Powder Week Saves The Australian Winter

August 31st, 2009


Oddy Graham skiing 30cms of fresh that fell at Falls Creek last Wednesday.
Photo: Chris Hocking

Spring officially starts tomorrow but cold powder storms boosted the snow base across the Australian resorts last week.

Powder Day Of The Year At Hotham
Words by Steve Cuff

Rare powder in 2009
On a season like we are experiencing the blue bird powder day is a rare thing, let alone just quality blue-sky ski days. As a photographer watching and waiting for each week to improve it can be very frustrating indeed as the thick cloud sits atop of most resorts each week. After a short stay at Mt Hotham the decision was made to wait longer for another front that was rolling in from the southwest on Tuesday 25th August.

This season’s best storm?
Wednesday 26th delivered the goods and Mt Hotham staff were adamant that it was the best snow of the season, and I was glad I had stuck around the extra few days to wait for the storm to deliver a fresh layer of snow over the resort. The snow the previous week had been ok, and the sun did shine for a few brief days, but then it was back to pea soup fog for a few more days before one of the best storms of the season dropped about 30cm over 2 days of falls.

With a thick layer of cloud on the very top section of the mountain the search was on for visibility and premium snow, and our local guides found enough to satisfy my Nikon lens.

Ritchie Adams, Mount Hotham August 26 Photo: Steve Cuff

Scoring it at Hotham
Gotcha Ridge proved a winner as did venturing off the side of Beachamps and Sundowner very early while Wendix proved to be a flop although looking good from the high point of the chair. So a few more laps of Gotcha Ridge with some quality Hotham pow flying and it was all done and dusted. By mid morning we called it a day thanks largely to the best idea ever, opening the lifts early. If you have not been to Hotham before, you wouldn’t know that the Heavenly Valley chair opens at 7.30am 5 days a week! It’s something that just makes a great powder day and something other resorts should take on board.

The following day the sun did shine for half a day, but the other protagonist of this season – strong winds, had done its best to scour the mountain and ruin what was excellent snow. But that is how this season rolls, so it was nothing new and we were thankful we had the best of it.

The Storm Hits NSW
Words By Reggae Ellis

All eyes were on a front that was due to hit the Australian mountains on Monday August 24. The Mountainwatch forecasts were predicting anywhere from 20 to 40cms of snow and it was obvious it would be a make or break week for the season. If the snow came through we were looking good for September. If it only delivered 5 or 10cms it wouldn’t do much for the season’s longevity.

On Monday night the westerly winds picked up and 10cms fell across the Snowy Mountains and Tuesday morning had some excellent light dry snow. The weather closed in again that afternoon with consistent snowfalls up high, but drizzle down low. The wind was gale force overnight, but at first light on Wednesday morning it was obvious the front had delivered with over 10cms of snow on the table in my backyard in Thredbo, which meant at least double on the mountain.

Sebastian from Snocam.com.au launching the Thredbo Cornice above Golf Course Photo: Courtesy of ACE

The Powder Day Of The Year At Thredbo?
The strong winds forced a number of lifts on to hold, leaving only Snowgums and Gunbarrell open for first lifts. The trees below Gun Barrell were full of snow with boot-deep powder down to Dream Run. As more lifts opened during the day, the amount of snow that had fallen was obvious, with 30cms up top and some of the best skiing and boarding of the year.

The strong westerly wind blew in more snow over the next few days and by Friday there was twice as much snow above 1600 metres than the week earlier. The windblown powder was ridiculously dry and it kept blowing in all week and places like the Bluff, Cannonball, Golf Course, Sponars and the Michael’s Mistake area
were as good as they get.

It was one of those weeks, not only one that many Thredbo locals were
calling the best of the year, but one that may have just saved the

Oddy Graham making the most of fresh powder by dropping some of the biggest rocks on the Summit at Falls Creek. Photo Chris Hocking

That Thredbo Cornice did eventually collapse. A lucky escape for the skier. Photo: Courtesy of ACE

With that much snow and wind around last week, cornices are loaded and ready to drop like this one at Thredbo, fun and games until you get minced by car-sized cornice chunks. Photo: Courtesy of ACE

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