Monday, December 8, 2008

Hamilton Peak Run

Had a great little run up the Craigieburn Valley yesterday. Started near Hwy 73, ran up the CVSC rd for a short while, then took the Craigieburn Valley Track that heads off to your left, following it for about 3.5km when it reaches the bottom of the CVSC access tow. From there a summer rd switch backs its way up to the day lodge. From there I scrambled across scree to the top of Hamilton Peak.

Me on Hamilton Peak

The run down was fast as I was able to move quickly down the soft scree, cutting the switch backs. It was pretty cool to see CVSC in the summer (but I do prefer it covered in snow), the summer Rd's, streams flowing, small rocks transformed in to big ones and especially the destruction from a very active avalanche season.

Hamilton Saddle and Hamilton Peak

The amount of trees that were plowed down form the slides off Hamilton is very evident now the snows gone and most impressive.

"Gods lawn mower", trees mowed down from 2 slide off Hamilton Peak during the winter. Construction of Chalet Jarman top left corner.

If you haven't seen it yet here's the poorly recorded video of the 2nd '08 monster slide of Hamilton. The first was 2 days earlier than this fella and was a simpathic release, the 2nd was from Heli bombing

Friday, December 5, 2008

Avalanche Peak Challenge Training

Been trying to get my training for the Avalanche Peak Challenge back on track this week after losing some focus on training with the move to a new house and work. Things seemed to come together well this week, with a 1hr30min around Craigieburn Valley, a 2hr run in the Port Hills and a run up Avalanche Peak today. I was feeling a bit tired after the 2hrs in the Port Hills on Wednesday, and went at a steady pace walking, not running up the Avalanche Peak track (its really steep!). I started to feel better as I got out of the trees, but still wasn't trying to really push it. I was sure I wouldn't get close to my fastest time, a touch under 1hr, which I did pre winter. So I was pretty surprised as I got to the final part of the climb, the somewhat knife edge ridge, with a little exposure, and looked at my Suunto and saw I had 3mins to spare to make it a sub 1hr trip to the top. When I stopped my watch, making the trip from the Arthur's Pass DOC center at 737m to Avalanche's 1833m summit in 58mins. I was quickly brought back to reality when the local "clown" in the DOC center told be he's done it in 54mins! Jane started out before me, feeling similar and had a similar result. She did the trip in 1hr20 last week and today was 1hr16min. Training is slowly getting back on track..........

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Skiing and Pebble Wrestling

Well some might say silly things like "it’s time to move on" or "winter’s history", there are still a few folks around that are keen to milk what little snow is left from the big snow falls we had this past winter. I was pretty stoked to find 6 other like minded folks for a ski up the Otira Valley this past Saturday.
Dave starts the 1hr+ approach in his ski boots
With over 400mm of rain during the week the snow pack had taken a real hammering and was totally soaked. This along with warm temps meant things were a little iffy stability wise and we knew we would have to play things by ear, but the hope was to ski off Rolleston's Low Peak.
Jane nearing the snow line, Hwy 73 in the distance On the snow and away skinning.
It was a pretty long hike to the snow compared to last time I was up the Otira Valley. The snow was thin and we really had to pick our way up, including one section where we had to kick turn our way up like it was going out of fashion.
Duncan standing guard, as Tim scrambles
The snow was soft and wet and we opted to scramble up rocks where possible, rather than expose ourselves to the sloppy snow pack. It was about this time we also flagged the Low Peak and decided to head toward Goldney Ridge, where the snow was less sun affected.
The boys on the Goldney Ridge, looking at Low Peak
The skiing was OK. I was actually surprised how well it skiied considering how crappy it was to boot up in. I was also skiing a pair of Dynafit Manaslu skis for the first time. These guys are pretty fat compared to what I am used to - 95mm under foot and 178cm long, so a big ski compared to what I usually ski on. The first few turns felt strange, but once I got into it I started to enjoy them. They are super light for their size, but didn't seem to get pushed around, like a lot of light skis do.
Tim not wanting to let go of winter......Myself enjoying the Manaslus in the variable soft snow
After refueling at the Arthur's Pass store and a little gardening and quiet time in Castle Hill, Duncan and Dave started getting restless so we headed out to to wrestle some boulders. It has been ages since I have done any climbing and I'm pretty average at the best of times, but it was pretty fun and very enjoyable to see the crew getting after it.
Dave and Kathleen about to "mantle the shit out" of some poor, unsuspecting soft rock

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Busy, busy............

