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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Skiing in Perisher...What to Expect & How to Go About It

So, last week, Hubby and I hit the snow with the kids…

We went to Perisher in NSW. We’d never ventured to Perisher before. Thredbo was our previous choice of ski destination, and I have to say…we were very impressed with our new location this year. It just felt as though there was a lot of diversity to the mountain than there was at Thredbo. The skiing itself was overall more interesting to us as well. Hubby, who is more of a proficient skier than what I am (now there’s an understatement), obviously saw a few more runs than what I did (I’m happy to gently swish down the green runs, thank-you-very-much), and he loved it. We will definitely be heading back there next time we ski in NSW.

On the first day we skied (Monday) the weather was ordinary. It snowed all day, but was overcast and windy at the top of the mountain (not that I was there that day, but Hubby was). But Tuesday was GORGEOUS - snowing as we arrived but then sunny all day. Wednesday we started with -10oC temps in the morning (brrrrr), but another beautiful day. However, it also became rather windy and cold that afternoon. Thursday was warm, but a bit icy in some parts (especially over at Smiggins, which is lower down so gets a bit more warmth, therefore melting of snow) and I had a TERRIBLE day on the snow - constantly falling etc (I gave up at 2pm), but Friday was near perfect.  

Getting there
We drove – leaving fairly early in the morning from Sydney, grabbing some croissants for breakfast from the local bakery on the way to consume in the car. Then we broke up the trip by stopping just outside Canberra for a quick bite to eat and a toilet stop (it’s important to coordinate the kids’ toilet stops – otherwise you’ll end up stopping every half hour!). We had snacks in the car as well, and ended up arriving in Perisher early afternoon, after a super quick stop in Cooma to buy the 9yr old some under garments. 

You can fly in to Cooma if you want to, but quite frankly, you’ve then got to get yourself from there to the snow, so I personally think it’s easier to do the road trip - depending where you're driving from, of course.

Ski Hire
We hired our skis, boots, stocks (poles) and the kids’ helmets (which they are required to wear in all lessons now) from a ski hire place located at Lake Crackenback called Harro’s

It was a bit out of our way, seeing that we were staying in Jindabyne and skiing in Perisher, but we used them last time and they know their stuff. Alternatively, you can hire your equipment from the city or on the way in, say, Cooma or Jindabyne (heaps of places), and take it down with you, but for us it was a space issue in the car, and we preferred to hire it last minute. We were fitted and out of there within half an hour.

Also, if you end up with any problems with the equipment (we didn't), if you hire it from somewhere close by, you can easily return and exchange it. There's also a ski hire place situated at Perisher itself. 

Note: If you don't have a 4 wheel drive (we do), you'll need to carry chains for your car's tyres regardless of whether it's snowing or not. There's a fine if you don't, and there were at least two occasions we came across the rangers checking cars. (Tuesday morning was the only time I saw cars using chains.)

Khione, Jindabyne
We rented a townhouse in Jindabyne. It’s much, much cheaper to stay out of the snow. We didn’t actually find the 25 minutes drive each morning all that bad either. It ended up being much easier than we imagined it would be, and we'd do it this way again. 

The apartment we stayed in was called Khione 1. We could have fit another family in there easily, as there was a bedroom downstairs with enough beds to sleep 6 more! Upstairs, we had a Queen bed, then a bedroom with 3 singles that the boys loved sharing. The boys used the spare room as their 'play room'. ;)

All bathrooms had heated floors (although, they played up on us in the main bathroom upstairs and the ensuite downstairs at times - we had to crank them up) and two had heater lights, which is where we dried our ski gloves, boots, helmets etc each day (there's no actual drying room, which would have been handy and easier to be honest). We took a portable clothes airer like this one that I bought a while back at Howard's Storage to hang our jackets and ski tops on to dry each night. (I only washed the socks and skivvies each evening.) The property had internal access from the garage, so we didn’t have to muck around getting ice off the windscreen each morning, and could leave the skis strapped to the roof rack without fear of them being nicked!

The boys enjoyed a spa bath every night, which took aaaages to fill...so I'd suggest turning it on as soon as you're home. 

Parking at the Snow
The hint is to get to Perisher early if you want a good spot in the car park. You want to get as close to the right hand side towards the first bridge as you can. We were there by around 8am each morning, as we had to get the 4yr old in to his ski school by 8.15-8.30am, so we had no problem at all getting nice and close. That allowed Hubby time to take the big boys for a quick run or two, whilst I grabbed a coffee or just a sat down and relaxed, before the 7yr old's ski school and private lesson the 9yr old and I shared. Hint: If you haven’t been to Perisher before, know to look for the mountain and head towards the nearest building – on the right of the carpark essentially. On the first morning, I was uncertain where to take the 4yr old, and I ended up walking with him all the way to a building that housed the medical services or whatnot…we walked through freshly fallen snow – in the falling snow – for aaages before we found where we were going! It's not well sign-posted. 

