By Oliver Hunt
1. The Terrain
The terrain at the Selwyn six club fields is unrivalled. Temple Basin is the crown jewel in terms of lift accessed terrain in the Southern Alps, and for the more adventurous has some amazing lines only a short hike from the tow.
“It is important to tell you this: If I had to stay in one area, in one mountain, in one place to snowboard for the rest of my life, it would be Temple Basin. It’s that good.” - Brad Steward. Transworld Snowboarding. March 1996
Mt Olympus, Broken River and Craigieburn also have their fair share of terrain: big, technical and steep. As a result of this, Canterbury has produced a disproportionately high number of world class freeride skiers: Tom Dunbar, Charlie Lyons, Neil Williman and Craig Murray cut their teeth in Canterbury all at the club fields.
2. Your Skiing
There is a place for skiing corduroy, but if you are reading this blog, you are probably at least interested in skiing off piste.
Skiing the club fields will challenge your skiing, but will make you a better skier for it. Someone, who may or may not have been my mother, once told me that If you can ski everywhere on a club field, you can ski anywhere.
Having not skied everywhere (yet) I cannot fully confirm this is true (yet), but I am fairly sure of this: If you are considering skiing in other countries, skiing the clubbies is possibly the best way to prepare you for different types of snow and terrain.
NB- Broken River and Mt Cheeseman both have groomers, and do use them - they are a great way to develop your skills into the off-piste terrain at the clubbies.
Coaching clinic (Mt Hutt in background)
3. The Snow Report: You know what you’re getting into.
Club field snow reports are accurate - snow report writers at club fields call a spade a spade:
You will not arrive at a club field and find what you thought was ‘packed powder’ is actually boilerplate ice. Some club fields are even known to understate the quality of the conditions – patrons of club fields generally know who wrote the report, so bullshit doesn’t fly far.
4. The Events
While there are events at commercial fields, events at the club fields are more social, and fun. If you are a club member, the club champs at each club are a highlight. If you aren’t a member, there are a bunch of fantastic events around the mountains to get involved in.
Highlights of these events include Broken River’s Rider X, Temple Basin’s Split fest, and Mt Cheesemans’ ‘Undie 500’ ski race.
Broken River RiderX 2018
5. Less people per powder patch
You can conceivably leave Christchurch before 5.30am on a powder day, drive at a safe speed, and still make the top carpark at a club field (and get first tracks).
This beats getting up at the same time to be turned away from a larger commercial field, where the only solace is that ‘it would have been tracked out by 11am anyway.’
By the same token, you can conceivably sleep in on a powder day, arrive at a club field after lunch, and still ski better terrain or snow than you could ever hope to find at the commercial fields – or even night ski. With commercial fields slinging 2,000+ punters around the hill on a good day, a club field might not even top 200 people. You can get a lot more mountain to yourself. (For those with the right skills, there is the side country too).
6. Accommodation & Après Ski
With on-field accommodation plentiful, affordable, and full of features and benefits like hot tubs and saunas, do away with getting back in your car and blasting across the plains: You can stay at the clubbies for the night (or longer).
All club fields with on field accommodation have a well kitted out bar and lounge, and many have extra features as part of their accommodation.
(It is also a lot easier to get snowed in, and have a powder day to yourself, if you stay on the field).
My top 3 Accommodation extras:
Broken River – The Sauna
Mt Olympus – The Hot tub + Far Canal Road Bar (Combo)
Temple Basin – The view of Mt Rolleston (from the hut).
You'll never find this on a commercial field
Further reading / Watching:
Nutcracker - Made by Europeans freeriders skiing the Clubbies
The Clubbies 1
The Clubbies 2
The Clubbies 3
All 3 of ‘The Clubbies’ Videos Produced by Riley Bathurst, showing the advent of Snowboarding to the clubbies.
The MFC vimeo Channel
1 - Tim Clark, Mt Olympus
2 - Allie Rood - Mt Olympus
3 - Richie Goldsbury - Broken River Ridercross.
Read more about the Chill Mountains featured in this article here.