Camping? Snow-way.

Anyone who is familiar with my adventures would know that I am quite fond of both camping and snowboarding, however the two concepts are not known to mix well [citation needed]. Nevertheless here I am packing both my Dune Outback swag and Burton Custom snowboard into the same Tesla Model Y, Perisher bound. This weekend’s inaugural snow camping trip is brought to you by Oliver (the owner of said Tesla) who has gathered our group of 4 avid adventurers for this trip.

With Pete picked up from the station and Eddie an early escapee from school we hit the road with 100% battery and 110% excitement for the 2 days to come. This week’s news headlines have been all about the wild and unexpected storm which has brought 20cm of fresh snow to Perisher’s resort area in the last 24 hours alone, so the timing of our weekend getaway couldn’t have been better.

After a quick Brod burger and 10 minutes in the fast charger at Canberra we hit Cooma, hire ski gear, and take an early night in the motel- ready for an early run up to Perisher in the morning. Alas, it seems everyone else who read the headlines also thought this was a good time for a spontaneous trip and we hit standstill traffic a few km before the National Park gates on Kosciuszko Road. Despite getting up at 5.45am, we end up parked at the top of the hill above Perisher at Piper’s Gap and start our first ski run no earlier than 10am.

With a packed car park, and people turned around at Jindabyne, we’re not expecting the easiest of days on the mountain but are pleasantly surprised by reasonable lift queues as we head across Interceptor, to Ridge and eventually settle at Summit Quad in Blue Cow. Here I mention to Oliver and Eddie that I know this great black run called “Kamikaze” which is probably worth a look given the amount of snow we’ve had. Despite his initial hesitation (and the fact that I lied and said it wasn’t a double-black), I did manage to get Oliver to follow me down the run, but only after Eddie had done it described it as “not nearly as bad as it looked”.

Once Eddie and Oliver were hooked it was actually hard to get them off this great little “off the cliff” run, especially as we were doing anything we could to avoid the extremely long queue to get up Terminal Quad to leave the area. In the end we took our luck staying high off Side Saddle to get to the Guthega access trail, but still had to walk 100m up a hill due to the Early Starter Double being closed.

After a quick bite at Guthega’s Log Restaurant we spent the remainder of the afternoon taking every line possible off the Freedom Quad, including Schnaxl’s, Karl’s, Mother-in-law and The Screw before heading back to Blue Cow where the Terminal Quad queue was so bad we missed Pleasant Valley and had to take the Skitube back. And now comes the camping. *cue dramatic music*

After checking into the campsite at Kosciuszko Tourist Park (just inside the national park gates) we head into Jindy for a hot meal and Matilda's soccer game. The plan here is to:

  • Have a hot shower
  • Wear your warmest thermals
  • Get straight into the thickest down sleeping bag you can find
  • Pray that you don’t freeze to death by morning

Thankfully I’ve done a fair bit of camping in the snowy mountains before, so I knew my main sleeping bag would be up to it and could loan my spare to Eddie to use as an extra blanket, but after all my preparation, worry and backup plans I ended up so hot that I spent half the night with the sleeping bag undone, and then all but the last hour with my head and one arm completely out of the bag. I’ll admit the morning was cold, but the thought of another epic day of snowboarding was more than enough to get me up and out quickly to (hopefully this time) beat the queues into the carpark.

Where yesterday was a top of -1degC, and I was wearing the most clothing I’ve ever worn in Australian snow, today was the opposite. A balmy 3degC on the slope when we started reading a top of 5 or 6. I was overheating in just a thermal top and jacket so spent most of the day with the jacket undone and my gloves off, but if you think I’m complaining you couldn’t be further from the truth. Today was a spectacular bluebird day, with most of the quality of yesterday (if you found the right places) but none of the visibility problems.

Our first stop was Eyre T-Bar to the far left of Perisher’s resort area, hitting repeated runs of Shifty’s following the resort boundary. After the most satisfying Reuben toastie I’ve ever had we headed back over to Mt Perisher for a few fast runs of Towers before taking the Happy Valley T-Bar out to mid-station and Perisher Quad up to the top for a spectacular view down the valley.

From here we took Oliver’s favourite, the Pleasant View trail, into Guthega where we once again found fantastic conditions and no queues at the Freedom Quad. Today however there was one extra run open which was closed the day before- Possums/Bloody Mary. Although there was nothing overly exciting about this run, I did hear Pete say “now's the time to go fast” as he rushed past me, and he was right. This run had reasonable coverage, limited people, and was wide and straight.

Now I’m not the type to challenge anyone to a speed contest, but I may have challenged everyone to a speed contest. I didn’t exceed my previous record on a snowboard, but at 66km/h I did match it on one run and hit 65km/h the following 2 runs. I know Eddie has previously beaten that, and even hit 67km/h the day before, but I was happy with my efforts and proud to have had zero stacks while going fast- instead falling in soft snow off low speed jumps and while dodging (or more accurately not-dodging) some trees.

After an epic 48 hours in Perisher, we head home slightly sore, slightly bruised, but definitely satisfied having enjoyed repeated runs of the best surface conditions I've ever experienced in Australia. We genuinely lucked out so incredibly to have picked the best possible weekend 6 months in advance as I turn to Oliver and say- so what are you doing next weekend?