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After scoring some of the best conditions all season for their last blog. Ollie and Ben experience weather fluctuations which give snow conditions significant variability and find fun in the mountains.

Words and images by Ben Hume and Ollie Hunt, Thanks Kenji Boekholt for the header photo

Following an epic fortnight spent in some of the best conditions we’ve skied this side of the equator, warm weather brought some variability to the snowpack. After submitting our latest blog I was back up at Olympus for a spur of the moment mid week Wednesday trip. The snow was epic and made for some insane riding as this was the first opening to road traffic from the weekend.

After skiing multiple laps through the big boy jump line we turned our sights to the terrain opened by a quick hike. Fortunately the boot pack up to the sphinx was set like cement within the foot or so of fresh goodness surrounding it, so the hike was comparatively quick, Harry Chapman and Nick McConachie managed to get 6 laps of it in!
With a little bit of wind picking up from the top of the field we designated some drivers to meet us below bottom hut and punched the walk one more time, skiing out the ryton. Lower down the sun crust was apparent, and indication of how risky the solar aspects can be:”


Satisfied after a big day we headed home, and it would be two big days of uni before we ventured back.
Friday morning it became apparent that Broken River was opening for night skiing, with fresh snow having fallen on the closed field throughout the day.  

With a hustle on, Harry and I called Hugo McDougall and gave him 10 minutes to meet us at the Caltex, and we were away. We were greeted by the tram still running (fortunately) and excellent skiing on the rugby/access tow.

Skiing through to close, it was a constant question whether I should keep goggles on and forego some visibility, or take them off and play the squinting game as the ‘snow cannons’ hammered wind buff up and over kicker ridge. Using my glowworm bike light I was one of the most lit people on the mountain and had to take special care not to blind anyone I glanced at. 

Making our way to cheeseman’s forest lodge for the last hours of a Uni party, we managed about 5 hours of sleep before escaping the dust cloud and heading to meet Kenji Boekholt and Tim Stevens at Craigieburn for Saturday morning. With staff making swift work of tensioning their new ropes, we made it up in time to score some freshies in middle basin chutes and down Hamilton face.
Skiing at Craigieburn until lunch time, we were lured back to Broken River for the afternoon by the prospect of some pizza and hot chips, and made the 2 min hike over the remarkable ridge to be greeted by about 200m of boilerplate ice followed by epic freshies down to the access tow. Skiing through till 3.30 we made our way back to Craigieburn, with cloud enveloping us at the top of Hamilton face. We cautiously made our way down the first 300m to the traverse line from the top tow at Craigieburn, an extremely noisy process as we found ourselves yet again on boilerplate ice, a result of the sun earlier in the week.
For me (Ben) the following week was the last week of the term, meaning a flurry of tests and assignments before the study break. No midweek skiing for me! Fortunately I had the prospect of MFC’s annual event “King of the Mountain” at Mt Olympus to look forward too.
Having already packed the trucks and been put into teams on Friday night we reassembled in the earlier hours of Saturday morning and set off in the direction of Mt O. Somehow we managed to mix AM with PM and by the time we reached Lake Georgina everyone was feeling more than merry enough for a quick dip. Soon after we arrived at the access tow ready for an unforgettable (mostly) day of shredding. Due to high winds patrol were forced to shut the top tow so we made due with the available terrain and ended up having a rowdy session just beside the tow shed then above Molly’s Bump. My highlight of the session was seeing Hank “Big Balls” Bilous sending a steezy cork 10 blunt to the Gucci plateau.
After a full on evening of festivities including a 30 man (+3 girls) hot tub and many Do-Bros it was time for us to head back to reality. We raced through our cleaning duties at the lodge and pointed ourselves back toward Christchurch. Some of the boys even managed a cheeky waterski on the way back, topping off what was an already great weekend!

Mount Olympus, Craigieburn and Broken River are all on our Chill 7 and 10 Day Pass. Have a look here.

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