2017 Hotham to Dinner Plain 'Pub to Pub' Ski Race - Sat 5 August 11am
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News and Updates
Wed 2 August
Well it continues to be a typical Pub to Pub lead up - keeping us guessing right up to the end. Had a quick ski on the section between Paw Paw Plain and the picnic area yesterday and it wasn't encouraging in terms of doing the full traditional course. I've posted a few photos to give you an idea. And remember this was Tuesday and while the lovely sunny weather is most enjoyable it doesn't do much for rapidly diminishing cover like this.
So that's the glass half empty part. We had a short but most enjoyable ski around the Wire Plain trails today and the cover was almost universally excellent and providing great skiing?. So we have the fallback position of running laps around here as we did in 2011 and 2012.
Don't get me wrong, we will ALWAYS run the full course when we can do so safely, but unless this is the rare system for this year that actually delivers, the Wire Plain option is looking the most likely at this stage. If we do finish at Wire Plain we'll still hold presentations and after event eating and drinking at Dinner Plain just like we did in those years. We won't make a final call on which route until Sat morning - if we do get a substantial fall and the groomers can get through to DP we'll be back to Plan A.
Pre-registration is now open and will remain open till 9pm Friday night. Thanks to those who didn't wait to be told and have already registered. For the rest of you, no need to wait any longer. No pre-payment required and it REALLY does help us keep things ticking over smoothly on the day.
And as if uncertain route choices aren't enough, if Friday night and Saturday morning's weather stays on track just getting up the mountain could be a challenge. If you have the option I'd be strongly encouraging you to consider coming via Omeo. Please allow LOTS of time if you're heading up the mountain Sat morning. As always we'll be taking registrations at The General from 9 to 10.30 and will still be aiming to be away at 11am.
Whatever eventuates, we're here and ready to put on an event for you and I hope you can join us - the uncertainty of it all is half the fun(!!??)
And if anyone is heading up here from Melbourne on Friday and could offer a lift to a keen race entrant who's in Parkville, please let me know and I'll put you in touch with each other.
Wed 3 August
Headed out for the early ski to find the trail now skidoo groomed through to DP. Occasional flurry during the day but nothing of any substance. At this stage we anticipate to run the full traditional course on Satrday, with the proviso that there will be a few thin spots and obstacles to negotiate (but nothing like the infamous 2005 'carry your skis' event!). We did some snow maintenance on a few of the worse spots this afternoon and if the weather is kind to us over the next few days we shoud be able to hang in there OK. Wil do a final update Fri morning, and will have detailed notes on conditions in the race briefing notes Saturday morning.
In the meantime I've set up a new photos link for this year and will try and add some more photos over the next few days.
Tue 2 August
Arrived last night from Omeo side with light rain trying to turn to sleet, though the road was basically dry until the Hotham airport. Nice to hear the sound of rain disappear during the night as temps finally dropped and it turned to snow. Woke to see DP cloaked in fresh, though unfortunately not as much as hoped for. Headed up the (at this stage) ungroomed trail to Paw Paw Plain. Generally good cover with a few thin spots between JB and DP.
Sat 30 July
Just a quick update on trail conditions - the official report has been upgraded re the DP trail - now showing as good to JB Plain and then the only wet and thin spots being between there and DP and definitely avoidable - so pretty much situation usual. And a report from a past participant this morning that the track is excellent - 'freshly groomed but extremely fast'!
Thur 28 July
With a bit over a week to go we find ourselves, as usual, wondering just how much faith we can pin on forecasts - and which ones we want to believe! Last weekends tropical deluge would have left parts of the trail looking more like a river but this weeks snowfalls have seen the trail slowly recovering. Looks like another, albeit hopefully much lighter rain event possible for Monday then returning to snow as the week develops. I'm cautiously optimistic but early days yet. Will hopefully be at DP from Monday evening and will post some updates then.
In the meantime, we start to cranck up the organisation. Pre-registration is now open - have tried to clean up the background processes a bit, but let me know if there are any issues with it. Please take the time to register - it really does make it easier for us (and you!)on the day. Details pretty much as per last year, though we'll try not to repeat last years weather!
Thur 7 July
And so another season gets underway. Only early July and we already seem to have every sort of weather you could imagine - and a few you'd have difficulty with! But at least there's snow on the ground and the prospect of more to come.
I've finally done the results cleanup I've been threatening for years - ALL available results for the event since we started our involvement in 1994 are now available on the results page. I had to amalgamate several datasets of results and in doing so there's a chance I've inadvertantly changed someone's sex or left them out altogether! If you see any anomalies please let me know. Also if you happen to be one of those overly retentative types who keeps race results for decades, I'd LOVE to get hold of a set from 1995.
With an amalgamated dataset I can now move to the next step, which will be to let you print participation certificates for ANY year from the results page - Should be up and running pretty soon.
Will update race details and open race registration a bit closer to the event. Now I just need to make the whole website look like it was designed some time this century ....
Sun 2 Aug
So NOW it starts to snow ......
Sat 1 Aug
Timing is everything - unfortunately ours was off by a day!We got through Thurs nights strong winds with no damage and a little snow as a bonus, but unfortunately the next system brought rain and debris on the trail. But that wasn't enough to deter 104 hardy (crazy?) skiers from heading off today. Fast skis helped already strong skiers Ben Derrick and Esther Bottomley come out as clear winners. But everyone who was prepared to get out and give it a go in trying conditions really deserve congratulations.
Even a laid back event like ours needs lots of help for it to happen. Many thanks to Mt Hotham Alpine Resort for the usual high standard of grooming, the invaluable support of our sweep ski patroller and for assistance - along with Vic Police - at the road crossing. As always The General welcomed us inside to register and get prepared - I shudder to think what a morning like this would be like without their help. And the Dinner Plain Hotel was a terrific place to dry out and prepare for presentations, topped off as always with a great range of spot prizes donated by our long term sponsor Ajays. As was said at the presentations, it's important to support those who support us at events like these if we want to see them survive. And finally a big thank you to our small crew who did their one day a year race duties in trying conditions with their usual efficiency.
I managed to print out age certificates with the wrong year on at the event - sorry about that! Give me a couple of days and I'll set something up on the website to allow you to print them yourselves.
