Snow Safari 2013

8:44 pm Unknown 0 Comments

This winter has been pretty mild. We are now in Spring, but before the last of the snow season had finished up, I had to get up to the slopes at least once. It has been a pretty full schedule of training and racing on the bike, so it was going to be difficult to squeeze in some snow days around it all.

The first few times I had some free days/weekends, the snow base was under 1metre which makes for patchy sad times up at the resorts. In Australia there are fees to get into the resorts, lift tickets are around  $90-$100 a day and on top of that, if you don't have your own gear you have to hire board/ski, lessons are again pricy - all up, it is a pretty expensive hobby.

I've been pretty lucky to meet some great people who organise a snow trip or two each year that they call Snow Safari. I've been going on and off for a few years and they do great deals for such a large group to travel up to Mt Hotham.

There were 2 buses leaving Melbourne. I jumped on at Spencer St and quickly got enthralled by my new iPad. We had a quick dinner at the Ovens Pub and then I promptly fell asleep for till about the last 10km up to Hotham when the bus driver started yelling "It's not that bad!" and I awoke to a world of white. It's the first time the fog has been so bad we could only see the orange line on the side of the road and the flashing lights on top of the orange poles for guidance. Though I knew each twist and turn from training and racing on those roads!

Yael and I ready for Snow - Safari style 

The next morning it was blowing a gale outside and the visibility was intermittent, but I was excited to be up there. It was first run of the season and my companion of the weekend Yael was cautious after taking last season off for hip surgery. I was a little cautious after my shoulder surgery, but dropping into the first run and making the first few turns - it was just like riding a bike - you never forget.

The snow was good and pretty dry for the day, however due to the crazy winds there were only 3 lifts open so it was black run weekend! We'd take Heavenly Valley lift up to the top each time and get our heads ripped off by the wind and ascend into the clouds like Monkey Magic. You could only see a few meters ahead and pick the terrain by the movement of the ski jackets ahead of you if you were lucky, or remembering a few key terrain points from the lift ride up. Once you got a little way down out of the clouds, it was great! Coverage was awesome and there was no ICE!

Sitting on side of a run taking pics just out of the fog line

By the end of the day we ski'd till they closed the lift and we had to go back to the village. It was great to get that last run where there was nobody there, the fences were down and you could pick lines that were your own on the soft snow.

That night we partied like it was 1999 and were in bed by midnight ready for the next day. I had only planned to snowboard for 2 days, so I had to make the most of it. We woke to a clear morning and rolling clouds, there might be some SUN in there! Today was the planned dress up day - so I donned my Zebra onezie over the top of the snow gear and headed out for the day.

Camouflaged with the snow - Zebra ready to snowboard!

After a few test rides on the Summit, we headed back down to Heavenly Valley to find out The Orchard was open! Last year I had some great fun over there and Yael had never been, so we went over with 1/2 the rest of the mountain. The lines were long, the runs were short and patchy. We found some mates out and about and headed back to Heavenly for coffee.

Not so secret Schnapps Bar at the Joyce Brockhoff Hutt - a pioneer in Women's skiing 

There was some junior ski racing on Snake Gully that looked awesome, but pushed the crowds to the other runs and carved up the main runs into moguls faster than expected. This switched the game plan around so we had a late lunch and went back to find the race finished up and we got to ride the race track as it was not chopped up!

That finished the day on a high note for me, we headed back to the Village when they closed the lifts and got ready for another night out. The vibe was gone from the previous night so it was in bed by 10pm and finally a sleep in for me.

Mt Hotham - Breast Cancer Fireworks

Yael sent me a SMS when I was at breakfast at how awesome the fresh groomed morning runs were! I spent the morning packing up, sipping coffee, having a massage, reading my new ebook and a light lunch before lining up for the bus home.

SMS pic from Yael - looks YUMMY!

I had a good weekend away. It would have been better with Shane up and running at full strength with us and always more snow, but there will always be next year!

Snow + Coffee = LOVE!

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