Ski Back to the Ice Age at Blue Lake

Blue Lake is the best readily accessible chunk of glacially sculpted ski terrain in mainland Australia.

View to Blue Lake with good snow cover
Approaching Blue Lake with good snow all over (2/9/19) © Steve Leeder

Yes, we had an Ice Age too, along with giant wombats and a walking route to Tasmania.

The ice, the big batties, and the track to Tassie are all long gone. But the magnificent cirque lake ampitheatre at Blue Lake remains, supplying some amazing day-trip doable lines from May to November in a good snow season.

Lone skier at Blue Lake chutes
Owain Price enjoys Blue Cow’s Ice Age terrain park (20/10/10) © Lisa Hogben

It’s a no-brainer for #2 on our Best Last Lines list. Like #1, Twin Humps, in 2020 sooner rather than later is the go.

Getting there is a reasonable day trip, either via the Illawong swing bridge – a skin (main winter) and/or muddy hike (now) from Guthega car park; or a chilly crossing of the Snowy on the track down from the car park at the end of the Kozi road above Charlotte Pass when that is open after October long weekend.

Crossing the Snowy River on the Illawong swing bridge en route to Blue Lake
Get past the Snowy River and it’s all uphill .. Steve crossing Illawong bridge (14/9/20) © Steve Leeder

The latter is the shorter option – a 10 minute walk down to the river, the crossing (get some wader boots if you can – hire from Wilderness Sports), then an hour or so skin to Blue Lake.

Our BC guru Steve Leeder reckons an hour and a half for the hike to the bridge, then an hour skin from there with light gear.

Fording the snowy River heading out to Blue Lake
Bruce Easton making dry work of the Snowy crossing (20/10/10) © Owain Price

Either way you won’t be disappointed.

“Quick access and loads of options. Skiing blue Lake any time of the year is a super fun day” says Steve, who is out there as often as he can.

“The first look you get into Blue Lake Cirque gets the stoke levels high. It’s a great intro to some solid back country lines and even some rad stuff for the seasoned vet.”

Slashing a line into Blue Lake
Slashing into Blue Lake (14/9/20) © Steve Leeder

Steve is certainly the seasoned vet, who will always find the gnarlier line. If you’re less seasoned but more veteran, like me, there’s a mellower chute skier’s right, and cruisy ways round the far sides.

Just stay well clear of the centre cornice zone most of the time. Massive slides and massive chunk drop offs are common here, and have produced fatal results. The debris can get covered with following falls of snow too, not fun to slam into. The cornice chunks can be big as buses.

Fresh avalanche at Blue Lake
Slides are frequent in the centre cornice zone at Blue Lake (2/9/19) © Steve Leeder

With caution and common sense there is plenty of great skiing. Steve nailed this line early last September the same day as the slide in the middle.

Chute ski line at Blue Lake
One track mind (2/9/19) © Steve Leeder

Cirques usually offer steep boot pack options to do some repeat lines, and Blue Lake is no exception. Set your track and session it as much as your fitness allows before heading home. If you don’t like a boot pack go the longer zig zag skin option either side.

Late season nearby Carruthers offers another smaller cirque above Club Lake that is even a little quicker to access from the Kozi road than Blue Lake. A couple of the chutes there tend to hold snow till late spring.

Heading back from Blue Lake in late October
Heading home after a late October Blue Lake mission (20/10/20) © Owain Price

Blue Lake snow conditions check?

How easy is this – just click on Perisher’s Kozi cam for a great view of Blue Lake chutes and the approaches.