Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 3 - Porters

Day 3! and 3rd day riding

It was an exciting start to the day. 1st day on the Chill Pass. The group of Australian lads we met last night at our lodge were leaving... we scurried round packing the car... got used to getting ready round each other in our small room... visited Chill HQ at Ned's Cafe for our first great morning coffee... and we were off! Porters today, to get our T Bar legs on.

View from Ned's Cafe, Chill HQ

Not really knowing how far away everything is, it was a drive filled to the brim with anticipation. We're not used to expansive vistas of hills and mountains covered in snow. Beautiful! Heading over Porters Pass, there were still small snow patches on the hills in the shade from the last low snowfall. Porters Pass road hugs the side of the hill winding it's way to the summit 940m and then opens out, running briefly alongside Lake Lyndon. "It's very Lord-of-the-Rings" we said.

Finally, the sign for Porters Ski area came into view and we were there! The road was snow and ice free, till we got to the top and parked on an ever so slight angle... on ice. Feeling nervous we reversed back a little bit, at the same time some guys next to us lept into their ute as it was starting to skid forward, and they too reparked back a bit, while all our hearts fluttered a little.

Booting up, I discovered that my snowboarding jacket was still at Springfield Holiday Lodge!! Well I could have worn my fleece I was wearing or hired a jacket... but my chill pass was in that jacket. Grrrr. It was not quite 930am, but realising that Springfield was not too far away, the roads were ok, and it was a weekday so not too many people would be here, we decided to head BACK and get my jacket and pass. At first I couldn't see it in our small room cos it was draped over the end of the bunk and kinda behind the curtain. There would be a super thorough gear check before leaving from now on!! Back at the capark at Porters, the same roady parked us. Hope he didn't recognise us from before...

We "tracked in" at 11-ish. First tracking in on the Chill Pass! Woop Woop. And the first day of T-Bar's for the whole of winter... We rode all 3 T's right to the top. It was very windy up there. Following the cat track along the top was tricky in the wind as we were getting blown backwards. There were great views over the back to Lake Coleridge despite the low hugging cloud. So we were heading to McNulty's Basin on this cat track, the wind was blowing stones into our path and it was very firm. Heading down the cat track was an interesting game of dodging stones and staying on the cat track in somewhat flat light. Suddenly were were out of catrack, hmmm. T2 loading zone was right there, so we just traversed over and down a bit. Sounds easy, but it was firm and lumpy and iced over, so the old legs were getting bumped about and a getting a total hammering.


Up T3 again to the top, and this time we stayed on the blue run right next to the T. There was nice patches of wind blown from the wind blowing over the top, but it was a quick run and then back on the T again. Each time I got slower and slower. The T legs were getting a quick intro for the season! There was no other way up but to persevere, we'd be riding nutcrackers before too long, so we stuck at it and let the legs regain their T bar memory. Before lunch we tried something different, and rode down Julian's Bowl to get to the bottom. This was firm and lumpy too! Nothing to it but to reward ourselves with a mulled wine with lunch. Lots of Kea's here. Cheeky Kea's, entertaining birds.

And.... back into it. All 3 T's to the top. Little rest, and then the quick T3 runs through the windblown patches. Flat light much of the day, but we knew the bits we liked and stuck to it. Had our eye on Big Mama, but it was closed. There was still time, maybe another day... Tried that Julian's Bowl again, but sill hurt and hard to see in flat light -we finally called the day at 3pm. We like Porters, the lifties and the vibe on the slopes was nice, met quite a few Australians today too!

top of T3

We really needed food. Things were going to get expensive buying meals all the time, and we headed straight to Darfield to stock up for the next week. For our "apres" we tried out the Springfield Pub. There was an old woman in there with sunglasses on and interesting teeth who looked like she'd been there forever, and there were some younger people who looked like they worked at Porters. It wasn't exactly humming... Maybe cos it was a Monday, or people headed straight back to Christchurch or Methven instead. Who knows.

Back at the lodge we met our new (Australian) lodge-mates. Gabe/Phil/Rick... they didn't know each other, and they were on a "tour". The whole outfit sounded dodgy, and they had interesting time of it so far. (Stories for another day.) Rick was the youngest and had a hire car to himself and we offered that he could carpool with us tomorrow if he wanted.

Looking at the weather report, things are looking worse. After 2x sunny days, and 1x ok day it's closing in tomorrow. It would be nice to get as much riding in as we can. Porters is the closest, and could be the go for a "one run wonder" if the weather closes in. We're anxious to get into the nutcrackers and get them mastered, but the weather may foil things for the next few days. Don't mind a day off as long as we get fresh snow???