Fri 31 July
About 1 cm of fresh here in DP this morning, and last nights winds have disappeared. Now if we can just organise the same for tomorrow morning .....
Thur 30 July
Just 2 sleeps to go and things are looking good. Skied the trail late Tuesday and the official rating of very good says it all. Good even surface, no obstacles or thin spots and consistent cover all the way to DP. The only downside is the weather looks like it will stay closed in, though the current forecast is for decreasing winds Saturday, and weather conditions will likely improve as we head toward DP. With the likelihood of a bit of a freshen up Friday night we could end up with a great race trail.
If driving up Saturday please allow LOTS of time to get here and get parked as fitting of chains and a slower than optimum trip up the mountain are on the cards . If you need resort entry do it online to save time and money - just remember to use the right car rego!
Sat 25 July
Snow, rain, sleet, rain, snow .... must be wintertime in Oz. As usual we're being treated to everything as we wait to see what Saturday week brings us. The good news is that the mid July snowfalls left us with a good base and a trail fully covered to DP. While there's been some wet stuff come through the worst of that should now be done, and by Monday I'm hoping we'll be back to a pretty good cover.
Will be heading up Monday evening and will do a couple of updates from DP. In the meantime, event pre-registraion is now open. Please take the time to register - no payment required until race day, and it really does help us be able to keep at least close to running on time.
Thur 9 July
If I had any sense I wouldn't get sucked into looking at longe range weather forecasts, but of course like so many other skiers in Australia I do. A standard part of running this event is wondering when or if we'll have snow cover on the trail, and this year is no different. Hopefully the series of systems starting Sat will get things underway.
Sat 2 Aug
What a day! Sunny and cool conditions and fresh snow - what more could you want. After 3 years of increasing frustration it was great to return the event to its traditional nature - with an added bonus of being able to ski across the road at skiers crossing!
The only real problem was in getting results and certificates done at presentations when my trusty printer turned up its toes. Have posted results here, but as we couldn't get interim results printed there may be some corrections needed - please let me know if there are any issues.Will also look at posting out results to junior winners and placegetters.
Fri 1 Aug
Always so good to wake up to a fresh blanket of snow! Reporting 9 cm up the hill and just a little less here at DP. Occasional light flurries and thankfully the wind has died down from the gales of the last few days. Did a quick early ski out to the edge of the village and went a little way up the trail - even just this few cm has freshened the cover up wonderfully, and there's more on the way later today so looking good. The only real issue facing us now is how many trees have been downed by the wind and how long it will take to get it all cleared.
The good news is that after some serious hard work by Greg and his crew the fallen trees were taken care of and the DP trail was groomed by mid morning. Have had some wonderful dry snow on and off all day today and with temps staying well and truly in the negatives we should end up with a really great trail on race day.
Thur 31 July
Well at least its stopped raining! A real novelty to see the sun out today but the wind just didn't let up. Not too bad down here in DP but I shudder to think what it was like up the hill. A good day to stay inside, drink coffee and watch the front approach. Another tree down on the trail - can only hope that there's not too many mor. This wind is really quite ferocious.
It's now 9.30 and we're STILL waiting for the front to hit. No r@!n so it at least looks like it will be snow once the moisture gets here. And now at 9.50 it's finally starting to hit. Rain / graupel mix but looks promising.
Turned to cold dry snow very quickly!
Wed 30 July
A bit more r@!n than I would have liked overnight, but did the full trail today on the light touring gear and the trail is still holding up really well. Apart from 2 wet spots - both easily avoidable - the cover is surprisingly good. Still a nice flat even surface and all the traditional problem spots - the exposed sections on the lower switchback, the washouts on the run down to Dinner Plain - are completely covered and perfectly skiable. It really is a testament to the work Greg and the grooming team have done in making the most of the great snowfalls we got a few weeks back. Just need to get through the next 24 hours until the temps cool and the snow returns.
Sever weather warning been issued for tonight / tomorrow morning with gusts up to 140 kmh. Yikes!
Tue 29 July
After 2 years of going around in circles and one year of not going anywhere at all, we're back on our proper course. Best cover in years at Dinner Plain and all things looking good for Saturday. Have had a quick ski around the local trails here his morning and will ski the DP trail today and then post an update.
Well, we WERE going to ski the trail today but the wind is really ripping through here at the moment and after skiing from the Picnic Ground out onto Paw Paw Plain into a full on head wind that just brought you to a stop at times, we turned tail and retreated to the warm and the dry. However, I can report that there is LOTS of snow on the trail - it's flat and wide and looks quite different than it has over the last few years. The wind is dropping a bit of debris on the trail and there's a bit of drizzle about but the skiing is still quite good. Will try and get out and have a better look tomorrow before the wet stuff sets in properly. This afternoons forecast chart still has us looking good for snow Thurs night into Friday and the high pressure heading our way for Saturday, so still confident we're going to end up with a good course - we just need to wait out the next couple of days.
Sat 3 August
And now we bring you - the 'Not the Pub to Pub' XC ski race. After a nice snowfall overnight here in DP we headed up to Wire Plain for a ski late this morning and were pleasantly surprised by how well the Wire Plain trails were skiing. For the 9cm overnight - and continuing light snowfalls this morning - the trails had filled in far better than I would have expected. Things are still far from perfect - cover is thin and obstacles lurk just below the surface - but the optimist in me has returned and as long as we pick up some more snow this evening we are going to run some sort of event Sunday morning.
We will run the event from Wire Plain and will take entries in the Wire Plain shelter between 10.30 and 11 and will start the event shortly after. The course will be determined in the morning once we see what this next front delivers and what options are available. We won't have power there so there'll be no printed results at the time - you'll need to wait till they go up on the web. Likewise we probably wont do any formal presentations etc. The idea is to keep it simple - It's just a chance for the desperates amongst you to get some sort of race under your belts. It's all a bit make it up as you go but will hopefully still be a bit of fun
Thur 1 August
Unfortunately I cannot see us being able to present any form of safe race course for Saturday so for the first time since 2001 we need to cancel the event. While you can ski the trails here with caution, there is a big difference between that and running a race on them. There is snow forecast for Friday but it looks too little to make a substantial difference - worse it could actually just cover some of the washouts and rocks and actually make things more dangerous.
