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Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Heinz, Aug 4, 2017.
I leave on Sunday
Change of guard!
We are staying in Queenstown so can't really even catch up for a quick drink the night we arrive. Sorry!
I guess everyone needs to see and do Queenstown once and you should get some good flying days down there. Though you might find you end up driving to Wanaka a couple of times. Groups from Queenstown regularly drive over to Wanaka to get to some of the better terrain, but very few do the reverse. Most regular heli-skiers work that out sooner or later and end up just basing in Wanaka.
Last time we went (my first ever heli) was staged not far from Wanaka. I believe we are doing similar this time, if we luck in with the weather window.
We are staying at a hotel booked by friends who really wanted to stay in QT, he used to live in Wanaka, but he also wants to ski at Cardies or TC . Go figure!
The friends want to do a heli day, but we only have Friday as we head to Dunedin Friday night, and they arrive Wed night. We will just hit up the resorts until they get into town. It'll be her first time in a heli and she's a bit timid so it's all about making sure she loves it. So no sphincter puckering this trip!
This ones about catching up with friends, going to the Rugby and getting a quick slide or two in where we can.
Hmm yeah, the 'logic' of that escapes me.
I guess it depends what the priorities are.
Our logic is 'we are easy, whatever makes them happy'...
Wanaka was our first choice though, had we been going alone.
We do need some shopping time in QT, you can imagine Perth has slim pickings and we need some gear for Japan.
We do have a few things to do in Wanaka, but we have a car, don't mind driving and how else can you get your ski trip car pool karaoke happening?!
Bit of new snow up there. If the cloud clears sufficiently then it is game on!
Unfortunately the cloud wasn't playing the game. We waited in the valley ready to go until 1pm but the forecast clearance never happened. If anything it got worse.
I used to get the shits when they closed Hutt on a powder day....................must be x100 when your waiting to fly and don't!!!!!!!!!
Oh well, always tomorrow as they say.
That's gotta be frustrating!
Sure, but it is the nature of the game. It happens. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. You can't control the weather. They looked at all the available options in the valley but nothing was going to work. But that is why you come for a extended period. Tomorrow looks more promising and the snow will still be there.
There has now (3pm) been a clearance of sorts - I can see Fog peak, Niger & the Buchanans from my window. Just a bit too late. Still high cloud about though, so would still be flat light.
I fly out tomorrow for Queenstown. There until Monday 21st. Doing some work but will have a few days punting around the resorts. I want to get over to TC for a day if I can.
No issues with the cloud today - excellent powder day in the North Harris.
Pics or it didn't happen
Some footage from last Thursday on Craigroyston
Clear again this morning - hoping to get a bit more before the forecast increasing wind.
Another excellent day this time in the North Buchanan's. Another weather front expected tomorrow morning.
crew at tc yesterday ~
Awesome!! sorry i never replied on that beer!
Weather is all over the shop. Turned warm again, rained throughout the night and continuing this morning in town and in the mountains. Time to catch up on reports.
Tuesday August 15 - North Harris
Thankfully no cloud issues today. Calm, clear skies, mountains in full view so all options were open. Office was busy with plenty of people about wanting to go out. We headed out with Richard to Phoebe Creek station. Plan was to ski Fog peak area.
Started with a run n Niger and found the goods, around 30cm of fresh. Was nice to now be able to get a bit lower down without hitting the crust from last week. A couple of runs on Fog peak in similar conditions followed by a rare mountain lunch. A couple more on Moonraker were just as good. Headed then back in Niger direction and skied Leaping Burn where we had skied corn a few days earlier. This was a little heavier lower down. Finished with a very nice fall line run down Niger which was a good as anything all day.
Pretty happy with that.
Looking towards Craigroyston - again with cloud hovering
Looking down the Polnoon valley
Wednesday August 16 - North Buchanans
Day started off calm and clear again, but forecast was for increasing wind through the day. Time to head to the other side of the valley into the Buchanan where we knew there were some more sheltered options. With Whitney again today.
First run from Triple peak where the snow was even a little drier than yesterday. Then on to Boil the Billy. First run was on a more sunny aspect so a bit heavier but untracked still great skiing. We moved to slightly different aspects after that and were back to good dry powder. Only got a bit heavier as we got to the lower part of the runs.
