Aug 29, 2012
It’s peak summer in the Middle East, monsoons in Mangalore of Karnataka, India and freezing winters in the Mangalore of Victoria, Australia. It’s snowing in nearly a dozen Ski Resorts near Mangalore in the State of Victoria including Mount Buller, Mount Donna Buang, Mount Baw Baw, Mount Stirling, Mount St Gwinear, Falls Creek, Lake Mountain – all these are about an hour to three hours drive from Mangalore. Every year, during the snow season that starts from mid-June to early September, we pay a visit to the snow and this year we made it to Mount Hotham and Dinner Plain.
Mount Hotham lies on the eastern side of Mangalore and it takes just over 3 hours drive to reach there, (4.5 hours from the city of Melbourne) which is home to Hotham Alpine Resort. It is a mountain with the highest snowfall in Victoria in the last decade and is located at the crest of the Great Alpine Road, the highest bitumen road in Australia. The access to this mountain from Mangalore could be much nearer but for the winding roads that takes all the way to the north east, then to the south east and finally towards the destination that lies further east. Dinner Plain Village is only 10km away from Mount Hotham.
Mt Hotham's summit rises to an altitude of 1,861 metres (6,106 ft) above sea level. Hotham village stands at a height of 1,750 metres (5,740 ft), making it the second highest resort village in Australia after Charlotte Pass Village in the neighbouring State of New South Wales. At the time of writing, the extensive snow cover in Mt Hotham has a depth of 135 cms snowing continuously in the last week while Charlotte Pass, Thredbo and Perisher in New South Wales stood at 166 cm making the snowiest mountains in Australia this year. These pictures of Mount Hotham during our visit was at a snow depth of 87 cms, freezing at minus 3.2°C. The average maximum temperature in summer is 15.7°C. and the lowest temperature recorded hitherto at Mt Hotham is minus 12.8°C.
Hotham Alpine Resort features 3.2 square kilometres of ski area including 35 kilometres of tree-lined cross-country trails and a network of 13 lifts. The longest run at Hotham Alpine Resort is 2.5 kilometres. Hotham features an abundance of runs for skiers and boarders of all standards from beginners to intermediates and advanced and appropriate ski lessons are provided to all age groups. The resort is home to one of Australia's most difficult runs, the steep Mary's Slide.
Motoring on alpine roads not only requires concentration and adept driving skills, but also a lot of patience. Driving has been my passion and the driving experience on the snowy roads has been a different one altogether. Snow chains need to be fitted for your driving wheels of the vehicle as it crushes the snow and gives a grip for driving, otherwise there is a danger the tyres might skid losing control. The chains thus fitted provides maximum traction while driving in the snow. The use of diamond pattern chains is recommended at most resorts rather than ladder chains. Applying handbrakes is not advised as moisture can freeze the cable and brake lining. Car has to be left in the gear with the front wheels turned away from the slope. The radiator needs to be covered to help prevent freezing. Periodically clearing the snow on and around the vehicle can be bit of a headache. The wipers from the windscreen need to be lifted or placed in a plastic bag if parking for an extended period so that wipers do not stick to the glass. The door locks need to be covered with a masking tape to stop locks freezing up. It appears the car needs to be taken care of more than a human.
With sub-zero temperatures a proper snow gear will protect, warm and keep one dry. Clothing can be divided into two layers namely the inner insulating layers and the outer windproof and waterproof layer. The outer layer consists of a waterproof and windproof jacket, over pants, some prefer bib and brace, gloves, eye protection and head covering. Some skiers have been known to wear larger rubber dishwashing gloves over woollen gloves help to keep hands warm and dry on the very wet days. All types of windproof and waterproof outer clothing can be hired from most ski hire outlets, if you don't own your own.
Snowfalls that create and maintain a persistent snow cover usually begin about mid-June and continue intermittently until early September. Snow has a lot to offer. The snow provides versatile activities from sledding with the family to the snowshoe races. Backpacking, cross-country skiing, snow biking, tree runs, natural halfpipes, gullies and bowls are examples of activities involving snow. Several walking tracks exist within the resort to explore the area and provide excellent opportunities to view the native flora and fauna. Kids had a jolly good time playing in the snow. Whether it is downhill skiing, snowmobiling, ice climbing, ice skating, playing with snowballs, skateboard skiing or building a snow man, it is a beautiful experience and the joy is endless. While it is snowing, dancing in the snow flakes is another unique experience.
On the onset of winter –
To the snow mountain we go …
To see and feel the snow
We put on our gears
And watch the snow falling
In soft cotton wool flakes
And the amazing white blanket it makes!
Like all the ski resorts, Mt Hotham offers a winter holiday that you will never forget. Outstanding ski and snowboarding terrain, first class resort facilities including extensive ski-in/ski-out accommodation options and above all the scenery will take your breath away.
We always hear it’s boiling in Mangalore, raining cats and dogs in Mangalore. Well! It also snows near Mangalore.
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