This is very disappointing for us as we have managed to run the event in pretty marginal conditions a number of times over the last decade, but I really do have safety concerns at a level I've never had for the event before.
Given that, IF by Saturday afternoon we have picked up sufficient new snow AND we are able to get something organised we MAY be able to run a 'scratch' fun event on the Sunday. If so I will send out a further email advice and also update the race website. This would really be just to put something on for those who will already be here regardless. However, we would need to pick up more snow than I am anticipating for this to happen, and it would need to have fallen by mid Sat afternoon - snow falling Saturday night is way too late for us to update plans on - so I wouldn't be holding your breath waiting for this to happen.
So barring the miraculous, I hope to see you at the 2014 event and hope that we've seen the last of this *%$#@*& rain for the winter and that things can kick on from here.
Wed 31 July
Had another ski around Wire Plain today and felt even less confident of being able to proceed, and was also NOT inspired by conditions through the village and down Poo Farm hill which is really quite diabolical in places. Have put some photos up so you can get a taste of the conditions. Will make a final call during the day Thursday but not looking good at this point.
Tue 30 July
Greetings from a fog shrouded and damp Dinner Plain. After 55 mm of rain over Sunday and Monday things are not what we hoped they would be at this stage of the week. First off, we would need the mother of all miraculous snowfalls Friday to run an event all the way through to Dinner Plain on Saturday - there just isn't any snow down here. So instead we are faced with the choice between running laps (yet again) at Wire Plain or cancelling - and unfortunately cancellation is a real option. Basically the rain and warm weather have left the trails soft, wet and patchy. It's finally cooled down and there have been a few brief snowfalls today but the damage has been done. We skied out Wonderland trail today and it is skiable though with large washouts and very narrow skiable strips and its likely to deteriorate further over the next few days. The ski back up and over Christmas Hills from Telemark is actually pretty good, but whichever way you descend back to Wire Plain you're faced with bare patches to negotiate. Past Wire Plain is pretty much out of the question I fear. Slatys is generally in fair shape though thin in spots. Just in case I haven't depressed you enough yet we would have to move the start a bit further down past The General at present and I'm told even the normally reliable run down past the poo farm has its issues - will check that out tomorrow. Noel managed a skidoo groom this morning but there's no guarantee further grooming can be done without more snow.
The only upside is that the chance of snow Friday into Saturday seems to be firming up and we are at least looking at the possibility of some overnight freezes in the next few days. At this stage although the options are very limited we HOPE to still be able to put on some sort of event on Saturday, particularly as there a number of people who will already be on the mountain (our crew included). If we can put something on and you can come and join us you may want to treat it as a tour with a competitive side to it rather than a real race.
I'll get some photos up on the website by Wed evening to give you an idea of the range of trail conditions we're facing. Will do a further web and email update Thurs evening by which stage we should be able to make a final call on whether we are likely to be able to go ahead. And if you're thinking of joining us please take the tim to enter on-line - it won't cost you anything and it does make it easier for us on the day. Sorry I can't be more positive or decisive but such is the nature of this winter.
Tue 9 July
After so many days and nights watching systems over the years under-deliver or just turn to rain, it makes a refreshing change to see more than we expected from the weekend system. Not enough to get everything up and running but at least we get a bit of a base all the way to DP. After 2 successive years of laps at Wire Plain we are REALLY keen to return to our traditional point to point format. Slowly cranking things up for this years event - online entry is now up and running.
Sat 4 August
Well it may not have been a traditional Pub to Pub but it was a pretty good one nevertheless. 102 skiers ended up standing around shivering in the cold fog at Hotham before heading off to Wire Plain where we did two laps on a course of Roweds, Charlies, Telemark and Wonderland trails. While it was disappointing not to be able to get through to Dinner Plain, you definitely couldn't complain about the snow. A week of cold temperatures and small almost daily top ups saw the snow in excellent shape thanks to the ongoing grooming efforts of Greg and Noel. We tried to find a way to NOT send skiers up Charlies Trail twice but in the end it was better to keep it simple and people seemed to enjoy it. And it was no surprise to see regular event winners Ben Derrick and Belinda Phillips once again take the honours. My apologies to the first few skiers through the finish - we had 2 sets of flags (Biathlon were also running races today) and some were forced to backtrack a bit after following the wrong set. These things happen when you're still finalising the course on a Saturday morning!
As usual we started the day with registrations - and the essential first coffee of the day - at The General and despite finishing at Wire Plain still held presentations in familiar surrounds at the Dinner Plain Hotel. Our thanks to both these fine establishments for hosting us over many years. And as always long time sponsor Ajays had donated a wonderful array of spot prizes. Many thanks also to our patroller Keith who has been with us on the event many times over the years and the Mt Hotham staff for helping us out at the road crossing. And a big thank you to the Pub to Pub team of volunteers who once again worked really hard to make sure we were able to put n an enjoyable event despite some challenges.
Next Year we will hopefully finally be able to run our traditional course. Start those snow dances now.
Fri 3 August
Well I've finally conceded that we can't run the event through to even JB Plain without lots of skis on / skis off and much potential for doing base grinds over barely covered gravel, so for a second year in a row we will be finishing at Wire Plain. To complicate things, there are Biathlon Championship races on this weekend and there will be a small section of trails that will be used by both them and us. To help avoid issues we will put the start back by 15 mins to 11.15 at out traditional starting point outside The General. Registrations will be taken between 9 and 10.30. As usual we will transport a small bag to the finish for you if required - cars will be available near the start area before the race.
We will have the traditional start, skiing through to Skiers Crossing and on to Wire Plain where we will probably do 2 laps and finish at the old Wire Plain Hut. Final course details will be available at the start. Presentations will be at the Dinner Plain Hotel as usual and we will aim to start at 2.30 pm. Please bear with us as we sort out where best to set the course, as we are simply trying to put on an enjoyable event for all. And the snow is in great condition!
