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Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Heinz, Aug 2, 2019.
It's that time of year again...
Be an interesting year for you, not a hope lot of cover out there....
It’s been a sketchy Southern Hemisphere - except for Chile/Patagonia
Landed in Queenstown just after noon in sunshine. Then headed over the hill to increasing cloud in Wanaka. Did the usual first day rounds and caught up with Stewart. Started raining an hour or so ago.
I did enjoy Chile (and Argentina) back in 1993 and did have vague intentions of going back again, but never got around to it. Probably unlikely now. After many years travelling to a variety of places, in more recent years I've focused very much on favourites where I feel more at home, namely Austria, New Zealand (Wanaka) and Japan.
At dinner we bumped into another old regular returning after a gap of a few years.
A reasonable day at TC all things considered. Was fine until just before 12 then clouded in and started snowing. Cleared up again somewhat later but with a strong cold wind.
Hey @Heinz , looks like (as is often the case) you've timed your trip well!
Excellent day in the North Buchanans. Bit of variable wind about but plenty of nice powder to be found.
It was pretty windy today where I was in the back country today!
How was the length of the runs surely be shorter than normal ?
Yes, definately shorter than normal. Generally around 300-500 vm. What is considered normal though has been dropping over the years, though this was less than the last few years.
Snow was quite consistent and probably even better lower down but then just ran out or wasn't a good pickup lower down. Was quite windy on the ridges and a bit swirly early on.
Another excellent day in the North Buchanans.
Heinz, I have some friends staying with friends in a timeshare in Wanaka this week.
Not you is it?
Much nicer day today!
Issue at the moment is the range of terrain available. Where I have been in the North Buchanans the last couple of days there are sheltered areas which have almost always still been great even after lots of wind. Reports though from the North Harris haven't been so good.
Will hopefully get around to posting more details and pics at some stage - a matter of finding the time.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Sun Aug 04 - Treble Cone
Was quite fine and clear early. Had a few runs in the Main basin, Main street with a few icy patches low down. Cover pretty thin offpiste low down but ok on the trails. Then up to the Saddle, a bit of powder still about but quite firm underneath. Just before noon though it quickly clouded over and started snowing which dropped visibility and quickly dispersed what crowd there was. Persisted a little while longer, but was getting cold so also retreated to Main Basin and stopped for a quick lunch. Had a few more runs down then but returned to the Saddle when it started to clear again around 2pm. There was still quite a strong cold SW wind so they were only allowing chairs to be loaded with a minimum of 3 people, so you had to wait a few mins for the required number. Had a few nice runs there before heading back down. It was cold enough so they had the snow guns running for most of the day.
These pics all from the morning before the weather closed in.
Mon Aug 5 - North Buchanans
Weather somewhat clearer today but still with a variable swirly wind, so not an easy day for the pilot. When there has been a lot of wind about one of the go to areas in HMH's terrain has been the North Buchanans and in the sheltered area known as A trails. Have had many days here over the years where even when just about everywhere else has been hammered by the wind, this spot still delivers the goods. A real bonus having such an area. So naturally this is where we stared off and it delivered the goods once again. Very windy on the ridge and every some swirly wind lower down but good powder all the way. On the third run there we got down into the area known as the Fridge as it is always in the shade so hold good cold snow. Coverage though much lower than usual this year, so plenty of big rocks to pick a line though but still didn't hit any hidden ones and got fairly low down.
Then over to Penstock to the lunch run. Top was good but bottom part was quite thin and wind affected. Lunch was quite brief as it was quite windy. Went then to Boil the Billy for a couple of excellent runs - very consistent powder up to 30cm.
On way back they we stopped off at Triple peak basin - wind affected upper traverse, then some nice powder, but then Whitney was not happy with a loaded pocket above a narrow gully with a long runout so we bailed out that run, tried another variation just above which was very good but again got down to some badly wind affected snow so called in heli and headed back to base.
Into the 'Fridge'
Looking across A trails to the various bluffs
Tue Aug 6 - North Buchanans
With Whitney again today - the old crew. Mostly clear and wind forecast to be a bit less than previous days. Somewhat different plan today. Idea was to do the long trip out to an area known as Galactic Bypass (clearly named back in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy days), then work our way back to the Matuki.
Top pitch of Galactic looked very promising - great powder, but once we got into the guts of the valley it was heavily wind affected and stayed that way all the rest of the way down. We weren't going to rerun that so needed a change of plan.
So next stop was Eager Beaver which was a good call - nice consistent powder, so had 3 runs there. Then back to A trails again for the rest of the day with last run down to the Fridge again. Snow there still in excellent shape, although things were a bit busier as one of the other groups who were going to ski the North Harris relocated after they found the snow there badly wind affected.
View from staging area at Aspiring station in the Matuki valley.
