Earning your turns on the club’s ski touring course
23-25 August and 13-15 September
A lean snow year was no barrier for a group of keen skiers who made the most of what Whakapapa had to offer this season through the Club’s new learn to ski tour course.
The progressive course started with essential basic skills such as efficient stance and balance, traversing and side slipping to ensure everyone could negotiate terrain they would likely encounter when skiing off the groomed slopes and away from commercial ski areas.
For some students the new skills were put to the test as the group finished their first day with a short hike above the Far West T-Bar followed by a 'follow me Georgiou' route through rocks and chutes to gain access to the Yankee run just on dusk.
Thick cloud and fog didn't deter the group on the Sunday as they made the best of the adverse conditions to increase their comfort level with whiteout conditions. Tactics such as using others as a human ski slalom course and skiing on one ski kept everyone amused and made use of the limited terrain and visibility.
The weather and snow conditions improved for the second module in September where the group quickly got familiar with the ski touring equipment starting on the Hutt flat rope tow. The group then made their way up the Whakapapa ski field and practiced transitioning from downhill skiing to skinning and crampons. Icy conditions presented an excellent opportunity to learn different strategies for route selection and gain confidence traversing with skins between the Valley and Knoll Ridge T-bars.
On Sunday the group took advantage of the blue sky day and earned their turns by skinning close to 900 metres from the back of the lodge up to the Notch through Aeroplane Gully, the Gut and Sunset Ridge before skiing back to the lodge for a well earned cup of tea.
Eleven students participated in the course - Patrick Arnold, Fin Bellingham, Elizabeth Claridge, Jenny Cossey, Alison Davis, Marie Firth, Mark Hearfield, Kristy Johnstone, Mary McBride, Anita Radcliffe and Jonathon Shutt.
Nine instructors volunteered their time to pass on their skills and knowledge over the two weekends. Instructors module one: Charlie Georgiou, Dave Grainger, Mark Hearfield Drew McGlashen and Cherie Marshall. Module two: John Dement, Geoffroy Lamarche, Cherie Marshall, Jenny Mason and Paul Maxim.