Been pretty buy lately since doing the Mt Vernon race, which seems like a long time ago now. The Thursday after the race Jane and I moved into our new place!! Pretty exciting to say the least. We have great views of the Craigieburn and Torless Ranges and even have a vegetable garden! Below are some photos of whats been happening.........
Jane and Gus out side our new place
The Cheeseman Rd is now open at Forest lodge all the way to Middle Hut. Got out for a little ski, here's a small snow bridge that I crossed, just like in the real Mountains!
Tarn looking a little worse for wear, still managed to milk 500m vert of skiing. Whats there is skiing good.
My pet duck, before I returned him (her?) to the wild Graeme Kate's has a new web cam up and running on, it faces west, towards Lyell Peak

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mt Vernon Run Up

Did the Mt Vernon Run Up, the first race in the 2008 Frontrunner Off Road Series, last night. The course was 7km, up the Valley track, across the summit road, to Mt Vernon Summit and return down the Farm Track. I was talking with an older racer pre race who told me there were "lots of fast guys here tonight". I'm totally clueless to the trail running/multi sport scene here, so I have no idea who's who, but it was good to hear that there would be some top guys around as it's always fun to see how you measure up. Things started fast and furious as people sorted themselves out before reaching the single track and I slipped in around 5th or 6th. I ran up the Vally track on Monday so knew what to expect - a narrow, uneven and windy track that worked its way up to the summit road. There was a little passing/being passed on the way up and I got to the summit road in 9th place, just as a mate, Rob, passed me. The raced crossed the road and then climbed steeply up to the summit of Mt Vernon and then descended steeply. The down is normally where I struggle, so I was surprised when I pulled away from one racer and started to gain on 2 more, including Rob. I passed another and caught Rob just as we got to the steep single track finish. A quick cutting of a corner saw me sneak past Rob and get within 5sec of 4 and 5th place, finishing in 6th. Pretty happy with my 36min54sec time and how I was able to finish strong on the down, but in hindsight I should have pushed harder on the up. Jane had a good race, finishing 5th also, in 46:25 and even sprinted past people in the finish! The next race in the 2008 Frontrunner Off Road Series is the Godley Head Run Out, this Wednesday, the 19th, before the series wraps up with the Evans Pass Run Over on the 26th Nov. Highly recommend heading along to the remaining races. Last night was a really relaxing and friendly atmosphere and at $10 a race you can't go wrong.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Salomon Running Review

I managed to get my hands on a Salomon Running XA15 Pro Vest Pack a few weeks ago for a demo and used it on my bigger training runs that I did last week. It was nice to have a pack for the runs I did last week with the new snow in Arthur's Pass. I was able to easily carry a shell jacket, warm hat, Buff, gloves, a little food, 1L water and even my camera. The most notable thing about this pack, as you would have noticed in the name, is the vest feature. The front of the shoulder straps have a pouch on each side for carrying water bottles and the vest feature is between these. By loading up the 2 water bottle pouches (about 1.5L) and carrying extra food bars/energy gels in the vest pockets you have more room, or don't need as much room, meaning the 15L on your back is plenty big enough to carry a spare layer, gloves, a hat - all the stuff that is required for a mountain/trail running race.
XA15 Pro Vest Pack, with Vest's circled

Back of the XA15 Pro Vest Pack, showing drinking bladder compartment and drink bottle pouch (circled).

