Drawing to a Close
The last month has been a lockdown. After the majority of winter gallivanting around the country in the search for good snow I finally returned back to Christchurch, and the place that I probably should have spent a lot more time at… University. The sun is shining, blossoms on the trees and lambs bleating everywhere you look. Spring is definitely here, the interesting winter that we eventually did have has come to an end, and now is them time for spring slush, brews in the sun and genuine good yarns! … Oh and crunch time for uni.
So basically the last few weeks have been in full on catch up mode, with a bit of skiing on the side.
One week ago I headed up to Mt Olmypus for their 80th birthday and club champs, as usual it was beyond entertaining. The classic club members are dressed up in whatever they could get their hands on from classic fluro retro gears to not much at all. The club races were held, with Bazil Brownlee taking out the title! Fraser and I missioned around and made the most out of the last pieces cold winter snow we could find.
After that explosive segment of skiing I settled into the library for yet another week studying words. Until I received a call from dad, “Hey! So its my 50th this weekend, what are your thoughts on heli skiing?” I just about fell out of my seat, disturbing the entire library as I ran to find a not so studiuos area to express my stokeage.
So that weekend we headed on down to Wanaka and jumped on in a heli. We headed up with Harris Mountains Heli, to Triple Peak. Unfortunately we were a day late as it had snowed 2 or 3 days ago. But we pushed to get it done anyway and found some fantastic winter pow up high, and epic spring slush down low. The best of both worlds!
After an epic day riding from the heli we cruised down to Wanaka and back to reality. Where we rested before the chaos that was Sunday occurred.
TC Closing day. Wow. Unfortunately the weather was beyond sub par, with rain down low and sideways snow up high. However that did not stop the committed treble cone crew from giving TC a send off to remember. The amount of fluro gear was second to none, and the vibe that was given off came close to a club field. But stories from the day are best left to the imagination, to experience such a day it must be done yourself… at Mt Olympus Closing this weekend!
The last month has been nothing shy of chaotic. It all started with my buddies 21st which happened to be down in Wanaka on the 13th, this buddie was Nick Sauce Aubrey so obviously it was one hell of a party… which set me up perfectly for comp season. From there I then had to mission back up to Canterbury for the chill series, which started on Wednesday the 15th and finished on the following Saturday at Craigieburn. As soon as this had finished we rapidly drove the Lyndon Rd as the rally drivers that we are, to make it to Olympus for Gnar week. Gnar week as per usual was borderline retarded… But that is a story for another time. Gnar week finished prematurely on Thursday and we all headed back to Christchurch for one night before making the trip over to the very prosperous town of Greymouth for another 21st. Awaking on Saturday morning after yet another party and in the midst of a stage 5 hangover (look it up, its not fun), I jumped in Charlotte, and began my journey admist many funny looks from the greymouthians who had clearly never seen skis, all the way down the West Coast to Wanaka for the NZ Open, which was to begin on Monday.
Which finally brings me to the point of this blog, the NZ Open. The weather over this week was horrendous. We had hailstones as big as golf balls, more electrical storms than Thor could muster, and a fantastic concoction of rain and snow. However the Comp must run! Qualifiers were held in the Shadow Basin of the Remarkables on Tuesday, and were run under a 2 run best-run counts format.
I managed to hold both my runs down, with my 2nd run having enough gnar in it to help me qualify in 2nd. The weather came and went all day, but that did not seem to hinder the quality of riding. Fabio Studer took out 1st with a massive cork 3 and a fluid line, and Tim Durtchi could not quite hold his run down, which consisted of a 3 and a Lincoln.
The next 3 days turned out to be a mind game. It becomes very hard to maintain your stoke levels when the competition is continuously postponed and there’s talk of it not even happening at all. But a way to keep the stoke levels up is Frisbee golf. If you are ever rattling around Wanaka or Queenstown I suggest you check this out, contact Mark Von Roy for a challenge, he holds the record in those areas…
After 2 days of gale force winds, torrential rains and 5cms of snow the comp was finally held in Alta Chutes up the Remarkables.
The weather was very marginal during the morning, and the patrollers kicked a slide in the venue which but a halter on the event until around 2 when it finally got underway. This meant the format was to be a 1 run comp. $3000 for the winner. So naturally, being a student, that $3000 caught my eye and I decided it was all or nothing. And I proceeded to send a line that I was sure would grab me those dollar bills, however I couldn’t quite hold the landing of a flat 3, and I had to let go of my dream of $3000. Nevertheless Canterbury was still being highly represented however, with Charlie Lyons Slaying the same line from last year and throwing him into 3rd place. Fabio Studer the Austrian pro sent a hand drag 3 and a fluid line putting him firmly in 2nd place and in 1st was B Divine with a fluid run mixed with a switch drop in, a switch 180 and a 3.
