Cross country ski trails with winter olympians
Nordic Ski Trails – Perisher Valley
Cross country skiing
Perfect weather and perfect snow – light, dry and powdery. The trails had been freshly groomed and trackset following snowfall the day before. Rob picked up the basic skills on the flat section in front of the Nordic Shelter, a wonderful building financed by the cross country ski association and the national park.
We set off slowly around the 5km loop trail. This was part of the network of more than 100 km of trails in the area. Parents towed infants in small sleds. A local primary school group skied past us with great enthusiasm and a variety of gear types having the time of their lives. Steve was a skilled nordic skier and enjoyed using good skis and boots that gave him better control than his gear from the seventies used the last time he went touring back in about 1980. A pair of our Aussie winter Olympic team skated past with fluidity and finesse that was glorious to behold.
The day was a cracker. Steve and I revelled in
the views as we waited for Rob. He was gifted the most perfect conditions for his first foray onto skinny skis and a little taste of the backcountry in winter. The snowgums, so iconic in the alpine area, had been burnt severely in the devastating fires of 2003. Twelve years later they had mostly sprouted from their bases but will take decades to grow back.
Out of sight of the Perisher resort we caught a glimpse of Kosciuszko, the highest mountain hill in Australia (2228m). It is one of the world’s famous “Seven Summits”, a list comprised of the highest mountain on each continent. A couple of years previous I had decided not to take a college group out there on a day of bad weather. On that same day a group of Japanese mountaineers had required a rescue having underestimated the blizzard on their final seventh summit. Just nearby a year later 4 snowboarders had died in a snowcave that had been buried by a huge snowstorm. 3 km from the summit is Seamans Hut which was built as an emergency shelter by the parents of a pair of skiers who had perished in bad weather in 1928. In the 70’s I had battled through a very stormy winter night camped outside the hut in a tunnel tent. Next morning a rescue was mounted for a missing scout group missing higher up on the mountain.