Hubby has skied a few more times than me, and just seems to have taken to it far easier than what I have (he has less fear, I think!), so he didn’t bother with lessons this time around. It was the 7yr old’s second time skiing, so he went in to ski school. He did the Adventure Kids lessons – they start on the snow in the morning around 9.15am, then head out for the rest of the day, stopping for Milo and food breaks occasionally inside, and they’re collected on the snow at 3.15-3.30pm.

This was the 4yr old’s first time skiing. He joined Discovery Kids, which starts each day inside the building at the Snow Discovery Centre at 8.30am, and they spend four hours on the snow each day, as well as some time inside drawing, eating and playing etc. Pick up is between 3.15pm and 3.30pm. 

By the end of the week, the 4yr old was skiing with us down Perisher’s Front Valley with no problem at all. He took to it well (as many kids do - it's that centre of gravity and no fear thing!).

The 9yr old wasn’t keen on ski school, and as he and I were at a similar level, we took a private lesson together at 9.30am each morning with our own certified ski instructor for 2 hours a day over four days. It was $239 per session for us, but you can have up to 4 people in a private lesson if you want. Also, depending on what time you do your lesson, the price varies (cheaper for an early morning lesson). You can check out the complete list of prices for private lessons at Perisher here

Private lessons were the Best. Decision. Ever. I’ve had group lessons before, and honestly…I learnt more in the first 2hr session than I did in four days of group lessons. Our instructor was Neville (although he goes by ‘Nev’). He was fantastic. 

The 9yr old needs lots of encouragement to try new things, and can be pretty darn decisive when he doesn’t want to do something. He wasn't keen to get on a T-Bar (he had a fall off one in Thredbo last time we were there). Nev gently persisted with him on that first day and even got down to the 9yr old’s level, lying on the snow with him when the 9yr old took up camp on the ground in protest on trying the T-Bar. (Perisher is covered in them, so it’s handy to know how to use one. Also, I'd never tried one before and quite frankly, didn't see what the fuss was about. Although I fell off after my first detachment from one (I fell a lot last week in general!) I soon got the hang of it). 

Nev convinced him to try a T-Bar that first day - only part the way up Front Valley -  with the promise that he’d only take us on chairlifts the rest of the day, and the 9yr old did it. Nev kept his promise - taking us on only chairlifts - and in the process earned the 9yr old’s trust. That night at home - without any prompting from me - the 9yr old announced he’d try a T-Bar the following day, and he did. By the end of the week, he was skiing blue runs, riding T-Bars galore and even happily jumped on a J-Bar by himself on the last day (which he’d expressed he didn’t want to do just the day before).

I felt a bit sorry for Nev working with me…he had to tell me the same things over and over again, but he never lost his patience and was always encouraging and helpful. He was also protective of the 9yr old and I on the slopes, putting on his cranky voice at other skiers and snowboarders if they ventured too close to us! 

Nev also acted as part Tour Guide. He took us on great adventures through the mountains - we traveled to Blue Cow and Smiggins - and it gave both the 9yr old and I the confidence to head beyond the mid-section of Perisher after our lessons were over.

Just having Nev's one-on-one guidance was great, and he made sure he took us on runs that suited both the 9yr old (a few dips and bumps) and me (flat, not too steep) on either side of the run (a great example being the Mt Piper Fun Park run). 

So, if you’re heading to Perisher and considering private lessons, don’t hesitate to ask for Nev (Nev Leel). If for some reason they say he isn’t available, you could call him on his mobile on 0409 834 854 and I'm sure he'll try and sort something out for you. Nev is also an instructor at Telluride Ski School in Colorado (Ph: 9707 281 414), so if you’re heading there, you can contact him through the school or on his US number (9707 087 545).

Thanks again, Nev!

This Sunday, I’m going to put up some tips for travelling to the snow with kids for ya’ll to consider, so look out for that. I'm going to include something you should buy for the kids that will ensure no complaints when carrying their skis!

Then next week, I'm going to do a write up about some places - including restaurants - we visited in Canberra on our return journey from the snow. 

Have you been skiing? Taken the kids? Got any fave places in the snow to share?


Sam-O said...

I've been thinking about snow trip - maybe next year.

To be honest though it's not my favourite holiday. Many years ago I almost skied off a cliff in the Pyrenees, managed to crawl myself out of trouble, got back to the lodge and passed out in front of in front of a group of very nice looking French boys who manhandled me up to the ambulance station and definitely left laughing their heads off. It has pretty much killed my enjoyment in skiing, so much so that I've only been once since and I spent most of the time in the bar!

Thanks for all of the info.

Christie said...

This is great Jodie. I've had the idea of a family ski trip in my head for a while, but have put it into the too hard basket on numerous occasions. Any tips you can offer are greatly appreciated! Glad to hear you all got so much out of it!

Thea said...

Great post!
I've never been on a skiing holiday, but it's something we'd like to do witht the kids...one day.