Thursday, July 30, 2009


Your heard it here first (OK, 2nd, I just posted it on mountainz)- ATK RACE is now available in NZ!
ATK is a small Italian company that makes amazingly light ski mountaineering race products. So amazing they are, the ATK NX race binding is even lighter that anything on offer from Dynafit! The NX is a specialized race binding, that works the same as the Dynafit system and is only 120gs per binding. ATK also has 2.4m carbon probe thats only 100gr! NX binding- rrp $990- super speical- $770 Carbon Probe- rrp$195- super special- $150
Carbon Kevlar Poles- rrp $370- super special - $290
A really nice option with the NX binding is the adjustment plate that can be mounted on the ski and then the NX heal on to this, allowing different size boots to be used.
For the full ATK line check out or e-mail me for details.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Low Angle Touring

With a Considerable to High avalanche danger over the weekend, it was all about picking the right options. For me it was a no brainier- low angle ridge travel. Nothing says low angle ridge travel around the Craigieburns more than the traverse from Cheeseman ski area to Mt Olympus.
The skin track to Mt Cheeseman was laid in and Lorenzo and I made quick time, reaching the summit of Cheeseman in under 50mins and
were standing on Mt Olympus 1hr 35min after leaving the Cheeseman day lodge.
Lorenzo and I, Mt Olympus summit. Mt Enys on one side, Mt Hutt Range on the other.
The ski back was great fun, apart from when I came derailed on the flats and came to a sudden stop.
We even made a quick ski into the Hut Creak head waters, laying in the track for the next day, when Jane and I returned for a simalir tour, this time skiing into the Ryton Valley.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Fast & Furious

"The Fast & Furious" is a article written by Andrew McLean that was published in "Coulior" magazine a few years ago.
Its a cool little piece and was the first time I read about a ski mountaineering race (its probably the first article write by a non Euro about a ski mountaineering race?).
Its well worth a read-
"With Backcountry skiing being such a peaceful pursuit, you might wonder why anyone would want to ruin it by turning it into a competition. The answer, as with thoroughbred horses or hissing cockroaches, is that racing improves the breed. True, not everyone sees touring around in emasculating skin tight suits as an improvement, but there are many other aspects of Ski Mountaineering racing that can directly improve your smiles per hour ratio." READ MORE

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Racing Training and some Steep Skiing

Been upping the training a little the last few weeks, with around 10,000 vertical meters of skinning and skiing in the last 2 weeks. Not that much when you consider the Pierra Menta is that much vert in only 4 days! In saying that its not all about the vertical- I've had some slow days, speed work out and tempo sessions and things seem to to falling into place training wise for me for the first time since around February.
Possible 2nd ascent of the 1st day of The Tour
Some of this training has been getting out and about exploring the course for The Tour, a backcountry ski race that I am organizing this September.
Yesterday Lorenzo and I explored what could be the course for the first day of racing, the area north of Cheeseman ski area.
Lorenzo tears in to Yukon Bowl
After skiing west off the back of Cheeseman we meet up with Damo and headed toward Yukon Bowl and then up Mt Wall.
Lorenzo booting out of Yukon Bowl, up Mt Walls sunny North slopes
Lorenzo dropping a steep line off Mt Walls south face
Once on Mt Walls west ridge we started eyeing up some of the steep liners that face south, towards Cheeseman ski area. I always get asked as I am skinning up at Porters or Cheeseman "are you cross country skiing?". I guess yesterday we were extreme cross country skiing as Lorenzo had no issue scrabbling up a steep, exposed ridge to drop in to a 40 degree coulior on his 160cm race skis and carbon boots.
Damo about half way down our dog legged line
Damo and I opted out of the ridge scrabble and skiing a nice little dog legged chute that had a few turns before opening out onto the snow field below.
A nice day of 1300m and we made it back just as the wind was starting to howl.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Castle Hill to Porters

Jane starting out with the days mission in sight
We awoke to yet another amazing day in Castle Hill and with the snow down to the valley floor we slipped into our ski boots and walked out the front door with Mt Cloudsley's Long Spur the day's objective.
Jane passing through an old farm gate at the toe of Long Spur
We started skinning about 50 meters from the house and skinned through the beech forest in Thomas Bush and up onto Long Spur.
Long Spur- the climb of 100 kick turns..........
I run up Long Spur in the summer, taking around 2hrs to the top, but with new snow and a skin track to put in progress was slow as we kick turned our way up.
Me booting on one of a few short, rocky sections on the Spur
Jane about to start the final skin to Mt Cloudsley's 2107m summit
We reached the top of Cloudsley after 1400m of climbing and 3hrs 20mins. Once on top we headed south for Mt Enys, having already arranged for our car to be at Porters.
Jane skinning with the Ryton Valley and Mt Rolleston in the background
The views and low down from atop Mt Enys
Jane skiing some excellent powder off Mt Enys' east face
We reached Mt Enys, 2194m, just under a hour after leaving Cloudsley and skied some great snow. We also met Duncan and Kath who were doing the same trip but in reverse.
My tracks west
I got a quick run in the west facing slopes that skied great before we traversed back into Porters via Bluff Face.
Back to reality- Bluff Face
We got back into Porters and were reminded how the other side skis. The upside of "reality" is they have coffee and BLT sandwiches!

Skin to the Summit

The Speights Summit Skin To The Summit race was held on the 4th of July as part of the Queenstown Winter Festival and we travelled down for the short skin from the Coronet base are, up M1 and to the hope of the lift.
Me climbing hard with "heavy gear"
The race was a "dawn patrol", meaning it started in the dark and we skinned with head lamps as the sun came up. Not to surprisingly Lornezo and Laetitia came in 1st and 2nd, with myself in 3rd. Theo and Willy battled it out for the 3rd male across the line, with Theo winning there sprint to the line and Jane was the 2nd female.
Skin to the Summit top 3 female and male finishers

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Foggy Peak

I got out for another little outing up Foggy Peak on my way home from Chch today. This area off Porters Pass is fast becoming a favorite of mine, even if my touring from here has been limited.
There has been maybe 10cm of new snow over the last few days and while some walking would be required, it looked like it would be worth it.

Me on top of Foggy Peak, with Porters and Cloudesy on either side

From the top of Foggy I skied more or less North down the ridge and had a short climb to the to of a NW facing slope. From here I ripped down to around 1400m elevation, encountering a mixture of dry, wintry snow and nice corn.
I then climbed back up to Foggy and skied a Southerly gully that was surprisingly good! So good I skied it a lot lower that I should which resulted in a good bit of scrub bashing to get back to the car at Porters Pass. Starting to crank up the training a little, with almost 5000 vertical meters climbed over the last week, but will need to step it up if I'm to make a sub 2hr5min car to summit to car speed climb of Rolleston's Low Peak and lower the 18hr record for the "Symphony on Skis".
"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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