Ok team! Welcome to Slay Safe. This project is an attempt to close a knowledge gap and create a mentorship for introductory participants in backcountry winter sports. This is unfortunately at the exclusion of snow shoeing. Ski and split board touring is the first item on the agenda. Putting the MSC and our partners in front of you, something in the realm of 80 seasons of lived Australian backcountry experience, is a really good start. We, the collective want everyone happy and safe in the Australian Alps. A huge thanks to our event sponsors Mammut for providing the means to make this all happen.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The policy through which the various obligations and indemnities exist for you as a participant deem that we now require you to be a member. This is now effectively a ‘Club Trip’. Not our original intention but this has become the case. We will still be accepting participants on the first come first served basis from your ‘expression of interest’ submission, just need you to be a member if you are not already. So first read the program below (realise this would cost $650pp commercially), decide for yourself if your keen, complete your Slay Safe application, and become a member so you can show your creds at the event muster. Or don’t, all cool.
You will need to be fit. You’ll be carrying your own equipment to survive the night, on your back... whilst skiing/riding. This is endurance fitness and requires a competency level equivalent to skiing / riding a resort blue confidently (no pack). Not at speed, but safely, from top to bottom, without falling. Hotham participants may need to ski steeper with a pack on and as such that event is rated as the hardest.
In plain speak, you know what your doing ‘in bounds’. Skiing wild snow with an extra 16kgs on your back can create changes and forces that can turn what looks like an easy run into a challenge, when the ultimate goal is to simply not fall.
You’ll need to be able to walk uphill and ski 5km respectively. Climb 10 flights of stairs with enough in reserve to ski/ride down then repeat. If your ticking these boxes keep reading. If not, unfortunately Slay Safe pace might be beyond you.
Beyond the physical is the technical. If you don’t own your touring kit yet, hire is thankfully now a good option (old hire gear is not sufficient) thanks to our partners listed below the checklist. If your thinking about buying kit for this trip start here for the description of what’s required.
NOTE: No form of ‘pattern base only’ ski equipment will be appropriate for this event. Skins are mandatory. Pattern base grip cannot be relied on beyond 15˚. Fitting skins to pattern base skis is however an option.
Skiers: Alpine touring skis with either frame or pin (preferred) or telemark bindings (compete with compatible boots), skis and skins to fit your height and weight including a pack. Extendable poles. (Note: this is not the trip to try telemark skiing for the first time).
Snowboarding: Either a split board with skins suitable for off piste riding sized to your height and weight including a pack. Or a standard snowboard and tech snow shoes with heel risers and integrated crampons. If your take this option you’ll need to up the fitness expectation level to double. This style is hard, heavy and thankless work.
This trip is an opportunity to ‘overnight’ in the snow. And that said, we won’t be attempting the overnight curriculum if the weather does not permit. This will be communicated at the start of the week of your trip.
Accomodation: tents are the go for the area we will be. Four season is the design standard required, that said three season will suffice assuming you have a ‘Bivy’ bag which we strongly recommend anyway. Your choice.
A down sleeping bag rated to -5 is sufficient that compresses to the size of a football roughly. A sleeping mat. We suggest an inflatable tech mat with an ‘R’ rating in the 3-4s like this, and a cut down foam cell mat. ( head to mid thigh height) again, bivy bags are recommended. We have a form below with sleeping options based on wether your going solo, have a buddy already, or need a tent or alternatively / can provide a tent for another.
Buddy? Yes, you will be assigned a study buddy. This person will be matched to you based on experience, gender and travel mode (Ski or split). Unless you have someone you know already registered, you’ll need to nominate.
More on the application form below.
Your ‘Posse’ will consist of two or three couples of study buddies. Your posse will be who you travel with accompanied by an instructor / guide.
You will be provided with a map of the tour, work session locations will be provided as coordinates. Travel between the sessions will be done in groups of 4 plus a guide. We will provide the relevant safety hardware for demonstrations such as probes / beacons / crampons. The one big exception will be a snow shovel like this which is the ducks nuts or a cheaper variation. This is essential for most of the training sessions and generally for lots of handy things in touring life. If you have your own avalanche kit bring it for the sake of familiarity but these will only be demonstrations, and drills would be self initiated extra to the curriculum.
Personal effects. See below the check list of clothing requirements. Things on the list are essential, anything more is extraneous and will likely compromise your travel agility. That said, if you know your a cold sleeper go pack extra socks, fatter sleeping bags etc. There will be a weigh in and if your over 18kg packed weight you’ll need to cull some stuff. 16kgs is ideal and we cover more on this in the classroom session prior.
By providing the main meals we hope to save you carrying some of the weight of a real independent tour. (2.5kgs+ approx including stove and fuel)
We will be providing the evening meal, a variety of Himalayan inspired treats to keep the mountain vibe alive... Vegetarian and omnivorous options aplenty.