Wed 1 August
Greetings from a cold and foggy Dinner Plain where we got another light dusting of snow overnight. I'd like to be able to report that we're looking at fantastic conditions for Saturday, but I'm just not that good a liar. Once again we are faced with a trail in two modes. The good is very nice indeed - while ungroomed, its firm underneath with a light dry cover on top and provides skiing varying between quite OK and fantastic. Had my best ski on Paw Paw plain for a few years yesterday skating off track in and out of the trees. However the bits in between are varying between very thin and non-existent. The bottom of the switchbacks is bare - not surprising really - and the descents into the Picnic Ground and JB Plain have large non-skiable bare sections. At present you can just manage to pick a path through the trees on the JB descent but that wont last forever. Then the trail is pretty much unskiable from the final descent to the Dinner Plain gate right through to 50 metres before the traditional finish at the school. Got all that?
So once again we're faced with choices between a skis on and off tour event along the trail - with an option of finishing at JB Plain rather than going through to DP - or of doing something similar to last year and doing the traditional route as far as wire plain and doing a couple of loops on the trails with a finish back at Wire Plain. At least its staying nice and cool this week - unlike last years hair dryer conditions - so where there is OK cover it should hang in there. And there's a chance that we'll get a bit of a top up Friday into Saturday, but it doesn't look like bringing enough to make a big difference.
So what does all this mean? We WILL run an event of some sort on Saturday and at least some of it should be on some pretty good snow. Pack both your rockhoppers and your better skis (unless they're both the same of course) and come and have some fun. Registrations will still be at The General between 9 and 10.30 and we'll host presentations at the Dinner Plain hotel regardless of where we finish the event. And we've got all these great spot prizes from Ajays that we need to give away! In the spirit of procrastination we'll put off any decision making as long as possible and will do one or two more updates before Saturday. Will post a couple of photos of current conditions on the website later today or tomorrow. Thanks to those who've already pre-registered - please join them if you haven't yet.
Wed 11 July
And winter rolls on. Hopefully we get through the next couple of days without too much rain and get some good follow up snow on the weekend. On line entries are now open so please take the time to enter. And don't forget the Howmans Gap Allstars events at Falls this weekend - Full details and on-line entry at HGA Race Weekend
Sat 30 June
Welcome to another season - so far, so good. Hopefully these systems will build us a base and we have a great cover in 5 weeks time.
Thanks to those who have already entered on line - you managed to sneak in and get it done when I thought it was closed! I've closed it again for a week or so while I clean up some stuff in the background, but it will re-open early to mid July, at which time all details will be up to date, so check back then.
Well we made it ... Just
And a very strange week it was.
Spent each day skiing diminishing sections of the DP trail in conditions that would have been fantastic for mid September but were just crazy for early August. Once it became apparent even to me that any event on that trail would be largely a foot race we shifted focus to doing a couple of loops around Wire Plain. Late Friday Greg O'D put out the call for volunteers and a crew from Wang Ski Club put in a tremendous snow bagging effort which we were then able to use to patch the worst spots on our selected loop. Patching snow at 8pm in 6 deg temps and with the rain starting to fall I was starting to get flashbacks to 1994 when we last had to run laps for this event - spending hours shovelling snow at Wire Plain only to see finishers skiing through a puddle by race end!
Very excited when the rain finally turned to snow sometime after 1 am at DP but of course that didn't last! But at least the wind had died and we lucked out with a window of clear weather to run in. 74 determined individuals made it to the start line and headed off on the traditional start to the event until taking the turnoff just before Wire Plain and heading out on the first of two laps. If looks could kill I would have been dead many time over as skiers came in at the end of the first lap and had to turn around and ski uphill through the glop a second time - but as it turned out skier traffic did what nature could not and the track flattened out to a bearable ski home. Ben Derrick and Simon Flower had a great duel up front and had a huge lead at the end of lap one, with Ben finally pulling away to win this event for the umpteenth time by 21 seconds with Kevin Tory in a clear third spot despite there being none of his preferred grass track skiing. Belinda Phillips seemed to revel in the tough going beating last years junior winner Anna Trnka, with Penny Grose delivering a second third place for Melbourne Nordic. Special mentions to Jill Jacimovic who persevered the whole distance on her first day on XC skis and Declan Warren who finished his training for his first race by being part of the snow bagging team on Friday evening. Actually everyone who hung in there and both turned up and then did the second lap despite how much they didn't enjoy the first one deserves a special mention.
Despite the logistics we still headed to the DP Hotel for presentations where once again long time sponsor Ajays had laid on their traditional great range of spot prizes - and the beauty of it being a relatively small turnout meant that everyone who was at the presentations managed to walk away with something!
There are many to thank for getting this event to happen, and first off a big thank you to someone I forgot to mention at presentations, Hotham ski patroller Sarah. We've been fortunate to have great support from ski patrol over the years from way back when those duties fell to Bev Lawrence, and its greatly reassuring knowing they're there for those few times when something goes amiss. As always the grooming team of Greg and Noel need special acknowledgement, with Noel doing lots of patching work on the DP trail trying to preserve what was there, Greg as always going way beyond to make as much as he can out of whatever conditions he faces and the two of them doing a final skidoo groom just before the event. Thanks to Steve and Darren at The General for hosting regsitrations and John at the DP Hotel for presentations, and the Hotham Police for helping out at the road crossing. And particular kudos to the Pub to Pub crew of volunteers - they're a small group whose only involvement in racing is this event, and to be able to handle such a major change and still put on a great event was outstanding!
Hope to see you all at next years event when we can hopefully return to our traditional course.
Thurs 4 Aug
Well even my blind optimism is being wiped out by this #@*%#@% weather. If we ran the race this morning it would probably be no worse than 2005 but by Saturday its going to be just about unachievable, so we are now likely to run the standard race as far as Wire Plain and then do a couple of loops out on the trails there and finish at Wire Plain. I was resisting this option as I think the concept of this event being one of the rare point to point races is important to maintain, but I'm woried some of you may have only just finished paying off the skis you had to replace after 2005 and 2006 events, and we do want to put on some form of event for you. If Friday ends up bringing a major rain event then that will limit our options but we will still be able to put something on. And if the miraculous happens and we get substantial snow Friday night the standard trail will be back on the table, but I'm not holding my breath.