The pack itself is fairly small and sits very snug on your back, taking up around only 2/3 - 3/4 of your back, meaning there is good breathability on your back. Its fit is very nice, the adjustment straps that are used to snug the vest tightly mean that the pack hugs nicely when running at high speeds over uneven terrain. Loading the water bottles and other goodies in the front means these heavier items are not on your back, which usually cause the pack to swing and bounce around. For me, the biggest drawback of the XA15 Pro is the Vest feature itself. I feel a little like action multi sport man as I zip up the front of the pack over my chest. At first I wasn't 100% sold on it, but I have warmed to it over the 9hrs I spent running with it. I'll definitely use a pack from the Salomon Running range while running/racing this summer, if not the XA15 Pro, then possibly the Raid Revo 15. The other Salomon Running product I have been using and am really impressed with is the XT Wings trail shoes. I'm onto my second pair of Wings and I don't think I've ever brought the same shoe twice! The Wings feature Salomon's quick lace system, which I've found work well, holding nice and snug. The heal is wide and well cushioned, as is the forefoot area, making for a smooth and well supported ride on rough, uneven trails. The Wings, like all Salomon Running shoes, are a dedicated trail running shoe, but do offer enough cushion for short amounts of road running, like running to and from a trail head from home or the car park. Running through the snow last week in APNP, I was most impressed with the "ContaGrip" sole that didn't slip once while running over snow covered rock. My biggest dilemma is what shoe in the Salomon Running range to get next! Most who I have talked to rate the XA Pro 3D higher than the Wings, while the new SpeedCross 2, the race shoe of choice for the likes of Jonathan Wyatt and Kilian Jornet, look very impressive!

Salomon's new SpeedCross 2

Your best bet for getting a hold of Salomon Running products is from your local Front Runner or R&R Sports store, or call 03 366 1122 for stockist.

Congratulations Gena!

"Hello, I am Gena"
A huge congratulations to Gena and his family! I had a very excited Gena call me yesterday afternoon to tell me that he'd just got off the phone with his lawyer and he and his family have gotten New Zealand residency! I know that this is something that Gena has wanted for a while and I am sure there was a bit of celebrating in Albany at the Sibaev house hold last night.
For those who don't know Gena, he and his family moved to NZ from Russia a few years ago. Gena was really hoping to get residency this time last year in the hope that he could race for NZ at the world ski mountaineering champs. Looks very likely he'll be racing for NZ in Andorra in 2010!
I was think how Gena's residency application suddenly got approved and the only thing I can think of is the newly elected John Key must be a ski mountaineering fan and fast track Gena's application, ensuring he'll race for NZ in 2010......................

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Frontrunner Off Road Series

As you may have noticed there's a been a bit of a change in the theme to the Blog lately, with the snow melting and days getting hotter and longer I've been running more and more. This time last year I was using running to keep up fitness before heading to France for the winter, but with my first summer in 5 years fast approaching I'm planing on getting into trail running race's, like the Flagpole Run Up I raced in a few weekends ago.
Though a few of you might be interested in a trail race series, starting this Wednesday evening- The Sumner Running Club invites you to their superb annual Off Road Running Series. The 3 races are on the Port Hills’ tracks traversing rugged tops along narrow scenic tracks. Awe inspiring views are a feature for all the races. There are great performance and spot prizes. Races are after work but will get you back in time for dinner… Race 3 features the series prize giving post race. Brilliant running for all abilities and also competitive racing. Great as a
spring blast, prep for the Coast to Coast or as a personal challenge. Invite friends, family and workmates. REMEMBER: JUNIOR RACE 10 – 12 and 13 - 16 Mark these in your diary now! Enter on the day: $10 per race or $25 for the whole series. $5 for juniors.
Race 1
The MT VERNON RUN UP Wednesday 12th November 2008 Mt Vernon and return 7km Up the Valley track, across the summit road, to Mt Vernon Summit. Return down the Farm Track.Start 6.15pm from carpark at the end of Hillsborough Terrace, St Martins. Registration 5.30pm-6pm
Below: Jonathan Wayatt, NZ's 8x World Champion mountain runner!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Trail Running in AP- Video

