views, and we sought to 
recreate some photos of people jumping through thin air that we had seen in 
Dave "the Door Sausage" "B.S." Noble's Sydney Morning Herald from the 
previous weekend. Thus we launched ourselves off the summit marker with the 
main range in the background....not sure if they were quite as good as the 
ones in the herald though... The run down was great, as always, but as we 
got to the bottom, Alex turned to head back up for a few extra turns when 
he noticed that rather than having a ski that was nice and long and 
straight, it was actually broken in two. Since he had only the previous 
week paid $200 for the skis, he was rather not impressed. The scales and 
the edges held together though, so after creating a big SUBW sign in the 
snow for Roger Dave and Nips to find us to refresh our port supplies, we 
were able to limp back to Mawson's Hut for the night. On the way, a plane 
flew low overhead towards Jagungal, 5 mins later, after it had flown over 
the spot where we had left the big U and arrow SUBW sign, it flew back over 
head checking us out... At Mawson's we were hoping to pick up a single ski 
i'd seen floating around the hut a couple of years ago. alas, it was 
gone... There was, however, an igloo built outside, and after draining the 
last few drops of port from the bladder,  and with no sign of fresh 
supplies from R,D+N we escaped the rats to crash in the igloo for the night.

Next day was the low route again because of the broken ski - back to 
Valentines, then the road back to Munyang. We also saw the ski doo's - and 
it turned out they were the Snowy Mountains Authority - whose donut tracks 
showed they were doing  essential water surveys...wouldn't it figure 
cheaper to pay someone to do the same by ski instead of investing in those 
ridiculously noisy and expensive things...?? <end rant..>
Anyway, on the way out, we met up with a guy who was able to give Alex a 
lift back out from Munyang to get some new skis. thus Alex and i split up 
at Horse Camp Hut, where i headed back up to the tops to collect the food 
drop and after leaving the tent with Alex, had to dig a snow cave at the 
site of our previous camp in the Guthega River (not actually in the 
river..). The snow cave was rather hotch-potch though, cause i'm kind of 
lazy, and couldn't really be bothered digging anything bigger, and it 
managed to turn a bit wet when the snow started drifting in that night...

With the weather not very nice the next morning, Guthega was reached via 
Guthega River, where i was hoping to meet up with the rest (Mitch and co.). 
Since they weren't around when i arrived, the rather empty Guthega resort 
was taken advantage of to dry out all my gear, and eventually i discovered 
Chantelle and Jan waiting outside, who eventually discovered that Mitch had 
broken down in Jindabyne...So after some mobile phone conversations, Jan, 
Chantelle and I headed up the main valley to meet up with Roger and co., 
which we did, just as some seriously wet snow soaked us to the skin. see 
their report for that weekend....

Sunday afternoon saw us meet up with Andrew Mitchell then Andrew Jacob in 
Guthega, where we picked up a bunch of ice climbing gear and more food (we 
always seemed to have way too much food...) for the next week. It was back 
to the same camp for the night, then up to Blue Lake the next day with 
ridiculously heavy packs, where we spent the whole afternoon building the 
luxurious snow cave that no-one took us up on the offer of sleeping in last 

The next 2 days saw us climbing a couple of pitches of ice around the lake, 
with the ice being in really good condition. Alex and I were new to the 
sport, but had a great time with it under the tuition of the Andrew's, 
especially Alex, who kept zooming up and down. Back at the snow cave Andrew 
M enticed us with some great smelling food, and always seemed to manage to 
have it cooked about an hour before anyone else... Both Andrews had to 
leave on Thursday though, so we hauled the gear back to Guthega, where we 
hoed into some amazingly tasty choc mint slice, tomato soup, baked beans, 
bread and a can of fruit we had left in Andy's car. This was our last 
opportunity that we knew of to get back to Sydney, hence the desperate plea 
transmitted via Andy for accommodation/lift swapping...But it was back out 
to Blue Lake again for the night....now counting 6 trips forwards and 
backwards from Guthega...and Alex getting slightly pissed that we'd given 
up our last known chance of getting back to sydney...

