We recently took a trip down to Colorado, not only for the SIA Tradeshow, but to get some snowboarding in as well. Since our winter has been so rough here in Washington State, it sure was nice to extend our stay and see how conditions were in the Rockies. Sure enough, the Rockies did not disappoint! First, we had to take care of some business in Denver for a few days.
Here’s Kyle “Handsome” looking like his usual handsome self in our booth at the 2015 SIA tradeshow.
Before heading back home we linked up with our friends at Weston Snowboards for a sweet day of cat boarding out at Vail Pass! Our buddy and talented photographer Brandon Huttenlocher met up with us as well to ride pow and take photos in the snow all day long. All photos below we’re shot by Brandon himself.
Here is the cat parked outside their shop in Minturn, Colorado.
Rob and Mike helping get everybody set up for a day of quivering on all sorts of Weston snowboards!
We had a little hiccup and we’re forced to make a little detour in the morning but that didn’t keep us from having some fun in the snow.
Everybody was stoked and ready to rip! Snow was falling all day long and avalanche conditions were on the rise. We made the decision to play it safe and kept things relatively low angle the entire day. The swallow tail board they call the “Japow” was a favorite for the conditions we had. Another board shape we really liked was the “Backwoods” which is more of a fish shape. Both board shapes we’re a blast to ride in the deep stuff!
Barry of Weston Snowboards hauling downhill in the cat.
Apparently the snow was “heavy” in Colorado this day. Most of us from Washington just laughed. Here’s Paul throwing up a cloud of white.
Russell living up to his name, The Sultan of Stoke.
This photo of our buddy Mason from Weston pretty much sums up the day. That avalung looks a little clogged!
Rob embracing one last party lap before the day’s end.
Huge thank you to Barry, Mason, Leo, Mark, and Joe from Weston Snowboards showing us a good time out in Colorado! A big thank you as well to Brandon for providing us with these awesome photos!
I quickly realized that my time in NZ was running out with less that two weeks so I was fortunate to meet up with my friend Manu and start a predawn mission up the Reese Valley heading for Mt. Clark..
About 6kms up valley and a few crossings of the river we got to the base of our climb and started heading up an area referred to as Clarkes Slip, this is when the views started coming out.
After a tad bit of a sketchy climb and a tad bit of Tussock bashing we were in the high alpine and trying to climb Clark before the bad weather arrived.
We were heading for a peak behind the prominent rocky one.
From the summit of Clark I got my first view of the Reese and Dart valleys and the endless potential of the area. It’s rugged and it’s wild and I like what I see.
After the views from the summit we raced down as fast as possible knowing it was going to rain hard soon. While I did film the descent I didn’t get any pictures until we made it to the spicy descent down Clarke’s slip.
and then we were crossing the river and back out of the Reese Valley and back into Glenarchy.
While hanging out at the DOC station I found out that I am from a pretty rad area and that I had a bunch of epic riding to get back to. But I had one final week in NZ and some of the best snow.
After a long night of hitch hiking and getting onto the first plane avalible I was heading back to the South Island and meeting up with my friend Adam Flemming.
With all the new snow we decided to head up to the Remarkables to enjoy some Mid November powder conditions.
Luckily the groomers had just enough of a snowpack that we were able to skin all the way up to the goods.
From the summit ridge we took in the views of Lake Wakatipu and the greater Queenstown area.
The snow was quite heavy but it was still really good.
For our second run we decided to check out the Alta Lake chutes and see finish our trip off with a another South facing run.
As it would turn out this was by far the best run I had in the Remarkables as season.
Both Adam and I were stoked on the goods and the fact we were still getting faceshots in November. We decided to end the day on a highnote and after the second lap we were back down to Queenstown and enjoying the sunshine and I was prepping for my next trip up the Reese Valley.
I had an itching to ride some sweet volcano corn and decided late spring was the time to head to the North Island and check out Mount Ruapehu, so after a few much needed days of R and R staying with my friend Ryan in Christchurch I was on a plane heading to Wellington.
I was super lucky that Simon Edwards was kind enough to pick me up at teh Wellington Airport and carpool with me up to Ohakune where I met up with my friend Shannon and we waited for a storm to push through. I had the intentions of riding corn but once I arrived the volcano got blasted with snow for 2 days straight. It was our intent to stay at the NZAC hut on the North side of the volcano and found that we could take a shuttle for 40$ or we could carpool to the southside and ride Turoa for 50$ in 30cms of new snow then climb up and over in the afternoon, we decided to do the latter.
