If this nightmare ski season has proven anything, it’s that Australian skiers and snowboarders know how to make the best of a bad thing. And this season was one of the worst in decades.
Not only that, but the stop-start season has proven Aussies are desperate to hit the snow however and wherever they can find it – even if it is a tiny patch at the bottom of a grassy slope.
That is exactly what one group of very keen skiers did at Perisher this week, making for bizarre scenes that were shared on social media as “proof Australians will ski on anything”.
The group was spotted on a Snow Cam in a “conga line” on the last surviving patch of snow on a run at the resort’s Guthega peak on Tuesday morning.
They were there for at least an hour, which provided some welcome comic relief to snow lovers let down by the stop-start season.
A woman later commented on the picture saying the group was her Year 10 students taking an Advanced Outdoor Education class, and they found the pictures just as funny as everyone else.
“Yep, we hiked from Guthega to get to that!” she commented below the picture.
“Very proud of my students, they made the most of the rubbish conditions and never complained. They all just cracked up when I showed them that (picture).”
The teacher was applauded for giving the kids a “fun” experience that “they’ll still talk about … in 30 years”; while others poked fun at the “bluebird conditions”.
The photos come as most of Australia’s ski resorts call time on their 2023 season weeks ahead of schedule — many due to high temperatures and a lack of snow cover.
Selwyn Snow Fields was the first to pull the pin, ending its comeback from the Black Summer bushfires early due to a combination of factors that made it “one of the most challenging snow seasons in decades”.
“Despite our best efforts, a combination of fewer natural snowfalls, heavy rain events and warmer nights preventing snow-making mean unfavourable weather conditions have brought Selwyn’s 2023 snow season to an end,” the resort said in a statement.
Victoria’s Mt Buller and Mt Hotham followed, as well as Thredbo Resort on the NSW Snowy Mountains. All three announced on September 17 they were wrapping up the season after “Mother Nature … kept us on our toes”.
Falls Creek in Victoria said it would stop operations on September 20 “due to high temperatures and forecast rain impacting snow cover”. Charlotte Pass in the Snowy Mountains announced it was closing early on Wednesday.
Even Ben Lomond in Tasmania has finished up for the season.
Perisher Resort – where the group of students took to the last surviving patch – is the last to draw the curtain on their season; but is only operating out of Perisher Valley after closing its Blue Cow and Guthega areas earlier this month.
Australian snow resorts typically stay open until the first weekend of October, but the country sweated through its warmest winter on record, per the Bureau of Meteorology, making for the worst ski season in 20 years.
Data from Snowy Hydro showed the depth of snow during this season was at its lowest in 17 years in elevated areas of the mountains, and the lowest in 50 years at lower elevations, the ABC reports.
It was by no means the leanest snow season in terms of overall snow depth, that was in 2006 with 85.1cm.
However, Weatherzone metereorologists have noted this year’s peak depth of 131cm occurred far earlier than usual, on July 13. It made for a strong start to the season, followed by a rapid decline.
From mid-July onwards, cold fronts were few and far between, making for little natural snowfall and well above-average temperatures across the mountains – and beyond – that led to dwindling snow coverage as the season went on.
The weather made for a challenging season for resort workers and a frustrating season for snow-goers, who often vented their frustrations about the muddy, grassy slopes or huge queues at the resorts on social media.
But according to a UN climate report last year, Australia’s ski seasons may continue to get shorter and shorter as snow cover data trends downward.
The report said the Snowy Hydro observations at Spencers Creek in NSW – which best align with falls across mainland alpine regions – showed the snow season had already shortened by 5 per cent and snow depth had dropped by 10 per cent.
And the decline in snow depths has been predominantly at the end of the season, bringing their conclusions forward sooner than usual, and have been a direct result of increased human-driven climate change.
Yet, despite meteorologists warnings of a horror snow season seemingly coming to fruition right before our eyes, Australians continued to flock to the snow for a winter getaway.
And if this picture from Perisher is anything to go by, wherever there is snow, Aussies will find it.