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Archive for October, 2013

Cape to Cape

Posted by robjwall on October 28, 2013

Is the name of a bushwalk (which I have to complete one day too…) but more recently a popular mountain bike race in SW WA.  I picked it as this years ‘hard’ challenge, and was not disappointed.  Its a stage race of about 210km of single track, soft sand and gravel road over four days.  The highlight for me was racing my friend Ewen over the magnificent single track close to Margaret River on day three.  We spent two hours trying to lose each other, only the cross the line together!  He was ahead of me on the other days by 2 to 10 minutes, so I was less motivated, and hence slower.   I was really happy to finish in the top 1/4 of entries overall.  I liked the way it was run, so that there was no real queuing for the good bits of trail.  I’ll keep riding in WA, but am not sure that these long races are really for me as they are a big commitment of time and cash.

Lessons learned (I’m writing this down so I remember if I do something like this again).  Day one: I probably went too fast, but did get my best result, and a good seeding for the starts on the other days.  Day two: I should have started using chafe cream, and forgot the sunscreen.  Day three, remembered those, but couldn’t find my GPS, which is good because you are not distracted, but bad because I didn’t get a track of the good trail!  Day 4, forgot the ‘gas’ which I didn’t need (no flats all race!).  Also: take a bandanna for the sun…  One good thing I did was eat fruit while riding (tastes better than goo, less litter, and has water in it!).

Here are some photos I stole off the facebook page to give the feel.

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XC Ski Tour – NSW

Posted by robjwall on October 6, 2013

October 4-6, 2013.  Its my first time on XC skis in Australia since a trip from Charlotte’s Pass to Blue Lake with Ed Garnett in the late 90s (when there was a lot more snow), and the kids (My eldest 3 were with me) first time skiing in Australia.  I was keen to show them Blue Lake, and see how it compared with the wonderful Elfin Lakes in BC (both are burned in my memory as special places).  Part of me was afraid of being disappointed by the Australian high country after living in Canada in 2010.   We rented skis from Wilderness Sports in Jindabyne (helpful) and drove 35k to Threadbo.  I had wanted to ski from Charlottes but the road was reported closed, and I was not sure if the expensive oversnow was even running.

Day One.approach Kosi

After a long ride on the chair (with a cheap family pass) we walked/skiied  the 6k trail to the summit of  Kosciuszko (pictured)on Kosifrom Kosi –  which must be the worlds flattest looking high point!  We had lunch on top of the mountain and took the obligatory group photo, in fine weather with little wind.  Our first real downhill was down the North ridgeKira remembering how to skiand we all discovered that we had actually forgotten how to ski!  The kids had never skied with packs on which didn’t help.  At 4pm (5 hours after setting off) we were at Meuller’s pass for dinner on the grass with the new toy, a Jet Boil.  


The SNOW quality  was very good. It had snowed recently and it was not mushy, or icy, just glorious light and easy to ski.  BUT the cover was actually poor for this time of year as it had not been a good winter in general.  In a normal year there would be less grass exposed at 2000m, but there was enough snow for us sandgropers :).

Camp 1

Day Two


Breakfast was many badly made pancakes and some oats still in our seeping bags.  At 9am we set off on the exposed traverse of the flank of Northcote, around past Club  Lake to Blue Lake which was still absolutely breathtaking.  We got to see some crazy back-country snow boarders skiing between the rocks on ?50 degree slopes.  By lunchtime the wind was up to 50kph from the North so for our return I we discussed  dropping  down into the Valley of Lake Albina.Traverse  The way down looked steep but the snow cover looked much better and I really wanted to get out of the wind – we were all cold with all our clothes on, and it was getting stronger.Toward Blue LakeSo we did, and it worked! We enjoyed a long downhill on good snow, out of the wind, and then an easy uphill back to our camp.  We had planned to camp in the same place but I was worried about the tent holding up to the wind, so about 3pm we broke camp to head downseamans hutview from Hutwarmth
Melz crash to the Snowy River.  We met a couple on the trail who knew the area very well and suggested we stay in Seamans Hut and also suggested a return route on the other side of Etheridge to have more snow/fun  than on our ski/walk on day one – thanks whoever you were.   We got a great fire going in the hut. The wind outside did  get dangerously strong, so I felt justified in using the ’emergency’ shelter hut.  I just wish there had been an axe so I could have replaced the kindling we used.   We had a great evening ski on the gentle slope outside the hut, and made a snowman model splot alfof Alfie as he wasn’t with us, and it was his birthday!  We stood on a rock and took our gloves off to call him, but he didn’t say much!


Day Three.


After sleeping in until 8am we eventually got going on the suggested route South of Etheridge.  We traversed steeply for a while and then, into great open, fast, snow covered terrain – easily the best snow of the trip, and we had remembered how to ski by now 🙂 .  The weather was amazing, and I will  remember this day as one of my best ski-touring days ever!   After an hour or two we rejoined the metal walkway,  and skipped back to ‘civilization’.  Happily the Australian high country lived up to my expectations – not as ruggard or dangerous as Canada, but beautiful in its unique way, and a  lot more ‘user friendly’  It feels more like white coloured bushwalking on fast-forward than mountain skiing.  The terrain draws you in and makes you feel like you can go wherever you want, its like a giant playground!


This is a photo of the interesting parts of our route (from Ed’s map which we borrowed – cheers).

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