Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Porters Powder & Lake Ohau Skiing

Once again a long time without writing anything in my blog. The last few weeks have seen me working the most time, but also getting a lot of time off, as the ski field was often closed due to bad weather. Most of the time this was due to wind, but we have also had a lot of snow over the last few weeks which is pretty unusual for New Zealand, apparently. Working has been rather interesting, actually. It seems we liftys have on of the best jobs on the mountain, as we can see a lot of funny stuff happening to the customers and we are outside a lot. What some people walk away from is surprising (collision with a lift tower, face plant in to a wooden fence, etc.) but sometime things don't work out well. We've had a few helicopter calls going through, but that is the case with a ski field. There are a lot of people I try to stay well away from, and even as an employee the mountain can be an unsafe place. One lifty had a border slip down the lift and hit him in the side of his knee and today another one got his shoe sliced up by a renegade snowboard. Anyway, so far all of us have survived (for the most part, but that story has nothing to do with the operations on the mountain).

Last Tuesday we had a powder day and I fortunately had the day of, so I hired a pair of skies from the rentals which were built for powder skiing and went out for the day with Hans mostly, but also a quick ride with Nick, Logan (NMIT guy), Chris and Flo. The best run of the day I had was coming down Bluff Face, with an unbroken powder line, being the fifth one down. The unusual circumstances with the snow is that New Zealand doesn't normally have this much. Last year quite a few runs were closed the whole season, where as this year everything has been open on a nearly consistent rate. Still, even this amount of snow isn't really enough for me, I'll have to keep my eyes on Canada in a few years time. 
Yesterday was kind of a hard choice where to go. Nick, Hans and Celine (ticket office Kiwi) were heading for Queenstown, skiing in Ohau yesterday and heading for Cardrona today. I really wanted to get to Cardrona, just because of the size of it. But they weren’t heading there until today, on which I am working. In the morning I was still undecided if I should go to Porters for the day or head down to Ohau with them. The journey to Ohau is four hours long. So I'd be driving for four hours, skiing for four and the driving back again. In the morning it was raining here at Porters and the top T-Bars seemed closed in the morning (in the end they were closed the entire day) so I headed south for four hours with the others. We passed Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki before we got to Lake Ohau. The journey up to the ski field had to be done in Celines car, as mine is only two wheel drive and I have no chains. That's the interesting part about New Zealand, too. No ski field has a town at the base of it. All of the ski field have a track to drive up. Probably due to the snow line being so high up.
The first hour at Ohau was mediocre at best. The clouds clung to the mountains, so we had nearly no view what so ever. After the first hour of exploring in fog the clouds broke up and we ended up having a nice view down to Lake Ohau with the barren mountains of the Southern Alps around us. At one point they even opened the ridge line which we hiked up to, and had a stunning view of the surrounding area. Throughout the rest of the day we continued to explore the small family run mountain, which according to the staff was a fairly busy day. Compared to Porters there was next to nothing going on.

At the end of the day we headed back down and I said goodbye for now to the other three. They headed down to Queenstown and I drove back up to Springfield. Along the way I rang Grandma, Mum and Lesley to wish Grandma a Happy Birthday and to chat a bit of the drive away. Back at Springfield I popped in to the pub, were most of the Porter workers were having an evening drink to say hi before heading home to get some well earned sleep.