Okay, that pun was snow bad, I’ll try not to dump anymore on you. But I’ve managed to get up a mountain with a pair of skis and, in a fashion, ski back down.
As you may or may not know, I learned to Ski in March in Courchevel (or Church-ville if you’re a certain someone I work with) and got infected with the bug that is skiing. I had the most incredible week in France, I felt on top of the world (technically I was), I was full of bread and it was all fantastic.
When I realised I would be arriving in NZ inthe middle of winter, I thought what a great opportunity to get in some skiing. As previously mentioned, it’s been a bad winter weather wise. But this does have its advantages, such as the vast swathes of snow have been dumped on the South Island’s ski areas. We headed to Mt Hutt on Tuesday, one of the bigger and, so I’m told, better ski areas of the Southern Alps.
Having been kitted out with all the gear, we headed for Mt Hutt in a 4×4 hired from work. Given mine and Devon’s cars have a combined age of around 45 – we deemed it the wise thing to do. The drive was, yet again, mesmerising. Roads meandering through scenery that we just don’t have in the U.K. It’s sort of like Snakes Pass on steroids… but then that’s a detriment to the scenic roads of New Zealand. As our Outlander scurried up the gravel track to Mt Hutt, topics of conversations ranged from how I don’t really have a fear of heights to how we’d stand more chance of survival rolling down the mountain in this ‘modern’ car compared to our vintage ones. Fortunately, we didn’t test the theory.
I remember thinking on the journey how hilarious it would be if I’d paid to hire this equipment and left it behind. Of course, upon arrival, I realised that my ski poles were somewhat lacking from the back of the car. I’d left them in Christchurch, which didn’t come as any surprise to me. We then swiftly located the Medical Centre, most likely the next necessity.
The powder was perfect, the day crystal clear and the slopes quiet. The snow base was 2 metres at Mt Hutt, a good indicator of the kind of weather we’ve had pass through over the past couple of weeks. I’d been informed that the snow can have a tendency to be icy in New Zealand and that I would have been spoilt learning to ski in Courchevel, arguably one of the best ski areas in the world. I think all the factors combined, it was probably one of, if not, the best day to ski in 2017 and certainly would take some beating from any ski resort in the world.
I could hear Amadine, my French ski instructor, in my head the whole time.
*in a broad French accent* “your weight needs to be on this foot and sweep through the S. MOVE YOUR UPPER BODY LESS!”
It worked. Most of what I had learned came back to me. I was motivated to make it count… in 8 months I’ll be in Austria for the wedding of one of my best friends and skiing will, at least for me, be a staple part of the trip.
We skied all day. Temperatures were around freezing with little wind for most of the day, but as the sun dipped behind the mountains the temperature plummeted and the wind picked up. It said -3 degrees at base, but it felt far colder with the wind chill. The final run down the slope was not far off perfection. So empty, I only passed a handful of people, and the setting sun created a back drop to die for.
We headed back and I returned my second set of poles *eye roll*. We walked past the medical centre, thankful neither of us had become residents. As we made our way down the mountain and headed home, I was feeling very accomplished. Skiing was at the top of my to-do list and here I was ticking it off. My intention is to get to some of the ski fields closer to Christchurch and make the most of the winter. Long may the ski season continue!