Roller Skiing Lake Mountain in Summer

Mt Tourbreck in the distance seen from the Alps lookout

Mt Tourbreck in the distance seen from the Alps lookout

It’s been ages since my last post but nothing to much interesting has been going on here lately. Since that last trip to baw baw in october out of season I’ve been really upping the amount of roller skiing I do. I’ve been rollerskiing various bike tracks around geelong so stop and say hi if you see me around geelong, I have never seen another roller skier in geelong other than myself.

After that trip to baw baw I’ve finally learnt how to use one skate techique, hopefull it tranfers to snow skis well! As well as that I have been working on my climbing and endurance. So when the opertunity came that the section from the toll booth to the resort at Lake Mountain was closed off from cars I had to roller ski it.

It was just me and my dad this time who went. Dad was a great help during the day as I got a lift back down the mountain, something you don’t want to do on roller skis!

I started the climb at around 10am from the toll booth. Just a quick warm up and I was off. Most of the climb you can do offset technique although there are slightly flatter parts where your tempted to one skate. I did that a few times and ended up wearing myself out even more because one skate can be very draining up hill.

There were about 30 other cyclists taking advantage of the car free road. Just about every one of them said hi or commented on what I was doing. Most of them said ‘looks like hard work’ I was wishing I had have rode my bike instead of using roller skis. The climb was 10km in total, by about 7km I’d had enough and was needing to take more frequent breaks on the side. It was very hard to push myself to keep going, my feet were very sore. Your feet seem to get used a lot more in roller skiing vs snow skiing because more muscles are needed to keep ballance on the roller skis. by the end I found myslef double polling becasue my feet and legs were so sore. It was such a relief to see the resort bulidings appear from the hills, I wasn’t far from the top just a few more steep sections to go.

Made it to the top on Roller skis!

Made it to the top on Roller skis!

Finnaly I reached the top. It was such a great feeling. My time was 1hr 04 which was 4 minuets off my goal, I am quite happy of that time regardless of it missing my goal. When I got to the top all the cylclists were watching me from the cafe, some one was even filming me come in. feels very strange getting so much attention.

After the ski I got to meet Sergeant Greg Paul who I have heard about in the cross country community. Greg is a very keen cross country skier who has even been overseas competting in the many loppets. Was great to meet him, hopefully I might see him again at this years kangaroo hoppet.

After a great lunch at the Alpine Burger Bar I went up to the summit for a little walk and to see some of the look out views. There weren’t too many wildflowers out but the ones that were out were pretty nice to see and photograph. The burnt out parts and regrowth make it a very spectacular and unique place.

The tracks were quite easy, one was a fire/acess trail that lead to the telecom tower near the top. The first few hunred meters are quite steep but it flattens out later. At the top you have the choice to go to the Alps lookout for a further 300m. The walk there is through a poorly maintained single track covered in wattle regrowth, but the walk is well worth it as the views are amazing. You get about a 180° view towards lake eildon and the yarra valley. From there you can see Mt Tourbreck and Mt Bullfight in the distance, both of which are covered in snow during winter. In the foreground you can see the rest of the Lake Moutnain plateu. I think this view would be pretty specatular in winter covered in snow.

Hopefully I’ll get up to Lake Mountain to roller ski again this year. You can see the times they are closing off the road again here

Nick

Advertisements

Video: Cross country skiing at Mt Baw Baw in october, late spring

Just a quick little video from last weeks trip to Baw Baw. Videos a little bumpy because it is very difficult to hold the phone while skating.

“A short video of Cross country skiing at Mt Baw Baw after a freak october 15cm snowfall on the 27th of october. Apologies for the bad camera work, it is dificult to hold the phone while skating. Mt Baw Baw is a small downhill & cross country ski resort east of melbourne in Australia. Well worth a visit even in summer to take advantage of the great mtn bike trails. A very small resort with a few t-bars and pomas, very nice intimate character to the resort. Doesn’t get much snow fall because of its elevation but very enjoyable after a big dump of snow.”

