Updated: Aug 21, 2021
A fictitious story about how things can go wrong in the backcountry.
Read on for a few tips here & there.
The backcountry is beyond the resort boundaries, a place not serviced by resort amenities & ski patrols. If you are unfamiliar with backcountry travel be careful of the luring vistas & untracked slopes.
Although the group had spent some time planning their day trip to Blue Lk this was the first time they had met face to face. Sid from Albury, Nancy from Melbourne and Johnny from Sydney had met on an online backcountry forum site. After a long drive they met at the Brumby Bar in Jindabyne, had a brief discussion about their planned journey the next day & then settled into quite a few rounds of drinks & a robust slam dancing session to a touring punk rock band “The Snow Guns”. Meeting at the Guthega car park the next morning the group strode out into post frontal cloud & a biting 40km/hr south westerly unknotting their twisted weary bodies after a late night & uncomfortable sleep in their illegally parked vehicles.
The three strong resort skiers who’d each made only a few short backcountry trips to & from the comfort of the ski area boundary had sized each other up online & established that they were all at a similar level & the proposed journey was within their grasp. The set date had been aligned with annual leave opportunities & the punk rock show. They all had heavy duty rigs, stiff boots with no walk mode & high traction skins, suitable for skiing steeps & variable snow but not great for covering distances. From online info Johnny had an adequately kitted day pack with nav gear including map, compass, GPS & Personal Locating Beacon (PLB), a lightweight shelter & down jacket. Sid & Nancy had small 16Lt resort packs unsuitable for carrying skis & other than skins, food, water, down jacket, 1st Aid & a shovel (for kickers) had very little gear. Before departing, the route, gleaned from popular forum postings was loosely discussed; 3km of generally flat terrain below the tree line, cross the suspension bridge over the snowy river, make the 5km by 600vertical metre climb above the tree line to Twynam saddle, scope the map then drop into the steep Blue Lake chutes that can have at times a large corniced rim at the top. Climb out & reverse the plan to return, couldn’t be that hard, we can all ski well & have the right gear?
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