Remarkables Backcountry Ski Conditions 29/07/17

Decided to give the legs a bit of a rest today and just keep it within resort boundaries and short hikes. We were lapping Shadow Basin, finding nice snow in the sheltered pockets where the usual mob couldn’t be bothered to traverse to. There’s clearly much less snow down south, compared to when I was up at Tekapo or Soho Basin, we’re just not getting it as good down here!

New Zealand Ski Touring Conditions 28/07/17 (Soho Basin)

Nothing really to shout home about from yesterday’s tour as visibility was so poor for the whole day (along with a brisk wind) we headed up to Mt Cardrona from the base of Soho Basin with an optimistic view that the skies would clear – they sadly didn’t.


From the summit, we skied back to Cardona in what would’ve been fantastic snow conditions, everyone up Cardona/Soho will be having a great one today!


New Zealand Ski Touring Conditions 26/07/17 (Mt Ardmore, Lake Tekapo)

Me, Manu & Jamie made to trek up to Lake Tekapo to sample some of the silly amounts of snow that the region has received over the past couple of weeks and conditions didn’t disappoint, with 1200m worth of ascent and descent from the Lake to the summit of Mt Ardmore!


Conditions were pretty fair, apart from the forecast strong winds which hit most of all on the final summit ridge – it brought me back to time spent in Scotland getting blown about! With the strong winds, there was a lot of snow clearly getting shifted about onto the leeward south faces.


I was slightly worried about this rapidly growing windslab so I dug a quick pit and ran a column test with the objective to see if this slab was sliding off the rime crust (as has previously been reported) which is now buried over a metre deep in places. My test had shown that the snow was actually bonding reasonably well with the weak layers below it, so we carried on up and skied a nice wee couloir on the W face of Ardmore, giving some pretty decent skiing!


All in all, it was a worthwhile trip up from a fairly lean Queenstown (compared to the rest of NZ) and I came away with many more objectives spotted from the road – summit, Two Thumb Range looks to have plenty potential!


Remarkables Backcountry 22/07/17 (Wye Creek)

Had a wee jaunt over the back of the Remarks today, down Wye Creek to see what was happening with the snow out that way. We had no real objectives in mind – with such an unpredictable avalanche forecast on pretty much all aspects, we decided to stick to the mellow slopes where the wind had ‘feathered’ the snow into a nice texture.


After doing a few cruise-y laps, slowly making our way down south, we decided to dig a pit at ~1800m elevation, SSE aspect, 32 deg incline. We found all the usual suspects hiding down there & ran a Column & Extended Column Test – results were CT11 & ECTP14 down to the June rain crust which is buried 50cm deep in this area. I expected the tests to give these results, but was surprised with ECT showing that the snowpack was holding so much energy in this area – something to keep in mind!


We look to have a fine and clear day forecast tomorrow, but I’m afraid it’s back to work for me… till Wednesday! 😉


Remarkables Backcountry 19/07/17 (Wye Creek / Doolans)

I’ve spent the past couple of days over the back of the Remarkables, finding some fresh snow on the sheltered southerly aspects that hasn’t been too affected by the warm temperatures or winds during Monday’s small storm.

We kept things mellow due to the current instabilities lurking in the snowpack, with a wee tour down into Wye Creek, then heading back out toward the Doolans on our way back to resort.

After digging a quick pit on an East facing slope at around 1800m, I found the same instabilities hiding in the snowpack as the pit I dug down in the Hectors last weekend. We’re definitely going to have to be on our toes when we get the next big snowfall, with clear faceted crystals lurking at the base of the pack which are not bonding well with the snow above.

New Zealand Ski Touring Conditions 15/07/17 (Hector Mountains)

I was able to join the Southern Lakes Heliski crew yesterday (15th July) for some Heliski action 😉 We managed to find some great snow conditions from slightly below the summit all the way down to the ~1200m line (you could possibly have gone lower, but we were with clients).


After digging a pit, we could see some very clear weak layers that are most likely going to hang around until the above slabs are flushed out – I’ll leave the information on the snow pack at that to avoid providing potentially misleading information – do your own investigation before getting on anything too steep.


The Hectors definitely look like an area I’d love to explore more of, whether by helicopter or skins there seems to be some great terrain about when it all fills in.


New Zealand Ski Touring Conditions 13/07/17 (Soho Basin)

We made the drive over to Soho Basin yesterday to get a few laps in after ‘Snowmageddon’ dropped some of the soft stuff off for us earlier in the week.


We found around 20cms of fresh (deeper in lee slopes) and wanted to keep it nice and mellow with the knowledge that a few weak layers are lurking about. We didn’t find any activity in the snowpack, but would imagine that you could find some unstable snow where the winds have transported a lot of snow or on steeper gradients.


We were getting a mighty ~500m descents from the summit of Mount Cardrona.


If you’re planning on visiting the Soho Basin area, make sure you get in touch with the guys there before doing so!


Remarkables Backcountry 08/07/17

Hey, just a few photos from today skiing around the Remarks, skied a few of the Alta Chutes and a couple laps of the Doolans which is still holding some nice windblow fresh snow in the Southerly(ish) aspects 🙂

Things are getting pretty crusty lower down but should be in great condition again after a little extra snowfall early next week!




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