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Cruise the Groomers - Making the most of the Hotham Corduroy

By Drew Jolowicz

Posted 9 August 2022

On piste vs off piste? Groomed snow vs off the beaten track? These are questions we constantly ask ourselves each day as skiers and snowboarders alike. We're fortunate at Hotham in that we have the best of both worlds including some fantastic on piste skiing and riding.

If you ski or snowboard and enjoy the thrill of flying down perfectly groomed snow, then Hotham has terrain to suit everyone from entry level participants right up through to the advanced hard charger.

Heroes of the night:

A lot goes into preparing the perfectly manicured slopes we lay our skis or board onto every morning. As soon as last lift is called, the Hotham Operations team get to work, heading out in the resort’s impressive fleet of modern snow cats, grooming the slopes to perfection, ready for the following day.

Timing is everything when it comes to preparing the perfect snow surface. Weather, snowmaking conditions, humidity and temperature all play a role in deciding the optimal time to groom.

Whether it's straight after lifts close in the evening, the middle of the night, or making the final pass at sunrise just before the chairs start turning, our Mountain Ops team will be out there and have us covered. If you see a team member in passing be sure to say hello. Chances are they've been up all night preparing the best conditions possible for everyone to slide on.

Early tracks are the best tracks:

Get out early for the smoothest, most consistent turns. Skiing or snowboarding on freshly groomed corduroy is a sensation that's hard to beat and one thing’s for sure, conditions will never be better than first thing in the morning!

At Hotham, dive into the corduroy earlier than anywhere else in Australia with the First Tracks program on Heavenly Valley. From Wednesday through Sunday, Epic Australia Pass holders can enjoy first tracks on some of Australia's best intermediate to advanced terrain. All groomed to perfection and awaiting your edges.

Improving on piste technique:

No matter whether its skiing or boarding, everyone can improve their technique and maximise the fun by taking a lesson with Hotham's Snowsports School.

Hotham's team of qualified instructors will have you carving on the piste in no time. For those looking to increase the progression curve, consider booking a private lesson and take your skiing and snowboarding to the next level. For peak times, book lessons in advance to ensure preferred times are available.

Where to find the best corduroy at Hotham:

For beginners head to the wide open spaces and gentle terrain of the Summit. Here the entry level slopes are groomed smooth and wide (perfect for learning on). If the weather isn't ideal, jump on the bus and head down to the sheltered slopes of the Big D. Located at bus stop five, the Big D offers a great alternative and shelter from the elements.

Intermediates will love the groomed runs found in the Orchard area. The blue runs of Mitchell's, Bushwacker and Zirk's offer perfect fall line cruising. On a sunny day enjoy uninterrupted views of the entire ski resort one way. Then turn your head for striking vistas of the Razorback Ridge reaching all the way to Mt Feathertop.

For the advanced skier or snowboarder looking to push themselves, nothing beats First Tracks on Heavenly Valley. Watch the sunrise over your favourite runs while riding the chair. Wax up the carving skis and drop into some of the best pisted runs in Australia. Ski the fall line of Black Snake or Twilight Zone, or surf the wide walls of Race Gully (a perfect natural half pipe).

Equipment considerations:

On piste vs off piste? The equipment used may vary to suit the purpose. Generally speaking, skis that are narrower underfoot with a more prominent side-cut will offer better performance on the hard pack (as opposed to a wider ski in the powder). A ski with a medium turning radius will offer the greatest versatility and control on the cord.

Snowboard equipment can vary also. Riders may choose to switch to a board that has greater torsional stiffness to increase performance on the corduroy. A stiffer board speeds up the transition from edge to edge and more traditional camber (as opposed to rockered for powder) will provide greater spring and control while snowboarding on the piste.

Keep up to date with conditions:

To stay across all the current snow and weather conditions be sure to check out the daily Snow Report published each and every morning during the winter season. Also check out the live snow cams to see how your favourite groomed runs are shaping up (you may even spot a snow cat or two in action!).

With peak season well and truly upon us, there's no better time to get out and explore Hotham's fantastic groomed terrain. The resort has a solid snow base and there's more snow in the forecast. For the best skiing and snowboarding check the conditions and hit the slopes early.

There really is something for everyone. Have fun and get amongst it!


Drew is a Hotham local who was introduced to skiing at four years old. Since then he has been skiing at Hotham every winter, now aged in his 30's. His skiing has taken him all around the world in search of snow, with memorable destinations including Japan, North America, Canada and New Zealand. 

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