By ginawaibl, 05 May 2012
Ski Week – South Island (August – September 2011)
Spurred on by Kate, our most keen (not to mention stylish pro) skier, late August saw us set out on a week long South Island ski adventure, with a plan to ski the Canterbury club fields.
Four of us left Blenheim in Kate’s parents generously loaned car, making our way to Christchurch to be put up by my mother, Bed and Breakfast style. Home comforts resulted in a leisurely start, and we found ourselves heading up the slopes of Cheeseman with ski touring gear at 11am. The gentle ridge heading across to Mt Cheeseman provided a good introduction to ski touring for Beth, though the lean snow made for some challenging rock scrambles for those in ski boots with long skis strapped to packs nudging the backs of legs and occasionally hitting the ground. The day was superb, with lovely sunshine, and we had some great spring snow, cutting out runs in untracked snow, executing some lovely turns. It felt great. You don’t know skiing until you’ve sampled light, fluffy, untracked snow : ).
Another highlight was Temple Basin. Definitely a classic, with rope tows peppered amongst the mountainous terrain, the ski field perched high above the Arthurs Pass valley. This was where lessons in nut crackers began, with both Beth and Kieran new to the idea. A nut cracker tow is basically a fast moving rope tow that you secure yourself to with what is essentially very much like a nut cracker attached to you with a belt. You loop the nut cracker around the moving rope tow and then make your way up, careful to maintain space between you and the large metal pulleys that the rope moves over. The challenging part is to grip the rope and get up to speed while getting the nut cracker on in time for the first pulley. The pulleys can be nasty (Kieran’s jacket and bruised ribs will attest to that!).
During the week we skied at Cheeseman, Porters, Broken River and Temple Basin, and finished off with half price skiing at Mt Lyford on our way back up to Blenheim.
Our accommodation progressed throughout the week from winter camping at Craigiburn, to the cosy NZAC hut in Arthurs Pass, and to the relative luxury of the Waiau Motorcamp. The motorcamp was a surprise. An old working men’s camp, we got a family room and enjoyed the cosiest beds ever, with thick cotton sheets and electric blankets. In the morning we lounged in the kitchen and dining area which had the feel of an old homestead.
There is already talk of a more ambitious repeat on the theme for next winter.