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.
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 →
It would appear to be spring. I love spring. Its warm enough to BBQ and cold enough I can still snowboard. Freak southerly outbreaks are almost assured as soon as lambs start to be born, stable weather that lasts for weeks not days. I love winter too, but spring is my favourite season. Continue reading →
The internet, and Facebook are a bit of a funny thing. The level of connection between people in different parts of the world, different time zones amazes me. I love being able to keep in touch with what people I meet on ski seasons are doing, in most cases knowing we probably wont ever meet again but that contact is always there.
I often also seem to keep in contact with people I haven’t ever met before over forums and the like. I was fortunate that one such person thought of me recently when Kyle Miller was looking for a place to crash in Queenstown.
I would have previously said I was lucky, but as Kyle might say its fortune that I happened to have just quit my job and then someone who is as interested in splitboarding around this snow-covered isle turns up out of no where.
Perhaps all those nights scanning over Hillmap and topographic maps dreaming about the “What if I could get in there?” will become “How the hell do I get in here?”
Last time i wrote was about how warm it was, that didn’t really change much for all of July. Apparently it was the 4th warmest July on record for New Zealand. Corn turns in July was common and i wasn’t quite ready for it. Luckily i was busy working for most the month.
However its gotten cold and started snowing again, not much but some is better than none. The ski hills all stated around 10cm, the perfect amount to cover up all those rocks, tussocks and exposed patches of ice. I went into a local ski shops workshop on monday night to pick up some parts and they were busy fixing a whole heap of core shots.
Myself and my lady made it up to the Remarkables and it all looked a bit grim. A crusty skin up to the ridge line revealed that the grass was greener (pow was whiter?) on the other side. Deep wind drifted snow, still dry and prime for the shredding!
We played it safe with our terrain choice today, mixed conditions sadly claimed a life the previous day so ever cautious we rode a small gentle rolling valley that was easy to lap but still fun!
Its been warm. Too Warm. 14 degrees in Queenstown and a steady stream of northerly winds have created wet heavy snow conditions in the back country. Crappy conditions combined with a stressful new job have seen splitboarding opportunities diminish.
I made it up to the Remarkables ski area for an attempt to ride wye creek but the wet heavy snow was a bit soul sucking. Snow sticking to skins and ride time so slow it wasn’t even worth the effort. Should have waxed!
Myself and my partner made it to the ridgeline only to be buffeted by strong winds and a shitty time changing over and a general retreat to the inside.
Hopefully we see some cold temps and fresh snow in the not so distant future.