Tuesday, August 3, 2010

shoulda been here yesterday

These words of all words can make a weekend warrior cringe. Friday the 24th July was a bit of a magic day on Rua we heard. Nice freshies and people hooting all over the hill. "Shoulda been here yesterday" they said.

The weather forecast for the Saturday 25th looked bad, but we risked it at Turoa. The snow that was supposed to fall overnight never came, and the winds and showers for that day didn't come either. We watched a bit of the Jib Nats in the terrain park and in the afternoon found sunny releasing faces. All the while staring wider out at the frozen s shaped tracks taunting us from the day before.

Home Run leftovers, looks nice but frozen solid

Sunday, the suppose'd pick of the weekend, snow guns were all go. It was calm and clear and scope for going wide narrowed even more as it froze over, trail riding only. Oh, and to all the people who called Sunday. "Shoulda been here yesterday!" we said. haha.

Sunday - snow guns on the Bone Yard

Then, Wed/Thurs/Fri were freshies days on the hill. Once again, watching it, hearing it from work, and hoping there would be something left for us on the weekend. The weather outlook for the weekend was iffy again, but this time it seemed if it was gonna happen it would be Saturday or not at all.

We got up nice and early Sat 31st to beat predicted winds. At this time of year Turoa is still the dark side first thing in the morning. I love the shadow cast out to Ohakune.

A few quick laps off the Express and the Jumbo T, heading out wider each time as the sun rose higher. My last couple of runs out Slider I was on my own, as my boyfriend had headed for the crater mission. The breeze was starting to come through from the west and I wanted to scope out the Organ Pipes for my next run before I ventured in there. I had my next run all sorted in my head and was sitting on the Movenpick when I looked east and remembered a spot that not many people head to. And this was where I ended up staying for rest of the afternoon. Lap after lap, heading wider along this creamy face each time, I couldn't believe it wasn't completely chicken scratched by now, being the 4th day. A sheltered sunny spot, shared with few, short run, quick traverse over to the lower Amphitheatre onto Clarry's and back onto the 'Pick. It looked crowded at the bottom, but the queue was basically non existant. It was a great day, all lifts open and softness all over for people to spread wide. Plenty of smiles on weekend faces, happy to be here once again.

can't believe this is barely touched on the 4th day

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fun Times at Turoa

Less novel more pics... Here's a quick look at the weekend just gone at Turoa.

Saturday dawned and we're now at the 1m mark at Turoa! After 2 years on the Meadow, the Fischer Retro GS moved back to the Yahoo trail. BUT, like the 2 years before, it was a grey wet one. The standards are getting higher every year. With extra points awarded for the age of the gear, there are some fine specimens of old boards, skis and clothing coming out of the woodwork. Extra points went to the guy who had a Coronet Peak lift pass from the 80's - still attached to his jacket!! It was a perfect day for testing the limits of the 20 year old Gortex, or Grandad's wooly jumper and flared ski suit. Despite the leaks there were smiles all round especially when showers gave way to big clumpy snow. Freshies tomorrow?!

Sunday... well to all of you who called it and went home, sorry! Sunday was beautiful. A dusting of fresh all over and sunny blue skies. Cloud tried to sneak in late morning, I got some wicked pics, couple of pea soup moments up top, but then it disappeared altogether. A great day for the last day of the school holidays with not a lot of people about.


western view over the Organ Pipes

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Winter Bluebirds

On Monday I called "a bluebird day" and didn't return to work, making it a long cold weekend and 3 sunny days at Turoa.

Saturday was unbelievably cold!! We had 3 freeeeezing rides on the Movenpick and runs to the base, before stopping for hot chocolate and a foot rub to warm the numbness taking over the body. The report said it was -10'C and with wind-chill it must have been a tad over -20'. There'd been some fresh snow Friday afternoon. There was a chain restriction on the Ohakune Mountain Road and with the winds plus only Lower Mountain open, the top carpark didn't even fill til lunchtime.