Nick

October skiing at Mt Baw Baw: 27th October

Alpine flora

Alpine flora

Just this time last week I was at Anglesea swimming at the beach in 30 degree heat. This weekend I went for a ski, yes a ski, at Mt Baw Baw in late october. I guess it’s just one of the many beauties of living in australia, the extreme diffence in weather we can get at times.

Following a week of cooler temprateures Mt Baw Baw revieved a good 15cm+ of snowfall. Baw Baw was the only resort to get a descent snow fall, others like Hotham were still green. Meanwhile up north firefigters were bravely battleing the west of sydney bushfires.

It seemed fiting to end the season on the place where I started my season at Baw Baw. So a last minute ski trip was on the cards from me saturday. From geelong it is a tiring 4hr drive, 15 minuets less than buller but you still have to drive up the painfully windy Baw Baw tourist road.

Up at Baw Baw in October with the Rossignols

Up at Baw Baw in October with the Rossignols

The drive is very picturesqe and has a far differnent feeling from the other resorts. The resort itself has its own unique character much different, I like to think of Baw Baw as a miniture version of Mt Buller.

The first ski of the day was a cross country ski to the summit via the summit trail. I did the ski on my skate skis as I don’t own any light classic skis right now. Skates were a bad choices as the snow was incredibly heavy, thick and slow. I think the reason why it was so odd was because of the previously warmed snowless ground. It was hard to describe, kind of like heavy powder with fallen icy chunks on top which sped you up at times.

Skating near the summit in thick snow

Skating near the summit in thick snow

The whole day was cloudy and misty with a temprature below 1° which helped prevent the snow from melting too much. Skating was difficult up the steeper parts of the track but past the summit and around the plateau part of Mt Baw Baw was the most enjoyable part of the day. Nice fast skiing on unspoilt almost powder like snow over undulating terrain.

The summit and carin, Snow was a little rain affected but not too bad

The summit and carin. Snow was a little rain affected but not too bad

After a good lunch at the Village Resturant I got out the Backcountry skis and headed out to the maltese cross T bar. The lift was closed but the lift track made a good consistant track for skinning or in my case tracks for my pattern base Madshus skis.

Champane and Hut run were definantly the best and most covered runs of the day. While Maltese cross and the aptly named ‘drops on the rocks’ run were barely skiable. There were many bare rocks, heaps of exposed heath and bare grass. Someone really needs to keep on top of the summer grooming. a lawn mower was needed on some of the runs.

The snow was so slow it didn't make much diffence going through bits with heath poking through

The snow was so slow it didn’t make much diffence going through bits with heath poking through

Surpsingly the heath covered parts were still skiable, I could still form a telemark. But the damage started to show soon after when I checked the underside of my ski.

Off to Tele with the Madshus skis

Off to Tele with the Madshus skis

Climbing tracks, pattern bases only let you climb up to a certain degrees

Climbing tracks. Pattern bases only let you climb up to a certain degrees

Runs were short and very flat, they felt even flatter because of the slow snow and lack of speed. After 3 climbs up I was done for the day.

It was nice to have my first backcountry (ok it wasn’t really backcountry but I’ll stick with slackcountry becasue there were no lifts or patrol) exerience. I learnt how to ‘earn my turns.’

Few short telemark turns. Snow quality made it difficult to form them

Few short telemark turns. Snow quality made it difficult to form them

Aside from the somewhat dissapointing skiing it was great to get some skiing in october to make the green season feel a little shorter. It was also nice to spend a day up in one of the most beutiful places in Australia instead of the low lands. Meanwhile in the oposite hemisphere the XC world cup is about to begin in a month. Will be nice watching Eurosport all summer, jumping on the bike and getting back up to the ski resorts in the green season. I might even try out Cross Country Mountain biking this season!

