2019 - NZ and Oz

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding anywhere in the southern hemisphere: New Zealand, Australia, South America, etc., including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Sbooker » Sun May 26, 2019 5:10 pm

It begins.
https://www.thredbo.com.au/weather/snow-cams/
A season starter system is rolling through south eastern Australia as I type.
I'll be spending 4 days at Thredbo in the second week of August. Historically that time frame offers the best conditions here with the base established and winter conditions still prevailing.
Here's hoping.
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Sbooker » Wed May 29, 2019 11:59 pm

So both the Vail resort (Perisher) and the Ikon Resort (Thredbo) along with a couple in Victoria will be opening tomorrow.
https://www.thredbo.com.au/weather/snow-cams/
It's apparently the "best start to a season since 2000".
Cool temps that will allow snowmaking and a follow up system in a couple of days should ensure this base sticks around - at least on the groomers.
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Sbooker » Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:26 pm

We're hurting for snow here in Australia and the southern lakes area of NZ is too.
Hoping for a system to come through to fill things in before I have a few days at Thredbo in mid August.
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:30 pm

There was a NZ couple with us yesterday; our last day in Vanuatu. They said it’s been abnormally dry in NZ, terrible start to the season. I know Treble Cone did not open until July 10.
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Sbooker » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:57 am

I’m heading to the Aussie Alps the day after tomorrow. They’ve just started what should be a three day storm with 70cm to 100cm predicted. That’s a rare and much needed storm for Australia. I should be in for a few days of decent skiing.
I’m pumped to demo a few all mountain skis for a likely purchase later in our season so I can take them to Japan and USA in the northern hemisphere winter.
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:03 pm

North Island NZ has had a similar recent dump bringing base depths to 150cm. South Island areas remain at low tide with most areas reporting under 100cm, usually a sign of snowmaking dependence. 25-50cm are predicted soon at South island areas.

On a tangential note, season-to-date snowfall at Portillo is 48 inches. As June/July are the heaviest snowfall months historically, this season is almost certain to complete a decade of seasons all below long term average.

A cursory look at snow-forecast.com shows adequate base depths of 5 feet or so only at Chillan and Corralco. We're heading for a total wipeout season at Portillo/Valle Nevado/Las Lenas.

sbooker wrote:I’m pumped to demo a few all mountain skis for a likely purchase later in our season so I can take them to Japan and USA in the northern hemisphere winter.

I got excellent demos my one time in Oz and two of the NZ trips. Given air travel hassles and likely tropical stops on South Pacific trips, I recommend taking only boots and clothing to Oz and NZ. Sadly, this is not the case in South America. Fortunately South America has the most liberal free checked baggage rules.
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Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Sbooker » Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:48 pm

Thredbo reporting 117cm or nearly four feet out of this storm.
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:08 pm

sbooker's timing is looking good. \:D/ That doesn't mean I'd recommend a trip from North America though.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Sbooker » Mon Aug 12, 2019 2:20 am

Thredbo today delivered the best conditions that I imagine possible here in Australia. With 4 feet of snow over the last 3 days we had fine and cold conditions and lovely soft snow. Easily the best conditions I have ever experienced here in Oz or New Zealand. Dare I use the word powder?
There were pockets of boot deep snow this morning and the afternoon delivered areas of fine wind blown snow due to a strong breeze coming from the back of the mountain.
Not much time for photos but here are a few.
Note the Snowgums - unique to us here.
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Sbooker » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:01 am

I’ve just finished three of the best days skiing I’ve ever had in under rated Thredbo. I understand the skiing here in Australia is very conditions dependent but when this mountain has snow (not the sun beaten or rained on type that it normally gets) it is a great place to ski for all levels of skier. Even today after being firm this morning it softened beautifully about 10am and held the good conditions all day without turning to slush as is common.
I spoke to an older guy on a lift who did three seasons in Tignes about twenty years ago. He claimed the skiing here on Sunday and Monday rivalled anything he has seen anywhere else - big wraps I know and probably exaggerated due to excitement.

Some of you experienced skiers may be able to help with a query of mine? Why do some slopes turn to moguls while other almost adjacent and similar slopes with same gradient and orientation and (it appears) skier traffic not form moguls - or at least not of the same degree?

Tony C. You will be disappointed to here Tom had a another day on a snowboard. He is very good at it being just his third day. He now claims he is both a skier and snowboarder and he will do whatever “suits the conditions best”. Lol.
He has been advised he won’t be snowboarding again anytime soon. His sister regularly let him know she was displeased with having to wait for him to clip into his bindings after every lift today.
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:10 am

sbooker wrote:I understand the skiing here in Australia is very conditions dependent but when this mountain has snow (not the sun beaten or rained on type that it normally gets) it is a great place to ski for all levels of skier.

