Best Thredbo powder day ever? Well that’s a big call.
It was definitely right up there for our local crew Peter Wunder and Dave ‘Cappo’ Tweedie getting their share and more. They have decades of top level riding and skiing there each too, so they have some perspective.
Sure, there have been deeper snow days. There have been drier snow days.
But another measure of a pow day anywhere is how much competition there is for the fresh lines.
Any pow day in Thredbo when lifts are running, even in this lockdown season, means competition. Sure, you will keep finding pockets if you know where to go and are quick enough. But you won’t keep getting complete top-to-bottom untracked lines. The sweet spots, the run-outs, and even the secret spots, all get trashed.
Tuesday 24 August, 2021 was different. Very different.
You never, ever, get 2 clean pow lines down Funnelweb for example. But Pete did. Then 2 more down the Bluff. And a 5th 500m vertical lap to boot, for 2500m of untracked goodness. Five heli-quality lines shared only with mate Waza.
But the clincher is conditions at Thredbo are unique.
The resort has been closed for over a week. No grooming, no patrol, no lifts. Just a few locals enjoying bluebird days – doing trips out to Kozi and other favourite spots.
So with a mega storm coming in, some were getting ready to get the most out of it.
Dave ‘Cappo’ Tweedie, aka Mr Dahu-boots downunder, was on a mission to be first, even if there was no competition. He had a Zoom meeting coming up at 10am, so figured it was time to go early.
Before Sparrow Fart (that’s dawn for our foreign followers) in fact.
“I left at 4:30am from the bottom. I didn’t get much sleep as when I woke up at 1am it was snowing so I was pretty keen” he explains. “Going through the village I passed a security guard at 4:15 – lucky I had my skis over my shoulder.”
Lucky there’s no lockdown-curfew in Thredbo either!
“It took me 1.45 hours to get to the top skinning up. In the dark it takes longer. Hardest part in the dark is you can find yourself taking a steeper section you thought was flatter even when you know where you are going. And the drifts just pop up in front of you, no avoiding them. I only had a small torch.”
“I stopped under Snowgums chair for a drink and a banana. It was moving in the dark, in very slow motion so it doesn’t freeze up. I thought I was making progress way faster than the chair.”
“I had heaps of enthusiasm. It was snowing still and I was going to have a powder run with no one around. Something you don’t do every day. As I passed by large drifts where I stuck my pole in was bottomless. That kept the excitement up.”
“It was so good breaking trail in the dark. First light broke as I popped out near Kareela Hut. When I came to the track above Black Salley’s there was quite a bit of snow and the temperature was rising a bit. Avalanche came to mind, so I picked a safe line up the convex past Eagle’s Nest to Karels where the snow was a thinner depth. I heard a few thumps, a sign the avi danger was higher today – no way you would go to Stanleys for example.”
We asked if it was a spur of the moment thing to go at night.
“No, it’s been on my mind for a while to do a night hike. I got the perfect skis off Harro’s Snowsports – Black Crows with a Marker F12 binding – and I’ve been loving touring in them in my Dahu boots. With no groomers and no patrol it’s just a unique time to do this – you just couldn’t be on the hill at night normally with crew and machines working.”
Can you ever remember getting a cleaner top-to-bottom pow line in all your seasons at Thredbo?
“No, Never. Because there’s always Patrol or maintenance crew normally.”
“I believe that was a first. The mountain is like a mountain doing its own thing now, not being touched”
On his run down he passed Pete and Waza coming up for their first lap.
Cappo, we have to pass this on, Pete says “Tell Dave to walk straight up next time. He zigzagged the whole way! We got the shits with it and walked straight up.”
“Well I was taught in Canada while doing avi courses and touring around Red and Fernie to save energy by taking the easier route up by zig-zagging” Dave says. “Maybe I did a bit too much in the dark though. I’ll go straighter tomorrow!”
Energy saving gets my vote. In fact my theory is there’s a personal skinning sweet spot for everyone. So if you hit a line that’s too steep it’s simpler just to give up and break your own trail, unless it’s super deep.
But Pete was kidding. Or half kidding ..
Which brings us to Pete’s huge day.
Not being first up the hill was not a problem for Pete and Waza.
They made it to Eagle’s Nest, then scooted across the Basin to Funnelweb for a heli-quality line down Australia’s longest steep marked trail.
It was so good they did it again, skinning back up for a second line with only their own previous tracks to compete with.
“Oh my God what an epic day! 7AM to 4PM did 5 laps top of Kozi to bottom, about 2500m vertical and 15km distance. Was up to 50cm deep in places, some of the deepest consistent snow I’ve ever had in Thredbo.”
You would never ever have got 2 clean lines down Funnelweb right I asked.
“Normally I would be lucky to get the first line down the Bluff, and if I was really lucky for my 2nd run I might be only 5th or so down Funnelweb, or have to go straight to the Golfy (Golf Course) as even Funnelweb is usually tracked on the 2nd run.”
“Today was just so calm and laid back. No rushing, It was great. Except I can hardly move now!”
Were you going all the way to the bottom each lap I asked?
“Yep, all the way to ski in/ski out corner then repeat.”
Sounds like an iron man day. What did you have for brekkie?
“Coco pops. I’m serious. Lunch was 15 minutes, a sambo and a few chocolate snacks on the move. Basically I didn’t stop. Waza didn’t either. He’s 61 and did the first 4 laps with me.”
“Most people I talked to did 2 or 3 half laps. They only rode to mid-station on Kozi chair. We shit all over everyone for vertical, even the 20 year olds. Or should I say especially the 20 year olds (laughs).”
When it’s that good you really have to make the most of it.
“The word is if we do get lucky and the region gets out of lockdown they will spend two nights grooming the hill back to normal. There are 2 metre drifts everywhere. So good! I said that to a few friends yesterday that it would be, but they weren’t there. It’s sogged out a bit today – raining lower down and heavy snow up top.”
As NSW COVID case numbers continue to set new Australian records the chances of that happening appear slim, but we sure hope so too. Meantime if you are in the local area and allowed to go skinning or split boarding don’t miss out – there are some great hires operating to sort you all the gear you need. For novice back country riders sticking to the untouched resort trails is a simple safety strategy for as long as there is no slope maintenance work going on.
For Dahu boots email Dave for availability firstname.lastname@example.org
For an all-time off the lifts Thredbo pow day check local legend Randy Wieman’s feature from the 2014 “Snowmageddon” storm: