[SUBW-A] Trip report - a five day ski tour

Roger Butler R.Butler at lake.com.au
Wed Sep 11 18:56:20 AEST 2002

Party members - Stephen Bray, John Atkinson, Jan Hu, Chantel Chong, Siobhan
Toohill, Richard Wood
It's a wonder that we all made it to the snow, really.  Stephen came from
Hobart via Newcastle.  Acko drove solo from Wollongong.  Chantel and Jan
almost missed us on the Saturday morning because we were early.  Siobhan had
three hours sleep in the last 48 hours and a busted finger.  Richard almost
didn't get a lift.  I had to pick a friend up from the airport and left
really late.

But we all gathered at Guthega on the Saturday morning and skied up Guthega
Creek towards Consett Stephen Pass.  We camped beside a creek below the pass
in a fantastic, protected campsite.  The afternoon was sunny and we headed
up Mt Tate in various separate parties, some of us doing it twice.  The view
from the top was awsome, and the snow up there was also good.  Jan showed
off the benefit of his recent tele lessons, carving beautiful esses down the
slope.  And as always, Richard found a few good cornices to leap off.

After setting up camp, Jan dug a table and chairs in the snow using a
shovel, and we all sat around it to make dinner on a beautiful, windless
night.  We sat out there playing cards and chatting until the cold finally
set in.

Sunday morning started ominously, with thick fog keeping us in bed for a
sleep in.  But it cleared and the sun beat down as we climbed out from the
campsite to the pass.  Acko, Stephen and I carried our full packs up as we
were continuing on for another three days.  We ventured out along the
Rolling Grounds for a while, before descending into Windy Creek.  For some
reason, no one would join me for a swim in the creek, even though I'd found
a good swimming hole that wasn't snowed over.

We split into three parties at this stage.  Chantel and Jan skied up the
creek to the pass and back down to the campsite.  Richard and Siobhan
checked out Tate West Ridge.  While Stephen, Acko, and I climbed back onto
the Rolling Grounds and headed for Schlink Pass.  The others returned to
Guthega just as the shady slopes were icing over and had a good trip back to

Our weather reports suggested that the next day, Monday, would be fine, but
bad weather would set in on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Neither Stephen or I had
ever been up Mt Jagungal (although I'd tried twice and Stephen had done it
in summer, which isn't the same) and set it as a target for the trip.  John
had been there only a few weeks before, so wasn't as keen as we were.  To
avoid the bad weather, this meant we had to summit the next day and had to
get to a good halfway point that evening.  So we skied at full pace down to
Schlink Pass and up onto the Kerries.  The sun set magnificently as we were
halfway along the range and we continued on compass bearings, and eventually
followed a lone skier's recent tracks.  Acko was following us and correctly
deduced that we were taking a long cut.  He descended to camp on the
Valentine's River.  We continued following the tracks by torchlight until
they stopped abruptly where the skier had stacked it badly.  The tracks then
became footprints and I guessed that we'd soon find a tent with a single
occupant.  But no, the tracks continued wandering through the trees for at
least another 2km until we found our destination, Mawson's Hut, at around
8:30pm.  Inside we found Jason, a guide from Katoomba, who was on day 40 of
his Alpine Track traverse.  We forgave him for getting lost in daylight
because he had never been to the area before.  

Sunday night was cold and the snow had frozen nicely.  Monday was gorgeous
and we rose for an early start.  John skied in just as we were about to
leave, and opted for a ski to Valentine's Hut.  Stephen and I made great
time on fast snow, finding good snow bridges over the Valentine and Geehi
Rivers.  As we began the final ascent up Jagungal, the snow started to ball
up, aiding the climb.  We summitted around 11:30am in very windy, but fine
conditions.  The view south to the Main Range, and north to Round Mountain,
were spectacular.

Stephen had some wax in his kit bag, which stopped the snow balling up, and
made the descent really fun.  The snow was perfect and our legs were aching
from telemarking when we reached the bottom. We had lunch and made our way
leisurely south again.  We detoured over some interesting looking hills and
arrived back at the hut around 4pm.  We settled in for a warm night around
the Ultimate 500 stove, enjoying the extensive Mawson's Hut library.  Acko
had an especially merry night when he mistook the port bladder for the water
bladder and poured himself a full cup.

Unfortunately, the strong north-westerly winds brought lots of overnight
rain.  It was blustery and horrible the next morning as we made the decision
to ski for Tin Hut.  An older couple who'd camped on the Geehi that night
skied in around 10am and were very appreciative of a hut to dry out their
belongings.  We skied along Valentine's River into deteriorating conditions.
The compasses were pulled out as the mist set in, and we skied accurately
and quickly to the hut with a strong tailwind.

When we arrived around lunchtime, we found the hut occupied by two girls who
were yet to make it out of bed.  Our enthusiasm prompted them to venture
into the murk and we also skied around a bit in the afternoon.  With five of
us in the small hut, the night was warm and cheery.

The next day was similarly windy and the girls disappeared into the fog and
up towards Gungarton Pass.  We headed up onto the Brassy Mountains and found
some half pipes to practise falling into.  After an early lunch, we also
headed up into the fog and navigated our way up to the pass and over the
other side to the Schlink Hilton.  Here we met the girls and the older
couple who'd skied into Mawson's Hut two days earlier.

Our final task was to ski down to Munyang where we'd left John's car.  We
took the aquaduct road and were surprised that the snow was still pretty
good after the recent rain and hot weather.  John headed on to Canberra,
while Stephen and I began the long drive back to Sydney. 


I've put some photos on www.photoisland.com, username rogerbutler, password
guests.  Be quick because they'll probably only be there for a week or so.
PhotoIsland are cutting down their services and some photos may disappear.
If anyone knows a good photo website then I'm on the look out again.  The
requirements are that it must have a good display resolution as well as
allow full resolution photos, must display the filename as the image title,
and have plenty of account space.


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