Took this short video while running in the snow the other day. Anyone know what trail is was taken on?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Trail Running in APNP

Went for a great run yesterday afternoon. It had been snowing on and off all day out here in Arthur's Pass, were I am currently working, and running in the snow covered beach forest was pretty nice. I ran for about 1.5hrs, which just flew by as I was distracted by how transformed the Bridal Veil and Bealey Valley tracks were by the covering of snow.
I was demoing a Salomon backpack and was easily able to carry my camera with it. Below is the pick of the photo's, it's in the Bealey Valley.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

happy Guy Fawkes?-HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Its Guy Fawkes today which means every one will go a little crazy. In between watching the race for the US precedence folks will come up with new and exciting ways to burn and scare them self's, as well as those close to them, and lets not forget about scaring the shit out of your neighbours pets..........

I must say that this proud NZ tradition has never been huge in my family, don't get me wrong, when we were young we'ed throw the odd "Guy" on the bonfire and I may have pointed the odd fire rocket at friends and family when I was younger all in the name of fun, but for me the 5th Nov isn't Guy Fawkes day, or even the day that Barack Obama got a new postal address, no, the 5th of November is my Dads birthday!

Happy Birthday Dad from Jane and I! wish we we're down there to celebrate with you, but we are think of you.

Flagpole Run Up

Did my first ever trail/mountain running race this past Saturday, the The Shoe Clinic Flagpole Run Up. It was a 20km race up Flagpole hill near Whitecliffs, with the first 5km climbing up to the 897m high summit of Flagpole, then down into the Selwyn rive and back to the start area. I haven't been running a great deal and it was predicted that I would go out hard and then fade even harder. Not one to disappoint I went out in the lead group, was in 2nd for a time and reached the top of Flagpole in 3rd place. I grabbed some water, throwing it over me, only to discover it was sports drink! I had to stop and get water to get the sticky stuff off me and fell back into 5th place. I knew with a lack of running, my legs would struggle on the down and 3rd and 4th place pulled away from me. I was relived to cross through the Selwyn 12 time's as it was very hot and my pace slow more and more. Lucky I was far ahead of the chase group when I really hit the wall and managed to hold on to 5th place, which turned out to be 2nd in the open men's. The top 3 were all 40yrs old and over! I finished in a time of 1hr40min. Jane had a similar race to me, being in 5th place until around 5km to go, when she hit the wall and was pasted by multiply racers. Jane was pretty happy with her race and time of 2hr14min Was a great little race, with around 250 people competing. Next big race on the calendar is the Avalanche Peak Challenge, 23km, up Avalanche Peak and out the Crow river!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guest Blog- Mt Brewster Area

Been pretty slack on the blogging lately. The shock of Noel's accident has put me on my ass a little. I did get cheered up last week when Derek from MWH Engineering in Queenstown sent me some great photos of a recent trip to the Mt Brewster area, just off the Haast high way. Figured I better share these with you, maybe the last skiing stoke until next winter............... "Hey Grant, Brewster is a really great skiing destination particularly earlier than now, when you can ski from the new hut. I am bias about the quality of the new hut, it is one of our designs. Here is a handful of pictures of the area from the weekend if you are interested:
Brewster Hut and Mt Topheavy
Top of the gully Dropping into Armstrong gully
Run off Top Heavy
old man turns
Thanks Derek!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Noel Oien

