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The Mystery of the Mingha

Blake getting the season started.
Blake getting the season started.

I don’t need to spell out a skier’s perspective of this winter. May brought some good pow days that whetted the appetite. June was mostly rain, but that’s ok, it’s sort of expected. However when July didn’t get any better we all started to get worried.

 

And with such a grim start to the winter, Blake Lepper and I weren’t expecting much when we set out for the mountains in the middle of July.
 

Words and Photos: Tom Beaumont

 

The walk up to Temple basin gets the legs going and has great views to the peaks around Arthurs Pass.
The walk up to Temple basin gets the legs going and has great views to the peaks around Arthurs Pass.

Driving west past the Craigieburns, Blake recounted a sporting rain crust that had attempted to destroy everyone’s knees the day before. So we carried on to Arthurs Pass in search of greener pastures.

Pulling into the Temple Basin car park, things were looking slightly more optimistic. The surrounding peaks were coated up high and the sky was blue. Although the walk up to Temple was punctuated with line scoping on a very skiable Mt Rolleston, the ski field itself was better suited to a tussock­ enthusiasts field trip. So it was with much surprise that we reached Temple Col and looked into a loaded Mingha Valley. Stability was good as a result of being under the facet layer that sat above 1800m, we were above the rain­crusts of doom that existed below 1600m, and the sou’wester had put down some great wind deposit the night before. Although Blake and I claimed we had anticipated these conditions, the Mingha had exceeded expectations in an almost mythical way.

 

Round 1 - Blake and Tom win.
Round 1 – Blake and Tom win.
Looking down the Mingha towards Mt Oats and the Mingha­ Deception route.
Looking down the Mingha towards Mt Oats and the Mingha­ Deception route.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. With probably 20­-30cm of light, wind-deposited pow on top of a grippy base, the skiing was sublime. There had been some real stability issues around the region ­ so we took our time and did plenty of snow and slope tests before getting into it.

 

Little Phipps in the foreground. At Temple Basin you can ski full on ski mountaineering lines like these before breakfast.
Little Phipps in the foreground. At Temple Basin you can ski full on ski mountaineering lines like these before breakfast.

With storm clouds brewing just to the west of the divide we squeezed in a last lap before calling it quits and heading back the way we came; Downhill Basin to Temple Tow and out to the lodge. To top off an epic day, the snow on the route home had been baked into perfect corn, making for fun tussock dodging turns until the snow ran out.

See you out there and make safe decisions ­ there’s always another day.

 

 

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