Monday, September 2, 2013

Back to Basics

This week has definitely been a week of firsts and new experiences.
Five days of skiing, five different resorts in New Zealand.

The idea behind this weeks’ training was to experience skiing in a new way. We visited the Club Fields of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, all located within two hours drive of Christchurch.

The Club Fields are renowned for their incredible off-piste terrain and for their local skiing enthusiasts. You have to really love the sport of skiing to spend a day up here, and the level of difficulty involved in all aspects being on the mountain means that there is not one beginner in site. There is no grooming, no chairlifts, no cafes or bars. It’s like skiing back in the 60s. Mum always tells me about how she first learnt to ski at Mount Mawson in Tassie. “You have it so easy these days,” she says. “When I learnt to ski in Tassie we used a leather belt, a nutcracker and a pulley system to get up the mountain…” Mum would do run after run on the one ski slope using the rope toes. Maybe this is where I inherited my passion for skiing from?!  

Day 1: Mount Olympus

The pulley system was definitely more difficult than I anticipated. You’ve got a small window of opportunity to latch your nutcracker onto the rope whilst you’re still on the flat. After a few trial and errors, I slowly started to figure out how best to avoid having your arm wrenched from the socket as you get dragged up the hill. Best part of the day was hiking to the summit, taking in the view, and skiing the soft spring snow all the way to the bottom.

Made it to the summit after a solid hike.

My best friend for the next four days; the nutcracker.

Day 2: Broken River

The day started with a ride up a vintage self-operated tram carriage designed by New Zealand engineering students. A little sketchy but we managed to get up in one piece. We did a full day’s skiing followed by a long walk all the way to the bottom. The tram has limited opening hours (obviously everyone is obviously out skiing!)

Broken River tramway.

The scenic walk all the way to the bottom.

Day 3: Craigieburn

After two days of warm spring skiing, we were lucky enough to wake up to 27cm of fresh winter snow. My first powder day in a while! And it just so happened to be bluebird.... Craigieburn had some amazing terrain to offer; steep chutes and couloirs, large open bowls, and even a few small cliffs to jump. Deep snow, blue skies and a whole new mountain to explore… my idea of fun!

No friends on a powder day!

Anton and Jamie making some fresh turns through the chute.

Who sees the scary ghost man climbing through the mountains?

Day 4: Temple Basin

The toughest day of all! Before we even contemplated putting our skis on, the day started with a 50 minute strenuous hike from the car park to the day lodge. We climbed over 2000 vertical feet (approx 600m) over a 3km track. Trekking on a rocky path, with warm temperatures and arid vegetation, I felt like I was somewhere in the Himalayas. Once we finally arrived to the day lodge, we had another 20 minute hike with skis and boots before we reached the Temple Basin ski area. Once again, incredible terrain, amazing views, and a great adventure experience.

Another hike

Himalayas style hiking to the top.

Day 5: Mount Hutt

Groomers on fast, sharp race skis and a high-speed 6-seater chairlift at Mount Hutt felt like a piece of cake after the past four days roughing it on crud, icy moguls, steep uneven terrain and rope toes!

We are now training super G and GS at Mount Hutt for the next five days. I might even pull out the old alpine lycra race suit if I’m feeling game! Next stop on this New Zealand Spring training camp is Lake Tekapo, three hours south of where we currently are; Methven.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted with all of my adventures over the next three weeks.

Soon to come is a video blog from the past week of skiing...