As predicted, the winds eased a bit. The Giant and High Flyer Chair opened round the middle of the day, and the High Noon Express opened by one. Time to explore the wind blown stashes up high. Somehow we ended up in the right place at the right time and were on the first chair of the Express. I took a lonely ride down Big Bowl 1st up and had time to stop and enjoy it and take a few pics before the next person stumbled across my path. Then we headed over west. The traverse over from the end of the cat track above Big Bowl had those icy vertical icicles laid out like feathers across the slope, but they were easy enough to crack through before enjoying the creamy smooth dry windblown stash of Fresh snow down Slider.


Back again on Sunday, this time the masses followed. When you get up here early in the front few rows, it's hard to perceive how many people are really there, except for looking down at the car parks from up high. It sure felt busy, but considering the limited trails and the amount of people sticking to the lower slopes (learners/families) it wasn't really that bad and could have been worse crowd wise. Driving down we saw people parked at Massey Flat! (Found out afterwards they have 5800 on the slopes.) On trail things were getting moguly; off trail there were still stashes to be found even if some exposed parts were now scraped back due to wind and skiers/riders. Slider was the playground of the afternoon again, but by now my poor quads hated me traversing back to the Giant or staying high traversing to the Express. When the boys went east to the Glacier I took a big fat "pass" and called it a day. Poor legs.

Monday, almost a ditto day. The pipes at home froze for a second time, and at 830 when we loaded the car it was still -5'C in the backyard. Still a large amount of people at Turoa and lots of snow being pushed around, by people and the groomers. Vertigo was being pushed into shape, and would be ready on Tuesday. It was good not to have Monday-itis at work, ah this is the life. Lots of happy faces enjoying the sun and the school holidays.

Next weekend it's time to get the Retro on. Here's hoping it's not a soggy "Hot Sister" route like the past couple of years. Sunny weather has to come to an end sometime, but looking forward to more SNOW.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

High Noon Express has opened!

Just a tad earlier than the earliest estimate it's now running. Well done everyone involved with the tower 9 repair.

So it's been a few days since I could get near a computer and here's a catch up of my recent 3 days at Turoa...

Friday - Day before the school holidays, pretty busyish for a week day. Giant and High Flyer open and Movenpick for access. Boneyard was... boney. I could see why most seemed to be sticking to the Flyer Chair runs. Best way down to the Giant was to stay high on the ridgeline either side of the snow fence, no worries. Whynots were a lot of fun as always, but our favourite combo of the day was to stay high traversing over to the otherside of the Jumbo and ride some clean lines and soft snow in the lower Raceline area before cutting in under the Jumbo and down the ridgeline to the Giant.

Why Not

On Saturday Whakapapa's T's opened on the upper mountain. At Turoa the weather was still holding off, more blue sky, snow guns running and for me it was time to Shread the Mead! Did some Meadow time at Turoa for the morning with a 3 year old, she progressed well, from hating her first run on the sled, to being able to slide up to 10 metres on skis and ride the Magic Carpet without leaning all over me. All with a big smile on her face and I am so proud of her. 3-4 hours of this action had me pooped, and a wine on the deck in the sun that arvo was the way to go.

Sunday 4th July: while home was getting nailed with wind and rain we had another blue sky day. Jealous much? It was even quieter today. The little one was keen for a ski again, so a couple more hours on the Meadow (waiting for the shadow to move) before I headed on up. Eeked a couple of runs in before the Express opened. The news you have all been waiting for!

Tower 9 - repaired and ready

Yeti was there for the big event, I got a big furry hug and then I was up on the 6. 1st run down Big Bowl groom, but no hang on, just off trail was really nice. Beautful snow with a very thin crust. No need for groom up here folks! Next runs we headed west. Some went Slider way, while some of us went on the high eastern face of Slider+Branchline. Wahoo, the sun was shining on us and the snow was great. Seemed to hold on nicely for us just in time for the end of the weekend and just in time for the Express to open. Sorry to all those that went home, we had a really great time without you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

early season waiting...

but it's been snowing... have faith people more snow will come!