I thought Thredbo was slightly better than Mountain High here in SoCal. Acreage and pitch are similar, but Thredbo is one integrated mountain rather than two connected by bus shuttle or out of bounds skiing, plus Thredbo has some skiing above tree line. The odds of good snow like you are enjoying now are no better at Mountain High than they are at Thredbo. How good is Thredbo's snowmaking? What percentage of the mountain can be kept fully covered from say, mid-July to mid-September, in poor snow years? At Mountain High the answer to that question is about half of its West side and none of the East.

For expert SoCal skiers, Baldy is on a completely different level, though the opportunities with limited snowmaking to take advantage of that terrain have been few and far between during the 9 seasons I've been retired.

sbooker wrote:Why do some slopes turn to moguls while other almost adjacent and similar slopes with same gradient and orientation and (it appears) skier traffic not form moguls - or at least not of the same degree?

Skier traffic is key in mogul formation but not the only factor. A narrower run will funnel most people into the same line and build larger moguls. Softer snow is more easily dug out by skiers to start mogul formation.
sbooker wrote:fine wind blown snow due to a strong breeze coming from the back of the mountain

This is par for the course at Mammoth, and it's not uncommon for moguls to be smoothed out and/or buried by overnight wind action. Sometimes adjacent runs may have different wind exposure.

sbooker wrote:Tony C. You will be disappointed to here Tom had a another day on a snowboard. He is very good at it being just his third day. He now claims he is both a skier and snowboarder and he will do whatever “suits the conditions best”. Lol.

You may find the snowboard experience of my two sons informative.

Adam was highly motivated to ski from age 2 and was a solid advanced skier comfortable with runs like you skied at the top of Mammoth at age 7. By middle school age some of his friends became interested but being in SoCal most of them tried snowboarding. So Adam snowboarded ~5 days a season, mostly at the SoCal locals. Most of these areas are primarily intermediate like yours in Oz, so it was more interesting for him to learn a new sport and hang with friends at places like that. At Mammoth and destination resorts for the other ~15 days/season he stuck with skiing due to his high ability in expert terrain/conditions. Adam's teenage years were when Big Bear developed the terrain parks. With his disparate abilities he could go much bigger on skis than on a board, so he dropped snowboarding completely about age 16.

Andrew was very casual about skiing and with poor natural coordination like me. At age 9 he requested to try snowboarding, not surprising given the situation with his 4 year older brother. I was concerned it wouldn't go well, but his first day was in a blizzard at Mammoth with soft and forgiving conditions. Andrew muddled along skiing and snowboarding about 5 days each per season and progressing little. His skiing was better as he had started earlier, so when he was 15 I explained that he would progress more if he concentrated, and that he was starting from a higher level at skiing. I got him new boots but then he hit his growth spurt and ended up with 12EE feet which were chronically uncomfortable despite more new boots and numerous bootfitting attempts. At age 18 after the last attempt to fit his boots at Park City, I suggested he rent a snowboard for the last day of that trip at Brighton. Over the next 3 seasons he progressed with snowboarding past where he was in skiing and of course likes it better because he's comfortable. Andrew did not snowboard much the 6 years he was in Eureka, but he's back in SoCal now with an Ikon Pass for next season.

Your situation with Tom is different. When we were with you at Mammoth, it made little sense to me for Tom to spend a day at a destination resort as a first time snowboarder rather than being able to ski over most of an elite level mountain in North America. This was the distinction Adam drew at ages 12-15.

Now you are faced more with the Andrew situation of dividing limited time between two sports vs. concentrating on one. This might be OK with Tom as his coordination is more like Adam's than Andrew's, but on the other hand Tom is unlikely to get as much mileage on snow as Adam did. Does Tom surf and/or skateboard?

Then there is the equipment issue. Hopefully you, your wife and daughter have your own boots by now. If you're still renting, rental snowboard boots will nearly always be more comfortable than rental ski boots. That could be informing Tom's view, but my guess is that he just wants to be individualistic. If I were in your position, I'd make him choose one or the other, then buy the boots for the one he chooses. Then it's his decision and you have justification for not paying for him to rent boots on a whim at extra expense.

