Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mt Ruapehu- redefining variable conditions

I've been in NZ for a month now, and whilst I've enjoyed a handful of ski tours, stormy weather and marginal skiing conditions have dictated a focus on trail running. A good thing, because while the skiing potential of this place remains to be seen, the trail running possibilities are world class and easy to access. I've been squeezing in 80-100 km per week since I arrived here and have never enjoyed it so much. Plans are beginning to form in my mind for a trail running tour of the south island's iconic tramping tracks when the season winds up in October.

Today however, I headed out with Jimmy for a quick ski in the Wairere drainage on the volcano's north. The weather, views and company were great, which compensated for some of the more character building snow types that we found ourselves skiing on. There was the full spectrum from boiler plate and rime on high windward slopes and ridges, some sastrugi on the open faces, breakable crust in the gullies and some isothermic muck down low. Sandwiched in between all this were some pockets of corn which was a treat.

I guess this is what they mean by "firnspiegel", there's a lot of it around these parts it seems

Jimmy leading the way down the Wairere drainage with Ngauruhoe in the distance

If Ngauruhoe looks familiar its probably because you've seen Lord of the Rings (apparently its was Mt Doom's double)

Back over Pinnacle Ridge

... and a final skin up to Mead's Wall

Awesome terrain just waiting for a bit more snow

The more I see of the terrain the antsier I get for some more snowfall to fill lines in, it seems that gale force winds and wildly variable freezing levels are common here. In the mean time I’m getting plenty of practice with my crampon technique and am stoked on the running scenery.

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