Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Prom, September 2014

We had a great WE down at the Prom for what felt like the first day of summer - in September!
The kids arrived from Dinner Plain with Anne and Dom on Thursday, and the frog and I got down late for dinner. On Saturday I mowed, gardened and cleaned the house in the morning before settling down in front of the Granny which was all over by half time - so I went for a run to meet the others at the Whale's Graveyard. Charlotte and Lucie ran back with me, and we did some kangaroo mustering and bush bashing along the way. Lucie's longest run yet.
A glorious sunset over the water before lighting the bonfire and popping some champagne. Anne cooked her world famous roast chicken.
The next day was hot and windy and we decided on Squeaky. Charlotte was keen to try her first half marathon with me to Darby River, however we weren't really organised enough - and she's probably not up to it yet... and so we had a great trail run on the Lilly Pilly Mt Bishop circuit instead, about 7km. It was the first time I had seen the Lilly Pilly landslide. Incredible.
The water is still winter temperature, so it was hard to get in for more than a few minutes without a wetsuit. The kids and I did lots of bouldering before heading back home to drop off the yabby nets (they ended up catching a pair of ferocious eels!). Marie-Laure and I decided to relax and have a couple of reds then drive back to work early Monday morning.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Feathern can Wait...

Feathertop has looked magnificent all winter. Every time I have glanced her way this season, I have spied a new line, face or couloir. And even with the heavy melt now upon us, she is still looking awesome. But every time I have tried to get out to her over the last few weeks, my way has been blocked by some means or other.
With the frog-in-laws arriving to wombat-sit over the school holidays, I had made good with car and restaurant bookings - and spent a very solid two days with the kids en piste, mostly spent supervising Balti who has progressed in leaps and bounds. I can't really remember what I was skiing when I was four years old, but I am pretty certain it wasn't double blacks. He will grow up believing that a black diamond run is bog-standard beginner. And he goes pretty much flat knacker all day.
It was amazing how few people were on the mountain over the weekend, with HV pretty much all to ourselves. With brilliant sunshine and soft (albeit desperately patchy) snow, it felt like our own private ski hill, and a perfect opportunity for the kids to lift their speeds and skill-sets.

I was all packed for an alpine-start Sunday assault on Feather, but when my alarm went off at 5, all I could think about was the look on Balti's face when he awoke to find daddy long gone - and with an attack of the guilts I pressed the sleep-in button. And in the context of running and skiing a vertical marathon, there was also the small hang-over to consider from a fantastic meal the night before with Anne and Dom who were fresh off the plane. 

In fact there was a huge coincidental French contingent on the hill, with several families of the girls' school friends. There was a lot of French in the lift-lines such that were it not for the mud, gum-trees and small flat mountains, we could almost have been in Courchevel. Charlotte also skied over an echidna, which is a little different to a marmot.

It took several bowls of Weetbix, a wife and three wombats to get grand-pere's boots on, but eventually we were up the hill in the sun and slush.

We took lots of family photos, partly because we don't often ski with Anne and Dom in Oz, but mostly because it is a virtual impossibility to get my kids to smile simultaneously, and without looks on their faces suggestive of some heinous torture.  

In years to come the children will either love or loathe me for indoctrinating them with a sport and pastime far more addictive than crack. Whilst this will depend a little on whether it still ever snows in Australia, at least they will always have a love for the mountains. 

Crazy crazy wombat patrol.

The best thing in the world, even better than a day's ski-touring out on Feather, is a day spent skiing with my beautiful wife.

And maybe not quite the next best thing (yet), but coming close, is skiing with my most recent new ski buddy. It'll get even better, I'm sure, once he can get dressed and put his boots on all by himself.

Oh yeah, JP was also up on the hill and finding fabulous pitches of untracked corn, with small pockets of fresh in Dargo Bowl from last weeks' small snow event. The bastard. He was also supposed to accompany me out to Feathertop on Sunday, but had pulled a last minute "patella tendonitis". He texted me the above photo taken on Saturday which demonstrates, quite clearly, this nasty condition. 

