ski touring 101

Last weekend, Brendan and I ventured up to Temple Basin for NZ Splitfest (splitboarding festival). I’d been looking for a beginner friendly ski touring trip since I got here and this was the closest I could find, so I decided to give it a go.

temple basin topo

This was definitely the best weekend for skiing in terms of snow conditions, terrain, people, and how well I’ve been skiing. Brendan declared Temple Basin an “off-piste ski field” which I think is a good description as they have 3 rope tows (only 2 are running right now though) and even if you buy a pass, you have to do quite a bit of walking to get around. It is definitely not a great place for beginners or the lazy!!! Your day/weekend also starts with a walk up to where the huts/tows are of about 400m. Luckily your gear gets transported up by a goods lift or that would suck a lot.

On Saturday, Brendan took me ski touring and showed me the basics. It kind of feels like uphill cross-country skiing but permanently uphill and your boots/skis are way heavier. It felt a bit like trudging through mud. Best part about it was that it was freeeee! I reckon we did about 850m of vertical climbing that day.

Then on Sunday I did an avalanche workshop which was partly theory and partly learning how to use tranceivers. Everyone had left by the time that ended and my hip flexors felt like they were going to combust so I just skiied on the ski field for the afternoon. After I managed to fall into a hole filled with water (don’t ask) I decided to call it a day heehee.

I met a lot of really friendly people and a lot of really keen skiiers/snowboarders. One guy went up and down about a mountain 4 times in one day (about 500-600m vertical each time)! I don’t think I have that much determination.

Brendan skiied a route called ‘The Gultch’ on Sunday. He’s hardcore! Last year he attempted to ski Laila Peak in Pakistan (read here). I still find it pretty funny that we became friends after we took the same bus from Christchurch to Nelson. (me: why do you have such a huge ski bag when it is the middle of summer?!?!?!)

temple basin
Brendan’s line

NZ is small. The outdoorsy community is small. The climbing community is smaller. On Friday while staying at the Alpine Club hut in Arthurs Pass, I ran into my friend Chris and another person who I recognized who were both doing a mountaineering course. I also had met the guide that was leading the course in Wanaka. We then found out they were also going to the Temple area. Then up at Temple, I ran into the guy that I got a ride with last weekend to go skiing. Then in the hut, I ran into a bunch of people from the uni club who I’d been introduced to. And then I ran into our friend Kieran who I climbed with a few weeks ago at Gibraltor. Friends!


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