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