Mount Hotham Australian

Snowy Mountains Skiing

Friday, August 03 2007

Lawrence looking very happy about going skiing.

I got up early and was picked up by my brother Lawrence in his Land Rover for our ride up to the Snowy Mountains. Lawrence’s Land Rover is now just 9,000 kilometers short of completing one million kilometers (621,371 miles); Lawrie does like to get his monies worth out of his investment in vehicles.

It was a lovely drive up to the snowy mountains.

We were joined by Steve and Cynthia, and their two children Riana and Brendon. They were in their own vehicle as the Land Rover was packed full of our gear for the week ahead.

Mount Hotham is located in the north west region of the state of Victoria in Australia. Yes, I know snow covered mountains are not in most people’s view of Australia but they are there.

Click here to see the general route we took.

We were headed for a small village just before the ski resort of Mt. Hotham called Dinner Plain. Dinner Plain is a very beautiful little village.

This photo is sun rise over Dinner Plain as seen from the apartment we stayed in.

Saturday, August 04 2007

Andy the snowboarder.

My good friend and skiing (or I should say snowboarding) buddy Andy joined us later that Friday night. We all headed to Mt. Hotham for a day of skiing. The weather was a bit nasty on the Saturday, very fogy, cold, and it snowed most of the day. But this was no deterrent for the hardened skiers.

Well actually Lawrence was not able to start his Land Rover in the morning due to some diesel fuel he bought in Omeo that was not compatible with the very cold temperatures we experienced. He got it going later that day and joined us skiing after spending many hours with a hairdryer on his fuel lines. When we left the ski fields that afternoon Andy had to tow the Land Rover back to Dinner Plain as it stopped on its way back and would not start once again. I wish I had a picture of Andy’s little Subaru towing the two ton Land Rover through the snow!

Lawrie the Land Rover mechanic.

Mt. Hotham is a very demanding ski resort. The runs are not long in relation to many North American resorts but, far more difficult to ski. Many of the runs are very steep and it is the place to ski natural gullies. The snow conditions can change fast at Hotham. From powder to ice sheets in one day. At Mt. Hotham they like to say: “if you can ski Mt. Hotham you can ski anywhere”. I believe this to be true.

The last time I skied Mt. Hotham was 16 years ago. The resort has change much in that time. Many of the areas we had to walk out to then have been opened up by the installation of chair lifts now. This is good as much has changed with me also in the last 16 years.

Sunday, August 05 2007

We did not ski on the Sunday but drove the Land Rover back down to Omeo to sort out the issues with diesel fuel. Andy followed us down the mountain in his trusty Subaru and then continued on home as he was up for just the weekend.

Monday, August 06 to Friday August 10 2007

The sun did shine once or twice.

During our week at Mount Hotham we had some excellent days of skiing. Although we did get more bad weather during the week the days that the sun shone and the snow was soft made up for it.

This is a shot of Lawrence heading out bush.

At Dinner Plain I tried my hand at some cross country skiing. This is the type of skiing were you do all the walking; no lifts. It is more physically demanding than downhill skiing but you get to see some really beautiful places especially around Dinner Plain.

Lawrence also braved the bad weather we had and showed us all that you can have fun in the snow even when it is blowing a blizzard outside. We all sat in the warm pub drinking beer while Lawrence braved the harsh elements outside.

See a video of the team
See a really cool video Steve made

Desert Skiing Disaster

North Star

We set out on our first ski trip in two years. Our knee injuries hadn’t kept us away from the slopes, this time, it was a combination of school and no snow that gave us such a lengthy hiatus. However, the protracted gap did not affect our muscle memory as Julia and I were zooming down the slopes of North Star at Truckee in no time.

After a glorious day of skiing on excellent snow in sunny weather we packed up and made the trek across Nevada on to Park City to indulge in another three more days of skiing. The trip through the snow covered deserts of Nevada was wondrous. After overnighting in Elko we continued our snowy drive and were soon at Rick’s place in Park City.

Park City

Julia and I skied all day the next day in more lovely warm and sunny weather on more excellent snow. Julia had by now returned to her former glory days of skiing and was tearing up the slopes at Park City.

The next morning, we were back out skiing and had another great day. On our way off the mountain at about 2:00 pm Park City time Julia and I were heading home down the Home-Trail when without warning she caught an edge of one of her skies. This caused her to fall. During the slow fall on a very gentle ski slope her skies got tangled up and she broke her leg. I was ten feet in front of her and could hear the bone crack!

The mountain rescue folks were wonderful and had her off the mountain and in the medical clinic within 30 minutes of the horrible accident. The doctor there took x-rays and discovered she’d fractured her tibial plateau. This is a break in the knee and required immediate surgical attention. They braced her leg in a splint and I drove her to the Utah University Medical Center Emergency. She spent the night on pain medications with little sleep as she had to be monitored for a potential swelling that could cause blood flow issues in her leg.

She had her surgery the next day and the expert and friendly staff at Utah University Medical Center did a wonderful job. Poor Julia woke from her general aesthetic while in surgery with no memory of where she was, who the people were around her or even what had happened to her. She cried out loud and had to be calmed by the nurses until she regained her memory.

The surgeon spoke with me after the operation and explained that it had gone great and she was now the proud owner of seven titanium screws and one titanium plate; permanent reminders of her skiing endeavors.

Our good friend Rick allowed us to stay at his home in Park City for an extra week as Julia slowly began her recovery from the initial operation. We sure appreciate Rick’s kind gesture. Julia had three very bad days after the surgery, but later that week she began to come back to us. She was in fact strong enough at the end of the week to make the arduous journey back across the snowy desert to our home.

She has 10 weeks of no load-bearing on her injured knee, then another 10 weeks of physical therapy to get her function back in her unused leg. Then some more time to return back to full function, although I doubt she’ll ever want to ski again given the ordeal she’s been through. Oh well, only Darwin knows.