1935 - 1984 snowdepth record Falls Creek

Ian D

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Anyone interested?

When in Falls there was a poster on the wall of snow depths graphs for each of these years and details of where and how they were recorded.

I photographed it in sections so it can be digitised. I haven't done that yet and don't have the time at the moment but if there is interest I will post the images and someone else can do it.
 

teckel

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Yes please
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Ian D

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OK go for it.

If someone digitises it into a csv can you do everyone a favour and load it back onto this page for others to use please!

http://wikiski.com/wiki/index.php/Snow_depth_records

There may need to be some consideration done to normalising the records that have been collected by different means. Feel free to discuss here.
 
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Ian D

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Actually csv's of any data - snowy hydro, any of the vic resorts etc would be great to add to that page as a reference for others.
 

Sandy

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It's sort of ironic that the best measuring technique was the one from 1935-46, where they took measurements after each snowfall. e.g. 1961-1984 were taken start and middle of each month. That explains to some degree, the odd graph for 1984... shows about 20' at the begining of June and about 30' at beginning of July.
 
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Bogong

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Active snow surveys started in the Falls Creek area in 1911, culminating in the first formal proposal to build a hydro scheme in 1917 by the Victorian Hydro Electric Company. I have a copy of the glossy brochure they produced to publicise it and raise capital.

The VHEC were forced out of business a few years later when the state government gave an effective monopoly on generation to the bad old SECV. They continued snow depth surveys, but really ramped them up in the early 1930's with daily measurements at a number of locations, culminating in the start of Kiewa hydro construction in 1938.

So snow depth records were kept for 24 years before the stuff that Ian has got his hands on, but they may have been lost.
frown.gif
 
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Djon

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Very interesting stuff, thanks for getting it and putting it up here Ian! While it is a pitty about the inconsistent measuring,and the missing years, it is still the best record of snowdepths going back that far I have seen. Next best is the one line descriptive text of the seasons at Hotham. I have some chart-digitising software that I will have a crack at these charts with, hopefully it can extract some useful raw numbers.
 

Sandy

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It's interesting that it finishes in 1984....

That was the year I started collecting records for Mt Hotham for 14 years, up until 1997. (I also did some record collecting for Falls & Buller from about 1984 to maybe 1988)
 

Sandy

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Ian D said:
Was there global warming in 1973?

Imagine the headlines if we had a year like that now!!

From what I understand, 2006 was similar to 1973. I heard stories that they trucked people up from the Falls Creek village in 1973, around past Rocky Valley dam, so they could use the Ruined Castle poma and the Sun Valley T-bar. In those days, of course, the only way for anybody to get around that side was to catch the Summit T-bar or the International poma, then the Link Lift. However, it seems there was insufficient snow to do that in 1973!! Can you imagine a beginner trying to catch the Summit T-bar or the International poma just to get to the beginner's Headwater Poma???
eek.gif
 
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Ian D

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Djon said:
Next best is the one line descriptive text of the seasons at Hotham.

Do you have those?

Could you post on that web page on wiki or here and I will add them.
 
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Ulmerhutte

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Sandy said:
Can you imagine a beginner trying to catch the Summit T-bar or the International poma just to get to the beginner's Headwater Poma???
eek.gif

Had to do exactly that as a first-day beginner, but to connect to Link Lift. Got told there were great "beginner" slopes over at Ruined. They were right, but it took 2 goes to get up the Summit T-bar (fell off on one of those bristle-covered bridges on the first attempt, and had to walk back down).
 
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Charlie

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I was skiing in Sun Valley way back then, and the T Bar (The only way out) broke down.
We thought we were in for a large hike out, when a fleet of skidoos appeared trailing ropes, everybody was towed around to the dam wall, or thereabouts!
A bit foggy on details, it was a fair while ago, but it was most enjoyable!
 

Bogong

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I've added the one line descriptions of Hotham seasons to Ian's WikiSki page.

Hotham has recently built an archives facility and employed a records manager to sort stuff out and catalogue it. I haven't had a look at it yet, but I chatted to a manager up there and he reckons that their daily snow records only go back to the 1980's when the old Alpine Resorts Commission took over management from the former Lands Department.
 

Sandy

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Charlie said:
I was skiing in Sun Valley way back then, and the T Bar (The only way out) broke down.
We thought we were in for a large hike out, when a fleet of skidoos appeared trailing ropes, everybody was towed around to the dam wall, or thereabouts!
A bit foggy on details, it was a fair while ago, but it was most enjoyable!

Hmmm....

Should have been other ways. e.g. Up Ruined Castle, down to Headwater & up, then Link Lift, then down the home trail.
 
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Charlie

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I s'pose they didn't want to tow so many punters up a hill, there would have been at least 4 ropes with 6 skiers on each, we followed the approximate route of the the road around!
 

