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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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Sea Kayak SW

Posted by robjwall on January 7, 2013

ImageI’m just back from a week of Sea Kayaking in Bathurst Harbour.  The highlights were a quick lap of the breaksea islands  with the group (in the only 3 hour window with little wind!), and a lunchtime solo scramble up ‘Mount Misery’, 500m,   via the rocky ridge above the camp in this photo.


Thanks to ‘Roaring Forties’ Lynn, and Reg for running a very enjoyable trip.

On the last day we had a lot of smoke from nearby fires.  Glad that we were in boats and not walking!

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Across Australia

Posted by robjwall on February 11, 2012

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Posted by robjwall on June 20, 2011

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Yesterday I was in my first bike race for 24 years, the Squamish “Test of Metal”.  I think its a great race, not because its long (67km of hilly single track mountain biking), or technical (some ‘black’), or hard (it starts with a vicious 300m climb), but because of the spirit of the competitors and volunteers.  People are really good about letting you past, or asking if they can overtake on the narrow sections.  They stop and help each other.  It feels like the whole town is involved somehow –  handing out food, or doing first aid, or racing.  My favourite part was ‘Roller Coaster’, you are aware of hundreds of people cheering you on, but can’t actually look up from the twisty trail!  The biggest rush was making some of the bridges on ‘The Plunge’.  The hardest part was the top of ‘Bonk Hill’, which mercifully had a food station at the top.  I can’t believe how much fruit, cake, gel, and sport drink I consumed at the 5 feed stations!  The most embarrasing part was overtaking a lady on ‘Endo’ not realising that I was potentially pushing her close to a cliff-edge (sorry!). I nearly cried twice, not in pain but joy, once going past the Smoke Bluffs which reminds me strongly of the time with the whole family last year, and the other was at the start.  The enitre 1000 people observed a minute of silence, and listen to a beautiful solo rendition of ‘O Canada’ by a young girl.  No flags, fights, or flashy patriotism, just 1000 people on bikes proud of the country they have, and intent on enjoying it.

When the song ended the racing seemed to just begin (a couple of minutes later for me seeded to do 4.5 hours) While riding I saw sally, Tessa Amy, Dave, Kira, Mike, Peanut, John Helig and Adam, all cheering me on like they meant it –  thank guys.  And thanks to all the people I have never met who volunteered to hand out food, and be there if I had a real crash.  During the race I caught up Dave S, and Brian on the hill, but Dave got past me at the top feed station, and I never saw him again!  My time was 4 hours 11 minutes (450th out of 1100 odd  registered from the results), which is about an hour quicker than I was expecting.  It rained all friday night, so the trail was very muddy.  If I do it again I’m going to take clear glasses, as I had to stop many times to get mud out of the eyes.  I am also going to seed myself higher up, and go harder up the first hill to try and avoid some of the bunching up.  Finally thanks to some other riders who dragged me around some training trails recently: Maureen, Scott, Kira, Demelza and Tarquin, and a huge thanks to Dave and Karen for putting Kira and I up.

Today was the SPC Howe Sound ‘Toonie’ race and I got to paddle Daves fast new surf-ski.  Loads of fun, but colder and flatter than I am used to!


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Back in Canada

Posted by robjwall on June 15, 2011

Kira and I are back in summer for a few weeks.


Here is our Alice Lake base camp




And our car loaded up with the toys at Dave’s house


And Kira riding to school (on a trail she helped build in winter).  We saw a black bear on the cliff just after I took this photo!

Tark would prefer the new BMX track though…


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Sea Kayak to Garden Island

Posted by robjwall on April 25, 2011

Back in Fremantle now, with a new toy.   To see it watch this 2 minute video of the first recorded ascent of Mt Haycock (40m)   ha ha ha on Garden Island which is about 10km offshore.

Mt Haycock

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Final days

Posted by robjwall on January 26, 2011

Today we packed up our house and stored, sold or shipped stuff.  Here are some recent shots…

We still had time for a quick game of nighttime/daytime

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Time to go…

Posted by robjwall on January 18, 2011

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Big Snow

Posted by robjwall on January 14, 2011

There was a huge dump of snow this week (35cm in our yard).  Its hard to believe I was climbing on this with the kids a few months back!

The car looks cool like this though

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Posted by robjwall on January 10, 2011

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The sum of us!

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