Nick

TR: Lake Mountain 25 August

This could be the last cross country ski for the year. Finally I got the opportunity to get up to Lake Mountain and It was probably the last day of skiable snow for a while as there was quite a bit of rain damage that had been done after some quite decent snow falls the week before. The snow was quite patchy but still a lot of people out skiing enjoying the warm conditions.

Marysville was bustling with visitors and early spring blossoms. The Stevenson river was running very quickly, probably from all this melting snow.

In the meantime there is no snow left at lake mountain because of this ridiculous heat wave. Today falls creek was 14 degrees, with a meter plus base! That can’t be good for this season. The weather gurus seem to be speculating theres something brewing on the 11th of September, so hopefully we get something out of that. It has been an incredibly short season at Lake Mountain, locals are saying it’s nearly as bad as the 2006 season this one.

Just a few pictures I’ll share this time, I’m running out of things to talk about after writing these trip reports about the same places! Lets hope theres a few trips abroad in the future.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nick

 

TR: Dinner Plain & Hotham 2-5 August

This year my parents booked in a family ski trip to Dinner Plain. I’ve only been to Dinner Plain once before a few years ago for a short cross country ski trip, this time they booked a house at dinner plain so we could ski Hotham and go for a cross country ski whenever we wanted outside our front door.

Rolling hills on the Great Alpine Road

Rolling hills on the Great Alpine Road

An early start to the morning and we headed off for Dinner Plain. The Omeo way sounded like the easier way to go as snow showers were forecast from the afternoon. The Omeo way takes about an extra hour longer than going through bright but offers a much different drive that travels through Gippsland, Lakes entrance and then the eastern side of the Great Alpine Road that passes the cute and charming sub-alpine town of Omeo.

The drive was full of sunshine. As soon we ascended the great dividing range we entered the storm, a very dramatic change from the sunny low lands we had driven through earlier. We arrived to a grassy Dinner Plain with no sight of snow on the roads or bushland. The higher we got snow stated to appear in a mix of rain. I was hoping that Dinner Plain would be covered in snow as we arrived but It was apparent that we had brought the snow with us. The snow really started to come down. Within an hour or more we had a good 5cms on the ground and dinner plain was transformed from a grassy summer scene to a snowy wintery Dinner Plain.

Our house was named ‘Chunk O Cheese’ mainly because it resembles the shape of a chunk of cheese. Dinner Plain was originaly designed by architect Peter Mc Intyre. The land was originally for cattle grazing and farming. Peter Mc Intyre established his own company and designed a entire village of houses suited to an alpine lifestyle complete with a town centre, lodges and restaurants. The houses are very unique and show some of the best architecture found in Australia. They are all very small, well designed to be cosy and homely. Our house had three floors and 6-7 beds yet it was smaller that our current home. One of the things I liked best was our house was right next to the cross country trails so you could go outside and ski whenever you want. Going outside for a twilight ski was a great experience I’ll never forget.

'Chunk O Cheese'

‘Chunk O Cheese’

The original purpose of the trip was to have somewhere to stay while I competed in the Hotham to Dinner Plain pub to pub ski race. Well that didn’t go to plan, the race was scheduled for Saturday and there was barely enough snow on the cross country trail for a race. So it was off to Hotham for some downhill skiing which was a place I have never skied before. Wait? this is a cross country blog isn’t it? well I decided to pick up Telemark skiing which I guess you could call cross country. It took me at least two half days to get the telemark turn the way it should be. It sure is difficult to find the perfect balance and weight distribution for telemark but when you do get it right It is so much fun to do and best of all you don’t have to skate on chunky heavy skis you can just classic ski like on normal cross country skis. Everyone says hotham is one of Victoria’s best ski resorts because of its advanced runs. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try any because I was learning to ski again. I’m sure I’ll appreciate Hotham more when I come back next time.

Telemark skiing Heavenly Valley

Telemark skiing Heavenly Valley

It snowed practically the whole time we were there, lightly most of the time but it was great it wasn’t raining for once during this season. Dinner Plain has to offer some of the best cross country skiing in Australia. It may not be the best snow and it certainly wasn’t groomed frequently but the the trails have a great atmosphere and feeling to them. The snow gums create a great shelter from wind and provide great scenery while you travel around the many beautiful houses. Once you reach the bottom of Dinner Plain you get great views of the Alpine National park and surrounding mountains.