Breakfast & Coffee
Will be provided in the form of a Yunnan ‘breakfast of champions’ noodle soup (optional ‘egg on top’). What we won’t be providing is cutlery or bowls and cups. A mega load of ‘cowboy coffee’, or hot water…
Lunch and snacks are up to you.
Rolfy will most likely provide his signature warming gluhwien, you can byo a night cap but it’s not recommended given that alcohol dilates your capillaries and contributes to hypothermia. Your not in a lodge, your sleeping on the snow. It’s kinda serious.
Gluten free or other dietary restrictions we cannot cater for and you will need to do your own provisioning, including stove and fuel. Very sorry, but this will already be probably the most remote free soup kitchen in the country and the charity stops there.
Safe Advanced Snow Travel
Day One / Morning
This is a coaching session which is conducted ‘on the fly’ as we commence the tour. The three core elements that we will cover in detail are skinning, climbing, and transitions to skiing/riding.
Skinning will look at how to fine tune your technique to climb mountains like a machine not a muppet. The devil is in the detail here as we’ll literally walk through the gradient transitions of -20˚ to +20˚ and the art of nailing your kick turns every time. Before transitioning to 35˚+ terrain and the art of the ‘boot-pack’, climbing demonstration, Crampons and self arrest.
Day One / Afternoon
Here we will be moving through the various nuanced contingencies that you need to understand to endure and enjoy extended ski touring. Extended meaning ‘over night’, hence it is all about self preservation. This is how to live (and thrive) in the snow. Kinda Bare Grillzy only not cheezy with an ultra Australian Alps slant to all of it.
Finding shelter, making shelter, staying safe and creating warmth. Emergency shelters, snow caves, tents and more. Food safety, sanitation, efficiencies and even, maybe, comfort.
Emergencies & Contingencies
Day Two / Alternating
This is the business end, the bits that everybody needs to know but really hope you never have to use it. We will explore mountain rescue from accidents, assessments of injuries and into critical incidents and multiple casualties. From mild concussion to broken femurs. Making an emergency stretcher from skis and split boards. Plus loads more rad stuff…
This component will be provided by the local area ski patrol or in NSW one of the alpine safety providers.
Day Two / Alternating
This module is all about looking around you for clues about hazards in the alpine environment, historic evidence. That history may only be hours old, or could date back to before the snow even fell. This is about expanding your ‘Observation range’ beyond just you in the moment. Ad to this observation range that the hazard may not be the mountain but other people, even team members. Yep, this gets real… Subjective and objective hazards, we cover them all.
We will provide the observational building blocks to equip you with the decision making foresight to avoid hazards, obvious and obscure.
This module will be provided by CAA operations level 1 certificate holders, complimentary to the AST1 curriculum.
Additional to this is the classroom module (Monday night prior / Location TBA) and we will cover independent provisioning, packing and basic navigation. 2hrs
We will stay on and enjoy day tours out to spots, apply some of your new found mad skillz with the plan to bump out Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.
Your welcome to stay and play for the weekend. Be a shame not too really. The wider MSC crew will likely flood in at the hint of touring and free beer. You’ve been warned. Let us know below if your planning on hanging round. You’ll need to re-provision. Likely we will have create a cache (in a car) at the roadhead ready for the weekend ‘re-up’.
Basecamp Location: Pretty Valley meadow below Mount McKay. Altitude: 1640m (-36.8838514, 147.2486149)
8.30 am Muster: Windy corner cross country ski shelter. The mountain waits for no person, neither do we. Yes it’s early, welcome to alpine starts. We will depart the shelter once, coffied, possied and buddied.
• Foul weather Route
Easy: 180m Vert Climb / 4.5km
Travel up and around the XC trail around the bottom of the resort to then climb the rocky knolls before descending to the basecamp area.
• Fair weather route:
Moderate; 240m Vert Climb / 4.5km
The other option uses the village chair to the village to then skin around the aqueduct and up onto frying pan plain, cross this and follow the poles to the cattle grid before descending to basecamp.
Basecamp Location: Cobungra Headwaters / Derrick Hut environs. (-36.962392, 147.160036)
8.30 am Muster: Mt Loch Ski Patrol Office. Another alpine start. We will depart the shelter shortly after.
• Foul weather Route:
Hard 250m Vert Climb / 6km
We descend through the resort to swindlers creek and ascend spargo’s ski run to hook out ‘lookers right’ to Golden Point then beyond to basecamp . A steep pitch of skinning to start the climb.
