CHILL FEATURE: STORM CHASING BY OLLIE AND BEN
Starting on the 21st of July at the Craigieburn Range Ollie Hunt and Ben Hume experience some epic riding at the clubbies as well as playing host to a successful coaching clinic at Mt Olympus following two weeks of stormy weather.
Photos by Ollie Hunt, Ben Hume, Nick Pascoe and Harry Seagar.
Ollie: With wind and torrential rain dousing the plains, closing the road to Wanaka on Friday night I alongside more of the MFC crew opted for a mission into the Craigieburns, heading to lake Coleridge village for the night. Morning came and it was clear that the storm hadn’t relented. We opted for a cruisey day, checking out the Rakaia in full flow, and some wedges at Terrace Downs. While we negotiated the snowy Lyndon road, Ben and Nick were storm riding at Broken River:
Ben: With Re-Orientation week coming to a close and torrential rain pelting Christchurch, morale was low. Our plans to check out Cheeseman disappeared when it was announced they couldn’t open for the day, naturally I parked myself back in bed, only for the ever persistent Nick Pascoe to tell me Broken River was open! We arrived to a near empty car park, playful storm riding conditions and on mountain pizza oven to kick off the day. Safe to say I was happy to have been dragged out of bed. After a full day of fresh turns we thought we’d sunk the money ball but upon leaving Palmer Lodge we realized the Main tow hadn’t been open all day.
Ollie: On Saturday night we watched the Crusaders v Chiefs rugby game from inside Charlie’s truck outside The Wobbly Kea Pub in Arthur's Pass, as it was shut (at 8pm!) but still had the rugby playing on the big screen, the Bealey pub didn’t even have sky sport. We woke in a Bach on the Bealey spur to an overcast but still excellent view down the Waimakariri.
Climbing out of the cloud to meet Ben at the BR carpark we raced up the walking track, leaving our gear for the packed tram. What greeted us at the field was a sight to behold, and we lapped up the freshies across the field. Unfortunately, due to the unfavourable snowpack that has presented itself this year we could not ski the main tow in the afternoon. A deep crack had appeared in the snow pack. Snow safety staff closed the affected area of the field and we were relegated to the rugby tow for the afternoon.
Making it back up on Wednesday with my classmate Harry Paulin, we scored an almost empty field and a day full of epic and mostly untracked powder in the upper chutes of Margot’s, upper Allan’s, and Cornice bowl - which for the first time in years doesn’t have a large cornice at the top.
Another week of Uni passed accompanied by another storm cycle to finally open the remaining chill fields. While the rest of the MFC crew scored end of storm freshies at Craigieburn during the morning, I sat on the edge of my seat itching for the mountains. Leaving town at 2pm I met Jamesa, Harriet, Charlie and Craig Murray and turned off to Mt Olympus at the Lyndon Road. Just as they pulled up we spotted a local merino ram fighting the farmer moving paddocks.
We got to the Olympus access tow before dark, in time to help carry up some food to the huts and assist in final field preparations for their opening day. We had a quick jump in the hot tub under the clear sky to prepare us for the two days of the MFC hosted free freeride clinic to come.
Ben: Having missed the Craigieburn freshies due to an agonizing Friday afternoon Lab I was keen to get my fair share at Olympus. We managed to to leave Christchurch at 6:30am with two full cars, some feat for 10 students on a Saturday morning. A little too eager on the access road, we managed to arrive at Bottom hut with not one but two flat tyres between our vehicles. With the tows just out of sight the thought of walking didn’t bear well. Luckily no more than 15 minutes later my flatmate Ben Hislop had changed the first flat tyre and the remaining boys (some had done a cheeky runner to the field in passing cars) jumped on the back of my Ute; many for their first day at the Playground of the Gods. The following two days saw the best skiing I’ve had all season, described as “something special” to the rugby boys who missed out due to their final game of the year.