But back to the snow cave, where we emptied the tent, and took up complete 
residence inside. That night, snow started coming down, and the wind picked 
up considerably. When we went to bed, it wasn't too bad though, so we 
didn't really consider it too much. By morning though, it appeared that our 
entrance had kind of filled up a bit with snow...but there was still light 
coming through, so we lounged in bed, reading and what not...when we 
finally got up, we realised that our entrance had been reduced to less than 
a foot...which turned into actually less than a couple of inches, which 
turned into, on closer inspection, absolutely nothing...with the entrance 
being totally filled with snow...hmmm.....anyway, we hadn't suffocated, so 
we pushed through the snow, made a hole, and rediscovered 
daylight...outside, the snow drift was rather dramatically increased in 
snow, with a lot of loose snow hanging about. since this was funnelling 
into the cave, i took a step sideways to clear a bit, when, this is the 
part where you hear about the tent..., the slope gave way. On a positive 
note, the tent did look rather funny as it got absolutely crunched by the 
moving snow. on a negative note...the tent is now in pieces, and it and i 
ended up about 10m down hill from where we started, with a crown of about a 
foot of snow across the slope shifting with us...it seems that the cold and 
icy conditions of the previous night had created a layer that didn't really 
bond too well with the rapid accumulation of drift snow...anyway, i guess 
the lesson is to build snow caves right near the edge of snow drifts, not 
towards the center...A rather frantic digging out of the snow cave 
followed, as the slip had removed any previous trace of the entrance to the 
cave with Alex inside... meanwhile, Alex was sitting oblivious to events 
inside the cave, which was unaffected, and waited for me to dig out the 
extra bit of snow that had for some reason dropped inside the entrance.... 
But Alex was rediscovered ok, and tents and skis were located soon after. 
The pretty new red club snow shovel was burried though  - so Alex and I 
spent the next 3 hours probing then digging for it. By the end, we had dug 
out a strip a couple of metres wide up the whole slope with our skis 
searching for the shovel (we thought it might come in handy now we didn't 
have a tent..) - after digging right up to the entrance, we had almost 
given up hope, when a couple of kicks to clear the entrance revealed a hint 
of red metal in the snow, and the shovel was found...buried in the soft 
snow across from where it initially stood. celebratory chocolate was had, 
then the tent was inspected, and found to have a couple of broken poles, 
some rips along the seams, a few holes, and some guy ropes completely 
ripped off (showed the pegs held!)...so i guess that's something we might 
need to get repaired soon...oops

thus after that, many plans were hatched and changed, starting from, lets 
get the truck out of here asap...to lets find the shovel...to maybe we can 
stay one more night...to yeah, it should be ok now, and its a bit late to 
exit anyway... so after an afternoon ski across the lake, it was back to 
the cave, where we decided to leave the next day. This left us with the 
remnants of our alcohol and tasty food to be consumed before the next 
morning...thus the only beer was cracked, drank, and was soon followed by 
noodles, then the wine that Andrew M had left us was brought out. Some 
really dodgy vodka and orange, again left by Andrew (we'll blame him!), was 
produced, and was somehow put away as we enjoyed a nice curry, meanwhile 
the cards were out, and Alex was trouncing me in some strange form of 
Rummy, which of course had to be accompanied by our last supplies of rum. 
As the game changed to Warlords and Scumbags, fortunes changed, and the 
remaining white chocolate disappeared. This left us with only the remnants 
of another cask of port, which was finding difficulty in getting down as 
fruit cake and custard was cooked up. Finally with another round of cards, 
the remaining port was finished, with one of the last bits sacrilegiously 
knocked onto the ice. Thus hardly able to move, we crashed out, checking to 
make sure that another foot of snow hadn't built up outside...

Next morning, and the day was a beauty, that and some rather content 
bellies slowly worked on our minds to change from leaving asap, to... we 
could stay, to... lets go for a big tour! So it was up out of bed, 
breakfast largely ignored due to us eating enough the previous night to 
last a week, then skis on, up across Blue Lake and up to Carruthers Peak. 
Conditions were unfortunately still icy though, but the weather was great, 
so plans were hatched to ski across to Townsend, take in some bowls, then 
up to Kosziuosko (sic??). A nice run was had, and some good views were 
taken in, then up top of Kozi, we lunched with no less than 15 others - 
although this sounded sparse when we were later talking to someone who 
mentioned a fine day up Everest attracted 59 people last year!
Back at the snow cave, we were left with no supplies of chocoloate, alcohol 
or other essentials for the night for some reason, so had to settle for 
some bourghul and tuna...

Unfortunately, no-one took us up on the offer of staying in the cave on the 
saturday night - maybe everyone else knew something...and i guess it was 
now lacking an external bedroom so the property value must have 
diminished...so on sunday morning, we headed out back to Guthega by 11am 
(counting 7 trips back and forwards now..). Alex, not learning very 
quickly, mistakenly headed back to the car park, so i had about 10 mins to 
enjoy the nice cold beer at the Guthega Alpine by myself before it clicked 
for him. Alex was also keen to get hitch hiking early, but was convinced to 
stay for another beer and wait for the kitchen to open up for some nachos. 
This ended up proving an essential delay, as just as we were getting our 
gear organised at the car park, an old friend from the blue mountains came 
up - he was travelling back to Bathurst in a full car, but hey, it just 
happened that another guy they knew was driving back to Sydney by himself 
and could take us...So the moral of the story is - have another beer, and 
it will always work out...that, and don't build your snow cave in the 
middle of a drift...

will have some photos of the first half developed for the slide night on 

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