Ian D

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Bogong said:
I've added the one line descriptions of Hotham seasons to Ian's WikiSki page.

beer.gif


Interesting, Hotham report biggest year ever as 1946.

From Falls records, 1946 peaked at about 65 inches or about 1.8m whereas 1964 peaked at 105 inches or about 3m and 7 years show peak depths of over 65 inches at Falls in that period.

Seems hard to work out how there would be such a difference between such relatively closely spaced resorts in such similar climatic regions.
 
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foxhound

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1969 was a horror season at Falls Creek. The only available snow was a small south-facing stash out on the High Plains. People drove their cars to the site and walked up in their skis on the grass next to a strip of snow that was about 200 yards (the measurement then) long. Desperate measures for desperate conditions.

Nature later demonstrated some cruel fickleness by snowing fairly strongly just as the 'winter season' drew to a close.
 

Bogong

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Ian, if you look at the Charlotte Pass history Skiing off the roof, 1946 was their biggest year too. From memory, the lower 2 stories were under the snow.

Near Falls Creek, Wilkinson Lodge (the double story house which was the base for the surveys) was completely buried in 1946 and the roof suffered severe structural damage.

The Kiewa hydro stuff I've been working on also refers to 1946 as the heaviest year in memory. If I hadn't seen your photos of the graph for 1946, I would have thought it was a typo. I'm still disinclined to believe it.
 
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Ian D

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2006 wasn't that bad that it was impossible to get a snow reading from.

I skiied the summit at Falls Creek that year and they need about 70cm to get that open. 1973 was insufficient snow ALL SEASON to get a snow depth reading.
 

teckel

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Sandy said:
Charlie said:
I was skiing in Sun Valley way back then, and the T Bar (The only way out) broke down.
We thought we were in for a large hike out, when a fleet of skidoos appeared trailing ropes, everybody was towed around to the dam wall, or thereabouts!
A bit foggy on details, it was a fair while ago, but it was most enjoyable!

Hmmm....

Should have been other ways. e.g. Up Ruined Castle, down to Headwater & up, then Link Lift, then down the home trail.
He could be talking about the years before Ruined Castle. No probs beginners taking the Summit t-bar. Back then, chairs were not common, so beginners learned to handle Ts pretty quickly. In 1970, the only chair at Falls was the Gully Chair, most other lifts were Ts.

The nursery t-bar ran from near the summit T to the raceline, near where the Eagle chair now is. From there you progressed to the Village and then to the Summit Ts. So, from sheer boredom, I jumped onto the village t-bar on about my 3rd day's skiing. Day 6 was a blue sky day - brilliant weather, great snow, so that meant that sun valley opened (it only opened when the weather was perfect). So up the summit T I went. Fell off the first time and had to make my way down the summit. Made it. Then back on it again, and I made it to the top the second time, and got over to the sun-valley T (where Scott's chair now is). That was 1970. 80" of snow - that's 2 metres! The sun valley T bar had to be dug out - the towline had walls of snow way over my head. (The only lift on that side other than the link lift was that sun valley T) What a year to start skiing!!!

The only other lift at Falls then, that I haven't mentioned above, was the International Poma.
 
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teckel

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Ian D said:
2006 wasn't that bad that it was impossible to get a snow reading from.

I skiied the summit at Falls Creek that year and they need about 70cm to get that open. 1973 was insufficient snow ALL SEASON to get a snow depth reading.

Well, I skied for a week there in 1973, and I mainly skied the summit, from memory. Of course, back then, we didn't need 70 cm to ski!!! Why do they now need that amount of snow?
 
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Ian D

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We arrived for the last week of August at Falls that year. The Summit had been open from the last week of July and closed a week after we left so they operated it for about 6 weeks in 2006.

I guess with the amount of traffic on the run if they have less than about a 70cm base it is skied to dirt by mid morning now days. Snowboarders move 10x as much snow down the hill as skiers and they have to allow for that - in the 70's they didn't.

Each area has a minimum snow depth below which the resorts won't open them. Federation it is about 1m - 1.2m, Heavenly is about the same. The Summit at Falls is about 70cm and it has been for at least 15 years, probably longer.

I could guarantee you there is a snow record for 2006 at Falls, whereas 1973 the claim is insufficient snow to measure at the beginning and middle of each month. In 2006 that would have resulted in at least 3 measurements (beginning of of August, middle of August, beginning of September).
 

teckel

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Fair enough. 1973 of course was back in the good old days before snowboards
grin.gif
There was never a minumum depth for runs to open back then - if they could shovel enough snow on the towline to enable skis to follow a track, then it was open.
 
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currawong

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don't want to argue with you Ian, but my recollection of 2006 was that summit chair didn't run at all. there were of course tracks on it, but I think that was from people who had access to skidoos.

