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Event Broken River Telemark Week (NZ) 5-11 August

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by LastMile, Aug 15, 2018.

  1. LastMile

    LastMile Hard Yards

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    Thought I’d write up a report on my recent trip to New Zealand for the Broken River Telemark Week.

    Getting out to the ski field from the Christchurch airport via shuttle was straight forward, if a little tedious: a few pickups around town, stops for hire gear for other passengers and a 30 minutes side trip to the Porter’s ski field before heading to Broken River.

    The first real challenge of the trip was the hike to the accommodation. The inclinator (uphill tram) was out of action, so it was a 1km hike up through the beech forest with 30kg of gear. I strapped my skis and boots to my pack, and then carried a relatively light and floppy ski bag over my shoulder.

    Dumping unneeded gear at the accommodation lodge and changing into ski attire preceded another 500m hike further uphill to the ski shed and access tow. Seeing the access tow and ski field for the first time was confirmation this this was not a ski resort, but a ski club. I strapped on the harness and nutcracker and after a few failed attempts found myself rocketing up a steep icy slope at 30km/h.

    Dumping my day pack at the day lodge, I headed over to the short traverse rope tow for more practise with the nutcracker. Once I was relatively comfortable and running at about 50% success rate I decided to head further up the mountain on the main tow.

    On that first Sunday afternoon, it was pretty cold and cloudy and the snow was already well skied and frozen over. There was only a small groomed section down the middle of the bowl so I skittered and crunched my way across to it, before trying to regain my ski legs on the groomer after a prolonged 24hrs of travelling (very late arrival and early start).

    After a few groomed runs, I skied back down to the accommodation lodge for a nana nap ahead of dinner.

    The “catered week” package came with three lessons with the club tele instructors, so Monday morning began with some more tips on how to ride the rope tow, your standard tele drills, and advice on how to ski the varied conditions spread across the mountain.

    Pizza and a pint for lunch. This became a regular thing for the whole week. There were rarely more than 30 or 40 skiers on the mountain on the weekdays, and experienced locals would even leave their pint or jug on one of the outdoor picnic tables on the deck and swing by for a mouthful between runs before heading back to snag the rope tow. The club brews their own lager in Christchurch and is on tap at the day lodge. Just the right drop for a mid/post ski refreshment.

    By Tuesday afternoon, I was handling the rope tow and mountain pretty well. Did I mention it was steep, icy and almost all off-piste? A few centimetres of snow on Tuesday night was a welcome change, and Wednesday morning saw the start of the Telemark Advanced Off-Piste Course.

    The off-piste course alone was worth the cost of the entire trip. There were 18 participants, split into two groups roughly based on ability. The two instructors for the course were Marti and Greg, NZSIA Telemark examiners. The format of the course was two 2 hour sessions each day, with an hour break in between for pizza and a pint at lunchtime.

    The instruction was perfectly paced. Kind of like your standard tele lesson progression, but slowly spread out over the three days. The tele turn was broken down into components and we didn’t move onto the next part until we’d done our best to master that component and done one or two full runs focusing only on that. I must admit, I never thought I’d do a steep icy off-piste run without poles, let alone reasonably well (as long as I kept my upper body and hands in the correct positions).

    The instructors were very good at gently addressing and correcting everyone’s tele quirks. I’ve hopefully fixed a few of my technique flaws I knew about (back leg too far back), some I didn’t know about (flexing binding before bellows), and have made two simple changes to my poling technique that appears to have transformed my off-piste skiing (I was poling too far forward, and not using the pole plant to force a rotation of my upper body).

    The course finished on Friday afternoon with two runs down a black diamond slope in the next bowl over. Access was via a slow ridgeline tow, some traversing, dry skiing and a short 50m hike across shale. We were lucky to have near perfect snow conditions and visibility. Most of the group were able to find a few untracked lines down the double bowl descent.

    Check out the last two runs on the Relive 3D replay.

    The lodge catering through the entire week was amazing. Continental, plus eggs and bacon for breakfast and three courses of delicious chef prepared food for dinner. There were assigned duties spread out among the guests. I washed dishes one night, and cleaned up after breakfast one morning. Others vacuumed common rooms, emptied garbage and recycling or helped clean and tidy the day lodge up the hill.

    I highly recommend the Telemark Advanced Off-Piste Telemark Course to any telemarkers who want to make big gains in confidence, control and commitment in off-piste terrain (the instructors were all about the C’s). The trip to Broken River worked out to be cheaper than a week at Perisher or Thredbo, and that’s including the flights and course!

    If you’re thinking about going next year, just make sure to arrive a few days before the course to get used to the high speed rope tows. They really are something else!

    [Pictures to come].
     
    skifree, malas1, FatBoyDave and 3 others like this.
  2. sbm_

    sbm_ One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I heart Broken River.

    The tram being out of commission this season sounds fully brutal though. The stairway to heaven is hard enough!
     
  3. LastMile

    LastMile Hard Yards

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  4. Dave6

    Dave6 One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I was there last Thursday night. You tele guys sure know how to have fun.
     
  5. LastMile

    LastMile Hard Yards

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    Yes, our late start on Friday morning was about more than just letting the snow soften up a little ;)
     
    Dave6 likes this.
  6. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks - a good read. Reminds me of my days there.
     
  7. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    Good shots and great fun by the looks. Great social environment too!

    Btw: Was there for a day in a not so good year. 2006. Was quite firm with a narrow soft 'run' high up in the main bowl. Great little field but would love to see it in a fresh dump - freshies would last a while.

    Fwiw: in an ideal world (& what is!) the club fields would have a modest lower- intermediate slope / rope tow. At BR the LHS rope felt quite a leap up from the two practice /beginner ropes. We learned afterwards that if asked staff will slow the lift while you board/grip. Doh! That would have been brilliant on our Day #1.

    ...It must get easier as later on my tour I used the longish rope at Lyford and really got the grip down pat.
    A chap at Lyford showed me how to unhook the rope from the pulley before I passed, then p,ace the rope back on afterwards. Sounds fiddly but it worked well and prevented that 'crushed finger' paranoia as I passed each pulley. I wonder if most club regulars do that? Inc @ BR & Craigs?

    <SIGH!>. Time to do another NZ road trip - that's in addition to 'safe' & 'relaxing' fixed point holidays in the Sth Lakes. So many mountains, so little time! (;-)