The ski lifts at Tasmania’s largest ski field, Ben Lomond, are normally dormant at this time of the year.
But freezing temperatures and a huge snow dump have allowed them to re-open earlier than expected.
Ben Mock from Ben Lomond Ski Lifts said the season normally started in July, but conditions were perfect for that to be brought forward.
“We had a lot of work to do over the last couple of days to get us open,” he said.
“It was so stressful but then we got the tick and it was just a sigh of relief.”
Mr Mock said the snowy conditions were a good sign for the months ahead.
“It certainly sets us up for the winter season. The snow that has fallen is a great base for us to start on and there is more on the forecast,” he said.
‘Something special about Ben Lomond’
The first day of the snow season on Ben Lomond brings with it the threat of injury.
Third-generation ski patroller on the mountain, Alex Findlater, has been helping those who get into trouble for the past 11 years.
“We have minors injuries, like cuts, and then we pick up people who are out on the slope who can’t get themselves down with broken bones and more serious injuries,” he said
“We also often deal with injuries due to the extreme weather and the cold, like hypothermia.”
Learning from both his father and grandfather, Mr Findlater described it as a “rewarding” job.
“Growing up around the patrol has been part of what the mountain is to me,” he said.
“There’s something really special about Ben Lomond and the community here.”
‘Business is looking up’
The 2022 season is shaping up to be one of the best on Ben Lomond in the last 20 years.
Coronavirus constraints, a lack of tourists, and not enough snow for skiing meant the ski field has suffered in recent years.
A fire destroyed the popular the Ben Lomond Alpine Hotel in 2018, in what was another devastating blow.
The main public shelter on the mountain was also destroyed but should be rebuilt by the start of next year’s season.
Ashley Howard from Ben Lomond Snow Sports said things were looking up for his business, and the mountain as a whole.
“It’s looking really good. If we have got this amount of snow already, it can only get better from here,” he said.
“Business is looking up. It is just full steam ahead.”
Visitors to the summit of Ben Lomond are required to carry snow chains between June and September.
A transport shuttle service is operated from the lower car park during the ski season.
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