Australia Victoria - Mt Buller


A MEASURE OF any mountain is how long it takes to ski. Can every one of Mt Buller’s marked runs be skied in a day? JIM DARBY attempted it on a sunny August day with a full cover of snow and every lift operating.

The guide was ski patroller Ed Mahon, an accomplished skier who knows the mountain inside out. He was looking forward to the quest but was up front about it – ‘I don’t think we can do it, I think there’s just too many runs,’ he said.

For an overview, we skied the runs off the lifts on the northern slopes, with our first run out the back door of the patrol base and down Shaky Knees.

Next came Cow Camp, to the bottom of the Tyrol T-Bar, and then Dam Run, uniquely Buller runs. Most of the tree skiing in Australia is among the short, gnarly snow gums, but these runs drop right in among the spectacular woolly butt trees that dominate the lower altitudes. They also underline the potential of the skiing in a good season and just how low it can go.

We moved along through Burnt Hut, stopping to help a skier with a cut from a fall and then over to Boggy Creek, Grimus and the summit area. While we’d covered almost every lift on the northern slopes, we’d skied less than a third of the runs.

“We’re not going to get through it, but I’ve got an idea,” Ed Mahon said. “We’ll ski all the runs in the Bull Run Bowl and from that, we can work out how long the whole exercise would take.”

So, after a fuel-up at Koflers, we moved into Bull Run Bowl and first-up skied the steep, long and interesting Women’s Downhill. Next run was Sun Valley – every area has one, named in tribute of the pioneering North American resort. After Sun Valley came Hog’s Back, then Plug Hole and then the Funnel, the half way point or centre of the bowl.

 

The bumpy and challenging Wood Run, the site of the annual Abom Mogul Challenge was our sixth run, followed by Fall Line and then Standard. Eight runs, eight rides on the Bull Run chair. We skied hard and didn’t have to wait in any queues and it still took us 95 minutes.

If you divided the mountain up into zones like this, there would be seven in all: Tyrol, Boggy Creek and Grimus, Summit and Howqua, Wombat, Federation, Bull Run, and Baldy, Bourke Street and Chamois.

Each area would take about as long as the Bull Run Bowl with Wombat probably taking twice as long. That’s a minimum 14 hours skiing and considering the lifts open at 8.30am and are all closed by 5pm, one day just wouldn’t be enough.

‘Look, it just goes to show you, this is a big mountain,’ Ed Mahon said.

‘Even if you were a fully fit, very fast Australian ski team member, I don’t think you could ski all the runs in a day.’

Even riding the lifts as we did is a good way for accomplished skiers to get to know Mt Buller or for old hands to reacquaint themselves with it.

‘The way we moved is the way to do it,’ Ed Mahon said, ‘starting on the north side and always moving to skier’s left. It just flows better around the mountain doing it like that.’

 

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