So that rain this week wasn't very kind (sad face). There's been some High Flyer chair action this week just gone, but things low down got a bad case of the melts.

On Saturday I went to Whakapapa for a look. Didn't really fancy sharing one chair with the 000's in town for Mardis Gras. Had my first chairlift ride for the season down into Happy Valley to see what was going on there for opening day. The chair was running and most of the field was covered, and there were plenty of people giving it a go. I felt naked with nothing on my feet tho. I pottered around and walked up only as far as National Chair to look up the Rock Garden. Vis was not great and the Centennial Chair was only running for contractors and clubbies to transport stuff to their huts. It was dumping big wet snow for an hour as I left the hill. So pretty. Had fingers crossed for the following day, please keep snowing.

lonely snowman by the National Chair

With the drizzle set in at Ohakune for the night, we flagged getting wet and muddy at Mardis Gras, but could hear the bands and see the fireworks sweet as from the back deck of the house.

Up and at em early, well 8am, to get on the road before the masses (hoping they were sleeping in after a hard night.) The road was initially closed at the 13km barrier, but was well gritted and easy going. Jumped on one of the first lifts and then called it by lunchtime when the fog at Turoa turned to wet mist. It was good that there was no wind Saturday night cos the snow stuck evenly-ish without major windstriping/drifting that can happen in a storm. By the sounds of it, it came straight down on all 3 fields, which is good for the base. So we picked our lines skiers left of the Upper Freeway off the groom. Really enjoyed the runs through there. Only a couple of hidden rocks and nothing too major to need to dodge. The snow has a thinnish crisp top, but was overall quite creamy to ride through. By the tracks and the lack of people, it seemed like there was just a few of us sharing this line, so it was nice and clean each time we arrived.

Massey Flat - Turoa

If I could have Monday morning's sunshine and great vis, with Sunday's snow and lack of wind, that would be great! But as a weekend warrior you have to make the most of what you can get. It's snowing again this Monday afternoon. The old weather maps will get poured over this week! Next weekend is the first of school holidays. All going good I hope to take a little person (not mine!) skiing or boarding on the Meadow.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

getting your hike on

A full car, a Friday night commute, and a dodgy dinner stop in Otorohanga - the weekend warriors were on the road once more!

I had not packed my backpack as I had convinced myself any hiking I was going to do would be minimal, and it was too early in the season to get all crazy on the poor old summer legs. Well... the Alpine Meadow Sunkids carpet was running but no lifts. It was sunny and warm and there was nothing to it but to follow all the other ants hiking up the hill. I made it up to the Giant Cafe deciding that I should have worn spring thermals and spring socks and I really really should have brought my backpack for a hands free hike. D'oh. No leaving it behind from now on.

It is a truly beautiful mountain. A great lunch spot up high. Clear views of Taranaki, Girdlestone, the summit, the ghost of tower 9, and looking down to the Meadow, the half full carpark, Ohakune, Raetihi, and beyond. Silent. (Except for the sound of 3 groomers zooming round us building trails.)

We had an ok run down. I was riding my old rocks board in anticipation, and had that first run of the season fear that I had forgotten how to snowboard. The trail down the Upper Freeway and Boneyard was a bit chopped up from groomer tracks and people's feet, but off to the sides some semi smoothness could be found. Actually I was pleased that there was a bit more snow here than I thought there would be. So a one-run-wonder for day 1. But us weekend warriors have gotta make the most of it, especially when you feel like your lungs will explode!

Unfortunately the rain came Sunday, and the freezing level rose, melting fair amount of snow over the past couple of days. So enjoy these pics from Saturday, and cross fingers we get some snow out of this bad weather this week.

the Boneyard

pushing trails

top of the High Noon

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

snowing in 'Kune

It's snowing in Ohakune as I type....

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts have announced an early opening at Turoa this Thursday 17th - brought forward from Sat 19th - copy of the release is below.

"Alpine Meadow Opens on Thursday
Posted on 15 June 2010 at 11:03 AM

It will be an early start to the season for the Alpine Meadow at Turoa this season with an early opening on this Thursday the 17th. Join us up here for a few turns, scrape the summer wax off the gear and get yourself ready for the season with some early winter fun!

