This article was first published in Chillfactor’s 2010 issue.

Words: Watkin mclennan

Photos: Joe Corcoran

Saturday night fanging up Mt Buller, we watched the side of the road anxiously for a glimpse of snow. Reports of 30cm of fresh over the past week had given us every reason to ski. Around the switchbacks in Camry Diaz – Joe’s affectionately named Camry – we climbed and there is was, only slightly discoloured – not bad considering it was October 17 and the resort had been closed for weeks.

We broke free of the tarmac, headed on up past the village and let loose on the gravel leading up Baldy – a road that only appears after mountain closure. Around the corners, Camry Diaz began to shake her arse, snow banks of almost a metre held her in place before the ploughed road ran out at the top. We looked back to the village, the moon shone over Mount Stirling and we knew the next day was going to be fun!

In spring the weather is perfect, your edges cut through the snow with ease and the mountain is empty, what more can you ask for? Powder – there is always that hope and this season followed through with several late season dumps. Notably, the biggest dump of the season was in late September, it brought 50cm to Buller and face-shots were aplenty. Scotty Talbut was lucky enough to be there. “The last week of the official season turned out to be the best. The trails were empty and as I skied the snow wrapped around my legs like a warm doona,” he raved. But when plentiful snow isn’t around – and even when it is – creating fun is what it’s all about in the last gasps of the season and that was what we did on that day in October. 

Watkin McLennan getting one last run down Chute 1. Photo: Joe Corcoran

Watkin McLennan getting one last run down Chute 1. Photo: Joe Corcoran


We rose early, the sun was already high in the sky and the snow was softening up. The Mount Buller glacier was in full swing. The area of Mount Buller’s infamous chutes gets only brief sun in the winter and usually freezes into a massive rocky, sloping ice rink. In spring however it softens up and holds more corn than a stoner on the coach with a pack of Doritos. Perfect for shredding late season turns.

The summit jump line had melted into a few islands of snow with slender tracks leading in and out. We needed to make our own jumps. “Lets get up-side-down!” Joe announced to the empty mountain. We built a small jump off a wind-lip and tried to touch the sky and fly with the currawongs.

Spring in the mountains is glorious; alpine animals and plants, released from the harsh winter explode with life. I remember skiing down Powder Keg in September 2008, brushing a bush I disturbed a small bird; it tried to avoid me but flew downhill, at head height. For 50m or more we descended the mountain together, no more than a few meters from each other.

After catching air we decided to take advantage of the deserted slopes and do something illegal, something that ski patrol would normally cut our balls off for: We decided to jump off Bull Run Chair. A brief moment of weightlessness complemented the feeling of rebellion and Camry Diaz blared out tunes beside the top of the lift. Spring sightseers were irritated, maybe jealous of our creative use of the magnificent spring day, or more likely because our music spoiled their tranquil experience.

At lunch we flared up a BBQ next to the road. Bloated and satisfied after a few snags and a novelty sized two-litre beer we moved down to the jib snow covered Burke St, where an eroded hip jump stood like a crumbling ancient monument next to the ski patrol building. Burke St, normally swarming with first timers loving their maiden snow experience, was transformed into a mini shred zone. We hot lapped it, taking turns driving, skiing two laps, and driving two.

It was 7pm and still light thanks to daylight savings. We were dehydrated and tired from hours of shoveling, hiking, skiing and sipping on the stupidly big beer – we’d been on the hill since 9am. The day was over, the season was over and we knew we’d be taking our boots off for the last time that year. Drained of all energy we drove back to Melbourne already thinking about the next skiing adventure.