Choppers and Sunsets…
What a weekend to have friends/family/visitors on the mountain…Friday night dinner out at one of the many fantastic restaurants on the hill. Saturday was bluebird, the International Poma back up and running, the mountain humming and a scenic chopper flight begged to be taken. Saturday night, the only downer was the Cats summarily beaten by the Hawks (again) and the Wallabies mauled by the All Blacks (again). On Sunday, the battle between cloud cover, snow flurries and the occasional burst of sunshine made goggle/lense selection the toughest decision of the day and set up somewhat of a gamble as we confirmed our sunset snow mobile tour.
The weekend was a little unusual, insofar as 50% of our visitors didn’t ski, board or XC…so the challenge of what to do with them, when you only have a one track ski mind was initially quite perplexing. But, one call to the activities desk, some great customer service and boom…the weekend was sorted for all concerned. Whilst on great customer service - a special thanks to Maureen up at Cloud 9 and her insight into “glove wear”...
Whilst I didn’t participate in the scenic flight, the photo’s looked amazing…the Bogong High Plains contrasting against the many peaks and valleys of this astonishing landscape…the village, ski fields and car parks bustling with people enjoying Falls Creek in all its glory. It is through the eyes/lense of those who don’t know the mountain, the surrounding landscape, or our little village who put perspective on the good fortune of those of us lucky enough to call Falls Creek home, or “my mountain”.
I have skied many of the slopes, both in and outside the boundaries of the resort. Last year, I took my boys and wife out the back with Steve Lee and enjoyed spring skiing like no other mountain in Australia can offer. It was a moment I thought would take some time to match... Sunday nights’ snow mobile tour was another of those “pinch me” moments, where we were fortunate enough to share it with family. Whilst the sun attempted to light the landscape in hues characteristic of the alpine, once the sun went down, the ghostly shadows cast by the carcasses of snow gums once brimming with life, now charred and desolate, was haunting to say the least. Thankyou Doug for an amazing tour! To anyone with guests and wanting to get some perspective on the vastness of the High Plains, this is a great way to share the experience.
Whilst on the summit of McKay with the sun having kissed the horizon, the temperature dropped markedly and the wind began to cut and seep through every layer of gear we were wearing. At that point, my mind thought of the amazing bravery and selflessness displayed by members of our community who dropped everything (most on a well-earned day off actually) and headed out to rescue a distressed and severely injured skier on Mt Bogong. The search and rescue personnel from the relevant authorities called upon members of our community, namely ski patrol and SES members, all volunteers, to employ their amazing courage and skills to initiate the search and rescue. Reading an account of events by Falls Creek Ski Patrol Manager - Matt O’Keeffe, the challenges presented by the extraction and the application of some specialised techniques involving use of equipment that few are skilled to effectively deploy, was testament to why we are extremely fortunate to have such members in our community. The lucky skier, post extraction, required surgery after an exhausting rescue for all concerned.
The rescued skier was an experienced backcountry enthusiast with the appropriate gear and clothing which significantly assisted their resilience in what were very trying conditions. So, a gentle reminder that having appropriate equipment and the right system of layering – base layer, mid layer, insulating layer and shell, gloves, beanie etc should always been worn. Conditions in the Alpine, even just in the village, can change in an instant…be prepared, well protected and safe.
This weekend, I look forward to seeing many of you who are participating, cheering, volunteer and supporting the Kangaroo Hoppet, as Falls Creek celebrates the 25th anniversary of the event and we showcase Australia’s premier cross country mountain.
Now carry on and kick and glide...
Pic: Chris Hocking