Snowmaking and trail preparation has commenced on the upper mountain, lifts will progressively open as conditions allow.

To top all of this excitement off, there is even more snow falling today, all the way down to Ohakune! Patrol is skinning their way up to the snow stake right now and we will let you know what the result is as soon as they gets there!

See you all up here very very soon!"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

sneak peak, sun's out

view from the east, snow over the Desert Road

Whakapapa view

Turoa view

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

pre-season sojourn

Slept in again! We were supposed to leave before dawn on Saturday morning, but got up when the first tui cracked outside at 7am. (the bird, not the beer) We were supposed to get moving early because Saturday was going to be the best of the long weekend. Nevermind, we can pack pretty quick, and were on the road and in Ohakune at lunchtime. We had beautiful clear drive, and caught glimpses of Whakapapa from as far north as Taumaranui township.

Raurimu view

To make the most of the warm clear weather before it closed in, we drove back around to Whakapapa, and met some friends from Taupo for a walk over there. At the Round the Mountain Track entrance on Bruce Road, we cruised over to the closest ridgeline and then dropped down into the valley to the Whakapapaiti Hut. It got "dark" early as the clouds started rolling in and the clouds started making shapes hinting at the windy weather to come.

Saturday night we cooked a big  feed and consumed red wine by the fire before heading up to the Junction to consume some more. We caught up with winter friends and even some Auckland friends who were in the neighbourhood too. I hope the snow gods were happy, cos the next day my head hurt!

Sunday and Monday were ditto days. Waking up just before dawn each of those days as we thought the old railway house we stayed in was going to blow inside out. The wind seemed to peak in the morning, and it felt like everytime we wanted to venture outside it would rain. By Monday our house mates grumbled "it's too early for cabin fever!" Sundays webcams were not a pretty sight, looking at the rain washed the ridgelines... Mountain streams in town were swelling with rain... BUT the weather maps were looking much more promising for Monday/Tuesday when a snowier looking weather system would hit the north overnight. You could feel a brr in the air (wind change and temp drop) all day Monday...

break in the weather

TYPICAL! It snows after we leave town, AND it snows in town. The Desert Road in the east has closed and word of mouth reports this morning are snow in Whakapapa village and snow flurries falling on Railway Row, Ohakune. Keep it coming.

Ohakune Cam 10.30am 8-June
Whakapapa - Geonet cam

Monday, May 31, 2010


Well I forgot to set my alarm for this morning, and slept half an hour over. Not a good way to start a Monday! I heard the sunrise this morning was pretty awesome. I checked my favourite VolcanoCams on the Geonet website, and here are a selection of moody shots from this morning, enjoy.

There's also been some pretty cool shots on the recent full moon. It has been clear at times at night which has made for some interesting webcam images.

The snow level has been dropping, dustings on the high points above Happy Valley at Whakapapa, and now cold enough to make snow and top up the Alpine Meadow at Turoa. More of the same please! Lets hope it doesn't melt toooooo much before opening weekend in a few weeks.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

autumn snow update

Last week in Auckland we had some rain of all rains over 2 days which well and truly broke the drought. This was followed by another weather system bringing more rain and flooding to part of the South and North Islands. Along with that there has been snow falling on all mountains and with the rain now moving off we have more snow now. This is today's weather map at 7am this morning....

Reports coming in today show Ruapehu cleared with a glorious sunrise this morning showing off her new skirt of snow. A decent dusting of 15cm down around the level of the Giant Chair at Turoa, and the Knoll Webam at Whakapapa is all white. There are flurries of snow falling and trying to nestle in Wanaka's streets, which sounds good for up high. Both Treble Cone and Cardrona nearby are reporting snow falling at their base area's, as is Porters on Facebook just now. On the news this morning they were reporting chains required at Lindis Pass, and one will also need to watch out for Porters Pass. Basically autumn/winter has hit all over, so we finally have some decent feeling snow action!!

