Avalanche Level Two

IMG_2802I am normally chuffed to be back in NZ, but this time was pining for the summer and adventure left behind in Canada.  I had no job sorted when I arrived, and realized I needed to make something productive of having to return.  At the same time as starting shift work down in my southland homelands, I signed up for my NZMSC Avalanche Stage 2 (CAA level 2 equivalent).  This was very interesting and I really enjoyed being stimulated intellectually, after too long going through the motions of ski patrolling; plus I was glad to refine my practical knowledge and technical skills.  However cramming the theory modules (terrain and snowpack was my favourite), the field training and the 8 day final pratical Assessment into 3 months (most people do so over 1-2 years) meant I lived and breathed avalanches day and night for those months.  A huge thanks to Doug McCabe of Broken River/Yellowstone Club, Jono Gillan of The Remarkables ski patrol (and all the good guys and lasses there) and all my other mentors who helped out, taught me alot and dedicated their own time to help me obtain my logbook signoffs.  During this time, this ski season, I got only about 5 days of riding for fun.  About 3 on the tows at BR, plus two days backcountry at Remarks;a wee climb and ride of single and double cones, and a superb day on Remark’s West face above the lake.  This was a much needed break from training, and a suitable amount of exposure and steeps blew some of the stress away during the 4 lines I yo-yo’ed between during a day on the face…which all came back when I spent 3.5 hours trying to smash my way through the last 300m of scrub to gain the fields out the bottom, en route to the highway and home.   I remeber hanging, at one stage, upside down over top of scrub, my ankle caught in a vine, and thinking how desperate this was.  My second bad experience of Wakatipu scrub…ImageImageImageImagepetite couloir visible on double cone at sunset.  nice n’ rime iceyImagehardly time to surf- not much of a winter for it thoughImageImagesophie norton, BR b.c.Imagedouble coneImagepartway down petite couloirImagepetite. was able to do from top without rope…just.ImageImageavy2ImageImagefirst time ski touring with mum! awesome. a highlightImageImagew face remarks. three of my runs were in the region of the two couloirs on the right.Imagethis we spotted in canada. natural?

ImageImageImagethese last three photos are from the day Jamie Vinton-Boot perished on the other side of these peaks in a small avalanche.  This was a truly sad event, Jamie wass much loved and respected as one of the hardest technical climbers to come out of NZ.  Tragically, it was really just the beginning of a really bad run for mountaineering in NZ, one that would brush us all with loss.  I hope and pray it doesn’t continue on through the summer.ImageImagetime for keeping it real during my work days with a little floundering and fishing with ‘ol mate Ewen Rodway. Nothing like fresh southern kaimoana, except harvesting it on a glassy, crisp winters day at Oreti beach.ImageImageImagerapping in to check stabImageImageImageImageImagethe last run…Image…dragged on. Work the next morning.  keep going.  The 2nd snowboard is one I found that had been dropped down West face!  Imagesouthland is not a bad place to commute up or down through every 4 days.  In NZ, says Will Gadd, winter is “optional”. Image


About ruari

a lover of the beauty of the mountains, coast and other wild open spaces. An adventurer and high-level snowboard freerider / snowboard mountaineer
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