Most have already heard now, but a good friend Noel Oien was found dead after a climbing accident on Thursday in APNP. Here's a story that was in The Press for those who haven't read it.
Below are a few photos that I found of Noel last night. These are all of skiing. I know that skiing was just a small part of Noel's life, but it was the part that I was most involved in and one of the ways I will remember him the most.
Pre race, Temple 2007
Booting up Upper Leap In, Temple race 07
Noel on Lyell Peak with Avalanche Peak (right) and Rolleston (left), spring '07
Noel testing out a new "Speed Stance", Temple '08
Turoa race, '07. Despite the white out, Noel finished 3rd at this race!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Simond Axe and Crampons

Sorting the new toys
Had a nice little package arrive from Glenn at last week containing a nice shiny pair of aluminium crampons and ice axe. I was pretty stoked as they arrived just in time for the little speed mission up the Otira Slide. I could have packed a lighter pair of crampons, the CAMP ones I use when racing, but unlike a race where an established boot pack and fixed lines exist (sometimes even a nice guide to pull you up the really hard bits) I wanted a pair of spikes on my feet that I knew wouldn’t bend and break at the first glimpse of harder snow or rocks. The Simond Caiman alloy crampons are still very light at 720 grams (with their antiballing plates attached) but do offer a bit of beef that may be required. I used to think of my CAMP crampons as toys, but not so with the Caiman Alloys. They fit well with my XP carbon boots, and are extremely snug on my regular Dynafit 4 Lite ski mountaineering boots. The one thing I wasn’t sure about at first was the strap, which is a thread through 2 rings system. My mate had this system jam up on him which seemed to take forever to undo, but Simond has added a quick release by way of a small loop of cord, which works great. Now I could feed you a few paragraphs on the Simond Ocelot Hyperlight axe, but the truth is it stayed on my pack last weekend, so I don’t know a lot about it yet. Its a pretty turquoise colour. The one good thing I did notice about the axe on the trip up Low Peak was that I didn’t notice it at all. Its small and light, 50cm and 345gr which makes it the perfect axe for climbing in the 1+/2 range, when more often than not you’ll get away with your ski poles and the axe will stay on you pack, but you still want to carry an axe “just in case”. Hope to get up Low peak again today with Jane and will put it through its paces then.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rain and Manaslu

Arthur's Pass Web Cam

Sitting around in Arthur's Pass today, trying to stay dry as the forecast of "Fine and cloudy periods" has turned into steady rain. This has put a halt to Lukas and I heading up the Otira Valley again, this time with some steep skiing in mined (minus the Lycra). Instead we will study the line's on Google earth.

Below is a short promo video of Dynafit sponsored trip to Manaslu in 2007. Dynafit athlets Benedikt Böhm, Sebastian Haag and Nicolas Bonnet made a speed attempt on the 8163m Manaslu. Both Böhm and Hagg have climbed and skied 7456m Mustagh Ata (China) in 10hr41min and Gasherbrum II in 17hr.

In France this winter I had the pleasure of meeting Böhm and Bonnet and was invited on the 2008 attempt of Manaslu. I declined for a few reasons, but I gather the trip, unfortunately, didn't go ahead anyway.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Mt Rolleston Low Peak Speed Ascent

