19 years old in California

First and foremost, some of my primary passions and inspirations in life are the beauty of wild land, sea, and skies; and good old fashioned adventure.  New Zealand was thence a superb place to grow up, nurtured by climbing mad parents, and snowboarding the medium I’ve used to pursue so many of the experiences to be attained in our mountains.  
I love riding everything but for several years my main goals have focused on snowboard mountaineering objectives, and big mountain competitions.   I’ve dedicated the majority of my life to outdoor pursuits and am an avid surfer, paddler, tramper, hunter; and, beginning, and beginning at a young age,a climber too. Climbing is now competing with snowboarding and surfing as my favourite, I particularly love trad and alpine rock routes.
I’ve worked in a few areas, but the majority of my career has been in ski patrol. I obtained NZMSC Avalanche Stage 2 in 2013, giving me the opportunity to work as an avalanche technician or forecaster. The winter of 2013/14 I competed on the Freeride World Tour, which required too much absence for most avalanche-specific roles; however I look forward to working in the field in the future. It is intriguing and I enjoy my work.
 My first overseas snowboarding trip was to Gulmarg, India by myself at 18, and priceless.  Since, I’ve ridden classic AK spines by way of boating, sledding and snowshoeing into the Chugach, smashed BC pillows while couch surfing 3 months in the Kootenays, cursed flat ski hills and California’s eternal bluebird (”I’d be happy not to see the sun again all season” – turns out all I needed was to move to BC!) while patrolling in Tahoe, ridden park and pow in Utah and Washington, ticked off steep classics snowboard mountaineering in Cham, and been mentored by or later mentored a multitude of great friends on a manner of trips in New Zealand…
There is nothing as satisfying as finding aesthetic first descents in NZ’s own Southern Alps. We have a proud legacy of mountains and men to look up too (Geoff Wayatt on Cook and Tutuko, for one example, or Shane Orchard and his voluminous chronicles of exploration).
The truth is that is simply enough, often, to be there.  Whether in the company of old mates; or in solemn, sole communion amongst the mountains, listening to the stars’ silent song, or watching the nor-wester ebb, flow, boil, over the divide.  Solo mountaineering to snowboard steep lines is a very special thing, when there is no-one else around… my first experience of it was Mt Somnus, Routeburn  in 2010… I searched myself more than ever before, and ever since have found myself in similar, ever more commiting situations. Partners are not always to hand, missed opportunity and conditiond are just that… and it is very humbling. I find I pray alot, and must dig deeper than any other time.  Of course, The rewards are equally as profitable in experience as the mental and physical battle that must precede them.

The only other mountain range that has ever made such an impression on me as the Southern Alps(in particular the Darrans…to quote Mike Gill, I am ”hopelessly smitten” by them), is the Canadian Rockies, where I currently reside. The potential for serious descents here, sometimes extreme, always aesthetic, is very impressive; albeit with often unfavourable conditions. In the less obvious places (occasionally the more obvious) these lines are sometimes never before conceived of, let alone touched, and the wilderness is pristine. (At least, that’s what I thought when I first wrote this over a year ago. I’m realizing , though it be not obvious, that much of the landscape is not too far from the scars, perfidities and alterations of man; old or current logging and fire roads cut deeply towards the heart of the rockies from both sides, fire suppression, mining, forestry, damming etc, have taken their toll on many areas, private development of the most beautiful areas of the National Parks continues, against all interests except that of the businessmen… nonetheless, the natural beauty here leaves me stunned on an almost daily basis, and on the whole the impression is of hundreds of kilometers of towering rock, twisted strata, alpine wildflowers, driven snow, blue ice, tumbling rivers, wildlife galore… it’s grand, grand, grand.
All in all, worth enduring the odd cold day at work for!



One Response to About

  1. Boyd says:

    Nice blog Ruari. Was a great trip to the Garden of Eden with ya!

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