Middle Aged Spread: 21 Years of Chill
By Sam Masters
The Chill Pass is the great unifying force of our age. It far surpasses the hapless attempts at world peace made at the Congress of Vienna (1815), the League of Nations (1920) and the United Nations (1945).
That global geopolitics is splitting into ever more fractious groups reflects the conflict within ourselves. It seems humans can never really be at peace; our divided selves are the reason for the misery that we so gleefully heap upon others. A Chill Pass is the sole universal power to weld our yin and yang into some semblance of completeness.
If you think global geopolitics are stuffed then you have obviously never worked in the ski industry. With some notable exceptions the industry is well populated by miniaturists for whom the big picture is a quick glance at their Fitbit. Reflect for a moment on each of the mountains involved (and those that aren’t) in the Chill Pass. Each pushed and pulled by owners, directors, committees, trustees, employees and stakeholders. Every single one of whom is fierce in their affection for their favourite resort – and sure they are right in any decision making. It is a minor miracle that Stu from Chill has welded these disparate groups into a single unit for the snow sports convenience of Chill Pass holders.
More than anything the Chill Pass is an appeal to our better selves; of working together for the benefit of all. It’s the reason we sat enthralled during the rescue of the Thai football team trapped in a flooded cave. Here for once was a vast group of professionals, many trained to kill (Navy SEALS from various countries) for once working as one for the profound benefit of a community. It is fortunate you have to pay for the Chill Pass otherwise this article would read like a socialist manifesto.
Of course, things have changed over the last 21 years. In 1998 my daily driver was a 1982 Subaru Leone 4WD wagon and Atomic Race Carve 9.28 skis (Hermann Meier edition) that had at least 45mm underfoot. My car has remained similar (well I did upgrade to an Outback) but the skis have gone ballistic. The Kingswood SMBs at 135mm underfoot skis like a dream in any soft snow – if it’s icy I tend to ride the coffee machine.
It’s a phenomenon understood by meteorologists the world over: the worse your hangover the more likely the chance of a bluebird powder day. It’s what our American cousins call, “drinking it blue”. During the last 21 years scientists throughout the Chill mountains have seen many instances of this phenomenon. Over the years the tipple has changed from Speights to a ludicrously embellished range of hand-crafted beers. Note to craft brewers: your products are fruity enough without adding watermelon, lychee and cheesecake to the mix. Wine fashion has changed too; in 1998 the ABC crew (“Anything But Chardonnay”) were obsessed with the hot new grape: sauvignon blanc. Now that the Sauvalanche has wiped out your local bottle shop these clowns have moved onto a bone-dry German Riesling.
You, the Chill Pass holder, swoop over the various resorts alighting like the majestic Andean condor to pluck the eyes from the winter beast. It is not too much, I think, to say that we few, we band of brothers and sisters practice winter sports with a passion, a purity that is unmatched both on a global scale but also since the invention of the ski some 6600 years ago. One doesn’t like to boast, however.
Photos: G Browne, S Masters
The Chill Pass
Chill Passes allow you to ski at up to 11 ski areas across the South Island. The flexibility to ski in the Waitaki, Mackenzie, Canterbury, Kaikoura and Nelson Lakes Districts is what makes the Chill Pass truly New Zealand's ultimate multi-mountain ski and snowboard pass. There are two types of passes, the Season Pass with unlimited access during the season, and the Travel Pass with a set number of clips for skiing and non-ski day options.