Great story by self confessed Snow It All, Rachael Oakes-Ash, in Sydney Morning Herald:
“You know you’re in a good season when you have to traverse the stairs.” “I haven’t skied till last lifts since I was twenty five, twenty five years ago.” “Can’t speak, my teeth hurt from smiling.”
White heaven: Falls Creek has been buried under a blanket of snow.
These are just some of the comments I overheard on the chairlift at Thredbo and Perisher this week. It would be an understatement to say Australia is frothing from a double header snow storm that left behind two metres in New South Wales and almost a metre and a half in Victoria.
The two storms dubbed ‘Snowmaggedon’, ‘Snowpocalypse’ and even ‘Snowzilla’ hit the alpine regions of Australia from Monday June 23 to Sunday June 29, turning resorts from warmed-up gravel to white powder goodness. Local businesses, including luxury accommodation agency Visit Snowy Mountains, were down 19 per cent on bookings before the storm and have now seen a 265 per cent increase on enquiries.
Put simply, records have been broken. This year is the first time Falls creek has all lifts open in both weeks of the July school holidays. The resort went from no lifts to all lifts, with all terrain open in eight days thanks to 134cm of snowfall – the biggest June snowfall since 1991.
Falls sister resort, Hotham, also broke records opening all lifts in just seven days with the highest accumulated snowfall by July 1 since 2002, and the highest natural snow base by July 1 since 2000.
Even Mt Buller, who didn’t receive the full brunt of the blizzard, had their best start to a season in seven years with more terrain open in the middle of the July school holidays than they have in the past decade.
“We’ve been skiing runs earlier this year than we have in any other season in the last ten years, including Wood Run, Sun Valley and Wombat Bowl,” said David McNamara, Mt Buller spokesperson.
But not all the figures have been in every resort’s favour. Social media statistics for the week of white gold goodness revealed two resorts leading the Facebook wars by miles, with the rest lagging behind.
Snow storms are social media gold, especially when you can post images of snow depths and let your followers share the word for you. Perisher and Falls Creek both had an impressive 80 per cent engagement while the rest managed anything from 27 to 32 per cent – clearly they just went skiing, no ‘friends’ on a powder day.
But what of the snow you ask? Let’s just say my thighs have serious powder burn as I was lucky enough to hit first tracks on all storm days, including lapping thigh-deep heaven in The Bowl at Thredbo, when the only other tracks were from ski patrol last Sunday, first tracks down The Bluff at Thredbo on Monday, followed by first chair and endless first tracks at Guthega at Perisher on the new $4 million Freedom Chair.
Storm claims two lives
The storm has also resulted in tragedy. At Mt Buller, it claimed the life of a seven-year-old boy who was caught under a melting slab of snow as it fell from a roof. He wasn’t found until it was sadly, too late. Our hearts go out to his family.
The talk in Thredbo is about the avalanche at HipCheck, an out-of-bounds closed run that has already claimed one life in 1998, and this year buried a Sydney man under two metres of snow. If it wasn’t for a pocket of air and the seriously good work of Thredbo Ski Patrol, he would not have lived to duck under another rope again. Closed means, closed for a reason.
And today, more sad news from the ski fields with the death of a snowboarder at Perisher, who was discovered in a creek at 11.30pm last night after he failed to show up for work. Stay safe out there people.
Is there more snow on the way?
Why yes, I believe there is. Come Wednesday, another 50cm is predicted to fall in a two- to three- day snow storm, followed ten days later with more snowfall. Ski glove fingers crossed it all goes according to plan.
You have to feel for New Zealand right now. They started the season with a mega late May dump that was followed up by rain, and thanks to the warmest June the country has experienced in over a century, a number of resorts had to delay their openings.
However things are looking up; 20 to 35 cm of snow has fallen this week; The Remarkables finally opens today with the new Curvey Basin chairlift accessing some of the best terrain going; and more snow forecast for the weekend.
Treble Cone opens tomorrow with untouched fresh powder tracks up high just begging for some turns. Let’s hope our blizzards make it across the ditch so we can share the sore tooth pain of smiling while skiing face shots of powder.