New Zealand Southern Alps
Skiing with Helicopters
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Lawrie looking remarkable.
We both got up early and drove up Mount Remarkable to the
ski resort. This
ski resort is about 30 minutes drive from our accommodation. In New Zealand
there are no lodges or places to stay on the mountain so every morning you
must drive up a mountain to ski.
It was a very beautiful, but quite tricky drive up the
mountain as the road was gravel covered, at higher elevations, with ice.
When we got up to the car park it was about 8:30 am and -6 c which made it
very, very cold. We got our gear on and headed to the lifts for a day of
skiing. The ski runs could have done with another meter of snow to cover up
the grass and rocks but there was plenty of good skiing to be had; even some
powder. It's been a poor ski season in New Zealand this year.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Lawrie looking at the Remarkables.
Lawrence and I got up early and drove to the Coronet Peak
ski field. This
is the second ski resort easily accessible from Queenstown. It turns out
there are two ways to get to Coronet Peak from Queenstown the long way and
the short way; we of course took the long way due to my miss guidance.
Still we arrived at the parking lot just as the lifts
were starting and to a clear blue sky. The view from Coronet Peak of
Queenstown and the Remarkables is just spectacular. That evening Fred
arrived from Australia and joined us on our New Zealand skiing expedition.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Fred joined us from Melbourne.
This was a very exciting day for Lawrence and me as we
went heliskiing! This
involves, as you would imagine, the use of a helicopter to fly you to very
remote mountain locations to ski with a guide on pristine powder snow.
Lawrie looking like we all felt during the avalanche briefing.
It was another beautiful sunny day this day and we had a
perfect day of skiing. Heliskiing is extremely challenging and fun all at
the same time. We were picked up by the guide and the other skiers about
9:00 am. We made a quick 15 minute drive to the Queenstown airport where we
placed all of our gear in the helicopter hanger. Our
guide then gave us each an avalanche radio which we all strapped to our
bodies. He then instructed us on how to use them; what a thought!
Off we went.
He said you will need to use them if the guide were to be
buried under an avalanche of snow or if we were buried under an avalanche of
snow. I could not resist telling everyone that the radio devices enabled us
to find and recover the dead frozen body of who ever got buried under the
snow; it did get a worried laugh.
What a day we had. I am trying to find the words to describe how good it was to
ski the backcountry of the New Zealand Alps.
Some of the skiing was breathtaking.
Challenging is the first word that comes to mind as we
had to use skis we were not used to. They were fat, long, and heavy which
made them very hard to handle. Beautiful is another word that comes to mind
as we were placed on top of remote mountain ridges which gave us spectacular
views of the New Zealand Alps. The
helicopter took us up five times and we skied down five different routes
each with variable snow conditions.
Sometimes you would be skiing very soft powder snow and
other times you would encounter very hard windblown hard packed snow. One of
our group, a young fellow, seriously injured himself after our first run
down. He was going way too fast and simply lost control.
The serving skiers were very happy and very tiered.
We stopped for lunch after the second ski and ate our lunch at the bottom of
one of the runs.
The food was brought in by the helicopter and was good.
The sun was shining and we ate lunch in one of the most stunning locations I
have ever seen. After the day of skiing was over we were both extremely
tired. The excitement of being dropped off on mountain ridges by a
helicopter, skiing on fat skis all day, and skiing extremely challenging
runs finally took its toll on both of us. We slept well that night.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Fred and Lawrie about to go down the Super Pipe.
This day Lawrence, Fred, and I skied at the Treble Cone
ski resort. It
is a very large ski area and had the best snow coverage of all the resorts
we had skied on the trip. Much fun was had by all. Fred's favorite run was
called the Super Pipe.
This is a gully with steep walls on each side that ran
for a kilometer or so. In the Super Pipe you can ski up and down the walls
of the gully all the way down. At the end of this day of skiing Lawrence and
I were completely skied out; we had nothing left in our legs and found it
difficult to even walk let alone ski. We slept very well again this evening.