TRIP: Main Range Ski Touring, APEC Long Weekend, 7-9 Sep 2007

PARTY: Nazih Chammas, Albert Chetcuti, Rob Hynes, Kate Lord, Jeremy Platt, Ashley Burke.


I have placed photos of the trip here:

Albert’s photos are here:


An injury suffered late on the second day of this trip was the only downside of what was otherwise a fantastic 3 day Main Range ski trip.

Desperate to get out of Sydney and away from all the APEC nonsense we drove all the way to Island Bend on Thursday night, stopping only in Cooma to hire skis for those that needed them. It was well after midnight by the time we rolled into the camping area to snatch a few hours sleep.

Then it was up early on a fine Friday morning to begin the task of getting a base camp established high in the mountains, in a snowy bowl below Mt Twynam. We walked/skied up from Guthega to Illawong Lodge, and on the way had to fumble around with that third world quality flying fox system across Blue Cow Creek, because boulder hopping across would have resulted in wet feet, as I discovered. The dry boulders were actually covered in a thin film of invisible and frictionless ice.

Anyway, after Illawong Lodge the snow cover was total and we climbed up to our base camp below Mt Twynam. I skied up and back a couple of times to ferry packs up, and there was also the opportunity for a nice ski down to a water supply. By the time we were all there with all our gear, it was time for a late lunch.

In the afternoon, we headed off for a ski. A couple of us skied to the summit of Mt Twynam, and from here the views of the Main Range and Watsons Crags were so enticing we couldn’t resist, so we skied out along Watsons Crags for tremendous views westwards, and southwards to the flanks of Australia’s highest peaks. Kate and Jeremy meanwhile climbed to a point near Mt Twynam where great views across to Watsons Crags could be seen.

Then it was time to return to our tents for food and to rehydrate ourselves with tea, port, wine, beer and whatever other beverages each tent party had on hand. We all needed some sleep too after the long drive and long day, so we enjoyed a quiet night. The only shock was seeing Nazih wandering outside the tents in his terrorist outfit, a full faced balaclava with only 3 holes in it, for eyes and mouth. It was just as well he was in the snow and not back in Sydney otherwise he may have been arrested.

Next morning was cloudy but the visibility was good and a full day’s skiing from our base camp was in order. We all climbed together up to the summit of Mt Twynam and then set off in groups for different objectives. Albert, Kate, Jeremy and Nazih did a side trip out to Watsons Crags and then a circuit that took them down to Blue Lake and then back up to the tents. Meanwhile, Rob and I headed off on “The Three Peaks”, these being Twynam, Kozi and Townsend, the three highest peaks on the Australian continent. This was an excellent full day’s skiing. From Twynam we headed south along the Main Range, over Carthuers Peak and then along and up Koscuiszko, and then a huge run down into Wilkinsons Valley for lunch. After lunch we climbed up to Mt Townsend. From here there is a fantastic run down to Lake Albina, which was still completely covered in a skiable snowpack. This was pretty hard to beat skiing. Then it was a long climb from Lake Albina up to Caruthers Peak, from where we took another long downhill run to Blue Lake. This lake was also covered in skiable snowpack, but there were some ominous cracking sounds underneath us as we skied across the lake near its outlet. Then we climbed very steeply up to Twynam Saddle, before taking a slow run downhill in the now heavy snow back to our tents.

Albert, Jeremy, Nazih and Kate had arrived back at the tents not long before us, after an unfortunate incident. On their final run down to the campsite Kate had to stop quickly to avoid crashing into Albert, and she chose to do this in the way that she knew she could – by falling over. In the process, she badly hurt her knee. She hobbled back to the tents and Mr Bean and I found her here a few minutes later.

Fortunately there was plenty of raw material around to make an ice pack with, but even with proper first aid treatment Kate’s knee became stiff and sore during the evening. She spent most of the night trying to find a position that was comfortable to sleep in.

Sunday morning was a beautiful clear day, the snow was firm with a light dusting of fresh snow on top. After breakfast Kate began hobbling slowly down the hill towards Illawong Lodge. Albert, Rob and I went on a short side trip to Mt Anton for fantastic views, including ones north to The Big J, still smothered in a decent blanket of snow. Then we returned to our tents for final packing and to undertake the task of getting our gear and Kate back to the cars.

Kate had made slow headway down the hill towards Illawong but was never short of offers of help from passing skiers, and was also offered a variety of expert – and different – diagnoses of what was wrong inside her knee.

I got to ski down to Illawong twice, which was great fun, once carrying my pack and once carrying Kate’s. Albert carried Kate’s skis strapped to his pack, which made for a top heavy ski down for him, and it was important to keep an eye out for low hanging branches.

We all had lunch on the grass near Illawong Lodge and some residents from the lodge came out with a cup of tea and packet of Tim Tams for Kate. Jeremy did a great job helping Kate back along the track to Illawong while a couple of us went on ahead to retrieve cars and bring them up as close as possible. One of the Illawong residents helped carry Kate’s pack back towards Guthega. So with so many helping hands and Kate’s cheerful optimism, Kate managed to hobble back into the car in good time.

Then it was back to Cooma to drop off hired skis, thence Canberra, thence home. Kate has since had her knee x-rayed and fortunately there are no broken bones.

A fantastic 3 day weekend despite the injury.

My photos:

Albert’s photos:

Ashley Burke