The 50 Lift Challenge at Perisher – who’s up for it now?

TBT day and we are digging into the vaults back to issue #1 of Snow Action – 25 seasons ago we put the then Perisher Blue’s 50 lifts claim to the challenge: did they exist? Could you ski them all in one day? And without repetition?

OK, we know – these days at Perisher there are just 47 lifts, a few t-bars making way for the Village 8 Express, Freedom Chair at Guthega and last year the new Leichardt quad replacing the t-bar. And when we launch our 40+ lift challenge as soon as that many lifts are open you won’t even need to ride them all to be in to win some cool prizes. More on that later, meantime let’s turn back time..

50 Lift Challenge Perisher original feature
1996 was a solid season, we found some great snow off Olympic and beyond Eyre © Owain Price / Snow Action Archives

Ever since the merger of Perisher Smiggins and Blue Cow Guthega to form the ‘Super Resort’ of Perisher Blue (later simplified to Perisher) the crew at Snow Action had been wondering about their “50 Lifts” claim – the most in the Southern Hemisphere.

Did they actually exist? How long would you take to ski them all? And could you do it by riding each lift only once in the same day?

Only one way to find out. So along with half the Perisher Blue Media Office and a foxy Moove Hostie (OK, we couldn’t and wouldn’t call her that now, but this was last millennium when men were hunks and girls were foxy) we hit the Front Valley corduroy early one perfect bluebird August morning.

Front Valley pre Village 8 chair & the Moove hostie with the mosty © Owain Price / Snow Action Archive

The plan was to clear Front Valley before the morning rush. Starting with the Mitchell t-bar (still going strong and first lift open for 2020) we yo-yoed our way across 7 t-bars, the old ‘Home Rope Tow’ and the Perisher Express, carving big arcs on the perfect groomers before finding our first little powder stashes in the Centre Valley trees.

Not for the first time that day we raised the ire of the boarders as we blasted through “their” park – yes it was still a segregated snow society back then. “Posses” of boarders roamed together, and the new parks (nothing compared to today’s masterpieces) were still officially only for boarders (more on that story in another #TBT session).

Fortunately our Moove hostie was a boarder, and the cranky boys in phat pants soon calmed down.

Aussie World Cup Downhiller ‘Slammin Sam’ Tait charging through The Cleft last season – the snowmaking is so much better now all these main runs have far more consistent cover © Owain Price

But 90 minutes had already passed and we had only just arrived at Mt Perisher via Sun Valley t-bar and a couple of photo ops en route. Triple and double chairs, International were ridden and ripped non-stop to make up time.

We headed out wide of Eyre t-bar for more shots, finding then as you will still on any good day, some of the best snow in the whole area. I staked out a spot to shoot a couple of jumps and marked and called out the rocks in the landing zone to our crew. A lone boarder came by, ignored all that and my warnings and launcehd right onto them. Some things never change..

From there it was off to Olympic for the spread shot above with Jonno Schwarzer, whose two skis together would be skinnier than one of my skis today. Forget the good old days kids, it’s way easier on today’s gear.

Out wide of Eyre t-bar you can still find the goods like we did © Owain Price / Snow Action Archives

Almost half the day was gone though and we had still only ridden a paltry 16 lifts!

So we motored on non-stop through Happy and Pretty Valleys, then round the back and over to Smiggins. Simple enough to yo-yo round Smiggs, though the beginners and their instructors did wonder WTF? these people were doing jumping on their rope tows.

By 1:30pm we had passed the halfway mark, 26 lifts ridden. Just time for a well earned quick burger and beer outside Smiggs Hotel before riding the Link t-bar back to North Perisher t-bar. This was our only minor route stuff up, we had to skate a bit. If Devil’s Playground has enough snow you could do Interceptor Quad first, then North Perisher and down to the Ridge chair.

The view back towards Blue Cow © Owain Price

We did it in reverse this day. We lost a bit of time at Brumby t-bar when it stopped temporarily so we bailed and went on to the Ridge chair. Then the Summit and the long way down to the now non-existent Guthega J-bar. Time was pressing as we did the Guthega circuit – we almost missed the Ski School rope tow there too, so it was 4:00pm by the time we got back up the Blue Calf t-bar to start the long haul back – Terminus Chair, beginner rope tows, revisit Brumby t-bar and Pleasant Valley Quad.

The Freedom Chair at Guthega makes life easier there © Owain Price

It was pushing past 5:00pm but we were on the home stretch now, 46 lifts ridden. We tucked all the way down and round to Telemark t-bar past the Perisher lodge in the trees. Then we persuaded the instructors to let us ride the kid’s only beginner rope tows on Front Valley as they packed up. Which made 4 ..

Where was that last lift? Oh yeah, the “Snowboarder”s Half Pipe” rope tow in front of the Sundeck Hotel! Again incurring a few insults from the dusk diehards hitting the pipe, we nailed it.

Fifty lifts ridden in 9 hours, a huge variety of ski terrain and conditions covered, magic scenery – especially over on Guthega out to the Main Range. Our 50 lift challenge at Perisher is still one of the best days I’ve ever had there.

View of Main Range from Guthega side of Perisher ski resort, Snowy Mountain NSW Australia
The Roof of Oz as seen from Guthega is the best view in the whole of Perisher we think © Owain Price

Snow Action 40 Plus lift challenge

OK that was then, this is now. There are only 47 lifts, and between kid’s only ones and beginner’s carpets we don’t want to force anyone to actually ride them all in a day.

40 is a nice round number – so like, follow and stay tuned to our socials on insta &/or Facebook for our Perisher 40 Lift Challenge as soon as that many lifts are open, we will have some great prizes for the best entries.

Meantime if you haven’t grab that 2020 Epic Australia Pass by the extended date of 5 July.

Perisher Trail Map
Ride most of these in a day if you can! © Perisher
Perisher Trail Map Guthega inset
Which way will you go to and around Guthega? © Perisher
Perisher Trail Map Double Trouble and Devil's Playground insets
For our 40 Plus Perisher Lift Challenge interesting routes welcome .. staart planning © Perisher