From around 9 a.m. to a little after noon we had a blast riding Maritime style pow and though I had never been to the resort it was easy to traverse and find the goods. We kept going further and further until that got tracked out as well then decided it was time to climb up and over the volcano and find our shelter.
Conditions were a total whiteout the whole climb and I carefully navigated off of slope angle and elevation making it all the way to the summit with almost zero visibility, I don’t recommend doing this but I felt confident in my abilities. I knew I was on the summit the moment the terrain flatened and I could smell sulfur and it was at this moment that the clouds cleared up for a second revealing the crater lake.
Once on the summit we found a low col that dropped off the North side and carefully navigated our way down until we got under the clouds. It was a sigh of relief when we got within the Whakapapa ski field and found the hut just as the sunset alpenglow was starting to arrive.
It was a full moon and there was powder to be had so Shannon and I decided to start moving at 3:30 a.m. and ride the southern powder slopes through the glow of the moon. It was a surreal experience.
That day I went from a NE to west circle going counter clockwise and hitting all the glaciers along the way.
I expected nice protected pow on the glaciers but all the Eastern aspects were pretty hammered by the wind.
After riding the Mangaturuturu Mangatoetoenui and Whangaehu glaciers I decided to head for the true summit of Tahurangi via a direct route inside the crater. I expected it to be mellow climbing but near the top turned into solid Ice climbing. By that time it was about 10:30 A.M. and I was sure everyone from Turoa had hiked the 2,000 vert to the top and was tracking it out but when I got there I realized I was about 20 minutes ahead of the crowd bootpacking up for first tracks, so I transitioned and made my way down as a hundred people hooted and hollered.
Once I rode down to the top of the chair I followed the bootpack to the summit ridge then put on some crampons for the spicy sidehill to the true summt. Here there was a hundred people but I shared the true summit with only one other guy.
I rode both the Wahianoa and Mangaehuehu glacier before heading down to the Turoa resort to grab some much needed water for my final climb of the day then set my way back up to climb the volcano for the 6th and final time that day. I was really exhausted and not stoked to find that snowshoers had destroyed my skin track.
For my final run of the day I traversed a little bit further north so I could ride fall line back to the hut. The clouds had built up down low but I felt confident in my skills to navigate back to the hut.
That night we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and I was physically exhausted from a 14,000 vert day and one of the worst sunburns I have ever received.
The next day I slept in to about 9 and was back on the summit by 11:00
and riding off Pyramid Peak by 11:30
I was super fortunate to meet up with Nick Voltaren who is a local and we made our way to the summit of Paretetaitonga.
He showed me a gem of a line riding down the South face.
It was sick and amazing powder all the way from the top. Nick decided he would start traversing towards the resort after the first thousand feet as I decided to drop the full 3,000 feet all the way to snowline.
When I got to the bottom I realized the terrain was going to be a challenge heading back up safely so I carefully chose a route.
I decided I would put in a steep skin track and stay on the firm snow on the edge of the slope compared to the wind loaded gut. If it did slide my hope it that it wouldn’t accumulate nearly as much.
As I climbed the clouds came in once again and I was going on Braille. I would pass other peoples skin tracks but decided not to take them as I had no clue where they were going. Once again the clouds only cleared out once I made my way to the summit.
After that I rode back to the hut and called it a day.
The next day was a weather day with it being a 100% white out until the afternoon arrived. I could tell that the NW corner of the volcano was in a rain shadow and the only clear spot on the mountain so around 6:30 p.m. I made my way to the summit and took in the views for the next 3 hours.
Before making my way down the one break in the clouds.
It will be a memory that I will carry for my life time.
The next two days the storm raged and I rested my beaten body waiting for a clearing. Luckily rain had turned to snow.
I was stoked when I woke up one morning to find bluebird powder conditions.
Here I was at a ski resort with 30cms of new snow and not a soul around.
I skinned up to the summit crater and had an amazing run back down to the resort.
And it was awesome!!
The rest of the day I ran around the ski resort and attempted to track out as much runs as I could.
It turned out to be such a rad final day on the volcano. I had hoped for corn but got something much better.
After that I hitched 4 times and finally made my way down to Wellington and off on an airplane heading towards Queenstown.
With a resupply of food in Twizel and a night in Mt. Cook Village Shannon and I met up with Chloe and Dan from Christchurch and my friends Christina and Peter from home in the states. We played our cards right and were able to get take a ski plane up the Tasman Valley.
