Tuesday, September 29, 2009

go you Spring Thing

Spent the Saturday at Turoa, was very slushy all over. Found a semi powdery bit down Slider, while the bf went over to scope out Layback. Already some spring meltage cracks starting to form on the edge of  Layback as you drop into the lower Slider/Upper Organ Pipes. It was pretty bare from the Wintergarden down. A download day for sure! Saturday was also the day for the Bikini Jam! Girls (and Boys) donned their bikini tops and sent themselves down a GS course on the Yahoo trail raising funds for Breast Cancer. Thankfully the sun was out this year.

Sunday was back at Turoa. It was cold overnight and a bit breezier than the day before, so all of yesterday's slushiness froze and took a while to release.

Monday, September 14, 2009

EXTREME Spring Days

After a week of very changeable weather, a high parked itself over the country and the sun fiercely came out and the wind finally dropped. Last Monday and Tuesday I headed out west at Whakapapa and rode my butt off, eeking out every possible minute of the day. There were minimal or no queues - this is what week day riding is all about! The snow was firm in the morning, but at about 10.30 or 11am it was as if someone flicked a switch and it softened... everywhere - spring riding goes off!

bluebirds - for 4 days straight!

Black Magic bowls - no one here

On the Wednesday and Thursday Ruapehu hosted the Export Extreme in the Pinnicles at Whakapapa. The top guys and girls were in town and heaps of locals had entered. I played support crew for Jordan Decker, our friendly ski patroller from Tukino. Back to defend his top placing in men's snowboard from last year, and he won again! Competitors had a precarious ascent up cut steps and ropes through the Elevator shaft above Broken Leg Gully, and then a high traverse across to the start line.  

Both days were held on Policeman's, making the Schuss House at Hut Flat the place to be to take in all the action. As spectators, there was really no escaping the sun down here. And there was the constant reminder to slip slop slap from the MC's on the mic. It was down to T shirts as the pasty guns came out, mismatched from the grubby goggle tans we now all had. It really was the perfect spot to hang out and catch all the action in the afternoon between runs.

Jordan taking a drop at Policeman's

Dazza from K2 and I - in the spectator area
(Photo Credit - Dodge)

Highlight videos of the event can be found as SnowTV - day one and day two. Check it out. (You can see Jordan and I skate past behind Lorraine at 5mins 54 of the second clip, all 2 seconds of it)

I reckon the best sunsets are the ones you see while driving in your car when it is impossible to take a picture! On Mon/Tues/Wed, while driving back to Ohakune, Taranaki was hugely magnified on the horizon under burning red skies. On Thursday night Taranaki left us and there was a hint in the sky of the cloud, drizzle and wind that was promised to arrive the next day. Sunday afternoon it cleared and early this week looks like ditto conditions on the hill. I only wish I was there and not back at work, gazing across the harbour at boats and the Sky Tower.... I think a "working lunch" at the beach might be in order today!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Did I mention the wind?

Attempted to go up today, but ended up watching the wind and waiting for the final descision that all was closed for the day.

The Wild Side

It's been a bit of a wild week at Ruapheu this week. Wind, Rain, Sun, Snow, more wind and just a little bit of riding in between.

Yesterday (Thursday) we went to Tukino, the wild side of Ruapehu. Getting there can be a bit of an adventure. I hitched a ride with Conrad (from the Pizzeria, at the Junction @ Ohakune) in his 4wd and, with another girl Rachel, we departed Ohakune for the Desert Road. Tukino access road is well sign posted at it's sandy entrance, the road was fairly pot holey at the bottom and a bit rutted at the top with a bit of snow across the very top section. We were greeted by the familiar face of ski patroller Mike standing in the wind in his thermals and boardshorts and invited inside the Aorangi hut for a hot cuppa.

The ticket office was not running, being a weekday, so Cindy and Mike sorted our day passes over coffee at the table. Love the laid back atmosphere up here. While we were sipping our cuppa's and sussing our nutcrackers, patroller Jordan got the bottom Whangaehu tow running.

There was a cool breeze but the bottom tow was reasonably sheltered and warm and sunny. They'd had some fresh snow overnight, there was some soft snow about, but some of the open spaces were a bit wind stripped and/or icy and softened over the day. Above the bottom tow in The Gut there was a nice stash of fresh pow and a bit of a wind lip which created the perfect spot for a wee jump. We also hiked up The Gut for some fresh turns, niiiice.

The Aorangi top tow opened in the morning. As I have yet to attempt backside on a nutcracker I sent Conrad up for a look. It seemed to be similar conditions up there, sounded ICY, so I just stayed on the bottom tow opting for lots of easy runs rather than trying something new, trying it all back to front for average-ness up top. No one was really heading up there. Anyway, the bottom tow here seems so easy now after my last day on nutcrackers at Craigeburn and its 3 big tows. So thankful I have my own nutcracker and harness now too.

For lunch we sat in the sun outside Aorangi Lodge and chatted to a Chaplin in from NZ Army over sandwiches. There was a big crew of them up here doing some pre-deployment training, and gearing up for a night over in the snow. Nice guys (and gals). Back into it after lunch for a couple more hours, but Conrad and Rachel had work in Ohakune calling so we departed at 2pm. Can't wait to be back.

More info can be found at the Tukino website. It can be a bit of a mission getting up the road, so make sure you check the road conditions first and call ahead if unsure. I stayed up here a couple winters ago, so check out the ski+stay packages too.

PS: I managed my own nutcracker injury today, while hooking the rope up on odd pulleys where it had fallen off, I somehow managed to whack my knee into the lower pulley on that ride. Makes for impressive bruises!