Given air travel from Brisbane, it probably makes sense for you to continue renting skis, though you'll have to pay more for quality skis. I have heard that Japan can be a problem due to shorter ski sizes, but I suspect at least around Niseko there are now so many westerners that good demos can be had. You should investigate before you go there. It can put a damper on a ski trip if you're on unsuitable gear, as I found out on my first Las Lenas trip in 2005.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Sbooker » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:49 am

Tony Crocker wrote:
sbooker wrote:I understand the skiing here in Australia is very conditions dependent but when this mountain has snow (not the sun beaten or rained on type that it normally gets) it is a great place to ski for all levels of skier.

I thought Thredbo was slightly better than Mountain High here in SoCal. Acreage and pitch are similar, but Thredbo is one integrated mountain rather than two connected by bus shuttle or out of bounds skiing, plus Thredbo has some skiing above tree line. The odds of good snow like you are enjoying now are no better at Mountain High than they are at Thredbo. How good is Thredbo's snowmaking? What percentage of the mountain can be kept fully covered from say, mid-July to mid-September, in poor snow years? At Mountain High the answer to that question is about half of its West side and none of the East.

For expert SoCal skiers, Baldy is on a completely different level, though the opportunities with limited snowmaking to take advantage of that terrain have been few and far between during the 9 seasons I've been retired.

sbooker wrote:Why do some slopes turn to moguls while other almost adjacent and similar slopes with same gradient and orientation and (it appears) skier traffic not form moguls - or at least not of the same degree?

Skier traffic is key in mogul formation but not the only factor. A narrower run will funnel most people into the same line and build larger moguls. Softer snow is more easily dug out by skiers to start mogul formation.
sbooker wrote:fine wind blown snow due to a strong breeze coming from the back of the mountain

This is par for the course at Mammoth, and it's not uncommon for moguls to be smoothed out and/or buried by overnight wind action. Sometimes adjacent runs may have different wind exposure.

sbooker wrote:Tony C. You will be disappointed to here Tom had a another day on a snowboard. He is very good at it being just his third day. He now claims he is both a skier and snowboarder and he will do whatever “suits the conditions best”. Lol.

You may find the snowboard experience of my two sons informative.

Adam was highly motivated to ski from age 2 and was a solid advanced skier comfortable with runs like you skied at the top of Mammoth at age 7. By middle school age some of his friends became interested but being in SoCal most of them tried snowboarding. So Adam snowboarded ~5 days a season, mostly at the SoCal locals. Most of these areas are primarily intermediate like yours in Oz, so it was more interesting for him to learn a new sport and hang with friends at places like that. At Mammoth and destination resorts for the other ~15 days/season he stuck with skiing due to his high ability in expert terrain/conditions. Adam's teenage years were when Big Bear developed the terrain parks. With his disparate abilities he could go much bigger on skis than on a board, so he dropped snowboarding completely about age 16.

Andrew was very casual about skiing and with poor natural coordination like me. At age 9 he requested to try snowboarding, not surprising given the situation with his 4 year older brother. I was concerned it wouldn't go well, but his first day was in a blizzard at Mammoth with soft and forgiving conditions. Andrew muddled along skiing and snowboarding about 5 days each per season and progressing little. His skiing was better as he had started earlier, so when he was 15 I explained that he would progress more if he concentrated, and that he was starting from a higher level at skiing. I got him new boots but then he hit his growth spurt and ended up with 12EE feet which were chronically uncomfortable despite more new boots and numerous bootfitting attempts. At age 18 after the last attempt to fit his boots at Park City, I suggested he rent a snowboard for the last day of that trip at Brighton. Over the next 3 seasons he progressed with snowboarding past where he was in skiing and of course likes it better because he's comfortable. Andrew did not snowboard much the 6 years he was in Eureka, but he's back in SoCal now with an Ikon Pass for next season.

Your situation with Tom is different. When we were with you at Mammoth, it made little sense to me for Tom to spend a day at a destination resort as a first time snowboarder rather than being able to ski over most of an elite level mountain in North America. This was the distinction Adam drew at ages 12-15.

Now you are faced more with the Andrew situation of dividing limited time between two sports vs. concentrating on one. This might be OK with Tom as his coordination is more like Adam's than Andrew's, but on the other hand Tom is unlikely to get as much mileage on snow as Adam did. Does Tom surf and/or skateboard?

Then there is the equipment issue. Hopefully you, your wife and daughter have your own boots by now. If you're still renting, rental snowboard boots will nearly always be more comfortable than rental ski boots. That could be informing Tom's view, but my guess is that he just wants to be individualistic. If I were in your position, I'd make him choose one or the other, then buy the boots for the one he chooses. Then it's his decision and you have justification for not paying for him to rent boots on a whim at extra expense.

