Back in 1996 Bret Steward was quoted in Transworld Snowboarding – “If I had to stay in one place and snowboard for the rest of my life, it would be Temple Basin…it’s that good.”For such an iconic place in New Zealand skiing, I was quite sheepish in admitting when planning the weekend that I had never been there.
There is nothing like a first time on a mountain but a first trip to Temple is in a different league. Leaving late from Christchurch it was after 10pm when we pulled into Arthur’s Pass car park. Underestimating the Temple hospitality we never even considered that the good lift might still be running and shouldered packs – the famous walk to the lodge lit by an unbelievably clear sky.
(Un)fortunately we made it in time for the pre-opening whisky, Ryan Charmley doing his best to keep people in bed until he had got the goods the next day.
Despite his efforts the head dawned as clear as the day, perfect blue sky to help dig out the track to downhill basin that had been buried by the week of southerly fronts. The patrollers had been kind enough not to punch too many lines when completing their safety work. The snow was perfect creamed butter and quickly tracked by the 20 or so of us up there first thing.
As downhill started to get filled in with lines the debate started on where to go next. The verdict was out on the Mingha valley, would it have been scoured by the southerly winds? Finally there was only one way to end the debate and we punched up to ridge. The view was fantastic. Deep. Untracked. Stable. We didn’t leave for the rest of the weekend, until the boot packed looked like a polished staircase. Working our way east we ticked off one line after another. If I had to stay in one place and ski for the rest of my life, that would be it.
Ski Tourer in green boots: Jordan Agnew