The NSW snow industry had been smashed by lock downs over the past couple of months, but it’s still OK to go BC skiing and boarding for those living in the Snowy Mountains LGA.
No gear, no problem!
Local stores like Wilderness Sports at Nuggets Crossing, Alpine Backcountry at Berridale and Harro’s Snowsports at Lake Crackenback are innovating to come up with COVID-safe pick up BC ski hire plans that will get you out there.
We talked to Wilderness Sports Bruce Easton, who has been teaching, advising and equipping back country skiers and boarders for over 40 years. So he knows his stuff.
“I guess we could just close and let all our staff apply for disaster relief payments” says Easton, “but by staying open for clic and collect sales and sorting hire with no customers in-store means we still have 5 staff working.”
“The locals are really appreciating our effort which is good.”
Conditions have been pretty epic for back country missions through most of August, with plenty of blue bird days to get out there and enjoy what was the best base since the 2000 season at the end of July.
Machines like our split board guru Peter Wunder have been scooting straight up from Thredbo Village, but for the less fit/less experienced there are plenty of easier options to be accessed from Perisher or Guthega car parks. Like Wheatley from Perisher – so near yet so far indeed.
If you prefer to stick with your existing alpine boots frame touring binding set ups will suit you best. They won’t take long to fit.
For shorter missions frame bindings are fine going up and you hardly notice any difference skiing down in them, even charging hard in steep terrain. If you’ve never been out back, this is definitely the simplest way to have a go.
For something lighter, tech toe systems are better. The further you hike the more you notice how crucial weight is.
These have improved out of sight in recent years, with our current favourite the Fritschi Tecton the bees knees. Rock solid to ski and skin up in, they are dead easy to click into.
The pin interface systems get affected by snow, ice and dirt. It can be bloody frustrating trying to clip in in difficult circumstances – like crap weather out on the Main Range, or in an Argentinean native bamboo jungle gully to name two. We have had our share dramas with Marker Kingpins in that regard. Hence our preference for Fritcshi now.
Good boots are equally or more important. New Scott tech toe boots are available in hire for men and women at Wilderness.
Those who can telemark already don’t need to be told anything, except that rental is available if you don’t have your own gear. Those who can’t tele are better off waiting till lessons are available again.
John Morrell had barely finished setting up his new Alpine Backcountry shop at Berridale when lockdowns started this year. As the original Aussie in Hokkaido, Morrell has been also been taking and equipping people for backcountry for four decades.
He shipped a lot of great gear down from his Hokkaido store for the new Berridale outlet, and has plenty of choice – across the range of frame, pin or tele bindings to suit.
Harro’s Snowsports have some skis we would love to ride in their BC rental fleet too, like the Kastle TX90. It was next on our list to test when lockdown hit the ACT. Hopefully that ends before the season does!
Meantime talk to Mitch Harrison there and sort yourself a great rig to take up to Dead Horse Gap is our recommendation – easier than heading up from the village at Thredbo.
All these 3 shops can set you up right.
Right now they need whatever business they can get too – support your local ski and board shop!