Skiing on the Dinner Plain trail

Skiing on the Dinner Plain trail

I had a great skate ski while it was snowing to Jb Plain. I thought well I’m not going to be doing the pub to pub race so I should at least have a little ski on the Hotham-Dp trail. The trail is beautiful, your really amongst the snow gums here. The trail follows next to the Great Alpine Road and connects many different plains together. The plains are huge treeless areas which were most likely grazed/farmed for many years before. Little huts adorn the plains, I got to visit the hut at Jb Plain which is clad in timber and corrugated Iron. From dinner Plain it is an easy ski of 3km including return. I decided to go no further than Jb as it was getting dark and stormy, you’ve got to be careful you don’t get lost on the plains in low visibility. While I was at Jb Plain there was about 20 tents set up for camping. I saw a group of cross country skiers who looked like they were doing a beginners backcountry ski trip/tour. They had been practicing around Dinner Plain for days, I said hi to them when I saw them returning to their camp, one said they wish they could ski like me, but I’m not that good, If they had a go of skate skis instead of classic I reckon they could go just as quick. It was great to see so many people doing or trying cross country skiing around Dinner Plain, It has a great community feeling up there. On the way home I did the Dp loop which goes around the outside of the town. Nicely groomed it was an enjoyable downhill ski to the downhill run where I had a quick telemark ski on that mini run.

So the race didn’t run this year (unfortunately for the past 3 years it hasn’t run using the full corse) but I still had a great time exploring the Dinner Plain trails, Telemarking at Hotham and enjoying staying in Dinner Plain for a few days. I can still tick off doing a race this year as luckily I decided at the last minuet to enter the Bullfight charge. Dinner Plain has to be my favourite place to XC ski, can’t wait to come back there even In summer.

Nick

Find out more about Dinner Plain at the Visit Dinner Plain website

TR: Lake Mountain 28 July: Bullfight Charge and first telemark turns

The first trip to lake mountain this year! after a terrible start to the season this year for the first time this year it snowed (a skiable amount that is!) So you may remember from my previous post I tried to go to Lake Mountain on the tuesday earlier this week well my car just couldn’t cope with the long journey so we had to turn back. This time it was for real! we got in the Subaru up at 5am again. We had pasted Werribie where we broke down last time, that was nice and we were on our way by a supper quick western ring road (last year the whole freeway was 80km/h, this time most was 100km/h). We stopped in at Mystic Mountains ski hire to get our entry pass for a good price and I got to meet ski forum legend Teckel which was really cool.

Up though the entry gate there wasn’t too much snow left around, enough to cover the trails but nothing special. There were a few rocks and bare spots along the trails. The weather was forecast to rain, particularly in the afternoon, but the day stayed full of sunshine and patches of cloud as well as a little bit of winds. This year lake mountain removed the trail prices which seem to be helping introduce people to Cross Country because there seemed to be a lot more skiers than last year. Great to see everyone interested in cross country, keeping the sport alive.

In the XC gear and bib ready for the first race

In the XC gear and bib ready for the first race

Race time… I decided to enter the Bullfight Charge, an 8km ski race that my club Mt Bullfight ski club organises. The race started at helicopter flat and climbed all the way to panorama loop, we did the loop twice and came back down woolybutt (which looks horrendously steep coming down it!) back to helicopter. The race began quickly with double poling and ascended up hill. I should have conserved energy more consciously as I found myself double polling a lot just to get in between people because the tracks were so narrow. I came in to the race with the mindset “It’s not about wining, just do your best and have a good time” unfortunately It was beginning to come clear I would stay at the back of the race with no chance to catch up with the majority of skiers.

