A delightful winter pastime, cross-country skiing is a mix of walking, gliding and skiing, and the basics are much easier to pick up than those of downhill skiing or snowboarding. You can undertake the activity at virtually any level, from gentle groomed trails through flat terrain, to multi-day overnight trips that lead up and down steep and remote mountains. You can have the thrill of downhill skiing, but without the queues to get on energy-using chairlifts, and the peace of being in the snow away from the crowds. And best of all, both rental of equipment and payment for use of the groomed trails is considerably cheaper than downhill skiing. Take a backpack with some hot soup and tasty treats and head out for a delightful picnic in the snow.
It is best to start with a guide or a lesson or two, and then progress to the well-marked tracks leading out from the resorts. Most resorts offer equipment hire and lessons and Perisher Blue has a well-developed series of groomed cross-country loops that wind through the colourful snow gums. More experienced cross-country skiers head out from Charlotte Pass and Thredbo, and can easily reach Mount Kosciuszko and back in a day. Guided trips will also take you there. Another popular route is catching the oversnow transport to Charlotte Pass from Perisher then skiing back via a cross-country trail.
Recently, the resurgence of alpine touring bindings has encouraged more exploration of back-country areas by downhill skiers. These bindings act like those on cross-country skis, with a heel-release option allowing you to ‘walk’ your feet with a locked-in toe and raised heel, but then can be fully locked down, like a downhill ski, for swift, exciting descents of fresh terrain. As back-country navigation and conditions can be difficult and dangerous, any exploration of such areas without a guide should only be done if you are self-sufficient and extremely competent.
The Mountain Adventure Centre near the Snowline Caravan Park at Jindabyne runs guided cross-country ski trips in different areas, including near Adaminaby. A multi-day course based at Charlotte Pass teaches skills for the alpine environment, including crosscountry skiing, navigation and camping. The centre also offers back-country snowboarding trips. Wilderness Sports at Jindabyne and Perisher runs back-country trips and crosscountry lessons, including to the top of Mount Kosciuszko. Thredbo and Charlotte Pass both offer guided trips to the back country and Selwyn Snowfields has more than 45 kilometres of marked trails nearby.
Wilderness Sports: (02) 6456 2966 or (02) 6457 5966comments powered by Disqus