It has been a goal of mine for a while now to do a speed climb up the Otira Slide to Mt Rolleston's Low Peak and yesterday things finaly fell into place. During the week, after Martin returned to Switzerland, Lukas and I had been at Cheeseman, getting some good skiing in, with a nice 2000m vert day and some great spring snow, skiing down to 1300m elevation a few times. The weather was looking good for Sunday and Lukas got pretty pumped when I told him about the trip. The whole "speed climb" thing its pretty European and I got pretty inspired for this trip after talking with Pierre Gignoux, who with Stéphane Brosse climbed from Chamonix to Mt Blanc and skied back down in 5hrs15mins! Now, climbing Low Peak isn't quite on that same level (not even close really!), but I'm working with what I've got (and I aren't talking about the mountains- my fitness level). Preparation went well, as we carbo loaded while Lukas watched his first game of rugby in the Pub in Arthur's Pass. We arrived at the car park on Hwy73 just before 7am and we were away running just after. Good progress was made over the rough track and after 35 mins we took skis off our packs and slipped into our ski boots. The low angled apron leading towards the Slide was firm and made for fast skinning until the pitch steepened and we donned crampons. At this point I was thinking we would be lucky to summit within 2hrs (Graeme Kate's fastest time) as we had been going for around 1hr and still had over 500m vert of the steeper terrain left to go.
2 tiny dots racing up to Low Peak
Lukas, as always, set a fast pace booting up and I scurried to stay close and was surprised how fast we ate up the vert. As we reached the summit my watch read 8:46am- 1hr40min! Stoked!
We were in full race mode, skis, boots, even the silly race suits (like I said this is very Euro, so the suit is a must), so we spent just a minute or 2 on the summit, I don't even think I looked at the view, and we we off.
On skinny race skis, and with tired legs the pitch felt steeper than I remembered. It was firm and littered with golf ball sized chunks of hard snow. The power slide was in full effect in the upper sections, before finding smoother snow and opening it up a little.
The start of the run back down the Otira Valley
We were back at our running shoes in less than 10 mins where I had stashed some watered down coke. We changed back to running shoes, chugged the coke and were away running again. The down hill run felt good and we made good time, arriving back at the Cheapa Campa at 9:23am.
2hr17min round trip, so pretty happy.
Myself and Lukas back at the parking lot
By Popular Demand-
One of the home viewers has asked to get a run down on the gear used (sorry no photo this time Tim).
-Dynafit SR8.0 skis w/ TLT Low Tech, Coltex mohair skins, XP carbon boots, helmet (w/goggles), Buffx2, fleece gloves, Salomon XT Wings running shoes, 20l race pack carrying- light weight shell jacket and pants, Simond Caiman alloy crampons, Simond Ocelot Hyperlight axe, light weight soft shell jacket, first aid kit, steel shove, probe, 700ml water, 1 Peak Fuel, shell mitts. And yes, that ridicules race suit!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Swiss Army Knife

It has been an interesting few days since my last post........ On Thursday I headed out with Lukas and Martin from Cheeseman. The was about 20cm of new, wintry snow and we skied about 1200m vert in the am, had a rest and then another 800m vert in the pm. Was a great day, with every turn being fresh, but needless to say, I was pretty beat by the end of this as I have not been doing a lot lately.

Swiss quality training in NZ

Jane had just put a roast dinner in the oven and Martin was trimming some plastic off his boots, when his Swiss army knife slipped and cut across the top of his knuckle, almost cut his tendon in 2. Martin and I jumped in the car and sped off to Chch A&E. We got out of A&E about 11.15pm with instructions to return tomorrow morning for the hand to be operated on. Long story short, Martin had to wait about 40hrs until his tendon was back in one piece and he know has to decide weather he'll stay in NZ for the next 7 weeks of return home to Switzerland. The doctor (depending which one) says 4-12 weeks until he can do anything. Pretty big blow for a young guy with a big future in competitive ski mountaineering.

The "Machine" with the Machine

Lukas stayed up at Cheeseman and we did some more touring on Saturday, before and after work. Sunday was the last day for Cheeseman for the 2008 season so I am now looking for a new job for my first summer in 5 years. Lukas doing a sweet jump on his tiny race gear!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Swiss Training

Swiss national team members Martin Anthamatten and Lukas Huser turned up at Cheeseman last night and after the boys had a big sleep in (the first time in a good bed in 3 weeks) we headed out in the wind for a ski.

Martin and Lukas are extremely strong, with Martin finishing 14th and Lukas 36th (9th in espoir) in the World Champs in Champery, Switzerland. I was preparing for the worst and expecting to get my ass handed to me, but was pleasently surprized at the casual pace they trained at. The wind was howling at the ridge top and I think it was a good intro to spring skiing in NZ for the 2 young Swiss.

Pretty amusing when we got to the top and Lukas realized that his boots didn't match his bindings, meaning he had to ski with his heal free, the joys of being sponsored and having too many skis.....

