I am one of the world’s crappiest skiers but, despite my crappiness, I have had the opportunity to ski (like a kook) in some pretty remarkable places. Furano in Japan, Aspen in Colorado, St Moritz in Switzerland and Livigno in Italy are all paces that have thrilled me to the core, not just because of the athletic opportunities that they provided but because of their jaw-dropping natural beauty. One would think that, given my alpine ineptitude, I am not qualified to turn up my nose at one of Australia’s premier ski resorts. Thredbo, for example, on paper, has a lot going for it. It has lots of lifts, lots of runs, lots of accommodation right near the ski lifts and it is in the drop-dead gorgeous Kosciuszko National Park. Well… fine, but what about the snow?
I swear that forty years ago, when I first tried skiing at Thredbo, it was common for the snow to lay thick on the ground all the way to the village enabling top to bottom skiing all over the mountain. In recent years, however, it seems to me that the only top to bottom skiing that is guaranteed, even in the middle of the ski season, is provided by the two primary trails kept open with the assistance of man-made snow. Whether caused by climate change or some other mysterious phenomenon, the snow line seems to have retreated up the mountain for a hundred meters or so and, as such, without the assistance of the snow guns to keep the main trails open, top to bottom skiing would be a rare event.
Not my first choice
For this reason, while I acknowledge some of Thredbo’s finer points, it would not be my first choice as a ski destination. From my Byron Bay home base, I can get to the mountains in Japan quicker (through direct flights from the Gold Coast) and enjoy accommodation, food, lift tickets and ski hire considerably cheaper than I could find in most Australian resorts… and at the same know that the mountain that I choose is likely to be covered in deep powder snow. Furano, for example, gets over ten meters of snow most seasons!
Now for the punch line. My friend Jonathan Rourke decided to prove to me just how wrong I am about Thredbo and the Australian Alps. Last week he sent me some photographs of the Thredbo he had experienced the week before. Okay, Jonathan! I admit it. I am wrong! Dead wrong! Thredbo can be good. Really good. World class even. Not just great snow and great skiing… but gob-smackingly beautiful. Why don’t I just shut up and show you what I mean. Seriously? Does it get any better than this?