Bill Barker is something of an institution/legend in the Victorian high country. He’s also the man who’s helping to keep you safe at Mt Hotham. With suggestions of some big snowfalls this winter (perhaps as soon as next week) it will pay to be careful out there. Bill talks about his job – the risks, rewards and why you shouldn’t underestimate the dangers of the Australian backcountry. Oh and yeah, we’ve included the infamous snow leopard video too …
With two deaths in the snow-laden Australian high country, another two within resort bounds and several other close calls, was it good luck or good management that Mt Hotham avoided casualites or a serious incident during the big snow falls of 2014?
Perhaps a bit of both; but it certainly helps when you have a man like Bill Barker in charge of your ski patrol.
Coronet Peaked? A lovely shot @backpackingmatt / Matt Kyhnn from Instagram. Pity about the snow, bro …
Sure they’ve won the last 239 Bledisloe Cups, have a government instead of a transit lounge and even enjoy cheaper beer.
But have you noticed just how quiet things have got in New Zealand when talk turns to snow right now?
Why, pray tell, I hear you ask? Because they’ve got none! And as Australians revel in a season that’s expected to just get better and better the word from the experts is that things may even get worse for our Kiwi cousins …
Great table service at Falls Creek. Pic: Falls Creek Facebook
Thredbo is measuring up in the village. Pic: Thredbo Facebook
Perisher: Table clearing got a bit sloppy today. Pic: Perisher Facebook
In deep at Mt Hotham. Pic: Mt Hotham Facebook
Mt Buller – holding up its end. Pic: Mt Buller Facebook
To me the marker of a great snow storm in Australia is what happens in Thredbo Village.
Located at 1365 metres, it’a a bit below the recognised level where snow regularly settles these days in Australia.
So when you’ve picked up 20cm there you know it’s on! That was the marker this morning with an estimated three times that amount up top with about 40cms at Antons. Wow.
And there was certainly no shortage elsewhere either.
Perisher was calling 40cm of snow in 24 hours by early in the morning with more coming down during the day.
Across the border Mt Hotham picked up and even 24cm in 24 hours while Falls Creek did the same.
Even Mt Buller got a decent drop – about 10cm overnight to give them an average base of about 30cm.
The great news is it has been cold – temperatures in the high alpine struggling to get past about -5 all day with wind chill making it feel like about -15c.
While the snow switch gets flicked off tomorrow the suggestion from the likes of Snowatch is it will remain cold through until next Thursday where another front could drop a further foot over three days.
Safe to say the season has started folks!
How do Australian ski resorts get new and casual skiers and snowboarders into the sport? Mt Hotham is doing a good deal this winter with a beginner pass but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
I don’t fall over myself to simply praise ski resorts – that’s what their social media and press releases are for.
But I will say this: Mt Hotham’s ‘Brand New Day’ $49 initiative to get new skiers and snowboarders into the sport is a good one – albeit only for a day.
If you weren’t aware on Saturday, June 25 they’ll be doing a deal where new riders get a pass and full day lesson as well as all gear (sans clothing) for the above mentioned price. Not bad eh?
But it also got me thinking. Couldn’t we be doing more to get people into the sport and also offer the odd carrot to casual skiers and snowboarders too?
The Snow Gauge explains:
- The key base prices across resorts in a table
- The word on season passes, right now
- Why one resort has a big spring advantage
So, all ski resort prices in Australia are pretty much the same, right? Well, ummm, not quite.
Ok, if you bowl up for a day, on the day, you’re not going to notice too much difference at the five majors.
But I actually discovered some not insignificant price variations on a range of products as you’ll see overleaf.