Monday, September 22, 2008

Mt Cook Trip Spring 2006

The first and only time I have been into Mt Cook National Park was in the spring of 2006, with 3 friends from the US, Andrew, Steve and Chris. Chris has been on a heap of trips with Teton Gravity Research as a still photographer, with Andrew and Steve being very accomplished ski mountaineers, both in racing and steep ski mountaineering. All 3 have skied the Grand Teton in Wyoming and Chris and Andrew have skied Denali in Alaska. Then there was me, a guy from Southland who had been skiing since 2003.................
I think I managed to squirm my way onto this trip because I had a car, and it was a pretty sweet ride, a 1987 Subaru Leone, 4wd and red, so they knew it was fast. Also I think they needed a translator to help them with words and phrases such as "sweet as", "chilly bin" and "fine with gales about the tops".

"I think I see Mt Cook in the distance", "nice doggy" Andrew and Steve trying to fit in at Lake Tekapo

The trip started off well, we stopped in Temuka at my Granny's for a cup of tea and some scones and then checked out the sights in Tekapo. We then got to spend a magical week in Mt Cook village, that included getting a reality check and waiting out the weather. Our little reality check came in the form of a nasty little wet slide while attempting a line on Mt Wakefield which took both Steve and Chris for a wee ride.

"have you seen my pole?!" Steve and Andrew assist Chris looking for his pole

Walking up the Tasman towards Ball shelter.

There was talk of the Caroline Face, and the Bowie Couloir on Mt Cook but in the end we headed to the Tasman Saddle hut where we felt we would have more options with the fickle spring weather and snow conditions. I guess in the end the weather and funky snow conditions got the better of us. If the snow wasn't wind blown, ice hard corrugated iron, it was 50cm of new wet snow sliding on the corrugated iron.........
Andrew and Steve ski a line close to Kelman Hut, while Chris snaps a few shots (while I do the "over the shoulder shot").
We got to see some big, big avalanches, enjoyed some sun downers on the Tasman Saddle hut deck looking out on Mt Cook, read a few books and even made a few turns.

Steve not only made some turns in NZ, he also did this sweet jump on the avalanche shaped half pipe on the Tasman glacier

Andrew getting ready to drop a little coulior just off the Tasman Glacier

Looking unlikely this spring, but I can't wait to get back down to Mt Cook National Park.

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"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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