I’m a little amped. Ok, I’m completely stoked. I’m not going to lie. I love winter, I’m that weird guy that hates summer, loves snow and would live in the arctic if it meant never being too hot. I mean it’s easier to warm up than to cool down, and wearing lots of coats, are you kidding me?! I LOVE COATS. Hoodies, beanies… Enough of that… It’s that time of year when the mountains turn from dark brown schist and golden tussock into majestic snow-capped peaks. Winter even makes getting up early great. Alpenglow coating the peaks as the sun rises between them, it’s so still, so cold. We have had a bit of snow, But as the local words go “Snow in may never stays”. Hopefully that will all change this weekend, We have our first winter storm, It looks like a good un. Snow down to near sea level, high winds, all the good stuff. But we wont know how much or how good untill it all clears a few days later. Untill then I’m going to sit at home looking at weather forecasts, studying maps. Planning My Attack.
My season summed up in a Hashtag.
I started a new job promising me less hours but that didn’t work out, after deciding to not work out the remainder of the winter a simple hashtag that I started using on instagram in June became the major motivation for my winter.
Now deep into the summer and getting jealous daily of whitebeard days from friends in Europe, Japan and North America I’m working hard and training harder to get myself in better shape for the coming winter in order to #splitmoreworkless
If you are an instagram user and follow us here at Splitboarding New Zealand on Instagram check out the hundreds of pics from the international splitboarding community using the tag #splitmoreworkless
It’s been nearly a month since I last touched snow. And that last final hurrah of winter seems so out of place now with the 25c days, sunset at 9pm, BBQ for dinner and my garden getting taller and greener by the day.
I guess I stalled writing this post because I didn’t want to admit the season was over, when it felt like it was just getting going.
The last weekend of october is labour weekend here in New Zealand, a long weekend is always cause to celebrate. My 2 months of not working were coming to an end with a predicted return to full time work approaching fast. A southerly outbreak was forecast for the weekend and it seemed winter wanted to go out the way it came in by snowing to low levels in epic fashion. Not as big as that first big snow fall of the season but for late october I’m not going to turn my nose up at it.The trouble was temperatures had already been rising and the snow was already melting in a big way. Fresh snow on top of that usually results in core shots, and lots of them.
The weekend was fantastic, cold, snowing briefly in Queenstown. The cloud would part to reveal the mountains wearing winter white for probably the last time this year. I was getting pretty excited.
Apparently so was everyone else in town. Monday morning dawned as clear, crisp and cold as the middle of winter and we rushed towards to the Remarkables. the drive up was extra sketchy due to the ski area being closed and the roads not being cleared but we made it up passed the halfway marker before needing to fit chains. The first misfortune of the day came when jumping out to fit chains and seeing a rock punctured through my rear wheel. After chucking on the spare tire and fitting chains we were on our way again. Now I’ll say at this point that I don’t have a 4WD or a 4×4 so I never really lost traction but ground clearance can sometimes be an issue with small Japanese station wagons. A few guys that got stuck behind me gave me a push through the worst of it and I parked up just below the bottom of Homeward bound. At least we can skin up I thought. Which was true, and most people only seemed to get the homeward pick up.
The People with the sleds were the smart ones. But we got up fairly quickly. Although it was hard to watch sleds blast past, tracking that fresh before we had even got to the car park. I felt slightly better and slighty sympathetic when one persons sled had broken down at the base.
We pushed up towards Wye Col, hoping to enjoy some nice long runs where ever cover dictated but we foolishly didn’t bring ski crampons, I stupidly had one of those “Hey I don’t need my ice axe it’s a pow day!” moments and the crust below the 2 inches of wind scoured fresh snow towards the top of the col just felt like too much effort. I gave up and rode down as the snow seemed deeper lower down anyway.
