Perisher, Australia, Conditions Report: In the Eye of the Blizzard from Oz

Julia Schneemann | | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Diego coming down our private little powder bowl that kept refilling thanks to the continued blizzard conditions. | Picture: Julia Schneemann

Saturday July 8, 2023

The snow was coming, all the forecasts agreed. The only disagreement was the exact amount, but it looked like today would be anywhere between 40-60cm. No one could sleep. Not because of the anticipation but because of the howling winds whipping across the Snowy Mountains. Gusts of up to 110kmh were shaking my house in Jindabyne and I was half expecting being whipped away like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

The morning came and we traipsed up the mountain with the pretty certain expectation that despite the snow, most of the resort would be on windhold. We settled in with a cup of coffee at Blue Cow and watched the Terminal chair dangling in the wind. It did not look good. We expected that at most the Brumby t-bar would be running, but much to our surprise a resort staff member walked by and told us that while Terminal would be on windhold, yes, Brumby t-bar would run, but also Ridge and Summit chair would be operating. We all looked at each other in disbelief. Ridge chair? The Ridge Chair is one of Perisher’s longest quad chairs and gives you access to some of the best powder runs in the resort. We all grinned from ear to ear. That was all we needed. We knew the way back would be tricky with a long, uphill traverse via ‘Brumbies Run’, but we would just stay out at Ridge until our legs got tired.

Frozen tree
Visibility was not great, winds were howling and snow chucking relentlessly, with many lifts on windhold. | Picture: Julia Schneemann

We started off down Rollercoaster which was lovely at the bottom but windblown and icy next to Terminal and Early Starter chair. At the bottom of Rollercoaster we were surprised to be the only people at the bottom station of the Ridge chair. How lucky were we? We hopped on and braved the wind and graupel pelting us as we got back to the top station.

We did a run down Excelerator, which was blanketed in snow with a few easily avoidable icy patches as you come around the top bend. It was in great condition and we considered doing another Excelerator, but as we went back up the chair to the top station, we spotterd a lone skier weaving his way through Rock Garden’s ungroomed terrain and it looked good. We could not let him have all the untracked powder, so we all agreed to give Rock Garden and Yarandoo a go.

Rock Garden had some icy patches up top, but if you picked your way down carefully, it was really soft. Yarandoo was untracked powder and we could not believe our luck as we weaved our way through the snowgum trees through stashes of untracked powder.

Blue Cow
Today’s playground around the Ridge Chair: Rock Garden, Yarandoo, Outer Limits. | Picture: Perisher Trail Maps Screenshot

Next up, we tried Outer Limits which also was full of bowls of untouched powder, but the run is blue and the steepness of Rock Garden and Yarandoo was calling me. I just love weaving through the rocks and trees, so back we went, this time aiming for a higher line on Rock Garden than before. The snow was deep and we weaved down a small chute — let’s just say some more graceful than others — but with lots of laughter. By now we had more people exploring the powder on the ungroomed runs next to Excelerator, but the snow kept chucking and any tracks got filled in quickly. We found a deep powder bowl towards Kamikaze thar had us whooping with joy. It was the perfect run, we did it again and then yet again.

Frozen but happy — what a day!

After three hours on the mountain in a blizzard, my face was frozen. I did have a balaclava but that too was frozen, my hair was frozen, my gloves were frozen, my pole straps were frozen and there were icicles hanging off my helmet and balaclava. It was time to call it a day, as I knew, once I stopped moving, the cold and damp would really set in and I would be freezing cold. So we decided to turn back in, but hang on — there was Zali’s and no one on it. It would be rude not to, so we did a quick run down Zali’s, which was powder on groomed run and felt like butter under your skis. The rush down was awesome and I looked at my friends: do we do one more? Yes we do. So we zoomed down Zali’s one more time, but unfortunately the Summit chair above Zali’s was right in the middle of the strongest wind gusts and it was taking my last energy reserves. We pushed from the top down side saddle and traversed across, into the wind, to Brumby t-bar and made the way back to Blue Cow Terminal. It was my best ski day of the season so far. Sun and no wind would have been nice but then it would have been busies, so I’ll take the good with the bad.

What a day, ripping through the off-piste at Blue Cow. | Picture: Julia Schneemann

Please be aware: a severe weather warning remains in place by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (‘BOM’), as a north-west wind is making its way across New South Wales (‘NSW’) with blizzard conditions expected above 1,300m. Damaging winds averaging 60-70kmh with peaks gusts of 90 to 110 kmh are likely to continue over parts of the Snowy Mountains. Chains are currently required for 2WD when driving up from Jindabyne, with police patrolling from Penderlea Chain Bay (4WD are exempt).

Source: Perisher

These conditions are expected to persist into Sunday. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service recommends that back country travel be postponed until conditions improve.

Remember: trees don’t move!


Weather Forecast

Source: Pete ‘the Frog’ Taylor via

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2 thoughts on “Perisher, Australia, Conditions Report: In the Eye of the Blizzard from Oz

  1. Hello Julia,
    I wish you a better weather.
    Is Snowy Mountains Backpackers closed forever?

    1. Thanks, Jan. It was worse today unfortunately… even wetter, such a shame. The powder turned to sugar.
      I thought it was still open as the sign is still on there but then again covid may have claimed another victim… let me ask around.

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