October 21, 2004

Rock Creek Valley Tobogganing

After a long day skiing and the subsequent ski-booted walk back to the lodge from Perisher Blue's Front Valley; there's no frosting on the day's cake like some toboggan runs from the back of the lodge towards Rock Creek Valley.

We provide a full guide to the tobogganing at South Perisher and an insight into the mind of a tobogganist — covering equipment, technique and terrain.

Important note: Tobogganing is dangerous. This article presents the views of an individual and may not represent the views of South Perisher Alpine Club. South Perisher Alpine club does not endorse nor condone the use of toboggans in or around the lodge.


When it comes to selecting a toboggan to ride behind South Perisher lodge simplicity is the key. There are two styles of toboggan in the entrance area of the lodge — the flat base "death tray" and the groove/rail base "life tray." Always opt for the flat based version. The flat base tray is faster and doesn't include useless features such as the ability to steer.

Full ski clothing is required for tobogganing. Aprés boots are recommended footwear though some good success has also been met with using snowboard boots. For Aprés boots the elastic at the bottom of your pants should be stretched over the outside of the boots — this will prevent snow from getting in your boots. Goggles should be preferred over sunglasses as they are les likely to fall off your face before or during your first face-plant.

Where to toboggan

The trail guide shown below gives an indication of the relative difficulty of each run at South Perisher. It should be noted that when snow depth is low the difficulty of the blue and black runs is significantly increased. Trees and rocks can quickly upgrade an <em>intermediate</em> run to <em>difficult</em> and a <em>difficult</em> run to <em>insane</em>. Hitting some rocks in poor snow conditions could quickly turn the "pants cleaner" into a "leg breaker." Proceed with caution.

Toboggan runs


The most effective technique is generally no technique. Your main aim should be to reduce friction between the toboggan and the snow. Yes, this usually involves abdicating your steering and stopping powers but such is the price you pay.

To get down the hill quickly you should:

  1. Point the front of the toboggan down the hill
  2. Sit on the toboggan
  3. Tuck the rope attached to the front of the toboggan underneath your body so that you are sitting on it
  4. Grip the sides of the toboggan with your hands
  5. Tuck your legs up so that your feet rest on the front rim of the toboggan

Once you have performed those steps you are probably already hurtling down the hill. It is important to keep your limbs tucked inside the toboggan unless you need to stop or to dodge oncoming trees.

Final words

Those are the basics of tobogganing on plastic trays behind South Perisher lodge. You will notice that as the days go by the toboggan runs will deteriorate. This is particularly true of "Tree Dodger" which with heavy use will usually end up with a four foot drop off at the top of the run.

As stated at the beginning; tobogganing poses similar hazards as other downhill sports. Please exercise caution and ensure that children are fully supervised at all times.

Posted at 12:01 AM