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From the Foot Hills Looking Up

  • 3 min read

By Stu Waddel

We’ve hit the start of August and great hope of more storms as the next few weeks roll by.  I’ve put together a little update on what’s been happening with the ski areas and Chill.  It’s definitely one of those seasons when you say ‘grab it while it's here’. Through the past few weeks we’ve seen some good snow fall in the Mackenzie Region including Dobson and Fox Peak.  Dobson is having a great snow year.  Fox Peak has opened on the weekend (recently), and are hoping to go again this weekend. 

The ski areas in the Craigieburns have been on snow watch, with Porters opening with top to bottom skiing mid-way through the school holidays and recently having a good fresh snow day midweek.  Great skiing today.

Unfortunately, on top of waiting for a good snowfall elsewhere in Selwyn, the rain in early July damaged the access roads for Cheeseman, Broken River and Craigieburn.  These have been repaired with full access to both Cheeseman and Broken River.  We’re hopeful there is a good snow fall this weekend, the forecast certainty suggests this and a cold southerly in the heart of the Southern Alps. Along with Porters, Cheeseman & Olympus are in full swing now, more to come.

Further north, Mt Lyford’s recent snowfall was 35-40 cms, and there was more overnight.  Rainbow were operating with the help of snow making, and have reported a further 15cms of new snow overnight.  

Over the past few weeks, Chill and Anna Keeling Guiding have been running a number of snow safety and ski touring courses.  It’s awesome to see people taking the time to learn about snow safety and meet up with others who are part of the group.  A couple of highlights have been the enthusiastic crew who have joined the inaugural 5-Week Alpine Classic.  We’ve seen them travel about each Sunday and explore new areas, finishing off on Sunday with Ben Corcoran as their instructor.  Alongside a number of different instructors to learn from, the different terrain and conditions has also been well received.

Lots of good snow to be found up high! Pictured here are our 5-Week Alpine Classic students.

Another highlight is the start of the Craigieburn Haute Routes, which were all forced to be canceled in 2020.  On Thursday (5th) we started the first for the season, running from Craigieburn through to Mt Olympus.  It’s with a guide : guest ratio of 1 : 4 and you get to explore some of the best terrain in the Craigieburn Range while enjoying the hospitality of the mountain lodges.  With the sales pitch aside, behind the scenes, Anna, Nicole and I are working hard on the logistics and set up. It’s all part of the service, in HR1 we were forced to start at BR where we toured across to Craigieburn Valley and back.  The team stayed in Lyndon Lodge overnight and departed with Anna as guide to Cheeseman with snow falling today (Friday).  

Even if there isn't a lot of snow, transceiver rescues are a great thing to practice. Pictured above is our first Haute Route trip practicing rescue.

Another integral part of the Haute Routes and Snow courses is to utilize the facilities of the ski areas in the Craigieburn Range.  They are ‘white gold’ and we feel very lucky to have them available for use.  A majority of the ski areas are owned and operated as sport clubs, and for them to survive, continued use of the facilities is their future proof. 

Enjoy the next few weeks, we hope the continued weather fronts present colder conditions with snow.  It would be nice to be writing again with the news that all of the Chill Ski Areas have been open for skiing and riding this season.

All smiles in the mountains!