So now comp season is over, as usual it’s a roller coaster ride and you never quite know how it’s going` to end up. But as I sit here writing this blog I’m looking out the 11th floor windows of the library and I can see its snowing furiously in the mountains. With tales of 50cm dry snow and nobody to ski it, it’s hard to keep my head in my uni work and catch up on what I’ve missed… I guess that’s why I’m going skiing for the rest of the week, to bring you some more ski porn very soon.
The Ski Porn Arrives
After a solid month of little to no snow, rain and high freezing levels, the optimistic in us was finally rewarded. The charts started to change and we had a forecast for a potential half a meter of the fluffy goodness. As usual we packed everything is a ridiculously short timeframe and moseyed on up the to the Playground of The Gods.
Upon arrival the snow gods opened the skies and the white stuff began to fall… Allowing us to get out and about and grab the night shots we needed.
The snow was ridiculous, perfect light and fluffy, and coming straight down, no wind whatsoever. But of course being NZ this wasn’t to be… In the early hours of the morning, the freezing level rose and the wind picked up.. ensuring that the fantastic snow we had was reduced to sub par conditions. However being kiwis this was still next level NZ Pow and of course the huck fest commenced…
The ski season suddenly looked like it was back on track, we finally had a decent amount of snow and the storm put is into a better cycle where we saw more regular dumps of snow… Setting everything up perfectly for the madness that was the chill series.
Day 1 was at Mt Olympus held in Demolition in proper ankle breaking snow. It was super firm and tested everyone’s ability to a whole different level. There was Euros throwing backys and supersonic fast skiing occurring, in the end of the day a Euro was in first place, myself in 2nd and Cammy McDermid in 3rd. Day 2 was a whole different ball game. It was held in the chutes above Main Face at Olympus, So was only hiking access, which resulted in a visual inspection.
The snow was a bunch nicer than down low, which enabled everyone to get pretty next level on it, and we saw a true huckfest unfold. Charlie Lyons threw a solid 30ft cork 3, landing himself in 1st place, I managed to hold down a run landing me in 2nd place and 1st overall, and a Euro in 3rd. Cammy McDermid crashed out on a solid 40ft bio 5, and that only just scratches the surface of half the stuff that went on at Olympus. But that was it for Olympus, and we moved to Craigieburn for the final two days of competing.
Craigieburn was entirely different again. The venue was the North Face, which incorporated Plakes Mistake. However the snow was beyond bulletproof, ice skates probably would have my choice of ski. But this wasn’t an option and once again we all wearily started to trek out and make our lines count.
Today I had a bit of a flop and lost my line, putting me in 11th place. Cammy McDermid got really inventive and found a gap to 40ft bonk, landing him in 2nd place just behind Alex Lyndon in 1st. Given the format, I was still sitting in 1st overall, closely being chased by Cammy.
Day 2 at Craigie was held in the same venue. The conditions were slightly better, still bulletproof underneath, but 1cm of slush on the top. Today saw me get hung up on a rock and crash, then redeem myself by throwing a hate huck, which consisted of a 50ft flat 3 double revert, however this dropped me right back in the placing’s, putting me in 6th overall. Cammy Mcdermid killed it again, with a massive air up top putting him in 2nd place, and a solid 1st overall. Sam Lee smashed a consistent line down places mistake, putting him into 3rd place for day 4, and 2nd overall. Charlie Lyons skied consistently throughout the comp putting him 3rd place overall.
All in all the chill comp was epic! Great vibes, good times catching up with everyone and great weather!
“You’ve Got To Be In To Win”
The last couple of weeks have been low key chaotic to say the least. And unfortunately that chaoticness hasn’t been frivoliking around in the snow. I think I can speak for all the skiers out there (apart from those in the North Island), when I say my heart crashed when it started raining over 2 weeks ago. We went through a gut wrenching 2 weeks of warm weather, which turned the playgrounds we know so well into rock piles. I was already on edge, sitting in an incredibly dry, strenuous lecture scrolling through the vast expanse that is FaceBook, and up pops this picture from Olympus, rapidly throwing me over the edge and almost imploding into a violent tantrum in the middle of the quiet, sleepy lecture.
The bonus the weather did have was beautiful warm sunny days down on the plains, which meant for many a fantastic day lounging in the sun procrastinating from the uni that should have been occurring.