• Fair weather route:
Easy: 100m Vert Climb / 6km
We’d travel out and down to the bottom of eagle bowl, then up to derrick cairn to skirt the orchard on route to
Basecamp Location: Mt Tate / Consett Stephen Cirque
8.30 am Muster: Guthega Road Head (above the dam wall)
• Foul weather Route: Easy 100m Vert Climb / 4km
Easy as pie, cross the dam, follow the right bank up guthega river arm, cross at the bridge and keep skinning to base camp.
• Fair weather route:
Moderate: 160m Vert Climb / 5km
We’d climb to the Guthega Trig and beyond to then take a long traverse down to basecamp.
1 First Aid Kit Contents
Headlamp (& batteries)
Conan Wrap (dressing)
Gauze / Medicated Burn Gauze (silver tape)
Tampons / Period Pain Meds
2 Poo Tube / Tickets and Doo Bags
3 Water Bottle with 1.5m lanyard and 1m duct tape
4 Head torch - Main
42 Sun Cream
6 Beanie (shell pocket)
7 Gloves (shell pocket)
8 Mitts and liners with ‘mini biners’
9 ski poles (Adjustable preferred)
11 Touring Boots < 800gms per boot.
14 Shell Jacket (light weight / Pit Zipped)
15 Down jacket
16 Neck Gaiter / Balaclava
17 Thermal Top
21 Shell Pants: Bib’n’brace / Vent Zips and collars
22 Thermal 3/4 leggings
23 Smartwool Phd Socks
25 Goggles (touring spec)
29 Map / Case / Compass
30 Skis / Split Board
34 Skin Bag
35 Rucksack (50-60 litres roughly)
35 Tooth brush (cut down)
36 Tooth paste in Snaplock
37 ‘Splade’ fork combo
51 Patch Kit
52 Torch (spare)
Three season with bivy bag
Bivy Bag - Light weight
Inflatable insulated sleeping Mat - R value: 3.5 to 4.5
Closed cell mat - cut down to torso height)
Sleeping Bag rated to -5˚
Waterproof stuff-sack for ‘Night Change’ clothes - doubles as pillow
In addition to ‘Packables’
Thermals Top & Bottom (long sleeve / long leg)
Lunch & snacks.
Somewhere in the realm of 2000+ kJ per day.
Electrolyte water additive isn’t the worst idea either.
I acknowledge that I am undertaking a guided trip and/or course and alpine tour (‘the organised activity’) with Mountain Sports Collective (“MSC”) and that in order to do this I will need to involve myself in special travel, risks of all various kinds, different living conditions and different altitudes and weather patterns. I understand that the organised activity carries a certain element of risk and I willingly accept those risks. I agree that, although MSC may take precautions to reduce the risks and increase the safety of the organised activity, it is not possible for MSC to make the organised activity completely safe or free from risk. These risks include, but are not limited to, avalanches, rock or ice fall, falling, crevasse hazards, weather, exposure and other environmental hazards, and hazards caused by participants. I waive any and all claims that I have or may in the future have against MSC their directors, members, employees, agents, assistant guides, instructors, independent contractors, event partners or land managers as stated for duration of the organised event: Falls Creek Ski Resort, Mount Hotham Ski Resort, National Parks and wildlife service of New South Wales. And or any other representatives of MSC and shall hold the same free from all liabilities, losses, costs, expenses and damages of every kind and nature whatsoever arising out of my involvement in the organised activity due to any cause whatsoever. In entering into this agreement I am not relying on any oral, visual or written representations or statement made by MSC with respect to the safety of the organised trip other than as set out in this agreement. The terms of this release shall serve as a release and acceptance of risk by myself and bind all members of my family and estate. The acknowledgment of my agreement of the terms of this release are indicated by the completion of the below Slay Safe application form.
Quick note, like we said above, the ‘ol pattern base ski technology won’t cut it where we are taking you. And we’d urge if your feeling the BC love, the best thing to do is take the plunge and get your own kit. The suppliers below, not only hire, but also retail the best kit and we back’em for their expertise. Just say’n.
Awesome range of alpine touring ski equipment with the full kit. Probably can hire shovels as well? Not sure, But certainly cover the rest for the would be hapless alpine tourer. Tell them your on the Slay Safe trip and they will know what you need.
Pretty decent range of alpine touring ski and split equipment with the full kit. Probably can hire shovels.
This crew have a limited fleet of both alpine touring skis and split board(s). Check ‘em out for the Hotham event.
Extensive Range of top notch kit. Awesome crew. Jump in.
Bruce and his crew are synonymous with the backcountry in NSW and have been for a long, long time. Make sure you get the ‘alpine touring’ kit, remember - no pattern base.
Split boards for hire pretty much everywhere in NSW. Well, close to the people or the hills that is.
This crowd have an extensive range of the latest and greatest from around the world and certainly worth reaching out to if your ‘in the market’ for stuff.
Leaders of the pack in Vic when it come to split board options.