It would still be convenient and comfortable to hold presentations at the Dinner Plain Hotel but I'm not sure if that's practical - I'd appreciate any feedback you may have. I'm thinking that it probably won't be a problem for day trippers but may present issues for those staying at Hotham. We did do them at Wire Plain once many years ago but it's not ideally suited. We'll be sorting out other issues as we go, so we won't have full details until registrations Saturday morning.
So we hope you can still join us on Saturday, but please appreciate that we may be having to improvise as we go.
Wed 3 Aug
First the bad news. The warm weather has continued unabated, and the cover has continued to diminish. Even an optimistic view of the forecasts show only a little snow before the race. With the cover so thin in parts, grooming even by skidoo would cause more damage than it would do good in parts and the trail is unlikely to be groomed again past Whiskey Flat until we get more snow.
So, if you're still reading .... We WILL run the event on Saturday. It won't be the time to try out those new unscratched skis but if you treat it as a tour then hopefully you can still have a bit of fun. We skated from Mother Johnsons picnic area to Hotham and back today without having to remove skis but the thin spots are getting thinner and the bare patches are getting bigger. To those who turned up for the 2005 event the cover is definitely significantly better than that at present, but it will deteriorate. The cover is good to Wire Plain. The lower part of the climb toward Biathlon is dirty and thin but skiable, but then is good through to Biathlon and through the tunnel. Past Biathlon it gets extremely variable - where the cover is good and in areas protected by aspect or trees it's holding up remarkably well though often with lots of leaf and bark litter. Predictably the bare spots on the switchbacks are growing by the hour but the cover from the top through to where you start the descent to the picnic ground is mostly pretty good. Haven't actually skied between the picnic area and Dinner Plain yet so will give an update on that later.
So if you decide it isn't for you then fair enough but we'll be at the General (who are also doing breakfasts nowdays!) 9am Saturday taking registrations and if you lower your expectations a bit then there's a good chance you can still have a fun day.
Have posted a few photos from Monday and will put some more up from today later tonight. Will do a further update Thursday or Friday.
Tues 2 Aug
Break out the rockhoppers! It's nice and sunny up here but its also ridiculously warm. The good news is that most of the trail has good cover and is providing good skiing before it all softens up - and areas in the trees or in the shade are skiing well into the later part of the day. The bad news is this much warm weather on the thin spots means they just keep getting thinner. It looks like we've got more of the same for the next few days and then a classic Pub to Pub will it or wont it snow event for Friday night - at least it looks like cooling down then. Probably won't be clear what sort of weather to expect for another day or two, so please keep the snowdances going. At this stage I can't see any reason why we wouldn't go ahead with the event but you WILL need to brush up on those special dodging thin patch skills youve developed in previous years.
Will post some photos this evening of conditions yesterday and today and do anoher update Wednesday or Thursday.
On-Line entry now up and running. Heading for Dinenr Plain tomorrow afternoon and will do updates on conditions from Monday morning. Looks like we're facing yet another year of wondering whether its going to rain or snow in the week leading up to the event - winter in Oz! Keeping fingers crossed that the snow holds long enough for the Bullfight Charge to run succesfully at Lake Mountain tomorrow.
With the season well under way now, on line registration will be open early next week - check back then. And don't forget the Howmans Gap Allstars events at Falls this weekend - Full details and on-line entry at HGA Race Weekend
The race calendar has been finalised, there's snow on the ground and we start to think about this years event. Will probably get the site up and running in early June so check back then.
Well we only got about 1 cm but I'll take anything at the moment. Lovely ski up to JB Plain early this morning on a fresh dusting on a firm track. We may get a little more snow during the day but if so probably won't amount to much, so I think we've got all were going to get. As previously mentioned while there are several thin spots along the trail but it's generally proving good skiing and Saturday is looking good for a pretty dodgy season. A final update will be provided at race registration.
Online registrations will remain open till 10pm Friday for fellow procrastinators, but get in early and make it easy for us. Thnaks to those who have already done so.
Saturday looks like being great weather and with fresh snow during the week it will be BUSY up here! Please plan to arrive in plenty of time if driving up the mountain on Sat morning as we WILL leave at 11am and would hate to leave without you. As usual, registrations will be at The General between 9 and 10.30, with presentations of the fantastic spot prizes donated by long time sponsor Ajays at the Dinner Plain hotel from 2.15.
So come along and join us. Will post any further significant trail updates as available.
5pm Wed and it's started snowing again in Dinner Plain. Very pleased when out for the early morning ski this morning to find the trail had been groomed into Dinner Plain. Skiied the whole trail later in the morning and mostly it's a good skiable cover. Some thin spots on the switchbacks and some thin and wet patches on the final descent to DP but most of the trail is skiing well. Very good down Poo farm hill and then through to Whisky Flat. If the forecast snowfalls deliver overnight then it will freshen up the trail nicely, but even if we don't get anything substantial we will be OK to go on Saturday.
Will do another update in the morning once we see what this system delivers.
This year is a good example of why putting things off is not always a totally bad thing. If I had sent out any updates prior to now I would have been predicting the likelihood of the event being cancelled, but I can now report that things are looking pretty positive. Arrived to find Dinner Plain blanketed by a lovely cover of snow last night, and it's kept falling through much of today. The only down side is that it has fallen on ground much of which had no cover by Saturday morning. We may find that the trail is narrower than ideal and grooming may be by skidoo, but it now appears that we will be able to run the event Saturday.
On line entry is up and running - please help us by registering and making things easier on the day. Congratulations to the optimists that have already done so! Will probably take a couple of days for thinsg to settle down a bit, so will do a final update Wed night / Thurs morning by which time I will have had a chance to ski the trail and be able to give a more specific report.
Seems to have disappeared somewhere - will reinstate when I get a chance
First we had to worry about the early forecast of rain Friday into Saturday. Then there was the forecast of gale force winds. But the 114 skiers who made it the start line on Saturday were greeted with surprisingly benign weather and sensational snow. After a couple of lean snow years on 2005 and 2006, it was great to have a 2nd consecutive year of solid complete cover, but of course there are always new challenges for us to meet, and this year it was the groomer breaking down on Friday Night. However with Greg grooming with the big machine to Whiskey Flat and Noel doing a skidoo groom from there to Dinner Plain and back, the trail was actually in great condition, as evidenced by the winning time - a big thank you to both of them. The other big difference this year was that after many years of hopping across the road crossing with one ski still attached or searching for something to extricate gunk out of bindings, we could ski across the snow covered road - only possible thanks to the Mt Hotham Resort staff helping out with traffic management - once again, many thanks.
