Australia NSW - Thredbo


Thredbo beats all of Australia for vertical and in that vertical lies a sensational mix of long cruisers, encouraging beginner terrain and challenging adventures. Snowmaking virtually secures top to bottom skiing. There isn’t much that’s not to like about this mountain.

Who does it suit? Beginner 16%, intermediate 67%, advanced/expert 17%

Who does it really suit? A place for all comers.

Soft spots: Any area that has its beginner slopes virtually out of the car door gets high marks. Experienced skiers and boarders underestimate how intimidating a lift can be when you haven’t even worn skis before. This makes Thredbo’s Friday Flat one of the best learner areas around for adults and children. Quality encourages popularity, however, and it can get crowded.

Cruisers: The best cruising is probably off the Cruiser chair for the quality of the slope grooming and the consistency of the terrain, but note that the lift can get crowded around lesson time. The Supertrails offer longer and slightly steeper cruising runs, but are best taken early or at lunch time as again, crowding can be a problem, decreasing the enjoyment factor and increasing the ability required.

Adventure: The Dead Horse Gap run is one of the most beautiful adventures in Australian skiing. You’ll need someone who knows the way, but on a sunny day, take a group, take a picnic and stage a car at the carpark at Dead Horse Gap (up river on the Alpine Way a few kilometres from Thredbo). You ride the lifts to the top of Karels, gain a bit of altitude amid the astonishing boulders on the Ramshead Range and then ski along the ridge and through the snow gums all the way to Dead Horse Gap. It’s a stunner and any strong intermediate with a sense of adventure could cope with it.

Holy mackerel: This sequence will challenge anyone, not just for the pitch on some of the faces, but also for the physical demands of the length and vertical. Ride the lifts all the way to the top of Karel’s T-bar, head around on a run called Schuss but cut out of that for the cliff band above the Basin. Drop off that on the subtly named Balls to the Wall, then make for the top station of the Ramshead double chair and you can choose to cut skier’s right to the Golf Course or Funnelweb or head straight down Cannonball. The choice there should depend on snow cover and type – Golf Course for powder, Funnelweb for slush bumps, Cannonball after a storm. If you can ski/board this at a hard pace all the way from top to bottom then you are officially in good shape.

Powder pointer: Go early (line up at the Kosciuszko Express at least by 8.20am) and if you have the ability, go wide to the Golf Course Bowl. If it seems like everyone else in Thredbo is doing this, then once Antons T-bar opens, head there and take the Merritt’s Traverse and ride the Wave into the powder bowl above The Cruiser or hang around Antons and ski the trees and Michael’s Mistake.

Local tips: Because of the altitude, Thredbo’s upper slopes can be criticised for their wind-exposure. Stop complaining, put on a neck warmer and make the wind your friend. After a storm, even during a storm, the snow can drift so beautifully on the wind, you might get fresh tracks every run on places like the Bluff or in the trees around Antons and Sponars.

Traps: Steer clear of The Cruiser chair at Merritts from around mid morning to lunch and then around 1.30pm–2.30pm – it’s a very popular group skiing and teaching area (if you get stuck, use the singles lane – it usually moves through quickly up here).

Gear: For hire, the best bet is to package up the program and hop into the Thredbo Sports outlet at Friday Flat. For boot-fitting, the Jindabyne Sports outlet in Squatters Run is as good as you’ll find in Australia and they also have a demo ski program. For tuning, go to Ronnie Duncan’s near the stairs up to the Kosci Express.



jim darby/the snow biz
There's a lot to like about ski lifts, and the people who make them.

arnie wilson/from the alps
Life is full of ironies. The Alps got the snow and Russia got the Olympics.

go flip/flip byrnes
Meet the fashion victims; a whole winter world of them.

There's a lot to like about ski lifts, and the people who make them.

Life is full of ironies. The Alps got the snow and Russia got the Olympics.

Meet the fashion victims; a whole winter world of them.