By Hamish Macphee
Finding value in the Aussie ski fields can often be a fool’s task. With lift tickets over $130 at most resorts and a pie and Gatorade for lunch over $15 you could be forgiven for giving up the search.
Enter Charlotte Pass – a quiet place to learn to ski or just hone your skills without the pressure of the crowds. Australia’s Highest Ski Resort is small…..but it offers great variety for a wide range of terrain from wide groomers to steep rock patches and perfect cruising treed areas.
The ‘DayTripper’ Pass costs $109 for adults, $68 for children, and $87 for seniors…let’s break it down.
Park at Perisher Valley for the day and take a scenic trip on the over-snow (the road is closed during winter) which takes just over half an hour. When you arrive you will be greeted by friendly locals at the Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel who will talk you through the ins and outs of the area including where to go for lunch.
Kosciuszko Triple Chair (the resort’s only chairlift) takes you from the village up to the ridge line. From here the views out into the Main Range are spectacular. With good visibility Mt Kosciuszko all the way to Mt Twynam can be spotted.
For beginners you can get your snow legs on Basin Poma. For those wanting things a little steeper you can hit up Pulpit T-Bar. Those keen on the most challenging terrain should check out Guthries High Speed Poma. Just a sort hike from the top opens up Guthries Chutes, a steep and rocky section to satisfy the adrenaline seekers.
Included in the DayTripper Pass is lunch at China King, Australia’s Highest Chinese Restaurant at Lucy Lodge. A selected 2-course menu awaits and will be gratefully consumed after a morning spent exploring.
For those wanting to head out into the backcountry Charlotte’s offers a great entry point with Club Lake and Curruther’s Peak not far away.
My favourite area was looker’s left of the chairlift and above the village where the trees are perfectly spaced and the terrain isn’t too steep (just look out for the pond on the way down).
Over-snow transport back to Perisher can be booked at a variety of times depending how the legs are feeling (and how far the drive back home is). A well-deserved Kosciuszko Pale Ale at the Chalet Hotel is a great way to spend the time waiting for your chariot to arrive.
Charlotte Pass is a small resort but sometimes that is perfect. The price is certainly right…a welcome surprise in the otherwise expensive pastime of skiing in Australia.