Finally after the drawn out dry spell, I received a call from Charlie Lyons, telling me he has spotted something on the charts. We made plans to head up Olympus as soon as possible to get ourselves stuck in for the forthing coming pow pow, and I spent the next week as excited as a kid trying to sleep on Christmas eve.
We arrived at Olympus in a rainstorm, with high hopes of what was to come. The weather maps were all showing positive for the entire seasons worth of snow. The forecast was ridiculous, with MetService predicting 1.9m at Mt Hutt. But overnight everything changed. Everyone backed off entirely on their forecasts and what we ended up with was more rain, followed by 20 – 30cm of classic heavy snow. It was a blow out. But we hung out with optimism that we were still going to get something. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, and after 3 days, a splice on the learners tow, a vague’ amount of rum and a little skiing, we packed our gears and headed back into the big smoke to wait for the next storm.
I’m now sitting in Christchurch, tied down by a large week of uni. But once this is over the shred is back on. Especially being that the winds are finally changing, the forecast is showing bits and pieces of snow, and metservice has issued a snow warning. This coupled with a recent shot from Olympus, has given me the assurance that the winter gods aren’t done yet…
I guess the point of this blog is optimism. You’ve got to be in to win and the weather will change, eventually. And when it does we will be there, and being the fantastic journalists we are, we will bring you your dose of ski porn…
Photo Credits: Nick Haselhoff
The week before the Clubbies opened I found myself devising a plan with Charlie Lyons and Nick ‘Sauce’ Aubrey on how to get up to the playground with the fluffy goodness before everyone else. My phone rang, and who should it be but Johnny from Mt Olympus asking me to get a crew together and come up the hill to splice the tows. It would take a day and a half and we would be able to ski afterwards.
The mission however was getting up the road. It was blowing a gale so parts of the road kept on blowing in, we had 4 chains on a big 4WD and couldn’t see more than 3 meters ahead of us at times, by far the most sporty conditions I had ever driven the road in. We ended up just getting towed up by the Dozer as we couldn’t make it.
Once up the hill the weather cleared, and we were greeted with a glorious sight… The playground of the gods fully loaded, and with only us to ski it! Once we had done the splice of course.
The splice was very time consuming, and gave newfound appreciation for rope tows. Its basically like a massive plait, except not. I’m not going to go into detail on how to do it, entirely because I still don’t really know how to do it, and you need an old hand to supervise and make sure its done properly. But the idea behind it is threading one end of the rope into the other end, and reducing the strands down as they weave their way up the opposite end of the rope.
We ended up doing 3 splices, two on the main tow and one on the access and then finally got to play in the fluffy white stuff we like to call snow! For each splice the club buys the splice team a bottle of Rum and the Splice Party begins!
Once all the hard work was done, we did some serious rat packing and tracked out as much of the field as we could, just so we had some proof to back up our gloat that we got the goods before everyone else! Check out the opening day edit that Cam McDermid put together!
Pre Season Shredding
The start of June was fairly dismal as far as snow goes, and I know for sure I was beginning to doubt whether or not the weather was going to play ball this season, the old saying of “June’s to soon” was the only thing keeping me sane.
Shortly into June though Canterbury was graced by the snow gods and slammed with a solid meter plus throughout the region. The vibe in Christchurch instantly changed, and the skiers were noticeably frothing at the bit to get amongst the fluffy goodness.
I received a phone call from Charlie Lyons the night of the storm, asking me to come stay out in Methven and get amongst it out there. I rapidly put the study books and exams aside for a bit and chased the snow.
We awoke to a winter wonderland in Methven , and spent the day finding features to play on and spots to get white roomed. First white room of the season in a farmers paddock, just above terrace downs was not a bad way to kick of the season…
The fields around Canty were thanking their lucky stars for this storm, and could finally start opening up. The first on the list was Mt Hutt. Which as usual was an absolute rat race, but at the end of the day was still shredding. There was some good snow and the classic rat pack to shred everything possible.
After this opening day and some snow to calm my nerves I took myself back to the library and settle in for a week of exams… Getting them out of the way marked the start of my ski season, or more my second semester Uni with a timetable so nicely planned that I don’t really have to be there. Porters was the next field to open, however I didn’t make it up there on the opening day.
We arrived at Porters the Monday just been, after it had been graced with 10 -15cm over Saturday night. It was a demo day up there so people were flocking by the dozen to get their hands on the new LINE and K2 range, taking the fatties first and getting amongst the classic New Zealand pow day.
From the top of Porters we got a glimpse of something spectacular, this something is one of the next fields that is to open this coming weekend,. Mt Olympus, The Playground of the Gods. Loaded, untouched and untracked, looking as godlike as ever.