Pg. 058 Dead Horse Gap

Chill Factor - - Introduction - By Ry­ley Lu­cas Pho­tos by Alister Buck­ing­ham

Har­ri­son McIn­ness and Ry­ley Lu­cas take on a sketchy gap jump across the Alpine Way

Ry­ley Lu­cas and Har­ri­son McInnes take on one of the heav­ier road gaps in Aus­tralia

Liv­ing in Mel­bourne, I usu­ally make the re­turn drive from there to Jind­abyne ev­ery few weeks in win­ter, and af­ter a while I tend to not pay too much at­ten­tion to the sur­round­ings. You usu­ally first see a de­cent amount of snow as you cross Dead­horse Gap which sits at 1570 me­tres and is about seven kays from Thredbo, but I’ve never re­ally checked out the ter­rain around there or thought too much about it.

Last Au­gust, Har­ri­son McInnes and I were do­ing some ski­ing for Thredbo me­dia and he’d driven through Dead­horse Gap the day be­fore. He ap­par­ently checked it out a lot more closely than I had, and when he told me there were a few po­ten­tial sites for a road gap jump, I was in­trigued.

We de­cided to head up there the next morn­ing and scope out the op­tions for a jump site. At first the gra­di­ents seemed too flat and rounded, but af­ter only a few min­utes we came across a spot that looked like it had se­ri­ous po­ten­tial. It was a 40-45 foot gap with a 20 foot drop, and it seemed like it wasn’t that ex­treme com­pared to a park jump. How­ever, as is of­ten the case, once we started the build the fol­low­ing day we be­gan to re­ally grasp the grav­ity of our sit­u­a­tion.

Har­ri­son had the Uni Games din­ner that night, so we built the kicker, fin­ish­ing at dusk, and then de­cided to fin­ish the in-run and land­ing the next morn­ing. That night we called up lo­cal pho­tog­ra­pher Alister Buck­ing­ham to or­gan­ise the shoot and

“And if you don’t land in that two me­tre sweet spot, you’re ei­ther land­ing on the road or dead flat.”

fig­ured the best time to go was late-morn­ing, due to the light.

At eight the next morn­ing, weary-eyed and less-than fit for al­most any ac­tiv­ity, Alister and I headed up for D-day. We got up there and fin­ished the in-run and the small two-me­tre land­ing, then waited for Har­ri­son’s ar­rival so we could tell him to go first. He turned up an hour later, slumped in the pas­sen­ger-seat of Adam Kroen­ert’s car, and seemed less than im­pressed with our level of judge­ment.

“This in-run is ba­si­cally a slalom course through the trees,” Har­ri­son said. “And if you don’t land in that two me­tre sweet spot, you’re ei­ther land­ing on the road or dead flat.”

“Mate, since I ba­si­cally did the in-run and land­ing… you’re guinea pig­ging it,” I told him.

We then had 20 min­utes of “is this re­ally worth it” thoughts as we did a few tests runs on the in-run. I said to them that it was scarier than hit­ting the One Hit Won­der. Stand­ing at the top of the in-run we could barely see the jump or on­com­ing traf­fic, so all of our faith was in Alister and Adam telling us when we were good to go.

We put to­gether maybe five or six hits each be­fore de­cid­ing we had done all we wanted to on a less-than-ideal, rainy morn­ing in the moun­tains. We left sat­is­fied we’d built and sur­vived hit­ting such a gnarly jump. It was one of the high­lights of last win­ter.

The boys ended up hit­ting the jump for an hour and a half, step­ping up their tricks as they went. Ry­ley (this page) stomped a cork 7 blunt, while Har­ri­son (op­po­site) ended up nail­ing a cork 7 mute. “We were stoked.”

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