|This appendix takes you back to the decade 1940 to 1950 which preceded the marked expansion of skiing facilities in the Snowy Mountains resulting from the inauguration of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme in 1949. It relies on the diary accounts of ski trips written by Frank Leyden and the photographs he took on these tours, to convey to you some impressions as to "what skiing in the Snowy Mountains in the 1940's was really like". Any necessary explanations have been made by the Editor in italics.|
ALPINE HUT, AUGUST 1945
The usual access route was from Cooma by bus to Berridale, where the local garageman met parties headed for Alpine Hut and drove them to the snow-line at Snowy Plains. Depending on snow depth, the Gungarlin River (Photo No. 1) might be as far as trucks and cars could penetrate in August.
Saturday August 11.
Breakfast at Railway Station OK, got away 8:45am. There were 12 persons in the Leyden party. Went fast in cars to Nimmo where new snow was falling. Was quite warm, strong gusty wind and cloud coming from NW. Eucumbene & Gungarlin rivers well up – latter crossed with some difficulty. Snowy Plains wind-swept and wet snow was falling continuously. Arrived Snowy Plains House at 11:30 and left after lunch at 1:45pm. All packs loaded onto two horses. Fresh snow on ground up Teddy's Creek. Put on skis with climbing skins fixed underneath the skis at start of Brassy Gap climb. Gusty wind and wet snow all the way up Brassy Gap. Everyone got wet through. Extremely beautiful effect of snow settling on trees, leaves, dead trees etc. Would have made excellent photos with good light. Horses could not get past the Brassy Gap. We had three bags of meat 36lb (16.4kg) and cheese, sugar, wheatmeal, jam etc. When this additional load that had been carried by the horses was divided between all members of the group, they all had extremely heavy packs.
Just over the top of the Brassy Gap, the wind was terrific. My right-hand finger tips were extremely painful with cold, for they had got wet. Climbing skins slipped off the back of my skis. Got to Kidmans Hut, very tired, at about 4pm. Left Kidmans at 5pm. We dumped some food at Kidmans, but should have left more of the food there. Deep fresh snow made skiing conditions exhausting beyond Kidmans. Wind was very strong and visibility bad. Worst conditions were at "The Diggings", where wind and sleety snow made slow continuous plodding necessary.
Weather was better after "The Diggings" and the NW wind was behind us. We were very tired due to the struggle through the deep snow. I had worst pain in left instep, possibly through lifting ski tip out of deep snow combined with the effects of a heavy pack. Next worse pain was in left groin, also due to lifting ski tip out of deep snow and a lot of track breaking. Arrived at Alpine Hut 6.45pm very tired. Hut was left by D. Richardson's party in excellent condition. Used medium THIN ski gliss, but with skins on all the way. Skins had very good performance, but the snow gets between skis and skins and compacts to ice loosening skins and allowing skins to slip off the back of the skis. NOTE: extreme difficulty of doing anything, such as fixing slipping skins, in a blizzard.
Sunday August 12.
Weather previous night relatively warm, heavy snowing and blizzard from NW to West continued thru' Sunday but wind moved gradually to South and died down towards evening. Snow was very soft and deep and very bad for skiing on account of the skis sinking in intermittently whilst running or gliding. Spent the day mainly wood cutting, water getting (on sled) from creek and doing maintenance work in hut.
Monday August 13.
Calmer night and colder. Bright sun with cloud and light snow coming from SW and clearing gradually. Plenty of photography around Dead Horse Creek & woodlands; also of icicles hanging on the Hut. Snow surface much improved. In morning climbed Penerith, Big Brassy, traversed to Little Brassy and ran down to Alpine Hut. Snow good on Penerith, excellent on slopes below Big Brassy (Little Arlberg). Snow deep and hard to turn on in lower woods, After lunch climbed to big practice slope, which was in excellent condition, above Kitchen Tip. Finally ran down Wood Run, which was also excellent, but we took a few wrong turns at first until we refreshed our memories as to where it went in amongst the trees. Thin layers of ski wax, such as Green Sohm, were OK.
Tuesday August 14.
Morning clear and cold; slight wind (cold) from SW; high Cirrus cloud. Temp 30 degrees F and Barom. 30.2 inch and gradually rising from previous day. In the morning climbed Big Brassy, skied down to Little Brassy. (Skiers visible in Photo No. 3 [from left to right] are Joe Scotland, Bill Cosgrove, Len Scotland, Hedi Spiegel, John D'Arcy, Edgar Spiegel, Trude and Richard Raubitschek.)
Spent afternoon practicing stem turns on Fletcher Nursery Slope, then the Wood Run. Good weather and snow much improved with a quite good surface. Bill and Laurie got "lost" in the woods of Big Brassy. Waxed skins to stop them icing up during the long climbs to the top of the ski runs. Still using Green Sohm thin ski wax, which is performing OK.
Wednesday August 15.
Morning extremely red sunrise after night that started clear & fine but wind blowing from 4 am. Weather warm and increasing wind + mist from SW & working around to NW and increasing all day but very little snowing. Big Brassy trip in morning. Practice slope & wood run in afternoon. Snow fast and hard on the tops. Pasty snow down among the trees. Rained overnight.
Thursday August 16.
Windy from W; hut rocks. Very warm in morning (38 degrees F which was about + 3 degrees C). Windy from W and very warm, over 40 degrees F all day. Snow around hut and in the trees very wet & pasty. Top slope of Big Brassy all pasty. We do practice slope in morning & in afternoon repair skins & stocks. Len, Joe & Dick do Bull's Peaks & Kidmans to bring back most of remaining food. Joe breaks ski tip and got back with a wooden block in its place. Green Sohm thin ski wax OK. Fast schuss but heavy turning.
(On a previous ski holiday at Alpine Hut in August 1944, described in our Second Ski Heritage Installment, Frank Leyden and his skiing companions toured to Mt Jagungal and Grey Mare Hut during a spell of good weather.)