We were already hearing reports of other groups to the north of us struggling with the increasing wind so the plan was to stay where we were. There were plenty of lines available in that bowl all very good. Each time we landed on the top ridge though we could see the cloud increasing from the north and winds increasing. As a result we opted to skip lunch and keep skiing while we could. Eventually the wind got too strong to return to the ridge so Grant took us to the valley facing run Peepees for a very nice last run, before returning to the valley for a late lunch.
Another superb day.
Boil the Billy
HMH posted this footage of some other group from Tuesday.
That looks utterly dreadful Heinz!!
More rain this morning...
Lake Wanaka looking towards the Buchanans & Ruby island
Awesome day in the South Buchanans. Perfect way to finish up the trip. Report later.
Saturday August 19 - South Buchanans
As is turned out the best was saved till last.
Today was a bit 50/50 to start with. There was still cloud about but this was forecast to clear. So we delayed our start. Once we got to the staging area at Cattle Flat, Whitney opted to head over to the South Buchanans which were clear.
Started off on a run called Daniels. Get a good view of the lake and town from here. We were unsure though what the snow would be like after all the rain on the previous couple of days we found it was actually very good. In the latter part of that storm there was about 10cm of new snow, so it skied very nicely at least until around 1500cm where we started getting breakable crust so we picked up there. Did another run there while the other group were flown in.
Then it was off to an area called Opera House which I had only skied probably a couple of times before. Don't get to the South Buchanans too often and this run is often neglected but today it was on. I'm pretty sure this was named in the very early years by HMH founder Paul Scaife after a promotional tour of Australia in the mid 80's where he decided to climb to the top of the Sydney Opera House.
Today we found some very nice lines in there and a little deeper than on Daniels. Whitney though wanted more and we went to check out Alta the highest peak in the South Buchanans. Shortly after landing on the peak though the cloud moved in, so we knew we probably wouldn't be able to go back there. Below though was still clear and we skied some nice chutes above a nice bowl where we then had lunch.
Then back to Opera House for another variation which was awesome. A nice long fallline shot in consistent powder. I suggested to Whitney that the gully to the left of that looked very tasty. He agreed saying it would be a shame to leave it. So up we went and he game me first crack at it. That was a real blast and I skied most of the run non stop before waiting for the others (we had a couple of guys from Beijing with us today) to catch up. Spotted a rabbit on the way down and followed it for a bit before it scampered off in the distance.
Then a final run back on Daniels to finish. Whitney found another nice little chute for me to ski which was again fun and a great way to finish, before heading back to the valley.
Views from Daniels
towards the lake
towards the Matuki and Treble Cone
Thanks for another great trip share @Heinz, brilliant as usual
Back on Opera House
and last run on Daniels
looking to Wanaka
Looking back to where we had been from Cattle Flat
Leave in the rain, arrive home in the rain.
So I know I said I wasn't going to go heliskiing until Friday but what can you do...
Opportunity came up...
Off we go.
We went with SLHS as we have before.
12 people in 3 heli groups of 4.
We were with guide Ian (33yr veteran as a heli guide here), an Italian skier from Milano and another Perth snowboarder here on holidays (with his wife who was shopping today).
It was a late pick up because of early cloud, but even so we spent a good hour hanging and chatting at the staging area before we got a window.
I became close friends with the heli-chicken!
Getting started at just prior to noon, stopping for lunch with the large group and still getting 8 runs in meant little time for photos. And what I did take were pretty crap in the light.
There were quite a lot of first time heliskiers - from very experienced instructors through to a guy from Beijing who had just 3 weeks boarding under his belt. He was surprisingly pretty good! One of the instructors was his, and paid to coach him through the heliski experience. He's obviously got a lot of hours of quality instruction in during those three weeks! But he was SHATTERED after 4 runs. Everyone claimed 'best day ever' and a few were heard to claim 'better than sex' - so I reckon you had 12 happy heli skiers/boarders.
I discovered the native prickly bush out there - wow it's a sharp barsteward! Put my knee down on it when waiting for pick up, it was obscured beneath the snow and I nearly hit the roof!
We hit up Goldrush, Stella, Hiroshi and Curly. Couldn't go back for a nostalgic run on Black Peak because it was of concern stability wise. One of the guides got a whoompf on Curly (I believe) but no crack.
