By Ollie Hunt
After packing out Chateau Rae, in Castle Hill, for the faintest of chances that we could ski or tour on Sunday (21 July), we were disappointed by the weather. A significant contingent of MFC then decided to visit some of the more interesting places that a 4wd can be driven in the wider Lake Coleridge/Lyndon area.
Seemingly immune to cold water, Craig Murray (left) has a quick wade to check that Jeremy Holland (right) can ford a stream. Photos: Tim Stevens, Ollie Hunt
The following weekend (27th/28th) brought the beginnings of a proper dusting, so we dusted off some dusty boys and headed up to Broken River. With recent rain and a sprinkling of fresh snow atop the resulting crust, we enjoyed groomer like conditions across most of the mountain, though having sharp edges was helpful at times too.
Smooth but firm conditions on the upper mountain lent themselves to semi-synchronized slashes from the boys.
The snow hadn’t meaningfully penetrated the bushline at this point, so we managed to drive up to windy corner, and, later, ski back to the car.
With fresh snow on the forecast for the following week, Remy Rae and I kept an eye on the weather outlook in the Craigieburn range. Craigieburn, Broken River, Cheeseman, and Olympus were all lining up to get nuked - to be fair, any snow probably counted as a nuking at that stage - on Wednesday (31 July). Wednesday night we hightailed it from Christchurch to Castle Hill in preparation for Thursday at Broken River. While there was night skiing on the Wednesday, on the Rugby/Access tow, the majority of the field was untouched and the weather held out, great news for us.
Approaching the field on Thursday morning we knew we were in for a treat. - Photo. Remy Rae.
With the wind stripping yet to occur, Main Basin’s ridge still had enough snow to ski along the top of. Skier: Ollie Hunt, Photo Richie Goldsbury
Remy sending the classic windlip in the middle of the Main Basin with a Flat 3. Skier Remy Rae, Photo Richie Goldsbury.
Some of the best skiing was had on the way back to the car as cold temperatures dried the snow during the day.- Skier Ollie Hunt, Photo Remy Rae.
Friday (2 Aug) brought more snow to the range and the clubbies were reset. With Craigieburn looking prime we headed past Porters Pass for the weekend and treated ourselves to freshies across the field, from Hamilton face to Middle basin.
Will Jones lays one over into Hamilton face in the morning.
Will Jones launches into more freshies in middle basin.
Michelle Laing skis through the trees on the newly landscaped bush track from Middle basin.
With great snow comes great need for chains.
Photos: Ollie Hunt
I stayed Monday night with James, Rafe, and Mitch who had rented a campervan (and were at the bottom of the Craigieburn road).
Rafe, James, and Mitch, standing outside their fridge. - Photo: Ollie Hunt
Escaping the desk on Tuesday (6 Aug), with wind constantly filling in Middle Basin, we scored 10 epic laps, finishing as the tows stopped. James Russell and I validated my last blog: you can get to a club field as late as you want, and still score freshies.
James dropping into a fresh turn, 4.03pm, no-one but us on the field. Photo: Ollie Hunt
Cover Photo: Tim Stevens pumped on the freshies at Craigieburn Sat, 3rd Aug.
The Chill Pass
Chill Passes allow you to ski at up to 11 ski areas across the South Island. The flexibility to ski in the Waitaki, Mackenzie, Canterbury, Kaikoura and Nelson Lakes Districts is what makes the Chill Pass truly New Zealand's ultimate multi-mountain ski and snowboard pass. There are two types of passes, the Season Pass with unlimited access during the season, and the Travel Pass with a set number of clips for skiing and non-ski day options.