Grey Bird Days – Rain, Wind and Threading the Needle

4. Perfect line spotting conditionsWords: Tom Beaumont   Photos: Elliot Smith

Being a weekend warrior in Canterbury has been tough lately. Snow events have been followed by warm and wet pineapple express weather, and the wind seems to arrive on Saturday morning and leave on Sunday night. This weekend was no different.
Elliot Smith and I headed out anyhow and ended up getting some really fun skiing.

The snowpack was interesting; wind earlier in the week has stripped and deposited a majority of the snow into dense windpack on top of an older rain crust, which had then been rained on, making it heavy and reactive.

The weather was plain unpleasant; wind and rain/snow, making for thick pea soup and next to no visibility. As a result of the snowpack and weather, we decided to ski an area between Mt Olympus and Cheeseman which has lots of tight chutes. The terrain offered some visual reference and allowed us to minimise avalanche hazards by flushing any unstable snowpack.

We were able to ski right into the valley bottom, then had an easy hour and a half walk back to the road. On the way out we stopped in at Mt Olympus bottom hut for a beer with the groms and crew up for the NZ Junior Freeski open, before heading to the base of Craigieburn to camp up for the night. See you all out there!

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7. Threading the needle

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8. Elliot enjoying a cuppa before the walk back to the road

8. Walking back to the road

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