This year also saw a changing of the guard, with perennial winner Ben Derrick finally losing his crown to Andrew Mock in a fantastic time of 29:20. Neil van der Ploeg was 43 seconds behind, narrowly beating last years second placegetter Simon Flower with 'old man' Ben coming in 4th. However, it was business as usual in the Womens event with Belinda Phillips putting in a very strong performance for her 5th win, beating Claire-Louise Brumley in her first run in the event for some years with regular competitor Ronnice Goebel in third. And of course there were lots of other individual duels, people trying to beat or at least equal previous times or just enjoying the great conditions. Thankfully patrollers Keith and Terry didn't have any dramas to attend to and as always we could not run the event successfully without their help.
The Dinner Plain Hotel again hosted us for the presentations with long time supported Ajays Snow Country Sports providing their usual great array of spot prizes - a feature of the event for many years. The DP Hotel, along with The General who let us take over their fine establishment for race registration each year, are also essential in helping us run the event and deserve our thanks and patronage. And finally a big thankyou to the the Pub to Pub team of volunteers - a small group who only runs one event a year but enjoy coming back for more year after year.
Keep checking back in here as the 2009 event approaches - we're hoping to have a few special features to mark the 20th anniversary of the event.
13 August 1989 - we now know for sure that was when this event was first run. This is from Michael Welsh VSACCC Race Secretary of the day who, along with then VSACCC Chairman Arthur Adams were responsible for running the first event. So we're putting our 20th birthday celebrations on hold until next year, but we should still be able to enjoy this years event. So far so good for snow cover - now comes the intense scrutiny of the forecast charts as they update over the next few days. I'll be at DP from Wed afternoon and will post updates from there including a few photos.
Had a sensational ski on the trail last Sunday (the 22nd) but am only just getting around to getting this posted. It's very tough keeping up with everything when there's so much skiing to be had. Cover was extensive all the way, with the north facing sections of the switchbacks - which loose the snow the quickest - soft but well covered. Also had a ski on Big Spur and Dargo Lookout trails at Wire Plain on the way through - the first ski I'd had on these for several years, and I'd forgotten just how good the skiing is on these other trails. Cover was solid all the way to DP, with fantastic snow in the village. I've added a few photos to the photo page to give you a taste.
We now await anxiously to see what weather this weekend will bring. Early guestimates are looking at heavy snow Friday easing on Sat but with strong winds continuing. I'll be heading up Wed, and will post a final update on Thurs, by which time we should have a better idea of what we're facing. A few pre-registrations have been trickling in - please help us out by taking advantage of the on-line entry to help us start on time. Unfortunately I've broken the code for the multiple entry form, so at the moment you're restricted to using the single form. I'll try and get it up and running again this evening, but no guarantees.
After 2 years of specialising in marginal snow racecourse presentation, we are now faced with the daunting possibility of running a race with good snow!
Hello and welcome to a winter that is actually showing some promise. Online entry is once again up and running and I still have hopes of updating photo and result management, but I've had those hopes for a long time, and I'm too busy skiing at present, so don't hold your breath! Should be up at DP on the weekend of 21 and 22 July, so will post some first hand reports and new photos then. Keep checking back as we get closer to race day.
Well, I used to be undecided, but now I'm not so sure. Just got off the phone to Greg O'D at Hotham (12.30 pm Tue), and while the snowfalls over the last few days have been most welcome, it's still a bit scratchy. He's managed to groom the DP trail by skidoo, but it is a thin cover, and with the day now turned warm and sunny, it's not going to improve. Another small system is due Wed night into Thurs morning, and this will decide the fate of the event. If we get rain rather than snow it may make last years conditions look good by comparison. On the other hand if it delivers like Sunday night did we would end up with a quite respectable cover. If we were scheduled for tomorrow, I'd probably say bring your rockhoppers and lets give it a go, but I think we need to wait until we see what the Wed system brings. We showed last year that you can still have fun with marginal cover, but we do need some cover. If we can put something on we will.
I'm heading up to DP Wed afternoon / evening, so will be able to have a look for myself and have a further talk with Greg Thurs morning, and will make a final decision by Thurs lunchtime. Sorry for the lack of decision now, but I figure most of you who have had to make plans in advance have already made them, and hopefully those with flexibility can stretch it to Thurs. Will post an update here at that time, along with a mailout to the mailing list.
Well just when I was thinking that we would have to postpone, the last 36 hours have produced far more than I expected. Will be getting an update from Greg tomorrow morning, and will put an update here then. Still snowing at Falls this evening, so I'm starting to get optimistic again. Please feel free to register - get in early and avoid the last minute rush!
Have been holding off posting anything here until there was some good news, but on that basis I may not have anything to say till next year! It will come as no shock that we will not be able to run the event unless we get some MAJOR snowfall in the next week, and as far as anyone can predict weather a week in advance that is looking very unlikely. I won't make a final decision until Wed or Thurs next week, but even my ridiculous levels of optimism are being tested here. Will update here next Monday and Wednesday as things become clearer.
One option I'm considering seriously is to reschedule the event to Sun Aug 20 - traditionally the day of the Rocky Valley Rush which has unfortunately disappeared from the calendar and has yet to be replaced. It would mean that we would clash with the last day of the Nationals being run at Falls, but I think (hope?) that there would still be enough interested skiers to make it worthwhile holding an event, particularly as it will serve as a good lead up to the Hoppet. If we do reschedule, some of our usual crew of helpers would not be able to be there, so I would be looking for a few volunteers to help us put the event on. If you have any strong thoughts one way or the other on this reschedule, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check back in a day or two for the latest.
Just back from a month skiing in the US and have finally moved the website to a new host - with much more space for photos and a database backend to allow for more varied results reporting. I'll be trying to add more photos and more results options over the next few months - so check back again in a while.
