I was fortunate enough to be offered the chance to try out this seasons Burton Splitboard 30L Pack by the local Burton rep and have been using it as my go to day pack so far this season.
Burton Splitboard pack in its native habitat
Its a burly pack with quality construction which I hope can match my previous Big B packs lifespan (about 7 years!)
For a day pack it fits quite a bit of gear with dedicated pockets for your avalanche gear as well as specific pocket for hydration and goggles it ticks all the boxes for me. It even has enough room for me to fit extra gloves and beanie and an extra layer as well as my food and a small amount of emergency supplies as well as my DLSR and another lens.
The stand out feature for me is the separate lined waterproof pocket for throwing your wet skins in which even has a small drain at the bottom for excess moisture which will no doubt come in handy in the spring time!
It has vertical board carry as well as the option to carry your splitboard in touring mode however this too is vertical and not the more common A-Frame option which can be a bit of a pain but its not a huge issue for me.
The golden brown tussock covered hillsides are once again blanketed in white contrasted with huge schist outcrops. Months of being far far too hot are replaced with shivering cold nights in my little crib (thats a small holiday house for those who don’t speak the southland dialect!) and my days are spent staring off at distant peaks mindsurfing when I should probably be working!
But its been shaping up well for winter down here with two snow events bringing the white stuff down into Queenstown and the ski areas are looking to open with plenty of lifts and trails. That doesn’t really interest me and I’ve once again decided to forgo the lift pass and focus on riding mountains that are less often visited, usually ones with horrible long approaches!
Ive managed to get out a few times, just to the usual haunts but enough talk enjoy some photographs!!
Adam Fleming skinning for another quick lap in Outward Bound
Brad Markey on the “saddle” between Bowen peak and Ben Lomond.
After a couple of dismal snow events we finally got something decent. To be fair, it was better than decent. Even though it turned out to be the only solid powder day of the season for me the conditions were unbelievable. Its not very often that we get a decent snow fall, good stability, and little wind down here but this day sure delivered.
Visiting Canadian Mike “Pow” Wigley got in touch through the magic of the Interwebz and i went and picked him up with the promise of some excellent conditions. We met Todd and Brad in the lower car park and headed up to the Remarkables ski area.
After a quick blast over the top of Curvey basin and on to Jackel col we were sliding down the upper wye creek slopes towards a zone we call The Rifle Range. I had never seen decent snow on the zone i wanted to check out but the Wind direction of the storm suggested possible good snow, the topography wasn’t mellow, but not to steep to worry about slides too much. I had heard it was heli skied when the conditions were good which was always a bonus.
Heading towards the Rifle Range and over into the Doolans
Decent snow finally arrived towards the end of July. We had a 10-20cm dump which finally made things a bit more user-friendly in the backcountry.
Myself and Todd have been riding together for about 2 years now and we haven’t ever come across another splitboarder in the Remarks BC, not even skiers are that common. Through social media for the blog I made contact with Brad who was keen to also go riding with his own kind and not skiers.
Well it’s winter time but up until a few weeks ago it didn’t really seem like it. Low snow pack everywhere and resorts struggling to stay open. They are lucky they have snow making!
I’ve still managed to get out for a few days on the split in the marginal conditions. We had a really early season dump of snow down to 300m above sea level in May but it was dry and warm after that. Winter has arrived in full force since but more on that later…
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.