Snow was great. Had that bottomless feel going on much of the time, but in patches was icy underneath, few obscured sharks - I hit a decent rock at one stage, which sent me for a little hang time, but no damage that won't buff out to cosmetic to the board base.
I'm glad we took the opportunity because the forecast for Friday isn't looking crash hot.
There's no need to rub it in.
Yeah, good call on going when it was on. Sometimes you need to take the opportunity when it is good, as you never know when it will come up again, although earlier forecasts I saw for mid week did look good.
I certainly recognise that Cattle Flat staging area. It is by Charlies old hangar where we used to stage before he built the huge new one that HMH now use. SLHS got moved back to the old one last year. The only SLHS guide I know is Phil Penney as he used to work for HMH. Ian has been a heli guide for just 1 year less than the number of years I have been heli-skiing there.
3 loads per machine is fairly typical, although a couple of times due to various circumstances last week we had just 2.
The cloud issue is a familiar theme, I know all about that. It was a constant theme again this year.
We are seeing an increase in Chinese skiers. This is just the start. Imagine when they get really serious! The guys from Beijing that I skied with on Saturday were pretty good, though one suffered from a too tightly set binding so had trouble stepping in and they did also slow down a fair bit later in the day.
I don't know the botanical name for the prickly bush but everyone just knows them as Spaniards ie. prickly bastards. Plenty of them about on the lower part of runs and I always warn people to avoid falling / sitting on them. They are sharp!
I remember Goldrush, Stellar valley & Hiroshi's from the 80's & 90's. They were part of the original terrain in the Central Harris that Paul Scaife pioneered for HMH. SLHS got the permit for that area 10 or so years ago. Curly maybe one that they named later.
Understandable about the hazard on Black peak. On Saturday there was a skier triggered slide on Rollercoaster just to the north of that and also a big one on Triple peak in the Buchanans triggered by bombing.
The icy patches underneath lower down would have been where it rained to late last week with new snow or where the new snow had been blown off.
Amazingly I managed to avoid rocks for the entire 2 weeks even on the day in the South Buchanans where rocks are often an issue.
Hi Heinz, everyone still keeping on low angled runs?
I saw a big size three out there on Sunday.
Don't know what they are doing now as I am back home, but we were still skiing some steeper stuff on Saturday when there was some activity. HMH have a run rating system based on information through the season and reviewed daily. Green = good to go, Red = no go, Orange = need to be assessed on the day and agreed to before possible regrading. We stuck to green.
The current Wanaka avalanche report refers to the slides that occurred on Saturday which Anna would have reported.
No avalanches reported over the past 24 hours. A number of large (Size 2 - 4) avalanches reported 170819 South/SE aspects, elevation band 1950m to 2100m. Most of these were initiated during explosive control work. One reported avalanche was a skier accidental. These avalanches are failing almost to ground and running on very hard crusts (mid June rain crust?)
Cautiously expanding, but still avoiding a lot.
They were dropping bombs from the heli behind the Remarks early this evening when we were hiking out through the resort.
Not real sure whether to add my last 2 days in here or start a separate thread... We've just done two days of basic mountaineering training - out of Remarks (so not Wanaka and not Heli, but still quite on topic of mountain safety). What do you think? Here? Separate thread?
Start a Thread Bear
If it is going to start a general discussion on snow safety then probably best make it a new thread. This one was basically my Wanaka TR.
I was tending in that direction. Just get a bit gunshy of starting new threads when a current one will suffice and helps keep relevant info together. Thanks!
Still on low angle slopes today.
It suited us as we were with a first timer who was initially very nervous. But all the other groups were riding the same terrain as well anyway.
Didn't really gel with our guide today. Nice guy, but line choice for boarders was dubious...found myself having to bunny hop up a hill on one occasion, and climb a sheer wall on another - board slammed in; kick step, kick step, slam board in, repeat. We ended up picking alternate lines to the same destination to get our new girl there safely. I was first off behind the guide to test the line before she followed, which led to me being the one in the traps. All good for me - negotiated getting out pretty easily but it would've had her come undone.
Still had an awesome day.
The guides do need to think their lines a little differently when there are boarders in the group especially when going on long traverses or crossing gullies. Some do it better than others and advise accordingly. eg tell them to hang back a bit see where the destination is, so they know what line to pick and not get too low and when they need to carry a bit more speed.