Old timers said that even in 73 the summit opened, but that was before my time.
 

currawong

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I did ski in 73, just not at falls. in fact that was the year I learnt to ski - at Buller with sfa cover. I didn't manage to get to Falls till 81.

one of the old timers I am quoting was Bob Hymans (a real old timer) who said 2006 was the worst he had seem in all the time he had been there
 

Ian D

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Will see if I can dig up some family photos of it then. 06 was the first year my daughter skiied at age 3 (and 09 was the first year she skiied the summit at age 6) so I think most of my photos that year were over near drovers area but I will check.
 

Ian D

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4 seasons.

Season 1 (3yo) : 5 days in kids club + 1 day skiing with the family (half day actually she was buggered)
Season 2 (4yo) : 5 days in kids club + 2 days skiing with the family
Season 3 (5yo) : 4 days in kids club + 1 day skiing with the family
Season 4 (6yo): 4 days in Junior Workshop + 1 day skiing with family

She turns 7 in about 2 months. She is carving turns even on easier blacks and has no fear of speed (all the fear is mine and her mothers there!). Her unweighted leg isn't quite parallel on harder runs but it is completely unweighted and just sort of a stability thing - it flops around a bit. She is totally weighted on the carving ski.

In Junior workshops it goes from 1 (first timer) to 7 (all mountain, bumps, air etc) and she is about half way through a level 5 in her first year in Junior Workshops (6yo and up). My son who is 2 years older and has 2 more seasons than her is all but finished level 5 - but she can ski rings around him - he is lost in a headspace, she just lives in the moment.

Will dig out some video and post in the next few days.
 

currawong

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Ian D said:
Will see if I can dig up some family photos of it then. 06 was the first year my daughter skiied at age 3 (and 09 was the first year she skiied the summit at age 6) so I think most of my photos that year were over near drovers area but I will check.

every year I think back over the season and decide what was the run of the season - the run where I spent a lot of time and had a great time.

in 2003 it was the maze
in 2006 it was drovers
laugh.gif


this year Rapunzels is shaping up pretty well for the award
 
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P

PolePlant

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teckel said:
Ian D said:
2006 wasn't that bad that it was impossible to get a snow reading from.

I skiied the summit at Falls Creek that year and they need about 70cm to get that open. 1973 was insufficient snow ALL SEASON to get a snow depth reading.

Well, I skied for a week there in 1973, and I mainly skied the summit, from memory. Of course, back then, we didn't need 70 cm to ski!!! Why do they now need that amount of snow?

Was the the year we had the closing day on the summit ?
The rest of the Mountain was grass, you had to take skis off to walk to Kofflers.
Hans Grimus down the summit in a coffin with skis wearing a skeleton outfit with his skiing German shep (Captain ?) not far behind was about the highlight of the day as I recall.
Not sure if it was 1973 but not far off.
 
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currawong

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in 73 they were using land rovers to drive people to summit at buller. I learnt to ski on bourke st that year. i reckon the snow on top of baldy was about a metre wide
 
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PolePlant

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Yeah the rich folk went in the land rovers.
We parked at Top of Bk St and walked to the summit up the track, 3 families.
 

Djon

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OK I have done a first cut of converting data for 1935 - 1946 to csv format, you can get the data here, and I have added a this to the appropriate section in the wiki.

I have converted inches to cm so us contemporary folks can readily compare with more recent years, and so we don't get questions from the younger folk as to how many cm to an inch
wink.gif
. Dates available are based upon start/end of season, and where there seemed to be a data point recorded. No interpolation has been done to get a nice regular data set. There have been quite a few other approximations made in terms of working out the dates, they are by no means accurate, but hopefully are correct to within say 3 days. Similarly the depths are over-precise. Perhaps they are generally accurate to within 5cm.

Please let me know if you see any obvious problems with these numbers. I'll let you know when I get to the next batch. It is a touch fiddly, but thankfully computers can take ease some of the pain.

beer.gif


JB.
 
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Gerg

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I'm interested in the potential homogeneity of this data. Thoughts:

1. Anyone know where "Rockey Valley Camp" and "Harbour Bridge" are/were? Presumably under the dam somewhere. Do we think the extensive measuring courses described are likely to be sampling similar areas? Note that snow depth tends to drop off real rapidly as you head east towards Wallaces from FC.
2. The 1935-46 "Depths taken after every snowfall" thing is worrying. That would tend to bias the record high compared with even time series sampling (as eg used for 1957 onwards). But by how much?

G.
 

Bogong

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Rocky Valley Camp was near the present dam wall.

Harbour Bridge was an arched foot bridge over Rocky Valley Creek made out of twisted snowgum branches, it was supposed to look a bit like Sydney Harbour Bridge, but the photos I've seen don't look much like it.. It was drowned when the lake was filled.

Gerg, you could compare the dodgy data from Rocky Valley with the Wangaratta Ski Club three word summations of Hotham seasons that are now on the WikiSki page.

RockyValleyConstruction-damSite1947.jpg


Rocky Valley construction camp and dam site, Kiewa, Victoria, December 1947
 
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