Posted by: EPIC | November 8, 2010

The Eligible Bachelor Big Boggy Snowshoe Shuffle

Trip report from Tom Sear
17-18 July 2010

I am a man of constant sorrow
I’ve seen trouble all my day.

Soggy Bottom Boys

As we all huddled for the pre trip meeting in the gear store Lauren approached Mika and with a surprised alacrity declared “What! Mika – no girls! Not an all boy trip! This must be a record!!”

So it was that some of the ANUMC’s most eligible bachelors (apart from Mika of course!) found themselves at Dead Horse Gap on Saturday morning in July. Retina burning sun and iridescent knee deep fresh snow greeted us upon arrival. After some gear tweaking we got underway, following ski tracks up the Cascade trail then, beyond the footbridge, making our own tracks through pristine cover along a gushing Thredbo River. Undeterred by the absence of attractive models, Paparazzo Mika started a pattern where he always seemed to be there making ‘excellent compositions’ when you were the most in pain or terrified of falling into a mountain stream. Despite Mika being camera ready we successfully crossed from one icy bank of the Thredbo River to the other without incident.

Further up the valley we found a rare grass patch for a well deserved lunch overlooking the river before commencing in earnest the ascent, first to the saddle below and then onto the summit of The Chimneys itself. The steep, at times unrelenting ascent through the snow gums was hard work, especially when we found ourselves wading through waist deep powder snow too soft to carry our weight on snowshoes. The final snowshoe free scramble to the summit was rewarded with stupendous, commanding 360 degree views which provided the backdrop for a collection of RSVP shots for our private photo galleries. Borat and his ‘sexy times’ made the first of many appearances on this trip. Descending off the summit’s rock pinnacle of the summit we saddled up to snowshoe off into a sunset which caused these hardened men to wax poetical. The traverse across The Chimneys Range was sublime, with the sunset over the Main Range merging into a magical moonlit stroll to Teddys Hut.

Little poetry was spoken however when we hit the moonlit valley. Harold took a graceful Titanic tilt into a substantial hole which suddenly opened beneath him. In my ludicrous attempt to throw him a lifeline I too fell waist deep through the snow into the refreshing waters of hidden creek. Much blaspheming and hysterical screaming by me followed, especially when I realised that escaping wouldn’t be easy. Harold took it more calmly, reclining back into the embracing snow as if it were a sun lounge while Mika dug with his hands to free his trapped snowshoe. With team work and much effort Harold and I were eventually extricated. As I froze, Seann helpfully observed that the surface tension on Jupiter’s frozen moons was probably similar to that beneath our feet, implying that human exploration of them might involve snowshoes.
Mika, his wet gloves beginning to freeze hard on his hands, used his moonlight Finnish tracking skills to good affect dropping us precisely in front of Teddys Hut as the temperature dropped to minus 7 degrees. He soon had a welcome fire going inside, around which we gathered for a fine evening with cuisine worthy of a Masterchef cooking ‘pressure test’ with associated disasters. Although ladies, to be fair we boys did prove we could cook, even if it took us a couple of goes.

Next morning we slowly extracted ourselves from camp and followed the Thredbo River high up to its very source behind Mt Leo. Cue “Man from Snowy River” music as a startled a mob of brumbies thundered out of the tree line below Mt Leo and disappeared from view. Dropping packs we followed fresh droppings and made the short climb to Mt Leo for more outstanding views. Returning from the summit, we saddled up again as a strong bitterly cold wind began to blow and proceed on our return hike to the cars.

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For the next couple of hours we traversed the amphitheatres of Friday Flat Creek, saddle shaped universes of glittering constellations of fluffy snow flakes and iridescent cosmic bowls. The oncoming front created drama of clouds the colour and density of grey dishwater and a 40knot headwind kept us cool for traverse. At an isolated sunny lunch spot out of the wind someone commented on the thousands of slushy resort people just a few kms away in Thredbo. Suckers.

With the cold front bearing down on us we navigated through a confusing landscape of clearings, saddles, creeks and snow gum forest, contouring around Brindle Bull Hill in our search for Cascade Trail. Some challenging trail breaking through deep snow from the whole team led us with Mika’s impeccable memory and navigation skills to the footbridge and the elation of a subsequently completed trip.

Many commented that they wished they had discovered snowshoeing prior to this trip. The combination of its unique accessibility, climbing ability and teamwork makes snowshoeing a rewarding experience. The element of teamwork is particularly compelling aspect of snowshoeing. Mika’s strong leadership, the ability of everyone to lead in such amazing and challenging beautiful conditions made the trip a great experience. Also my team mates’ ability to extricate me from numerous dips into creeks was particularly important. The fresh snow conditions were aesthetically awesome, but they created another problem the necessity to break trail through often thigh high snow with no base and so creating a trail for the team was often a lot of fun. You can appreciate how slow the going was at times when you consider that on the second day we took about seven hours to cover less than 10km.

For the ladies your ANUMC RSVP matches are as follows:

Leif, Aquarius, strong silent type, capable, consistent, considerate.

Amir, Aries, GSOH, quick witted individual, highly intelligent.

Seann, Aries, looks like a Mountaineer in John Harlin ‘Eiger’ mode.

Harold, Taurus, calm, tall, dark grace under pressure.

Tom, Gemini, short of stature, a little strange.

Mika, Aries, very taken. Constantly complements his charming wife, unprompted (another ANUMC romance made in heaven folks!)

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