T

WO DAYS IN A ROW, stuck in the tent while it rains and sleets outside. Everyone’s going stir crazy. I think both Tom and I are running out of patience after our third game of Paddocks today. At least there are extra avocados right? But for some reason I can’t bring myself to get out and find where they got buried in the snow. Jack’s tent’s badly ripped, Andrew stood on and bent the poles in Tom’s tent, I’m beginning to think this trip is turning into an unmitigated disaster!

The story began with the rumour that there is some decent ice climbing to be had in the locale of Blue Lake, Kosciuszko National Park, NSW. This rumour spread among climbing acquaintances, leading to a surprisingly well organised plan to set out for Guthega and make our way up the Snowy River carrying climbing and camping gear on skis until we reached our destination where we could stay for several days and enjoy the climbing and skiing amusements to be had in the surrounding area.

When all had arrived at Guthega, I was somewhat surprised by the weight of my pack, easily the heaviest I’d ever carried for skiing or for bushwalking! Why oh why, so many avocados? At the base of a small hill, four of us stood taking bets and considering the likelihood of Owyong joining us in the upright position. The outcome really was hilarious, but despite the enthusiasm; inevitable. A sensible decision was made to return to the car and fetch snow shoes.

Blue Lake Skiing

Jack negotiating some icy conditions on the traverse around Blue Lake

The start of the track which climbs up following the Snowy River negotiates a number of steepish rolling hills. I distinctly remember cursing my stupidity on a number of occasions while trapped face first in snowy ditch, weighed down by an abundance of avocados. The light faded, and shortly after crossing the Snowy over an exciting cable footbridge and it was head-torch time. As the temperature dropped, the snow began to firm up, and a steep slope below our destination perfectly illustrated the advantages of skins. Those in the group with skins on our skis shot to the top of the slope, and after dumping packs, proceeded to enjoy a number of runs past our labouring friends who seemed to be sliding backwards more than forwards. Any trip to this area we would totally recommend taking skins to add grip to the base of your skis.

On the first clear morning, everyone excitedly clambered and rushed in a rather haphazard manner over the ridges and down to the side of Blue Lake, which was completely frozen over! Having been there in summer, I could never have imagined such an event. Tentatively, I watched the others ski out onto the surface, and followed soon after. Towering above us were many ice formations and mixed lines, some of which looked in my eye to be possibly 60m long.

Despite the fantastic ice conditions, we were beaten down, wet, and tired. Retrospectively sitting in here in a warm room, perhaps we should have stayed for some more type 2 fun? Talking to others about it, such good ice here in Australia appears to a rare occurrence. We instead beat a hasty retreat the next morning, and drove back home.