So, what is the best wax for grass skiing? Many will have an opinion after Saturdays event, when snow conditions varied from very good to non existent. Some ran, some hopped on one ski, some swore and longed for special boot unclogging tools and some just kept their skis on for everything (including the road crossing!) With only about 5 cm of snow following Wednesday nights deluge, Greg was unable to get even a skidoo past Biathlon and had to put a big effort in just to maintain a minimal track of snow in the skiers tunnel. While he was disappointed to do not be able to do more, we neeed to recognize that the only reason so much of the track was still skiable was due to his previous efforts in keeping the trail together. We were faced with options of cancelling the event, reducing it to loops around Wire Plain (which may have also been problematic) or of keeping its spirit and continuing despite the minimal cover, and the decision to run seems to have been borne out by entrants' responses after the event.
Despite warnings of marginal cover and difficault conditions, 119 starters lined up outside The General on a perfect day, and most seemed to enjoy themselves for most of the race. Cameron Morton started what would end up a BIG weekend for him when he decisively won the event in 34:55, an astounding time given the conditions. Kevin Tory made good of his practice at snow to grass transitions at Lake Mountain to just beat Ian Franzke into second place. (After a brief recovery, Cameron dashed back to Hotham to win the King of the Mountain run up the summit, and made a perfect trifecta by winning the triathlon on Sunday, finishing on one ski!). In the womens, Kerryn Rim enjoyed a return to the event after many years absence with a win, with Penny Grose and Kathy Zimmerman taking out second and third. (I forgot to go through the overall womens places at the presentations - I plead insanity and sleeplessness in roughly equal proportions!). Things were pretty relaxed standing around in the sun outside the school, and many headed over to the Dinner Plain Hotel for the presentations and to share in the great spot prizes donated as always by long tome supporter Ajays.
This event could not run without many people helping out. They include
We would like to thank everyone for embracing the spirit of the event and making it a great day. Next year we'll just try to organise a bit more snow.
- Mt Hotham Alpine Resort
- The General at Mt Hotham
- The Dinner Plain Hotel
- The Pub to Pub team of volunteers
- VSA for their onging work in trying to get affordable insurance for events such as these
- Greg O'Donohue for his valiant efforts in trying to preserve what little cover he had
- Our two patrollers who this year thankfully did NOT have to call on all their skills
- Dinner Plain Central Reservations and Visitor Information Centre
- and last but definitely not least Ajays Snow Country Sports for their fantastic ongoing support of this event and of cross country skiing in general
In the beginning there was snow on the track. And the skiers and race organizer were pleased. But then it raineth and raineth - it raineth bucketloads(70 mm if you want to get technical). And the race organizer was distraught. And the groomer doubted he could move enough snow to recover from the rain. But lo, it started to snow, and the organizer and the groomer wondered whether there would be enough for a race. And it snowed a bit more, and still they were troubled and puzzled ....
OK, so we THINK we can get a track together for Saturday but it's a bit touch and go. Before Wed nights rain most of the track was quite skiiable, and those sections should recover reasonably well. It's the sections that were reduced to bare ground and puddles that are of concern. It's been snowing on and off since earlier this morning, and if it keeps up we should be just OK but it's a line call.
So in the end We will run, but please note the following:
On the up side it's -1 and snowing at Mother Johnsons Picnic Area at the moment (2.50pm), and the forecast for Saturday is fine.
- At best Greg will probably be only able to groom by skidoo (unless we get substantial snow). If we get minimal additional even that could be problematic
- It is as close to certain as you can get that you will need to remove skis on several occasions
- You will need to ski with caution to avoid problems in areas where the cover is thin
- Rockhoppers will be the go
This is the closest call I've ever had to make for the event - It could be the wrong call but its too hard to tell at the momnet. I realize that many of you need to plan some time in advance to come up here, and that those plans are probably already in place, which is part of the reason for deciding to go ahead with it. Many people look forward to the event as basically a tour rather than a full on race, and I think those people will enjoy themselves anyway.
If you decide that it's too marginal for you I can understand that, but for those that still want to have a go roll up and you could be pleasantly surprised
It's always fun(?) in the week leading up to the event wondering what's going to happen - will it snow? - will it rain? Well I've been puzzling the neighbours (and a few possums) with strange midnight rituals in the back yard paying homage to the snow gods, but hopefully it's been worth it! Reports from Hotham are that the last weeks rain and warm weather has hit the snowpack pretty hard and there are bare patches appearing on the trail. Given this, many people are still reporting that skiing on the trail is quite good given what the weather has been serving up. However it would appear that there IS snow on the way, though as always the amount of rain that comes before it will probably be the critical factor.
Given all that, we WILL run the event, barring calamitous rain and no follow up snow. However, you should come prepared for anything! If you have the luxury of owning rockhoppers, definitely throw them in the bag. However as some predictions are calling for 30 cm + snow for Wed and Thurs, you might also want to bring your good skis and cold wax! As long as we get a bit of snow I'm confident that we can present a track for you to have fun on on the day. And it looks like Sat might be the fine weather day in between systems, so please don't be turned off - come along and enjoy yourself!
Many thanks to those who have taken the opportunity to pre-register - it's good to see some new names appearing. If you haven't registered yet, please try to do so in the next day or two - it really is important in helping us run on time.
I'll be heading up on Wed and will send a final email and update the website Thurs afternoon by which time the conditions for Sat should be a bit clearer.
New Hotham Cross Country Snow Cam!
Greg has alerted me to the presence of a NEW cross country ski cam on the Mt Hotham website. It's on the XC reports page at www.mthotham.com.au/today/reports/xcreport.htm (If this link doesn't update properly, you can get there from the Mt Hotham website home page by choosing Today at Hotham and then the XC report.) It's update daily and Greg says there are plans to include more cams here so keep watching the Hotham website for developments. Good One!
Once again things are up and running later than planned ... oh well. Haven't managed to get to Hotham yet this winter, but it would seem we've got a pretty good cover all the way to DP at present, so lets hope it lasts for the next 2 weeks!
Ajays Website Long time sponsor Ajays Snow Country Sports are back on board for another year and will once again be providing a great range of spot pizes which ALL entrants are in the running for. Ajays and their sister store EMC have finally got their website up and running at http://www.snow-ski.com.au/. Along with Ajays our other 2 major partners, the General Store and the Dinner Plain Hotel are once again helping us out at the start and end of the event.
