Year 11 Wilderness – Alpine Expedition
The Chevalier College Year 11 Wilderness Studies class embarks every year on a five-day trip to the Snowy Mountains as part of their unit on Alpine Survival and Ski Touring.
This trip is a highlight of the Stage 6 calendar being such a unique experience in a truly beautiful part of our country. Our trip varies from the standard school ski excursion as we camp in the snow for the duration of the expedition. This experience demands commitment from each student as the constant cold and quickly changeable weather requires the students to be organised and focused to remain warm and safe.
The trip is a culmination of a term’s study that covers topics such as alpine leave-no-trace, ski skills, snow shelters, alpine cooking, alpine food, clothing and equipment, risk management and first aid. Students create their own Alpine Field Manual prior to the trip, identifying common cold-related illness and injuries, while highlighting tips for back-country travel.
With severe weather forecast for the coming days prior to our departure for this trip in Term 3 on Monday 13 August, we headed for a new location. Trekking up into the Munyang Valley, our group of 17 students, 1 teacher and 3 Lands Edge staff left the Guthega Power Station loaded with heavy packs and skis, bound for Horse Camp Hut some five kilometres away. Although not a huge distance, the trip was long and arduous given the uphill skiing combined with many first timers on skis.
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Don’t let the blue sky fool you, the weather was horrible for the first few days but the sun came out just as we were packing up.
Eventually making it to Horse Camp, the group ‘dug in’ and set their tents up, fortifying them by building snow walls for protection from the wind. This is where the group spent the remaining four days conducting different ski skill sessions, gathering firewood for the hut and generally just surviving. Cooking was conducted in specially dug out camp kitchens that used the fly of a megamid tent (circus tent-like shape), pegged down to walls that had been built up.
The poor weather continued for much of the week and limited the distance we could travel from camp due to safety reasons but, nonetheless, it was a trip very much enjoyed by all and all students came away with a very positive and unique experience of sleeping in the snow.