Posts Tagged ‘Ski Touring’

Spring Skiing in New Zealand’s Backcountry


The View of Kingston/Lake Wakatipu From Above

“Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” Walt Whitman

The other day, as the spring corn was coming onto the scene, I finally decided to investigate the moderate ridgetops of our valley here in the Wakatipu Basin in Kingston, New Zealand. The skiing wasn’t the steepest, and the “peaks” aren’t the sharpest in the Southern Alps, but the snow was damn perfect. After all, the first ski hut in New Zealand was just down the road on the Nevis Road. There must have been a reason for that being the first NZ ski field.

What I found after a two hour hike to snowline, were broad snowfields of cornsnow with some minor peaks along the ridge. Evidently this is where a snowmobile/heli-ski operation brought people up last season. I could see them lifting off, just across the road, and thought, “If they’re headed up there, must be something to it.” We live in Kingston, a sleepy little town, home of spectacular scenery, rock climbing, dramatic walks, a long pebble beach at the south end of the second largest lake in New Zealand, and home to an eclectic community that hasn’t been discovered by Queenstown yet. Oh I almost forgot to I mention the Kingston Flyer steam train,  which is now up and running, after a number of years in receivership. Look closely at the image on right, the clouds of smoke are from the steam train’s maiden test run, and from the fires it started along side the tracks.

A long, fun day. Rising at 4:40 I  hit the DOC trailhead by 5:30, and got back to the car around 18:30 I was a little tired, but jazzed. Fortunately there were freezing temperature up high, so by 10am, there was perfect corn on the northern aspects.  I took some pix and video, so decided just to blend them into a movie for the day…Enjoy.

Eastern Alpine Ski Touring


I’d grown up, skiing every spring, on Mt. Washington’s east side – Tuckerman’s, Gulf of Slides, and Great Gulf. Once,  I think I took one run, years ago on the west side,  but last week Junji Itagaki suggested we head up to his favorite haunt. I don’t often get in ski touring mode when back east, but the west side of Mt. Washington is as close as it gets to a wonderful alpine touring experience on the east coast of the U.S.
We climbed up Munro Gully, then headed to the Lake of the Clouds, then over to the summit of Mt. Washington, for a nice descent down Ammonoosuc Ravine, on thick but great snow. I think we had record-breaking temperatures that day. (See my earlier post on getting kids outside, which was filmed in Ammonoosuc Ravine).

Mt. Washington's West Side

Pictured above, Junji Itagaki, Lake of the Clouds and its Hut, Mt. Washington to the right.