Australia Victoria - Mt Hotham

Ride guide


On approach, everything about Hotham is dramatic – the mountain road, the scenery, the slopes plunging away beneath you. It’s rare anywhere in the skiing world to find an area that has its accommodation and services above the ski runs; this adds to Hotham’s impact but also means you need to deal with its skiing a little differently.

Who does it suit? Beginner 20%, intermediate 40%, advanced/expert 40%

Who does it really suit? It works either side of the ability spectrum – easily accessed beginner terrain and enormous variety for adventurous advanced skiers.

Soft spots: There are two easily-accessed designated areas for beginners. The Big D area is sheltered among trees, has great views and is also site of the ski school for children. The Summit area is also gentle, but is exposed to the weather.

Cruisers:  Mount Hotham’s weakness is its intermediate terrain. The jump from beginner slopes (which are very good) to intermediate slopes is a big one indeed. Low intermediates can struggle; some blue runs would be designated black elsewhere. The Orchard Chairlift provides access to a blue zone with runs such as Watershed, Bushwacker, Big Slope and Twirligig 1 and 2. Unfortunately, getting there and back may present a challenge. Other more easily accessible blue options include the Basin, Playground Trail and Sun Run. Best of all is Rambo’s Revenge, serviced by a T-bar near the Summit. It’s a long and consistent pitch and wide open. Not many people go there.

Adventure: For in-bounds adventure go to the “Extreme Zone” runs of Gotcha Ridge, the Chute, Mary’s Slide and Coles Bowl. Each is steep, relatively isolated and off-piste with the luxury of lift access. All of these runs culminate with a crossing of Swindler’s Creek and then a creek-side traverse back to Heavenly Valley Chairlift. The traverse is very fast in places and you can take an unexpected swim when it’s icy. Towards the end, the trail flattens out. It’s a push for skiers, and snowboarders will have to walk. There’s more adventure opposite the “Extreme Zone” on a mountain face that holds runs such as Spargo’s, One Tree Hill, The Two Micks and Golden Point. Again, these runs provide a wonderful sense of isolation. Kat skiing is available at Golden Point, however it is subject to weather and is cancelled more often than it operates.

Holy mackerel: Everyone we spoke to nominated the cliffs of Avalanche Gully and there’s no doubting it is a place only for the hard core who are prepared to risk life and limb – plus hike out! Another run high on the list is Lindsay’s in the “Extreme Zone”. It starts off with a wonderful pitch and is wide open, but beware of the terrain once you hit the tree line. From there it becomes very steep and has cliffs. The end of the run is very windy and there are not many turn options. A lapse could land you in the creek.

Bad weather: If it’s really howling, head for Blue Ribbon, it works best in a blizzard and has the trees for shelter and perspective.

Gear: The lift company-owned Hotham Sports dominates and provides a generally good service. For tuning, try their outlet in Hotham Central. Hoys Ski Hire also runs a good service. In fresh snow, accomplished skiers won’t regret getting out and about on fatter big mountain skis at Hotham – they’re perfect for the terrain in the Extreme Zone.

JIM DARBY/ROBERT UPE

 

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.