New Zealand!

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New Zealand backcountry skiing.

New Zealand

Check out this backcountry skiing in New Zealand! As many of you know, I’m working as a ski patroller at Mt. Cheeseman, a ”club ski field” in Canterbury, New Zealand. It is a fun place to work, definitely a lot different than ski areas in the States. One big difference is it’s small and mellow — thirty cars in the parking lot means we might get crowded. The place is funky in various ways, one of which is that the lodge (which is quite nice, by the way) only had 16kbs dialup for the start of the season. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to do any trip reports until I got better internet access. Luckily, one of the club members figured out how to beam broadband up here from his house, so let the TRs begin!

Looking at our first run of the day from the Cheeseman boundary

Looking at the Tairn Chutes of the day from the Cheeseman boundary

Mt. Cheeseman ski area itself doesn’t have very challenging terrain, although it gets tracked out at 1/100 the rate of any American ski area I have been to. Behind the ski field, however, is amazing access to super backcountry skiing. I have been able to do great skiing when I get the chance.

I had an afternoon off of work a few days after a nice dump. The avalanche danger was low, and there were almost no tracks in the Tairn Chutes, which are less than half an hour hike from the ski area boundary

Stu, a fellow Cheeseman employee, and I were able to get some amazing runs in Tairn Basin. It is amazing that 4 days after a storm, as whole faces are usually still without tracks a mere 20 minute hike from the top of a lift. I guess that is New Zealand for you, pretty mellow; just not that populous. We made one run in Tairn Chutes, and two in an area dubbed Tairn Forest, for the snow plastered rock outcrops that surround the chutes. It was all amazing powder turns, and I was back in time to do the evening sweep!

dav-shot

I skied the chute on the right, Stu took the one on the left

Best July powder ever!

Best July powder ever!

Stu ripping  up Tairn Forest

Stu ripping up Tairn Forest.

Comments

13 Responses to “New Zealand!”

  1. Le Pistoir July 20th, 2009 10:29 am

    Awesome, Louie!
    So jealous. NZed Pow! I wish I was there, but thanks for sending the stoke “up over”

  2. Nick July 20th, 2009 10:58 am

    Looks great! Wow – so your summer will be substantially better than mine….

  3. Raodonnee July 20th, 2009 1:35 pm

    Sweet! Thanks for the stoke! I am working today and it is near 100 degrees outside here where I work, nice to see you shredding pow. Good job.

  4. Mark July 20th, 2009 6:53 pm

    This keeps the summer doldrums from weighing us down too much. Keep on hiking!

  5. Neil July 20th, 2009 8:44 pm

    Un Zed does have its commercial ski areas, but the real gems are the club fields. Just remember leather gloves, a harness and nutcracker as rope tows rule. I’ll be there for a week in September (Cheesman, Broken River and a few others) and some heli. If I wasn’t stuck here on the other side of the ditch, Christchurch would be a wonderful place to live. Enjoy Lou.

  6. Matt Kinney July 20th, 2009 9:37 pm

    Thanks for the stoke pics…. that looks simply dreamy off the lifts….chugachian in a way. Stay safe, ski lots….

  7. MJ Hall July 20th, 2009 10:15 pm

    Looks like a great adventure Louie. Might have to put New Zealand on the list of “to do” in our summer. Mt Hood is great this time of year, but not the fresh you’ve got. You’re living the life!!

  8. Mike July 21st, 2009 4:35 am

    You had great time and this keeps your summer relaxed.

  9. OMR July 21st, 2009 9:41 am

    NZ looks awesome! The closest I ‘ve come to skiing in the southern hemisphere was 2 years ago when I accompanied my mum on a pilgrimag back to her homeland of Australia. After two weeks of driving a bunch of old women through the Aussie countryside, I made a break and drove like a mad-man, 8 hours of winding roads throught he Snowy Mountains, to Thredbo, only to find it had closed 2 days prior. But not all was lost, I borrowed some skis from the shop and hiked to the top (2000 v) to find a futball field size run (and not much steeper) at the upper limits of the mountian (Kozsieco, hi. pt. of Aust. – a mile or so distant.). Nothing comparable to your shots of NZ though. I need to go back.

  10. Peter Banta July 21st, 2009 1:35 pm

    I think I must be living in the wrong Hemisphere. It is getting a little crowded in North America, even way out-of-bounds. 1 more Republican Prez & that’s it! ;)

  11. Susan LoAlbo (from Virginia Beach) July 22nd, 2009 8:58 am

    Be careful over there Louie……. Your Mom and I don’t want to worry tooooooo much! Love and hugs, Susan in Virginia Beach

  12. Megan July 29th, 2009 4:56 am

    Hi Lou,
    Welcome to NZ and to the Craigieburn Range! I usually hang out next door at Broken River Ski Area, but plan to come to Cheeseman in the next few weeks – I will have to come and say Hi as I’ve been a fan of your site for years. You will have to come along the range and visit us on one of your days off, the touring from Cheeseman is fantastic – either along to BR and Craigieburn or into the Ryton towards Olympus. If you get to BR on a weekend it’s likely I’ll be there…
    cheers
    Megan

  13. Lou July 29th, 2009 9:51 am

    Megan, it’s my son Louie who’s down there, not me, but I’m sure he’ll be glad to go skiing with you guys! He’ll be easy to find up at Cheeseman…

    ‘best, Lou

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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