Falls Creek/Mt Hotham Ski Report - 21/22 July 2012

A sunny weekend was forecast so it was impossible to resist another trip up to the mountains after a wet and cloudy season starter ski trip earlier this month.

Falls Creek - Rocky Valley Lake from Scott Chair

We based ourselves in pretty little Harrietville again for this trip. Harrietville is far closer to the lifts at Mt Hotham (a 30-minute drive on a good day), but still we managed to visit Falls Creek as well over the two days. The two resorts being on the same lift pass is a convenient bonus.

Falls Creek

Cold nights and frosty mornings made a pleasant change after last weekend's wet and warm trip. Good snowmaking weather, so we looked forward to the promise of sunny days ahead for the weekend.

We chose Falls Creek for Saturday's skiing as it is usually much quieter and Saturday is a notoriously busy day at Mt Hotham.

It was nice to actually be able to see Falls Creek on this visit, and the sun really brings out the best of the resort.

Falls Creek - Village from The Summit
Warm days and cold nights had created a freeze-thaw situation across the mountain. This meant solid, hard snowpack early.

You really need to know where to move around the skifield on spring-like days like this. We headed for a few runs on Towers and Ruined Castle first to take advantage of the overnight snowmaking. Ruined Castle was sweet early for wonderful cruising!

Then we made our way to The Summit, which was holding up pretty well. The Summit warms up first at Falls Creek, making for softening, fast and steep groomed runs like Village, The Slot and Oest Wand.

Its a beautiful spot as well, looking down on the ski-in, ski-out village bowl and with views across to Mt Bogong.

The advanced skiing in The Maze and International were patchy and now need a top-up of snow. There was not much skiing around there and this coming weekend's snowfalls will reopen these areas with a welcome refresh.

Dawn in the Ovens Valley from Harrietville-Hotham Road
Time to head back over to the other side of Falls and find the sunny aspects that soften off-piste as the day gets warmer.

We were amazed to find some untouched snow from the previous weekend's snowfalls in a secret spot. Wow - I can't believe nobody skis over in this area. A great way to finish a great day!

Mt Hotham

The next morning meant a short drive up to Mt Hotham on an even sunnier day (if that is possible)!

The road was a bit frosty so we took care in our new car with all those icy corners!

We already had lift and parking tickets organised so we parked at the largely unknown Loch car park and got straight into some early morning skiing at Heavenly Valley. We thought this would provide the best skiing at Mt Hotham on a spring-like day.

Mt Hotham - Heavenly Valley
Heavenly Valley was picture perfect on this glorious, sunny mid-winter day.

We headed to the sunny Heavenly Valley runs first, but they took more time to soften compared to Falls the previous day.

Skiing was challenging early on solid groomed runs. Twilight Zone and Imagine provided some shaky moments with the solid snowpack from the overnight freeze underneath.

The day was looking like it may be a little disappointing compared to the fun at Falls Creek on Saturday, despite there being some good runs on softened snow in The Canyon and Wendix.

We headed over to The Orchard knowing it would be icy underneath on the blue runs there and not expecting too much really.

The Orchard from Keogh's
A run down Bushwacker's in The Orchard confirmed our fears.

However, the local knowledge we have developed at Falls, we are developing at Mt Hotham. You just need to go where the warming sun is doing its work on days like these.

And on Sunday, there was lots of fun to be had at Keogh's. Fun in the sun! The whole face there had softened beautifully making for some nice turns down a steep, black run.

For a bit of variety we mixed it up through the trees on either side. No queues like at Heavenly Valley.

Having done laps in the sun, the day was getting far too warm - especially with all the effort - and it was time to leave early after our early morning start!

The approaching storm will dump lots of new snow at Falls Creek and Mt Hotham during the next week's wintry conditions. Good timing I think, and here's hoping for not just a top-up but some serious snowfalls!

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