Snowcave in North Rams Head

[Snowcave in North Rams Head]

Spring skiing doesn’t get much better than this - good snow cover, nice temperatures and beautiful weather - what more could you ask for? Due to a busy calendar last year we missed out on doing an X-C Ski trip, so I had to get a trip in this year. Anton had a couple of friends that were keen to join in and since Pat’s dad Martin was going to be staying at Charlottes Pass the week after, it seemed that the perfect start our trip would start at Charlottes and head towards Blue Lake. That is until I found out that the oversnow from Perisher was $80pp and the Snow tube was another $80pp. Ahhh well, back to the original plan of catching the Crackenback Chairlift to the top of Thredbo and skiing out towards Kozzy.

For this trip I was quite keen to build an Igloo – something I haven’t done for a long time – so I quickly ordered a Snow Shovel and bought a couple of pruning saws from Bunnings to use as snow saws.

I also did something radical – for the first time ever I left my beloved MSR Whisperlite at home and instead took a lightweight winter gas stove setup.

As usual we headed down on Friday night, leaving Sydney reasonably early at 4:00pm arriving at Jindabyne at 10:00pm in time to pick up our Skis and Boots from Wilderness Sports. Then it was off to camp at The Diggings for the night. My brother Ivan had already setup our tents for us – which was great as I managed to drive straight past The Diggings turn off and subsequently wasted 20 mins or so driving back and forth to find the turn off!!

Martin and Pat didn’t manage to get out of Sydney till late, so spent the night at Berridale instead and joined us the next morning just before 9:00am at The Diggings.

[Brandon and Luca watch the Kangas hop by with Rams Head Range in the background]

The Diggings is a lovely campground right next to the Snowy River - here Brandon and Luca watch the Kangas hop by with Rams Head Range in the background.

We finally got to Thredbo and the top of the Mountain at around 10:30 and headed off to our destination – a bowl on western side of the Rams Head Range.

[Snack time!]

There was a fairly strong North Westerly wind blowing which made the skiing rather difficult as we were heading straight into it so since it was morning tea time we stopped for a quick snack.

[Amelia at the lookout towards Mt Kozzy]

Amelia soaks up the view of Mt Kozzy from the lookout.

From the Kozzy Lookout we spotted a couple of potential campsites and then settled for a nice site amongst some rock outcrops just below Rams Head North which provided some shelter from the wind.

I soon started to try and build an Igloo but unfortunately there was a layer of ice smack bang in the middle of the blocks so they simply fell apart. Ohhh well, time for Plan B which was to build a Snow Cave.

[Adrian digging the SnowCave]

Here I am commencing the mining operations.

[Amelia and Luca digging the SnowCave]

I didn’t take long for me to realise why children were used during the industrial revolution as miners. So, I decided it was time to bring back some old traditions and so I put Luca and Amelia to work in mine so to speak!

It took a bunch of us and multiple shovels about three hours of digging as there was quite a hard snow/ice layer in there plus I made the Snow Cave rather large as I was anticipating that a number of us would be sleeping in there. I have no idea how my friend Michael and I managed to dig ourselves a Snowcave in two hours using dinner plates in the early 80s? As it turned out only Amelia and I slept the night in the Snow Cave. During one of my breaks I managed to sit on the Brie which then stuck to my pants like other stuff sticks to fur. So I then had drag my bum on the snow till it all came off.

The downside of all that digging was that inevitably some snow got into our boots so by the end of the day most of us had cold wet feet.

[Anton at sunset below North Rams Head]

Soon the sun set and provided us with a glorious sunset which meant it was time for dinner and my new winter stove would finally be put through its paces. Whilst the stove is wonderfully lightweight and has excellent simmer control, its problem is that it is wonderfully lightweight and hence not as stable or robust as other stoves. So it needs to be treated gently.

Anyway we started off with the usual cup-a-soup followed by curried rice and salami. It wasn’t long before I realised that the steam rising from the rice dish wasn’t actually steam but smoke. Doh!

Luckily the curry powder disguised the burnt flavour reasonably well and I managed to remove most of the nice black crunchy bits. Anyway most of us were cold, tired and hungry enough not to care.

[Amelia in the Snowcave]

We soon hit the sack and Ameila and I crawled into our Snowcave where a single candle was more than enough to light it up. The amazing thing about snow is that it is a remarkably good insulator, so even though we were surrounded by lots of white cold stuff, the air temperature in the Snowcave was rather pleasant. Not cold at all.

[Amelia wakes up in the Snowcave]

Amelia wakes up to a nice blue glow in the Snowcave.

[campsite in the snow below North Rams Head]

The next morning was a beautiful sunny day so we decided to go for a short ski to Cootapatamba Lookout – the weather was fabulous – there’s nothing nicer than skiing in a T-Shirt. It would have been great to go to the top of Kozzy but unfortunately the XC Ski boots I hired were awful with the plastic exterior digging into my ankle so I wouldn’t have made it. I won’t be hiring Fisher BCX boots again.

[Cootaptamba Lookout with Mt Kosciusko in the background]

Brandon, Pat, Anton, Amelia and I at Cootaptamba Lookout with Mt Kosciusko in the background.

[Amelia on skis]

Amelia skis back to camp where had a bite of lunch. For some strange reason no one was particularly interested in eating any Brie.

We headed off back down the mountain just before lunch and by the time we returned our ski gear it was 3:00pm before we managed to start the drive home.

It was a great introductory ski trip but I’m glad we didn’t leave it any later as the week following did not have a single day where the overnight temperature dropped below zero.