Back on A trails
Wed Aug 7 - North Buchanans
Fine again, a bit warmer today and less wind. Well established by now that the place to go at the moment was the North Buchanans. Had Grom guiding our group today. Tried a few runs from Triple Peak to see if anything was working there, but again found mostly wind afftected snow - skiable but not much fun.
So it was once again back to A trails which was again very good but even parts of that copped a bit of wind effect, so was a bit variable. Needed to concentrate more on balance through the turns today. In between did another variation of Eager Beaver which was good but weren't as many options in there so it was back to A trails. Moved a bit quicker then with just a short lunch break as cloud was moving in and light became flat. Later got a run on a nice steep shady slope with cold dry powder which was awesome. Finished with a run on Moliefes - a valley facing run with good light contrast. Snow wasn't great though although it did get better lower down.
More A trails
Heading to Cardrona today. First time for several years.
I'll be in a red Harris Mountains jacket.
I'll look out for you
I have a "celebrate Sarah" sticker on my helmet. And I am with boarders.
Ha, yeah, not the best start to the season. But hopefully improving. Your honest reports are a welcome contrast to the Instagram yarns from guides.
Be prepare to be blown away by how busy that place is these days....
We went to Cardrona today was an absolute zoo. Lift lines were horrendous all day. Groomed runs were in good shape, anything else pretty hard & crusty. Back to TC tomorrow.
A surprisingly awesome day in the North Buchanans. Only got back to the valley at 5pm. Had about 10-15 cms of new snow which covered up our old tracks.
Fantastic to read and LOVELY to share your pics! Keep posting.
Feeling a bit sore now.
Have you got good drugs yet?
About to go to bed. Not sure how to get comfy. Drugs will help.
Drizzling in town this morning. Not going anywhere. Perfect timing, rest day welcome.
Thu Aug 8 - Cardrona
Decided to have a look at Cardrona. Was quite a few years since I last visited and ass suggested it has changed a fair bit. It is quite busy now with lots of kids, snowboarders and Chinese. It has a big terrain park (which held no interest for me). Conditions were hard and fast on the pistes, some nice chalky snow off the main groomed trails, but offpiste looked pretty scratchy so mostly avoided that.
Mostly alternated between laps of Captains basin and Arcadia basin. Arcadia basin was very good as there was very little traffic in there. Only problem was you had to return to the busy Whitestar chair to get back up. Captains was a bit busier but queues on the chair weren't quite as long as on Whitestar. The queues however were very well organised so rarely did a chair go up with less than 4 people on board, so the waits in the end weren't too bad. Had a couple of runs down to the Valley view chair also, however only the groomed trail itself was skiable. Anything else was very scratchy and not worth bothering with and the chair itself was quite slow.
All in all though a fun fast cruisy day. Was on a pair of M5 Mantras for the day and they went real well.
Fri Aug 9 - North Buchanans
This was a surprisingly awesome day. There had been a bit of rain overnight and there were reports of 10-15cm of new snow in the mountains but exactly where and with how much wind was uncertain. I thought we would be still scratching around a bit to find the goods.
Was once again with Whitney. There was of course the strong temptation to try something else and see what the North Harris was like with the new snow, but in the end he took the safer option to head back to the North Buchanans where we knew it was good. We soon found this to be the right call when we heard reports from one of the charter groups in the North Harris that the wind had blown most of the new snow off.
We had a delayed start due to a weight issue. It gets very complicated these days. Everyone and everything going into the machine and the pod is weighed and the total weight as well as the fore/aft balance have defined limitations. This morning for some reason there was a problem with the balance which was eventually resolved by switching to a different machine. This did come back to bite us later on though as the lunches were not transferred, so we had to wait for the pilot to return for a fuel run to pick up the lunches.
So it was off once again to our good old reliable A-trails. The new snow had covered up all of our tracks from earlier in the week so we had a whole fresh palette to work with. The wind had compressed the new snow a little but it was still very nice skiing. Did another couple in there including a higher landing off Stag saddle. Decided then that Chamois Basin just the other side of the saddle was worth a look. The top part was wind affected but it got much better again lower down. Lunch run was then on Penstock which to my surprise was now skiing much better than it was on Tuesday.
After lunch we hopped over to Boil the Billy for a couple of runs which was also in great shape. Found a few deeper sections of powder and again very consistent quality. Then finally on way back to the Matuki stopped by Triple peak for a few runs. Got some nice quality shady lines in there before getting back to the valley just before 5pm.
Very happy with that day. Although not the deepest snow it was probably the best of the week.
View of Mt Aspiring from Stag saddle
Triple peak area
a curious visitor
Looking towards the Matuki from Triple peak
On the Monday in the North Buchanans we were joined by a local photographer when there was a spare seat available.
I got some of the pics he took.
Guide extraordinaire Whitney