The Grim the Glory and the Gromfest
My early predictions of a heavy snow season were literally washed away by a nasty Nor'Wester early last week. It absolutely poured down on the West Coast, across the Main Divide and over the Eastern Ranges. The Buller Gorge was completely flooded, Westport was cut off due to slips, as was SH73 to Arthurs Pass. All that lovely snow we were skiing over the school holidays was running down the rivers and out to sea. Once the rain clouds cleared the scene was dismal. The word ‘grim' was to be echoed throughout the ranges as some ski fields closed, and others waited for a freeze so they could start moving snow onto tow lines.
But you can look at the glass half empty or half full. You can despair at how much snow was lost, or you can get out and enjoy the snow that's there. When I woke to a bluebird morning and apparent ‘dusting' on Tuesday last week, despite the lack of snow I decided it would be better to be up in the mountains than not. I called around a few locals but most were cynical about the conditions and no one was keen on skiing. So after a leisurely morning in the village I headed up to Porters alone intending on a very quick recce. I ended up skiing until the last possible moment, the skiing was that good.
I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with some snow in the carpark, and not many cars. T1 had frozen solid but the upper mountain had some wind-blown fresh and the firm pack was just softening into spring corn. T3 and Julian's Bowl were still well covered and looking over to Mt Olympus things didn't look completely grim.
I ended up skiing with some of the staff and Craig from Oxford and the consensus of the skiing conditions was unanimous - ‘magic'. It was one out of the bag that no one had expected. As the day went on the sun continued to soften the snow and the skiing just got better and better. Unfortunately Big Mama was closed because of access but Craig and I were lucky enough to join the Patrol on their inspection of the conditions. Yes access was thin but the snow on the face was fast and fun rain-groomed corn - smooth speedy skiing.
The following few days were the same and I was determined to get as much glory out of the grim as I could. On Wednesday I skied with my good friend Alison Marsh and we agreed to meet again on Thursday because the snow was so nice. Yes, Corduroy was back in fashion - the groomies were skiing fast, very fast - Head of Porters Ski School, Dan, clocked himself at 95km/hr on T3! Off-piste wasn't too shabby either once the sun did its softening thing.
Thursday ended up being a bit of a ladies day, something we dub as ‘The Mid-Week Mothers Ski Club'. The ladies of the day included Alison, Anna Keeling, Suzy Tapper, Kim Sykes, Claire Newell (from BR) and Ildica Boyd. Springfield School came up in the afternoon and while the kids were off in their lesson, the Mamas were skiing the Big Mama (chaperoned by Patroller Matt Ftiz).
It got quite cold over the weekend but that didn't stop the Grommet having an awesome time at the Dynastar Gromfest up at Porters. Saturday was the Big Mountain Workshop and on Sunday there was a Slalom and Park Jam. The Porters crew, Stu and Ryan put on a great event with yummy BBQ and prizes for everyone. The turn-out was great and the kids had a blast.
So the snowpack has had held out and apparently the Moon Man has predicted 15 snow cycles from the end of July through to October. In fact it's snowing up the tops as I write - the Moon Man could be right this time. If Monday's forecast from Metvuw is anything to go on, we could be in for a decent dumping next week..........
Well, have a great rest of the week. I'll be up at Mt Cheeseman for the next Gromfest this weekend, but my pick for today is Craigieburn, I'll let you know how it is in my next blog.