The ski down was pretty nice and I was again amazed how fast the "fast guys" are able to ski on little race gear, especially Lukas with free heals!

Martin and Lukas are in NZ for 2 months preparing for the up coming races in Europe.

NI Ski Patrol intro day

If you have ever wanted to become a ski patroller, especially if you are based in the North Island, but were never sure how to get into it then your opportunity may have just arisen.
I just received a e-mail from the team at Peak Safety informing me about a clinic being run at Whakapapa for potential Ski Patrol candidates for the 2009 winter.
From Andy Hoyle, the safety services manager at Whakapapa Ski Area -"In the interests of developing a pool of potential candidates for Whakapapa Ski Patrol in 2009, we are running a clinic for people to see what patrolling is about and for us to get to know the people who are interested in patrolling. We don’t know how many new patrollers we need for next year but this clinic is one of the pre-requisites for an application"
"We are running 2 clinics in October, one on the 16th and one on the 17th. The day starts at 11am and will consist of (in no particular order)Ski and board test, Abseil off a cliff (no experience required)Skiing, Toboggans, Simulated accidents, Problem solving exercises, Debrief / Patrol meeting"
I did the MECNZ ski patrol course down in Wanaka in 2003 and are extremely happy I did so. 10 back to back winters later, most of them working as a ski patroller, I would recommend the profession highly!
For more info you can e-mail Andy-

Saturday, October 4, 2008

WTF Patrick Blanc-?!?.................

Patrick Blanc, the French ski mountaineering racing champion, who was arguably the greatest racer in the short history of competitive ski mountaineering has just returned a 2nd positive urine sample for EPO (3rd generation). The B sample was taken after Blanc's A sample tested positive after the Patrouille des Glaciers, long distance team world championship race in Switzerland, April 19. I think this is a real shame. While in France last winter I meet Patrick a few times and talked quite a bit to his 2 younger brothers, who were really nice, ethusatic guys. The question I am asking is why?? I could understand Patrick, after struggling with injuries and form, wanting to get back to past greatness (2x Pierra Menta, 2x PDG w/record, and 3x world champion!), but still why?? So he could win a wheel of Beaufort cheese, a cow bell from Switzerland, a new pair of ski's?!? Crazy! For me the great thing about ski mountaineering racing is how small time it really is, it's not like cycling which is littered with sponsors, drug cheats and way to much money and pressure. I had a e-mail from friend Pierre, a former Pierra Menta winner who raced against Patrick, he said it was very amazing how much Patrick improved in the last month of competition at the end of last winter after struggling just get on the French team for the world champs and struggling to find a team mate for the Pierra Menta. Sadly, it makes sense now how Patrick was able to improve so much, so quickly. I really hope this is not a sign of things to come................... More info on and Patrick Blanc's blog

Friday, October 3, 2008

Arêches-Beaufort comes to the Craigieburns

Had a great day ski touring south of Cheeseman yesterday with Jane and 3 Frenchmen, Joan, Pierre Luc and Jeremy. The french boys are from Arêches-Beaufort, the home of the Pierra Menta! The trio have been in NZ for about 3 weeks and have had some great ski touring, including Ruapehu, Remarkables, Mueller Hut area and now the Craigieburns. They even raced in the Ruapehu Ripper, with Joan just edging Gena out for the win! We started out skiing the glory lines, the chutes at the top of Tarn Basin. It's always fun skiing these as everyone (esp Stu and Ben) that gets off the Ridge T at Cheeseman is jealous when they see these getting skied.
Joan skiing one of the Tarn Basin chutes
After this we headed back to the top of Tarn and skied the mellow slope to the west of Tarn, into the Hut Stream's headwaters. Then we climbed to the summit of Mt Cheeseman (2031m).
The Frenchies deciding which line to ski
Jane headed back along the ridge to Cheeseman ski field and myself and the boys from Arêches-Beaufort skied the NW face of Mt Cheeseman into the Sth branch of Tim's Stream.
In Tim's Stream headwaters after skiing the NW face of Mt Cheeseman
We boot packed up firm snow in a N facing couloir and then along the ridge before dropping into Tarn Basin again. We joined onto our previous skin track and once on the ridge, skied back to Cheeseman ski area.
Booting along the ridge South of Tarn Basin
Thanks Jane, Joan, Pierre and Jeremy for yet another great day touring this year. Still a heap of great snow in the hills, make the most of it and get out skiing this spring!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Aoraki/Mt Cook Ski Descent Video

