Definitely some snowboarder tracks from one of the other groups. I think that was from our second run on Boil the Billy. Whitney is currently heliski guiding on a pair of Dynastar Cham 107's and definitely making short parallel rather than tele turns.
He is an amazing guy. I was first introduced to him by Paul Scaife back in the mid 80's and I knew the name having read about him in Powder magazine as a World Telemark champion. I was with him once many years ago when he guided on a snowboard but never on Teles.
These days he exploring far and wide, the more remote the better. Has been ski touring northern Norway for several years now and this year was ski touring a remote part of China near Mongolia. Also does a fair bit of kite surfing in Peru. He says he loses fitness when he is heliski guiding.
Around 20 cms of new snow and little wind meant we finally got a chance to check out a North Harris circuit. First thing was to get up above the inversion layer. Dropped into Escapade off Black Peak - a regular jumping off spot. Snow was excellent - around 20cm of fresh un wind affected snow. Perfect start. Did a repeat in there then headed over to Rollercoaster and did a couple of different lines, one down a ridge and into a gully, then another more typical open rolling Rollercoaster line. Then to Craigroysten skiing the Holy Moses side and a lunch stop. Finally on way back had a few on Bogangles which was possibly the best of the lot.
A short but very sweet day today. Forecast was for cloud and increasing wind, so they opted to have a few small groups go out early and see what we could get. Picked up my new Salomon QST 99's from Racers Edge. Had had a few days renting them and really liked them. Really enjoyed them today.
Today had Laetitia and Petrusca guiding and Munza (Dave) flying. We could see that A trails was clouded over, so opted to try and get to Triple peak. It was certainly quite windy flying up the Matuki, not easy flying. Light was also a bit flat on Triple for the pilot but eventually we got to land a bit below the top. Snow though was awesome and visibility skiing wise was still quite good. Did another variation of that run, then headed to the next ridge. Looked over to A trails but that was still mostly under cloud and quite windy, but then saw that there was a small sunny window over Penstock so headed there. Wind picking up for flying, but once we were on the slope if was fine for skiing and the snow conditions were again fantastic. Moved quickly to get in what we could. Got another run in there ok, but suspected then that may have been it.
Had a look over to Boil the Billy. The snow looked great but the wind looked quite swirly, the machine was being buffeted about a fair bit and the pilot was having real difficulty trying to get it down to the ridgeline, so we were all happy with his decision to pull the pin and head back to the valley, so we were back before noon. We could at least then have an unrushed lunch in comfort at Cattle Flat.
One of the big issues with skiing in NZ is the wind. You always need to make sure you get out when conditions are at their best as strong winds are never far away. And so it was again today. The wind had been quite strong from the time we were forced out yesterday afternoon and through the night.
Was good to ski with Hugh again today. He figured the best bet was to go back to the North Buchanans where we skied yesterday. So it was once again back to good old A trails. Even there though wed could see that the snow was wind affected. So the mantra for the day was to be looking for the snow with the dappled texture where it would still be soft rather than the smooth stuff which would be crust. This was pretty much the pattern for the day. We generally we able to link up good sections of dappled snow to still make it pretty good skiing and just traverse the crusty snow.
Tried a few different options around the area, also returning to Penstock and found much the same thing. A good test for my new skis and happy to say they came through pretty well. Just had to be a big more aggressive through the turns in the wind crusted snow. So variable snow, a bit more work, but still a fun day skiing.
A bit of a mixture today, but quite good overall. Groms initial plan was to continue looking for the dappled lines of soft snow that we were finding yesterday working our way out to Galactic Bypass. First stop was the run called Early morning moguls on Mt Eostre where we did find plenty of the dappled snow in between the wind crusted snow. The differences were pretty easy to pick so you knew where to make turns. Continued on to Dragons head and found more of the same.
Then on to Galactic Bypass, firstly looking at a couple of options lower down the spur but these didn't work quite as well, so then went to the peak where the snow was very good. Stopped for lunch part the way down, then continued a bit further while it was still good until we hit the crust again.
Then a change in plan. Grom opted to try a sunny aspect on Albert Burn saddle opposite Galactic Bypass where we got some spring corn snow. Bits of it were a bit past ideal corn but it was very nice skiing, so we did another variation from a higher landing. We could see the Wharekea chalet down below us.
Finally back towards the Matuki we dropped into Eostre west which was a bit of a smorgasbord - had a bit of everything. Some nice powder up top, then wind slab, sun softened snow, back to powder on a narrow ridge, amongst wind affected snow, getting down to powder in the tussocks.
Had pretty much written today off a couple of days ago. There was still a small chance of getting out with a forecast clearance in the afternoon. They delayed decision a couple of hours, but it didn't quite happen, so that's it again for this year. Pretty happy the trip especially given the conditions just before my arrival.
Stewart who normally stays on an extra few days reported that Sunday was an awesome day and Monday was also very good, just a bit more windy up top and he was once again on A-trails. getting to know it very well this year. Says it was raining in town today, so more snow in the mountains.
Do it. I have heli-skied in quite a few places - Canada, India, Alaska & Kamchatka. They were all awesome in their own way and worth aspiring to, but require a big up front commitment money wise and skiing wise. You generally have to book and pay for a week package well in advance. So the only heli I do these days is in NZ and with HMH out of Wanaka. It doesn't have quite the steeps of Alaska, the tree skiing of Canada, the magnitude of the Himalaya or volcanoes and ocean views of Kamchatka, but is still pretty amazing. The big plus though is the flexibility of being able to pick your days. Just be around town for a period, ready to go when it looks good and go then. Pay for what you actually ski as you go. If you are looking at getting into some heli-skiing, NZ is the perfect place to get a taste for it. Beware though, it can be additive.