And past the Caroline Face of Mount Cook.
And then we found ourselves at The Murchison Glacier.
For the rest of the day we put in a bootpack up to the Murchison Hut and dug it out as we were going to be there for a week. It wasn’t until the second day that we started looking around our backyard.
We made our way over to the summit of a peak called Sydney King and noticed another group of two up there. We chatted and quickly found out it was Eben and his friend Jaimie from Seattle/AK this would be the only random group I ran into all season. We joined forces and made a loop heading down to the Classen glacier and up and back over to the Murchison.
The next day we decided to head up and check out the Tasman Saddle.
And get a view of the Main Divide.
Then we found excellent corn on riding back down the headwall.
Shannon, Dan and Chloe rode around on the glacier while Peter, Christina and i decided to make a detour and check out the Mannering Glacier.
For our final run we went back up to Starvation Saddle then summit a side peak and in the end making a huge descent back to the valley floor.
The next day we decided to head towards the Divide and attempt to ride Mt. Mannering.
But the weather clung to the Divide and we didn’t feel like navigating through a White out.
So we rode back down to the Murchison and came up with another plan.
We decided to head to the summit of Mount Cooper.
And make a descent down the Eastern Faces.
That afternoon we watched the weather changing and relived we were going to be in the hut for a few days.
The next morning there was a small weather window and Dan, Chloe and Shannon decided to get a heli out. I originally planned on leaving with them but figured out a way to stretch my 7 days of food out and stay as on the glaciers as long as the skiing was still good.
The next two days we would get a small weather window but they were just teases as the clouds would come back in as we made it into the high country.
The next two days the storm raged but what started as rain turned to snow in the end.
We were getting stir crazy so decided to move base up to the Kelman hut after heading back for a lap on the Mannering.
Then up and over the Tasman Saddle to our new zone for the week.
That afternoon we waited for the Sunset Alpenglow before doing our final descent of the day.
and watched the darkness arrive knowing we were going to be hutbound for the next few days at the Kelman Hut.
The next two days we were stormed in and hanging out on the Fridge on the Ridge.
Luckily it once again came down as snow so we decided that when the weather did clear we needed to start riding as soon as possible because the sun was going to destroy all the new.
The next clear morning I woke up early and watched the alpenglow.
We got our gear together and made sure to ride the Tasman before the sun hit it.
It turned out to be awesome conditions.
Once we got to Darwins corner we changed direction and started heading towards The Hochstetter Dome.
From the summit we were looking directly down towards the West Coast and a true Tiger Country.
and we dropped the Hochstetter in awesome powder conditions.
The next day we decided to head up the Darwin Glacier and see what that area had to offer.
And checked out the views around Hamilton Peak
We found the skiing to be in perfect corn conditions.
Before taking a nice rest on the Tasman Glacier.
I’ve skinned in some amazing zones but I think the Tasman may take the cake.
That afternoon we took one final lap off the Darwin Shoulder.
Than took in our final sunset from the Kelman hut.
The next day we woke up super early and rode down the Tasman and started heading up and over the Rudolph Saddle towards the West Coast.
Then we had to get up and around the Ice cliffs which was by far the crux of the trip traversing bulletproof steep slopes where falling isn’t an option.
And then we were up on the West Coast looking towards the Tasman Sea and heading to the Centennial Hut.
The weather was calling to be miserable for the next few days but the next morning we were able to get out and stretch our legs.
The next two days we were stormed in but once the weather cleared we got up early in the morning and made our way up and over to the Fox Glacier.
We wanted to stay at the Pioneer hut and explore the Fox glacier for multiple days but the storm was once again coming in and Christina and Peter had a plane to catch so we explored the glacier for the rest of the day before heading down to the Chancellor hut.
That afternoon it was time to descend off down the Fox glacier and make our way onto solid ground.
We were able to make it down to a spot where we climbed back onto solid ground. The thing that really surprised me was the happiness to see green, smell the vegetation and watch the Kea. That night we stayed in the Chancellor Hut and waited for a early morning back heli flight down to the town of Fox.
In the end the trip was 18 days traversing throught two National Parks and up and over the Divide. I had no intention of doing the traverse but in the end was very happy that I came along. While Peter and Christina took a plane back to the U.S. I was on a plane to experience the Volcanoes of the North Island.
Thank you to Peter and Christina you were awesome company.