I stumbled upon this video of "Legend Bruce Grant one of New Zealand's pioneers of Backcountry skiing and adventure in general completes one of the first ski descents of Mt Cook" when I Googled "ski descent mt cook". I found this video on Bright Cove, its a bit like youtube. I saw the full length movie in the Aoraki DOC visitor center while waiting out the weather. From memory the movie was celebrating 100 years since the first ascent of Aoraki/Mt Cook on Christmas Day 1894 by Tom Fyfe, Jack Clarke and George Graham. Geoff Wayatt was the first person to ski Aoraki/Mt Cook in 1982 via the Lindas.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bealey Face- Mt Rolleston

The above photo is of the Bealey Face of Mt Rolleston's Low Peak (2212m), which I skied in October 2006. I climbed and skied the Chockstone Route, which according to the Arthur's Pass Guide Book is a grade 2+ (1+ in summer). It was a good day out, taking about 6hrs for C-S-C and I even seen Stew who I now work with at Cheeseman on top of Low Peak. I had spent the winter up at Temple Basin (were this photo was taken from) and would pull my curtains every morning to the above view. I have hear of one other fellow skiing the Bealey Face, but by the far more impressive couloir to the lookers left of the Chockstone. I believe some others have skied the top part of the Bealey Face, but then climbed back up and onto Low Peak, but I could be wrong?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Skiing The Storm

Was storming today up here in the Craigieburns, with gale winds first thing this morning. I drove down the Cheeseman access road to pick up a sign that had been snapped off by the gale force winds earlier in the week and noticed "The Monster" looking in pretty good condition still. The Monster is a monster of an avalanche path that cuts across the access road. During the bigger storm cycles this winter The Monster ran big a few times, covering the road in 3+ meters of snow. I had only skied this line during avalanche control routes and was keen to ski it for fun at least once this winter. By 1pm the wind had dropped off and the forecast southerly started to deposit some new snow. It had felt like ages since we had skied during a storm, so Jane and I figured we may as well check it out.
Jane booting up Scree, I mean Sunny Face Me ripping skins at the top

We started off skinning then quickly started booting up Sunny Face. We were able to ski easily into The Monster and apart from a few tight, thin spots the skiing was really good. There was only about 5-8cm of new snow, but soft spring snow underneath made for fun skiing.

Me making turns on THE MONSTER!!

No ski tour in NZ is complete without at least a little tussock/rock hoping

We then walked up the road back to the lodges and Jane headed in to start on dinner for the guests and I skinned up for another lap. I headed up to Elephant Holes, at the base of Cockayne to see how Gideon and his alpine skills group were getting on snow caving.

Gideon working on his new home

I then headed over to the A Basin chutes for some great turns.

"The friendly, fun, family alpine experience" Cheeseman doesn't want you to know about- Looking down A Basin Chutes.

I then finished up by skiing Gun Barrel, which to my surprise was really good! All up about 1hr45, 500-600m vert day, skiing the storm.

We have about 10-15cm up here now and tomorrow looks like it gonna be a good one, hope to see you here.

"The skier who forsakes the lifts to climb under his own power to a mountain summit is a very different person from the downhill only piste basher and is often regarded by the latter as something of a curiosity.
But he was the creator of the sport; and possibly with him lies the future"
-Robin Fedden, The book of Europen Skiing, 1966
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