Given air travel from Brisbane, it probably makes sense for you to continue renting skis, though you'll have to pay more for quality skis. I have heard that Japan can be a problem due to shorter ski sizes, but I suspect at least around Niseko there are now so many westerners that good demos can be had. You should investigate before you go there. It can put a damper on a ski trip if you're on unsuitable gear, as I found out on my first Las Lenas trip in 2005.


Sorry it's taken me a while to reply to this. I've been trying to catch up at work after a few days off.
I don't know how to do the multi quote thing so please excuse the rambling.

I'm no expert on the Thredbo snowmaking capacity but they're reliant on it to keep the main runs open in lean years so I would assume it is extensive. The last few years (when we've been there at least) have had good natural snow conditions.
I've not skied the ski areas close to LA that you mention so I have no perspective but this short trip I've just done has underlined how good Thredbo is against the other Oz/NZ ski areas I've visited. It has good varied terrain and certainly feels much steeper in places than the others. I checked out Fatmap but it doesn't have values for Thredbo unfortunately.

The explanation you made for mogul formation on narrower runs makes sense and it is something I should have realised.

Tom likes snowboarding because he's a 12 year old boy and it is seen by other kids as being 'cool'. He's also pretty good at it. Whilst I'm paying his way he'll being skiing over 90% of the time. Your suggestion to let him flirt with it while skiing local is a good one. He doesn't surf and only skateboards on occasion as his time is taken by schooling, swimming and rugby league.
At the end of the day he loves skiing and is very comfortable with it. I was surprised how well we all skied in fresh snow the first morning because it had been 7 months since we skied in Europe and that was mostly on groomers.

Myself and Kylie have our own boots (they are fantastic!!) but the kids still hire. Emily will get her own at some point next year as it appears she won't grow any more. Tom will probably wait I guess.

We're going to hire skis in Japan and I have no worries about them being too short as we are all vertically challenged ourselves. I am tempted to buy some skis to take on our Feb road trip to the USA though. I skied on some Salomon QST 92's here and found them wonderful.

My intermediate friends who will join us next year are currently skiing in Queenstown NZ. They have also got lucky with conditions after a poor first half of the season in the southern lakes area. It is their first time on skis for a few years. They reported they felt unco-ordinated at first but by the second day it was coming back to them. I have suggested a couple of lessons. They have really enjoyed skiing the "long runs" at Coronet Peak apparently. I can't wait to see their reaction when they get to the Rockies. I just hope they make an effort to get fit so they can enjoy it - they mentioned sore thigh muscles from the skiing they've been doing.
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Aug 23, 2019 12:21 pm

sbooker wrote:I've not skied the ski areas close to LA that you mention

Coming to the USA from Australia you shouldn't bother. Unless you hit Baldy in full operation, which has happened about 3 weeks in the past 8 years.

sbooker wrote:how good Thredbo is against the other Oz/NZ ski areas I've visited. It has good varied terrain and certainly feels much steeper in places than the others.

Patrick had good things to say about terrain at Mt. Hotham and Mt. Buller. He didn't get a good evaluation at Thredbo because weather was not cooperative that day,

sbooker wrote:Tom likes snowboarding because he's a 12 year old boy and it is seen by other kids as being 'cool'.

That sound like the 1990's here. Snowboarding percent of USA visits peaked at 31.0% in 2009-10 and declined to 25.8% in 2017-18 with a slight uptick to 26.2% this year. At Mammoth I still observe: the steeper the terrain and more challenging the conditions, the lower percentage of snowboarders. The overall percentage at Mammoth is about 40% due to the SoCal surf/skate influence.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Sbooker » Fri Aug 23, 2019 4:46 pm

^^^^^^^
I've not skied at Buller which is touted to have fantastic terrain but it also has a reputation of being even more 'conditions dependent' than anywhere else in Oz.
It very regularly gets rain even when temps are 3 degrees below zero apparently. I don't know how that happens. Something to do with a particular wind direction I'm told.

I think my chance to ski at Baldy may have passed me by. With our dollar the way it is (and looks like it will be for some time) it makes sense for us to frequent Canada and Japan in coming years. That's a pity as we have real affection for the US. Our trip in Feb will be a little nostalgic. We've got so many good memories from our previous visits to some iconic mountains in western USA.
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Re: 2019 - NZ and Oz

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:45 pm

Patrick's Instagram links for Australia in 2018

The AUD was about .75 USD, similar in 1997 and 2000 to what it is now. In 2012 the Aussie dollar was very strong, more than 1USD. That trip rivaled the $1.47 Euro in 2008 for US overall currency weakness in my experience. If sbooker started his US trips early this decade, that was good timing on his part.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Posts: 10155
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