<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> OzBC.net - NSW Backcountry - Watson's Crags

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Watson's Crags

Despite what Victorians will tell you, Watson’s Crags is probably the most impressive bit of mountain on the Australian mainland. Officially Watsons Crags refers to the craggy ridgeline that runs east west to the north of the Sentinel. Watsons Crags is connected to the Main Range by a ridgeline that runs west and north west from the summit of Mt Twynam, commonly referred to as Twynam West Spur.

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The steep and rugged south facing slopes of Watson's Crags hiding behind the western slopes of Twynam West Spur.

Watson's Crags - South Faces

Skiing on the south facing slopes is limited as they are dominated by large granite "Crags". There are several lines that appear skiable from the relative safety of Alice Rawson Peak but most (including myself) would be scared off by the view down them from above. The rocky nature of the southern slopes of the Crags means they require a good to snow cover before they become skiable.

The easiest line on offer follows Crags Creek, located in the gully between Watson’s Crags and The Awesome Spur. I’ve only scoped this out from a nearby ridge and from the air but it appears to be wide enough and relatively hazard free for most advanced skiers. Like all the slopes off the south side of the Crags its not possible to see what awaits from above. The slope has a similar grade to the runs down the western face of Twynam West Spur. The easiest way to exit the run would be to skin/hike back up the creek.

Crags Creek is probably the only line I'm willing to say is accessible to the average backcountry skier. The rest really is expert terrain. If you were going to attempt these slopes you'd need to check them out from a vantage point first. The Awesome Spur, Carruthers West Spur and Alice Rawson Peak are probably the best vantage points for these runs. You'd probably also want to carry some basic mountaineering equipment for the hike back to the top. I've looked down most of these slopes from above and the assessment on all occasions has been that they are unskiable (at least for my ability level). I do know of someone who skied the line beneath the third arrow from the left in the picture below. The photo of their efforts can be found at the following address http://www.biglines.com/./photos/blpic29045.jpg.

The photos below show the southern faces form a couple of vantage points. The photos were taken in August 2007 and the snow depth was probably around average for that time of year.

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Southern faces of Watsons Crags viewed from Alice Rawson Peak. The top part of Crags Creek is visible in the top right of the photo. There are several possibilities further west of Crags Creek (marked with red arrows) but all are extreme with big consequences for those who make a mistake.

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Southern faces of Watson's Crags viewed from Carruthers Peak.

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Close up of the chute to the west of Crags Creek viewed from The Awesome Spur. The chute probably needs a bit more cover to be skiable. The photo shown here (http://www.biglines.com/./photos/blpic29045.jpg) was after a 50cm snowfall in early August 2004 (a snow year with above average falls).

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Close up of the slopes at the western end of Watson Crags south faces viewed from The Awesome Spur.

South side of the crags viewed from Sentinel ridge.

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Main chute on the south side of the crags viewed from Sentinel ridge.

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The view down the south slopes of Watson's Crags. This photo was taken in the area between the first and second arrows from the left as marked in the first photograph above.

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The view down the south slopes of Watson's Crags.  This photo was taken in the area between the second and third arrows from the left as marked in the first photograph above.  The photograph was taken in 2006 so the snow depth is abysmal.   

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A Climber (top right) makes his way up the southern side of the Crags. He's the small dot on the ridge. This shot provides a bit of scale.

Watsons Crags - North Faces

If you look west to the Main Range from Mt Blue Cow you’ll see a very tidy looking face just to the right of Mt Twynam. This is the northern face of Watson’s Crags and it provides some very impressive skiing. Unlike the southern faces, the northern faces have some relatively "Crag" free zones so there are plenty of skier friendly options.

Similarly to the western end of the Twynam West Spur, the northern faces of Watson's Crags drain into Siren Song Creek. There are four major drainage gullies down the north face of Watson's Crags.

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Early season cover on the north faces of Watson's Crags.

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Andrew in front of the north face of the Crags.

The eastern most gully (marked Siren Song 1 on the photograph below) has already been discussed on the Twynam West Spur page. Of those remaining the gully marked Siren Song 2 provides the most consistent fall line skiing. This gully faces north east so it typically holds more snow than the gullies further to the west as it cops less of the afternoon sun. It's also relatively free of rock outcrops. This gully is clearly visible from Mt Twynam. Any line is a winner.

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View of the northern face of Watson's Crags from Mt Twynam.

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Closer view of the easternmost gully off the north face of Watson's Crags.

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Looking down the easternmost gully off the north face of Watson's Crags. Siren Song Creek is approximately 300 vertical metres below. The gully coming into the shot from the right hand side comes off the Twynam West Spur and is the best way to exit the run.

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Me skiing the upper part of the Siren Song 2 area (Crags north face).

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Ski tracks down the easternmost gully of the north face.

The gully marked Siren Song 3 is interesting. The top parts appear to be very steep and rocky. If you can negotiate your way through the rocky outcrops at the top you get rewarded with couloir like gully that goes straight down the fall line. I've walked above this gully many times without realising its there. It was only after i was looking at some aerial photographs that i saw the potential for a great run here. This one's at the top of my to do list for 2008.

The gully marked Siren Song 4 drains the western end of the northern faces of the crags. The faces up high are relatively hazard free and provide some relatively open steep. However, these slopes have a north westerly aspect which means they lose snow quickly and they are covered in relatively dense vegetation that hinders the accumulation of a decent base. As such the potential run lengths are short.

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Mark takes in the view from the western end of Watson's Crags. The gully below is the westernmost gully on the northern face. As you can see the upper slopes are relatively hazard free but it doesn't take long for the slopes to become littered with rocks and vegetation.