I ended up hiking over towards a small plateau in Curvee basin, Site of the new chairlift currently being installed at the Remarkables. I hiked up a bit higher and dropped back down, getting in some nice turns. Second misfortune of the day came when I ollied, albeit very small off a blind rollover. The landing looked like fresh snow but when I tried to put my tail down it slipped out from under me and I fell in a sitting position at speed. I felt a sudden pain in my lower back before I rag dolled over a few times smashing my thighs against something below the fresh white blanket. I don’t know if it was a rock or a chunk of ice, old avalanche debris or what, All I knew is it hurt like hell. I pulled myself back up and rode down a way further to watch my girl ride down.
It hurt like hell but I kept on riding, not being that guy that lets one stack ruin his day. There is a large wind lip feature that forms most winters up there and it looked particularly rideable today so I hiked over to it without my pack to try to slash the top of the lip before dropping into the gully below. The first attempt was a bit miserable on the speed stakes so I decided it was worth a second go before we headed back to the car.
The road was still covered enough so that we could ride it all the way back to the informal trail head, filled with cars, sleds and people celebrating an awesome day up the hill.
I sat down in the boot of my car to take my boots off and realised it hurt like all hell. The drive back down wasn’t very pleasant either. The next day I decided I was in too much pain and went to the hospital to get it checked out and had an X-ray to which I was told I had fractured my Coccyx. A week later that was changed to a sprain but either way I’ve been unable to start working for the last month and have been sitting around, painfully watching the snow melt away.
The fitter and more confident I get the more I start to look further afield from the ski area backbowls, off into areas I can’t see from the ridges around my usual haunts.
Daylight savings rolls around in the last week of september in New Zealand and with the changing of seasons means more daylight hours, more time to explore. As winter days are short and I’m usually fairly slow, travelling 3-5km away from the ski hill isn’t the smartest of ideas and I try to be pretty cautious.
I’ve done a few day missions recently which I’ll throw up here.
First is a trip out to the Pisa Range in between Wanaka and Queenstown which over looks the town of Cromwell too. It’s mostly flat, rolling terrain at a decent altitude which is mostly famous for Snowfarm, New Zealand’s only real cross-country skiing area and of course the Mighty SnowParkNZ (RIP). The range was named by J.T Thomson after the schist outcrops on the summits resemblance to the italian leaning tower.
Of course it’s not all flat and rolling and the end overlooking Cromwell is any thing but!
We spent the night at Kirtle Burn Hut and set off for the highest point of the range, Mt Pisa. The eastern edge of the range is a series of cirques with small vertical but varied terrain. The normal west to east flow of winds means the area gets huge amounts of blown snow.
Its coming up to northern hemisphere winter and a lot of people might be in the market for a new splitboard so here is my 2 Cents on Rossignol’s first splitboard.
I must say that at first I wasn’t totally sold on the brand and I think my mind could only bring up “Don’t they make Skis?”.
Even after hearing more from the guys @ Outside Sports I wasn’t entirely convinced. I felt I had gone far too long on my first splitboard and was in the market for something smaller with camber which doesn’t really seem to be in fashion these days. Continue reading
Even though I started splitboarding a few years ago I’ve never really come across many others involved in it, its one of those things that isn’t talked about, most people don’t want to share their spots, with good reason I guess, nothing is worse than traveling out to a zone to find your objective tracked as I experienced earlier this season. That’s locally I guess and in the Queenstown area I’ve spoken to maybe 5 people tops that split. I know there are more out there, boards keep arriving in shops and keep getting sold. These people must be out there somewhere.
The local snow scene isn’t very big online here and the few people who participate can be found on various forums but it’s not very often you can meet or ride with them, which is what made a splitfest an interesting concept for me because it draws people together.
We headed up to Canterbury on a beautiful spring morning, scoping lines and mountains on the way. Enjoying the different landscapes as we passed, the tussock and schist of Otago, The wide open Mackenzie basin rising to New Zealand’s highest peaks and finally through to the Canterbury Plains famous patchwork of fields. After a quick fuel and food stop in Christchurch we headed back inland with light fading fast towards the Craigieburns and Arthur’s Pass National Park. Continue reading