Supporters like these are essential to the running of an event such as this, so please support those that support us. Of course we would also not be able to run the event without heaps of assistance from the Mt Hotham Alpine Resort
Revamped Interclub Series Scoring - After several years of major intrigue amonst clubs plotting which divsion they should enter skiers in to maximise points, and race organisers going somewhat crazy trying to add up the scores before the sun went down, the interclub series scoring has been greatly simplified. In keeping with its original aim of trying to encourage mass participation in events such as ours, the scoring will now be based on participation levels only - the club with the most entrants wins! Will this affect Wang ski club's traditional hold on the event - only time will tell. Please note that only clubs affiliated with Ski Cross Country Victoria are eligible for the Interclub Series.
We are also expanding the Victorian Cross Country Challenge Series, of which the Interclub Series is just a part. Rather than just restricting competition to between clubs, we've expanded it to include schools, workplaces and a broader view of ski clubs. Have a race within a race - get a group of you registering for a particular school, workplace or club and you can get your own series of results and a pennant for the occasion. As this involves additional complications in getting results out on the day, the only way we can guarantee recognition for your group is if you take the opportunity to pre-register for the event (see below).
Pre-registration We always try and run on time, particularly in terms of presentations, but the only way we can do that is if we get everybody completely registered before the race gets underway. And the best way to do that is if you pre-register here on the website. There are 2 entry forms for registration - one for single competitors and another for up to 5 people who are registering for the same school / club / workplace. Please take the time to pre-register and help us keep on time. And remember - there's always a few spot prizes specifically for the pre-registered!
Last year gave us a pretty special combination of snow and sun but this year we seemed to luck out even more! The cloud that had hung around the peaks through Thursday and Friday finally broke on Saturday to reveal Hotham at its finest, and 172 skiers assembled for the 14th running of the event outside The General. After some pretty frantic ski removal at the road crossing it was off on a consistently fast track through to the new run to the finish line opposite the Dinner Plain Hotel.
Ben Derrick beat his own 2000 record time by some 35 seconds, making it 7 years in a row. Second and third places were a family affair for the Van der Ploeg clan, with Mark beating younger brother Neil in by about 30 seconds. In the womens event, 3 times winner Belinda Phillips was only 6 seconds outside her best time, but was still beaten by a minute and a half by Katie Calder from the ACT in her first appearance at the event. Rhiannon Palmer followed up a 7th and 5th in previous years with third place in this years event.
This was also race 2 in the Victorial Cross Country Challenge race series, and Wangaratta Ski Club with their traditionally strong presence on the mountain scored a decisive victory over Birkebeiner and Telemark clubs.
As always with this event, there was a wide range of skier abilities, and we had an age range from 7 to 67. The Dinner Plain Hotel once again hosted the presentations (even donating 2 weekends at the 'sister' Metung Hotel!) and many skiers stayed on to take away one of the many fantastic spot prizes donated by long time sponsor Ajays. We were also able to publicly acknowledge the great contribution to skiing at Hotham and Dinner Plain over many years by now retired ski patroller Bev Lawrence.
Many thanks are due to many people for helping make this event happen. They include
And finally a big thanks to all who participated and helped make the event an enjoyable day for all.
- Mt Hotham Alpine Resort
- Dinner Plain Central Reservations and Visitor Information Centre
- The Dinner Plain Hotel
- The General at Mt Hotham
- The Pub to Pub team of volunteers
- Greg O'Donohue for his customary sensational grooming with a few more obstacles to overcome than usual!
- Our two patrollers who unfortunately had to be called on for their expertise
- and last but definitely not least Ajays Snow Country Sports for their fantastic ongoing support of this event and of cross country skiing in general
Arrived in DP Wed afternoon to the sight of fresh snow and snow still lightly falling. Today has seen the weather trying to clear but the cloud is hanging in over the peaks. Still, weather is looking promising for Saturday.
Good news on the race finish front - there is a trail that turns off to the right before the new school and runs through the trees past the horseyeards before coming out opposite the hotel. So we will still be able to finish at the pub! We'll have information on the new route at registration on Saturday - make sure you check out the details on the day.
The beginnings of the 'virtual tour' of the DP trail are now in place - simply select Virtual Tour from the menu and use the previous and next links to move along the trail. I'll be adding more photos over the next few days. You probably need to be running 1024 x 768 screen resolution or greater to see it properly - will try to set it to run OK for 800 x 600 sometime in the future if I ever get time
So much for regular updates ......
Did my first reconnaisance trip in late June and there was more snow than we usually have in late July! Steady snowfalls should have kept the train in pretty good nick. I will be at Dinner Plain from Wednesday(July 28) and will try to post updates then and on the Friday before the race.
Those of you who have been to Dinner Plain this winter may have noticed that a car park has appeared in what was the last run down to the DP Hotel! The building of the new school has changed the landscape pretty significantly, and has given us some additional challenges in setting up a race finish. I'm hopeful that we can still have the finish outside the Pub but this won't be certain until closer to the race day, so make sure you check out what the situation is when you register.
Speaking of registering, a big thank you to those who have already pre-registered via the On Line entry form. If you haven't already done so, please take a couple of minutes to do it in the next few days (Preferably by Wed 26th). The DP hotel has a big night on race day, so we need to get presentations done on time to give them a chance to clean up after us.
Please note that presentations will start at 2 pm, not 2.30 as in the last few years.
Once again, The General Store are opening their doors for us to take registrations on the morning of the race between 9.00 and 10.30 am, for an 11.00 race start. They'll have coffees and hot chocolates and the like on sale for those who like me can't really function without a heart starter. Many thanks to Steve and Darren for helping us out for another year.Remember that we can't start on time unless you register on time! Please allow plenty of time to get up the mountain and park etc, particularly if the weather is a bit wild (and what are the odds of that!).
I'm trying to set up a 'virtual tour' of the DP trail on the website, and hope to have the start of it posted tomorrow
And most importantly Ajays are on board once again and will be providing a great range of spot prizes which ALL entrants are eligible for.
Will post some more info here once I'm on the mountain.