Sep 152008

Clansi and I went down to the snow a week ago on Sunday for what will probably be our last skiing day for this season. The weather was spectacular, with no wind and extensive visibility; in fact, the sun was perhaps a bit too bright for the softening snow. By mid afternoon there were shiny patches of slush in places heralding the arrival of spring.

For a bit of fun, I took my GPS receiver with me tucked into the elastic band of my goggles (I have found that the device sometimes struggles to get good signals when it is in a pocket). I wasn’t afraid of getting lost, but the experimental scientist part of me tends to get excited about the datalogging capabilities of my GPS receiver. I was actually quite surprised at some of the information it recorded; for instance, I was a little unnerved to find that I had been travelling at up to nearly 50 km/h on the snow!

The best bit about GPS is of course being able to see a map of the day’s adventures. Here is an interactive zoomable map showing our entire day’s path colour coded by speed. It is superimposed on the Google aerial imagery, which must have been photographed during the summer. Continue reading »

Jul 282008

Over the last few months Clansi and I have purchased our own ski equipment, and yesterday we had our first opportunity to test it out on the snow. Most of our acquisitions have resulted from surfing end-of-season-sales in the US, which has been the only way to satisfy our specific requirements with our budget.

We have chosen to invest in Alpine Touring (AT), or “Randonee”, gear. The spectacular trip we made to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko last June was enough to get us addicted to backcountry skiing. Since the AT system is essentially identical to downhill gear when the bindings are locked down, we decided to go for good all-round equipment that would suit us both on and off the resort.

I’ve included some details below about our shiny new gear, but first I should assure you that it works wonderfully on the snow.  The snow at Perisher-Blue yesterday was quite good, with only a few icy patches.  After lunch the predicted snow shower came through and freshened up the surface with a centimetre or two of tiny flakes.  Both Clansi and I were happy with how our skis handled the variety of conditions. Continue reading »

Apr 122008

The car-free town of Zermatt, with its spectacular views of the Matterhorn, was the birthplace of modern alpinism. Once a small swiss alpine farming village, it has been transformed over the last 150 years by the influx of alpine tourists, who come both to climb the peaks and ski the pistes. We were excited to find that the first successful expedition to the summit of the Matterhorn set out from the hotel we stayed in. Continue reading »

Jun 252007

Skiing up Kosciuszko photo Yesterday I went on my first serious winter adventure for this year. With Clansi and 3 others I reached the summit of Mt Kosciuszko on alpine touring (AT) skis (see bottom of post for description of AT skis). The weather could not have been better to celebrate my first taste of skiing Australia’s back country.
Continue reading »