Geonet volcano cam - Whakapapa, Ruapehu

an Ohakune Cam - Turoa, Ruapehu

Weather Watch:

  • in Ruapehu Region, Met Service says there should be snow falling to 1000m - and below - over the weekend. (that's below ski area level)
  • Met Service says the heaviest snowfalls are expected overnight for inland parts of Canterbury and North Otago overnight.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yup... we have snow at last

A nice snow cap after a few days of miserable weather
- almost down to the level of Knoll Ridge.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Whakapapa from the airport on SH47

 looking over the Desert Road (SH1, approx where the fog is)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

from the air

Yesterday I flew from Hokitika to Christchurch over the Southern Alps

Suddenly I could see a building perched on a ridge 
- and realised it was the Day Lodge at Craigeburn Valley Ski Area

Here is the accommodation at CV, nestled in the tree line.
We stayed here 2x nights last year.

Flying over the edge of Castle Hill Station, I could see Porters in the distance. The oval shape of orange amongst the brown landscape near the middle to top left of the image is the quarry on the Porters road, the road zigzags to the peak on the right, and Big Mama.

Finally, I flew from Christchurch back to Auckland, and we took a path close to Ruapehu

Sunday, May 2, 2010

clear autumn day

Today was absolutely stunning! Great day to be out on the harbour with rod and reel, unfortunately the boys didn't bring home any fish.

On the Whakapapa side, Ruapehu looks like this, a nice little snow cap on. Here is the Geonet Volcano Camera view this morning.

I have seen some awesome pics of Turoa taken from Ohakune this evening. I don't want to steal someone else images so you'll have to take my word for it... It looks like the dusting down low has stayed relatively frosty all day and while it's melted a bit, you can see it's icing sugar like to a low level. The ground is getting colder!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

webcam watch

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts webcam link

Today, the first of May, my friend and I trawled around the city's snow stores checking out the pre-season weekend sales. I left the house with a merino t shirt and jeans and summer sandals on, half wondering if I should take another layer with me. Mostly because there were sporadic rain showers more than anything else. It was still reasonably warm here in Auckland. About half way through the morning we could feel the cool wind change, and suddenly the t shirt was just a tad on the cool side.

Remember that weather forecast earlier in the week? Well the freezing level has been lifting as the time drew nearer and this morning it looked like this for Ruapehu.

Today 1 May Issued at: 11:40am 1 May 2010
Cloudy periods with a few showers, especially this evening.
Wind at 1500 metres: Southerly 40 km/h developing this afternoon and rising to 60 km/h this evening.
Wind at 3000 metres: Westerly 60 km/h becoming southwest 40 km/h this afternoon.
Free air freezing Level: Lowering to 2000 metres this afternoon

So with the day cooling down up here I was curious to see what was actually happening down there!

Quote from a friend in Ohakune on the snowco forum.
"dusting of snow down to the bottom of the giant at turoa...out the window cam....may1"

... Woop Woop

Looking at the webcams, there were snow showers mid this afternoon. On the Turoa side it settled as low down as the Alpine Meadow (1600m) but then melted. The level of snow dusting my friend could see, from his kitchen in Ohakune, is about the same as the image below taken from the Wintergarden looking up the Boneyard run on Turoa. (so approx 1700m)

On the Whakapapa side there was a snow dusting round the level of the new Knoll Ridge Cafe (approx 2000m). Then it looked like it was dumping cos you could see snow falling on the chairlift terminal roof... so lets see what's on the ground tomorrow eh?

Anyway, this is all a bit OTT. It's just a mere start, and it's wishful thinking that we'll get a crazy storms and early openings like we did last May. (see my blog archive for May 2009 posts)... but I will wish anyway!

PS: The shopping today was a success too. After trying on many many pairs of gloves last year I finally found some that fit nicely over my wrist guards without having 2 or more cm of excess space in the fingertips. They are the Marmot "Work Glove", gortex with leather palms. Looks like I will be stealthing it with black hands this winter. The old blue and grey ones must retire.