Me in bib No.24

Me in bib No.24

My lack of on snow experience was beginning to show I was starting to think “I actually reckon I am better at roller skiing than normal xc skiing, what? how is that possible? roller skiing is useless, it’s just for training” Well thats not entirely true, I do love to be able to do some skiing when I can’t get to the snow. I think some of my roller skiing had payed off, my balance did improve but I still have a lot of work to do.

I found my self running out of drive and energy to keep skating up hill. Now you will get no where if you don’t keep momentum going, skating from ski to ski and maintaing a glide. You must fight gravity, unfortunately It’s not as easy as it looks and seems like it may take years of refinement to get a good up hill pace.

Skiing in the race

Skiing in the race

I had been doing quite a fair bit of roller skiing before, this was especially frustrating as I was feeling confident with all the practice under my belt. But It was very apparent that I had neglected my snow skiing which is partly my fault and the rubbishy seasons fault too.

– Now you will get no where if you don’t keep momentum going, skating from ski to ski and maintaing a glide. You must fight gravity, unfortunately It’s not as easy as it looks

Back down to the finnish I went, Crossed the line. Most of everone had finnished before me, but who cares. I’m proud of myself for giving it ago. After all those hours watching the FIS cross country racers on TV over summer, watching Petter Northug’s amazing finishes or Kikkan Randalls amazing skating dominance I felt like one of them In my race, complete with race suit. Originally I felt embarrassed when I finished because I felt like I had came last, But In my mind I didn’t and now that I look back on it I should’t have been. I gained some great experience from it and I now know what to work on for my next race I am going to enter this friday: The dinner plain Pub to Pub.

On the new backcountry skis

On the new backcountry skis

After lunch it was time for a well earned ski on my new telemark skis. I was way to exhausted to go out on my skate skis again. Classic skiing can be so relaxing sometimes, even therapeutic. It was only a short ski but I did a few telemark turns on the way down. Wow it easy to telemark on those things! even on my first time I found it easy, not sure how I’ll go at Hotham on them but they sure were fun. Alex and dad skied on their own most of the day. Alex didn’t really have any problems with his blood sugars this time which was great news.

Alex wouldn't let dad use his iPhone 5's camera so dad had to take this photo of me telemarking on his rubbishy old iPhones camera

Alex wouldn’t let dad use his iPhone 5’s camera so dad had to take this photo of me telemarking on his rubbishy old iPhones camera!

We left Lake Mountain reasonably early. What a great day It was, great weather and an exciting race in one day. Can’t wait for my next cross country and telemark adventure at Dinner Plain this week. fresh snow is on the cards!

Nick

Well at least I made an attempt to get to Lake Mountain…

I thought this would have been the perfect car to take to the snow...

I thought this would have been the perfect car to take to the snow…

Finally I found a day to get up to lake mountain after the first skiable snow arrived on the 17th of july. The 17th of July!!! talk about a slow start to the season or what! Anyway I got up at 5am all packed ready to go, skis in my car and everything. We drove out of Geelong and as soon as we get to Werribie the engine light comes on! Fark…. so we kept on driving after consulting the manual it said we could continue our journey at a slow pace. If you went over 80km/h the car would shake, then if you were trying to merge into traffic the engine struggled at a mere 3000rpm! So we called it quits and drove the car into BMW.

I brought my car late last year for a bargain for about $13500. It is a 2005 118i BMW hatch, a very nice looking car with leather seats and lots of little features you get in some of the more expensive BMW’s. But I got $2500 bargained of the price because it had oil leaks and a few other little problems, it still has problems today… When we got to BMW they said it was one of the ignition coils. Thankfully it wasn’t a big engine problem so I didn’t have to consider getting a new car or engine, but they later revealed that there was more ongoing oil problems, so more money to fork out maintaining this car. If only it’s previous owners had taken better care of it…

The night before mum said to me “You should take the subaru, I don’t think your car can cope on long journeys”, “nah mum, its fine. I’ve taken it up and back to Melbourne, it was fine” If only I took their car…

Maybe it will be take two this weekend, damn cars!

Nick