Terrain with consequences (as in you risk more than a bruised ego when you stack) is something we tend to associate with big mountain skiing elsewhere in the world. But lurking around the fringes of several of Australia’s top resorts you can find plenty of it, as we report in the new Travel Bible V issue at newsagents, good ski & board shops or digital version here.
Stanley’s just out of bounds at Thredbo is one such, headlined by the humungously big Stanley’s Rock. This is dangerous terrain for the unwary, and you can have your pass pulled fore being in here.
Back in 1991 the rock was doable, and Randy Wieman snapped this shot of an unknown skier with the cojones to have a crack at it. Where is he, or where are you now if you are reading this?
Not many skiers and even fewer boarders have leapt off Stanley’s Rock. The drop is huge and the landing is flat. Snow conditions have to be perfect to even contemplate going off. The snow has to cover the top of the rock so that the rider can access the take off. Because the edge of the rock is round, it is difficult to see the bottom, and the wind necessary to fill in the landing will often bare the rock on top. Only when there is snow on top and lots of windblown below can the plunge be taken.
If one knows where to look, Stanley’s can be viewed from the Alpine Way, where it takes the shape of a huge boulder. Even in winter the face is visible. The closer you get, the bigger it gets. From the top, it looks like you will drop forever.
Back in 1990, I was in Stanley’s with some fearless skiers and the windblown powder was epic. As we skied past, one rider stated that the Rock looked ready and so was he. I set up the shot with the camera and waited for him to walk back up.
Finally his small face appeared on top and descended to the edge. He dropped a snowball over the edge to gauge the trajectory, took two steps up and launched. The wind blew the snow that was unsettled behind him, his legs came up to stabilize his body in the air, and he dropped and dropped. Luckily his calculations were correct as he landed into a big pile of powder and skied away. I asked him if he would like to do it again and he said
“No, one time is enough!”
– words & picture Randy Wieman