A great weekend's skiing, en famille.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Titanium Thumbs and Tin Sheds

I took my new titanium bits for a bit of a stroll on Saturday. 
A Feathertop day-trip would've been nice, but I needed to be within cooee of the kids. At 4, Balti is turning in to a pocket-rocket, but things can go wrong, and even though I had friends out that way, the Razorback was no place to be.
The girls' ballet concert in St Kilda finished late on Friday night, so we didn't get up the hill until 3 a.m. But after a sleep in, and jettisoning the wombats, I was at the Loch car park by 10 and had skied out to Golden Point by 11. The day was splendid, and there was not a soul about.   

I skied a couple of lovely lines in the gentle terrain east of Golden Point once past Derricks Hut where the snow had corned up beautifully. I then skied over to the Workshop Chutes but was discouraged by the first, which was still icy and a little mangled by the previous weeks's rain event.

From Derrick's though, I'd spied a face that still had good cover, with a nice pitch and aspect. Plus, I'd never skied it before. I headed back over and had a glorious run down through perfect corn.

It was a classical Victorian Alps line: easy rolling terrain lending into steep and then steeper, and then a gnarly near-vertical chute culminating in a dangerous terrain trap and waterfall. I rejoiced in every second of it. Although I'd packed some kicker-skins, the pattern bases just got me back up the first time, slipping in the steep sunny mush and sliding in the steep icy shadows. On the second line I skied all the way down to the river for some scroggin and drink, and then boot-packed it up for a third and then a fourth.   

The waterfall at the bottom had a spa that was very inviting. Although I hadn't intended to go swimming, after the last line I decided to cross the river and bush-bash up the other side of Swindler's Spur to get back to the Workshop Chutes. Throwing my first ski over the river, I was dismayed to watch it hit a rock, and then spring with a double flip (and perfect pike) back into the river, where it was immediately and violently swept away in the torrent. 

After a bit of bush-bashing and rock hopping, I managed to snare the ski with my stock straps. This was obviously why telescopic poles were invented.

I was feeling pretty relieved, and kicked back in the sun for a bit for a brief snooze but was soon woken by a particularly nasty species of ant that can rapidly swarm invade and bite. Everywhere.

With the sun beating down, and ants down my jocks, I pretty much nuded up to wash off the bugs, and then climbed Swindlers. I was glad there was nobody about.

For the next few hours I workshopped the Workshops. The middle chute proved the Goldilocks, with a half-pipe down the bottom curving east and plunging down almost to mountain ash altitude.

Had a couple down Goldilocks.

Looking back to the Workshops from the hill above Spargo's.

Later in the arvo I skied south, back past Derrick's and up to the hill above Spargo's. I got a nice line down the bowl that most of the club lodges in Davenport look over to, and then dropped in to Spargo's Chute, which I skied most of the way down, and which was pretty sweet. 

I thought about crossing the bridge at the bottom, climbing up to the road along the walking track and catching the bus back to my car...

But that would have meant walking over skiing, and so I slowly started to make my way back home, back past this morning's lines, the way I'd come. By the time I eventually got back to the Ovlov, I was very close to crying. 

My kids' all time favourite joke. Q: What's brown and sticky?

 A: A stick.

Of course snow-gums more often resemble flesh or molten plastic.

Or  something from Dr Suess...

The light got nice as the snow started to crisp up again, rendering my pattern-bases fairly useless. But it was all very beautiful - and I had it all to myself. The moments belonged only to me and my legs.

It must be spring because the birds are building nests in all kinds of strange places. After picking up the kids, we got back to DP to find my sister with Simon and their kids, my kids' cousins. Simon also had his mum and her new partner Roy out from England. We got the fire cranking, and Penny cooked up an absolute storm for us all. I ate and ate and ate and ate. I drank quite a bit too. The kids had a ball and went to sleep way after me I'm sure.

On Sunday morning I had a light run to Room With a View, and then on up to Dead Timber Hill for some superb views of Feather and yesterday's Workshops. 

Dead Timber Hill above, with Goldilocks the chute below curving around to skiers' left.

Feather can wait...

It was a mild day and we had a nice picnic up at the Cross, with the cousins mucking around on the toboggan. Some fantastic clouds were passing over. They were still harvesting snow, which means they're hoping to keep things limping along into the school holidays. For the boys, the digger and the truck made the entire trip worthwhile.

My son mucking around in his PJs, demonstrating some more appalling parenting. Just as well mummy comes home from France this week.