An epic Alpine Journey

This year’s Year 10 Alpine Journey was epic in more ways than one. The Bogong High Plains had the biggest dump of snow for many years, bringing the snow base up to 176 cm. At times, there were whiteout conditions, meaning visibility is so severely reduced that the horizon disappears and there are no reference points at all, creating a sense of disorientation.

In the second half of the journey, the group saw very few other skiers; they truly were in the wilderness.  In contrast, there were other times when the skies were clear and the sun shone over the Bogong High Plains, a stunning landscape few young people ever get the chance to interact with.  

This BGS Alpine experience was an unprecedented logistical exercise and, with 96 boys involved, we believe was the largest number of students out on the snow at one time in Victoria.  And while in many ways it may have seemed brave to attempt such a feat, months of prior planning ensured risks were mitigated and the boys were safe at all times. 

Because of the extra snowy conditions, one group undertook a ‘night travel’, moving to a more accessible location, in case they needed to pull out quickly (thankfully, they didn’t). Deputy Head of Outdoor Ed Nathan O’Malley refers to this type of exercise as ‘type 2 fun’ – it’s not fun while you’re doing it, but looking back on it, it could be called fun! And it certainly created lasting memories.

When asked why he takes students out on a trip like this, Head of Outdoor Ed David Gemmell said:

We do journeys of this nature because we know that the boys have the ability to thrive amidst adversity. By chance, this year level has been met by difficult weather conditions in both their Year 8 and Year 9 camps, and have come out the other side stronger. We wanted to give them the opportunity to prove to themselves that they now have the skills they need to face almost any outdoor adventure.

David believes that the biggest challenge for the boys is the mental one:

Our brains and emotions play nasty tricks on us. I felt that a lot of our boys were expecting the absolute worst – they believed that they couldn’t do it, which just isn’t true. Our boys are smart and strong and capable. Journeys like this one increase their confidence remarkably.

We caught up with a couple of the boys who went on the trip.

Josh Le Grice:

The Alpine Journey was a great experience. While there were numerous times when the boys questioned why they got put on the camp, there were moments that we won’t ever forget. Some highlight include: being snowed on as we walked into camp; cooking in –4°C; and waking up to blue sunny skies and amazing views of the isolated, snow-covered wilderness staring you in the face. A view that not many have been fortunate to witness previously. It was hard to go past.

Jordan De Worsop:

The Alpine Journey had its fair share of challenges. It had its ups and downs, but it was a good experience. Despite struggling with skiing at the start, once I got my confidence, I started to enjoy myself. I think skiing is an opportunity you don’t get often so I’d take it when it comes around, if I were you.