Getting back into Winter in the Canterbury Ski Fields

It was the beginning of August when the first bit of snow started falling in the Southern Alps. The view of Dobson from my front yard. Photo by Pow Wigley For the first day of the storm we skinned up to the top of the chair and Ohau and rode the 100 meter bootpack over and over, it was the only area that had semi decent coverage/ Getting the goods at Ohau No skins required When the Southwesterly winds came in and the sky cleared up and we went up to Dobson and started skinning from the chair. The rare non wind effected snow Photo by Pow Wigley I was pulled to living in Fairlie because it was at the Southern End of the two Thumbs Range. To my west was Roundhill and too my East was Fox I had a huge playground to myself. Getting my first view of the Two Thumbs Range Endless terrain in the Two Thumbs Mount Cook and Tasman making an appearance. It was time to sample the goods. K2 Ultrasplit and Eddie Bauer Alchemist 30 First white room of the season Putting in a clean skin track I can do this forever It was a good day and I looked forward to many more. This is my art The next day Estee and I went exploring to see what area would deliver the goods once the snow pack came in. This is going to be money I think we can skin up this waterfall The next two days 100 mph winds hit the mountains and barraged the Two Thumbs range but Ryan Nicols and I decided to do a ski traverse from Roundhill to Dobson which was about 12 miles and 8,000 feet of vertical gain. Sadly the upper ropetow at Roundhill wasn't open yet so we toured up tussock from the parking lot. Leaving the Tekapo Basin Once we finally made it to the ridge we were stoked on the views but not on the snow. It was bulletproof ice, the wind had stripped away all that beautiful powder. Mount Misery across the valley Roundhill slackcountry Lake Tekapo and the Hall Range Looking up the Godley and the Macaulay Valleys Looking into the McKenzie Basin Looking into the Two Thumb Range It was decision time. The snow was much firmer than we had expected and the plan was to head south tagging powder lines but we decided to push on anyway and see what was between the two resorts. Ryan heading into the Two Thumbs The terrain looked awesome but the snow was terrable so instead of doing a ski tour we turned it into a mountaineering mission climbing along the ridges. This terrain will be all time in powder conditions Misery is looking good Some rad south facing slopes Lake Tekapo looking rad 6 hours later In the end the day was crushing without really taking 2 many breaks we kept moving from 8 a.m. until a little after 5 p.m. It had been much more challenging that I had expected but it was good to know what was between the resorts. Sunset in the Two Thumbs Looking to the east towards the Godley Valley Finally reaching Dobson as the sunsets to a full moon This note pretty much explains what we did until the snow started falling again a week later. Fairlie is pretty laid back After the next storm we decided to head out to the Craigieburn Range and see what all the talk was about. Heading into the Craigieburns Heading up to Porters Welcome to Kea country We made our way to Porter Heights which was opening its upper lifts for the first time that season that day. It was pretty flat white conditions with too many people in too small an area so we made due before skinning out to favorable conditions. The lower Tbar of Porters And the race is on to get to the upper mountain A half hour later it is tracked out For our final lap we decided to skin to an area that is normal inside the resort but with no snow the only access was skinning. I'm out of here Finally some nice steep pow turns in flat light In all it was a great day and we knew that it would be awesome once the place had a snowpack. The next day we decided to go check out Cheeseman which was potentially going to open it's upper slopes. Welcome to the Craigieburns Classic white knuckle kiwi ski field road Mount Cheeseman is about as mom and pops as you could get but it has an awesome vibe. Welcome to Mount Cheeseman That's 9 cars in the parking lot Throughout the day we had powder lap after powder lap. In the end it would be one of my top 5 riding days of the season. Looking down at Cheeseman from Mount Cockayne Potential backcountry missions Pana from Cockayne We would take the Tbar up to the ridge then hike to the summit of Mount Cockayne. Getting high on Cockayne Indulging in the white stuff I could get used to this That afternoon Estee dropped me off up at Arthurs Pass where I chilled for the next week and checked out Temple Basin while waiting for Ryan, Yossi and Pow to arrive on the weekend. Leaving the Craigieburns Crossing the Waimakariri river Temple is someplace special founded in the 1930 and has crazy terrain. All made better by the 45 minute hike up steep switchbacks just to get to the ski resort. Welcome to Temple Basin With only two nutcraker rope tows this place really brings you too some gnar terrain fast. I think it goes? but once you figure out the terrain it is a wild place In bounds riding and if you want you can stay up at the resort Temple is ridiculous I knew that I had to head back to the Craigieburns often as they had so much terrain to explore. To get to know these places well it would take years. The classic 45 minute hike back to your car

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