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Winter 2022: Highlights of 23 Days on the Chill Pass

  • 4 min read

Over the years I've documented my adventures in the hope of sharing the love for a slightly different style of skiing, one where you have to work a little more for your turns, but you're always sure it's worth it; One where the crowds don't exist and the people are friendly, and  you can safely still score powder snow long after it has fallen - without having to depart Christchurch at an ungodly hour to just make the carpark. 

This year is no different, and the snow has been great - here's a quick recap of what I got up to, with a snapshot of the highlights. 

Out of the blocks with some novelty: Hanmer Springs/ Amuri Ski Area:

Having never skied at Hanmer Springs, on the 24th June I made my way there to kick off the season. The experience was great to get the legs back under me. 

Powder: Early Season in the Craigieburns was one of the best I've seen.

While I missed a cracker day at Broken River's Opening Day I made sure to make Craigieburn's, and that was a great taste of what was to come for July.  

I spent pretty much all of July between Broken River and Craigieburn, managing to ski between the two off The Remarkables (the spine between them) multiple times, with a good crew.

Once of my favourite shots of the winter, snapped by Remy Rae: Jeremy and I scoping out a route down the Broken River side of The Remarkables, - Broken River's Palmer lodge in the background. If you look closely on the left of the image you can also see the Cheeseman lodge too, just over the ridge of Mt Wall. 

We were even lucky enough to get snapped by Richie Goldsbury from the Broken River side as we dropped in, which led to the epic shot below of Mitch Hobson who dropped down on the sunny side. 

Mitch Hobson drops down The Remarkables to Broken River, Photo: Richie Goldsbury

Sam Thomas and James Russell making their way to the top of Broken River on yet another powder day in August 

James Russell in front of a pretty filled in Craigieburn Middle Basin, after a few days of scoring the goods. 

Broken River, Midday, one of many powder days - Photo: Remy Rae.

Spring Scores: Mt Olympus, Porters, and Broken River.

Mt Olympus: Hikers Dream in Spring

A quick and punchy stroll up Ardy's will score you views like the below, in Spring time getting up there early is a must to get the best consistency corn. 

 

Ollie Hughes on top of Ardies at Mt Olympus, a great view across the Rakaia and onto the plains

Porters: Easy access ski touring into Crystal Valley

One of the best aspects of the Chill pass is the variety you can access. It's been many a time where the decision has only been made past porters pass where to go for example. In this case it was a slightly slow morning that meant a 9am departure from Christchurch most suited Porters, the closest field.

Bumping into Kim & Pete Sykes and their crew made popping over the ridge into crystal valley an good and easy option, with some great turns to be had. 

 

A few late season turns in Crystal Valley, premium grade spring corn.

High-octane racing at Broken River: The Junior Mountain Smoker

It has been a long time since I have been considered a grom, but with the Broken River Mountain Smoker on and yours truly at the field, a few of the kids apparently requested that I join into their race. 

The Mountain Smoker is like a Le Mans of the snow, with competitors racing through gates and then back onto the lift to complete as many laps as possible in the allotted time, with a Le Mans start (running to the skis and putting them on when the whistle blows).  An interesting endeavour considering the need to stow a nutcracker after departing the lift each time.

It's also damn hard work, as I found out. Particularly due to the surprise head start that getting quite literally held back on the start line gave to the kids. 

Le Mans start for the BR smoker (note bib number 14 held back on the start line, not that I'm competitive or anything) - Photo: Richard Goldsbury

Here's some more of the high stakes action below, as captured by Richie.

 

The race was 20 minutes long, we covered about 8.5km over 10 laps on rugby tow, and speeds were up to 80KM/H (thanks Strava for the data).  Despite best efforts, Hamish Henderson took it out, with a convincing lead all the way. 

Hamish Henderson, coasting into the win. Photo: Richard Goldsbury

End of season send off: King of the Mountain

With the season drawing to a close, and many of the fields shut or in the stages of closing down, there isn't much better way to say goodbye to the winter than for about 70 blokes to dress up like Shrek and have a boogie about it. Mt Olympus is good for that.

If you look closely at this photo you'll see the party on rum rock, and great snow still to be skied off the sphinx

 

Watching the last rays of the evening drop through the Rakaia river valley from Rum Rock at Mt Olympus has to be one of the better ways to send off the season. 

Another awesome season in the books for the Chill Pass.

Mā te wā

 

 

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