Sometimes timing is everything. This year the school holidays nailed it; the first real snow storm in Canterbury arriving just in time for day one.
With only a handful of the club fields open and likely to be teaming with families looking for nature to provide a day of baby sitting, Tom “Fun Sponge” Beaumont and I decided that the best skiing would probably be a little further from the beaten track.
With few people currently pushing into the Southern Alps so early in the winter reports from the field where limited. The gurus were divided; many suggesting we were more likely to find boiler plate crust than the cold kiwi smoke we were chasing. Driving towards Arthur’s Pass we made the call to try our luck on Mt Bealey – the imposing peak standing guard above the village.
An “honest” slog; 2 hours got us to tree line, and a change into ski boots. Another hour along the ridge and we could put skins on for the first time. Cutting up through boot deep sugar over looking the Waimakariri River, with the sun still low in the sky, it was hard to believe how close we were to Christchurch yet how far it felt from the crowds of the commercial fields.
The bowl beneath the Bealey Peak provided the goods. The fresh snow from Friday night had been piled light and deep by the Nor’Wester into the gullies. We kept cutting laps until a headlight was required to help us down the track and back to the car.
With no time to make it back to Christchurch in time to watch the Highlanders and Hurricanes we made the stop in Springfield tavern. 9 hours on the hill, still looking fresh in our Mons in front of the Porters Pass staff. That beer tasted bloody good.
Words: Blake Blake Lepper
Photography: Tom “Fun Sponge” Beaumont