I had heard rumours about Mount Hotham and its reputation for being popular amongst experienced skiers. As we approached the white peaks, it became clear why. Here I was, a beginner snowboarder in a car-full of experienced skiers and boarders on my way to the slopes. How would I ever survive?
As we followed the bends of the Great Alpine Road my nerves began to ease and I grew more excited. In awe that we could be driving so close to the cliffs, I momentarily forgot about my lack of ability on the snowboard.
Fortunately, there are different types of lift passes available and I was able to purchase a “Big D” pass, which was only for the first lift, but at a discounted price. Naturally you do not get to explore much of the mountain with this pass, but knowing my abilities, that was not going to be a problem.
As I got off the lift, the nerves returned. The mountain looked small from the village, but when the time came, I felt like I was four foot small on a mountain that was about to become my enemy.
My first attempts proved difficult as I remembered the amount of strength required to pull myself up for each take-off after falling over. Due to its location, Mount Hotham has higher annual snowfalls than many of its Aussie counterparts. With more fresh snow it was a lot softer than I had anticipated, making falling over a little less scary, and sometimes even fun.
Even though it began to hurt, it proved to be great entertainment for my watching friends. I have always been less co-ordinated, and this became obvious as I attempted to make it further down the hill before falling over.
I realised that as I started off, I was getting caught up in the excitement of the fact that I was actually snowboarding down the slope, and at quite a fast pace at that! (Well it felt quite fast, although I’m sure several skiers and boarders sped past me!)
Once I was comfortable practising on my own, my friends set off to the more advanced runs on the other side of the mountain. We met up for lunch after a couple of hours, before returning to the slopes for the afternoon.
Following lunch I felt energised and determined to conquer the beginner’s run, but I knew I had a lot of work to do. Feeling sore and sorry for myself after the next two attempts, my spirits were dampened but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. I convinced myself to be fearless, forget the pain I was feeling, and go for it.
There I was, standing up and heading towards the bottom. It felt totally different, and I was more in control. Next thing I knew I was turning and slowing myself all the way to the bottom. As I got closer to the lodge my friend Kate came into view, “Woohoo!” I exclaimed, excited with my accomplishment.
As she looked over she aimed the camera in my direction ready to capture the moment until… thud! I fell right in front of her and the only evidence of my achievement was to fall ever so gracefully.
Although my friends did not see me snowboard down the run very successfully, I knew I could do it. It was now up to me to prove to them that even the most uncoordinated people can manage themselves on a snowboard!
We departed Mount Hotham with the sun setting behind us. Whilst my friends shared their experiences, I was already eager to return. But not before rewarding ourselves with a tour of the local Victorian wineries the next day.