DECLINE IN SKI TOURING 1960 TO 1980

The skis most frequently used prior to 1960 had cable bindings that could be adjusted to allow the ski boot heel to rise from the ski when traversing gently undulating country. Long and or steep climbs in snow-covered country were often negotiated by strapping seal skins (or a synthetic equivalent) to the soles of the skis. The skins allowed the skis to slide forward over the snow but arrested any tendency for the skis to slide backward, particularly when climbing up a snow-covered incline. Photo No. 3 shows the typical ski touring equipment used in the early 1950's.

As Australian understanding of ski wax performance increased, some ski tourers used ski waxes instead of skins in gently undulating terrain, which had the advantage that, provided the appropriate wax had been applied, the skis did not need to be taken off to allow the skins to be either fitted or removed. The correct wax for the conditions would allow the skis to climb and, once the crest of the slope was reached, the skier simply rubbed the skis backwards and forwards a couple of times on the snow to warm the wax. The skis would then be able to glide freely on flat ground or run downhill.

Commencing about 1960, new boots were both heavier and more rigid and consequently less suited to ski touring than the previous models. Whilst the cable bindings widely used in the 1950's provided two alternative positions for the cables, one of which allowed the heel to rise for ease of climbing, the new "step-in" ski bindings were primarily for downhill skiing and shuffling short distances in ski-lift queues. As the use of the more specialized downhill skiing equipment became widespread in the 1960's, there was a noticeable decline in the number of ski tourers who were skiing beyond the limits of the resorts.

However, a boom in ski-touring using cross-country Nordic skis, was only a few years away, as indicated by the sales figures for Nordic skis by the Paddy Pallin shops. In 1962 only eight pairs of cross-country skis were sold. In 1969 the number sold by Paddy's shops was 284 pairs.

Due to declining winter use, the company that owned the Alpine Hut was wound up in 1968. The Kosciusko Alpine Club (KAC) has remained the caretaker for Whites River Hut.