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Eye of the storm

When a significant weather event occurs during the snow season it’s time for skiers and boarders to rejoice.  Whether it be on socials, TV, radio or print, if the terms “Blizzard, sheep graziers alert or snow to low levels” are being used, it’s time to drop everything, make plans and head for Hotham!  

Hotham Powder Skiier
Hotham Chairlift Storm
Hotham Snowboard Girls Storm
Hotham Skiier Powder Bluebird

The Powder Capital of Australia

The resort has long held the reputation as being Australia’s “powder capital”.  A unique village situated on top of the mountain provides the ideal base for powder hounds to revel in the exhilarating terrain.  Approaching mid July we are moving into prime time winter weather patterns.  As I write this, a trio of strong snow bearing systems look set to sweep up from the Antarctic and deliver a healthy dose of snow to Hotham.  With consistent top-ups in the medium to long-term forecast, the remainder of the season is set to be fantastic up here.  Here’s how you can get the most out of the powder and thrive in the “Eye of the Storm”.

Early bird gets the pow:  Contrary to popular belief, you can have friends on powder days; just make sure they get up early.  If there’s been fresh snow overnight, first lifts will offer the deepest, smoothest turns.  At Hotham you can shred the pow earlier than any other resort in Australia.  During peak season take advantage of 7:30 lifts on Heavenly Valley, accessing some of the best intermediate to advanced terrain.

Terrain choices; inside scoop:  When cold temps prevail with a north-westerly airflow head for the gullies of Heavenly Valley.  Runs including Gun Barrel, The Canyon or Race Gully will be holding the deepest snow and protection from the elements.  For expert powder frothers, make a beeline straight for the Gotcha chair to access Hotham’s most fabled steep and deep terrain.  Although rare, if winds are coming from the South check out the lower elevation protected zones of Blue Ribbon.  In a southerly, the snow accumulates down here amongst the nicely spaced snow gums (for the history buffs Blue Ribbon was Hotham’s first lifted terrain in 1952).

Layer up; clothing tips:  To properly embrace a snowy day, it’s important to dress correctly.  Dress in layers for the best protection.  Typically 3-4 layers could be worn including:

  • Base layer   (thermals)
  • Mid layer
  • Outer layer (water-proof pants and jacket)

Clothing that has a high breathability rating is the best.  Avoid cotton (especially against the skin as it doesn’t breath).  Ensure your outer layer has a high water proof rating (Gore-Tex can be a good option).

Eyes on the prize:  Choosing the correct goggles and caring for them can make or break a stormy powder day.  Avoid single lens goggles they have tendency to fog.  For the best visibility a rose coloured lens can provide great contrast on a low light day.  If you take a tumble and get snow inside your goggles dry them in a warm room.  Try not to wipe the inside of goggles as this will wipe off the anti-fog membrane on the lens.

Play the long game:  Riding the storm is a marathon not a sprint.  Take regular breaks to rehydrate, and carry some energy snacks in your pocket.  I like to hit the powder at first lifts then come in for an early lunch.  By doing this you can enjoy quieter slopes while everyone else is having lunch.  If the storm looks set to be a multi-day event, don’t go too hard to soon.  Ease into it and make sure you have plenty left in the tank at the deep end.

By following some of these inside tips you will be sure have an incredible experience deep in the Hotham pow.  Embrace the “Eye of the Storm” and come visit Australia’s powder capital! 


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