At long last there is some snow on the Craigieburns, and it's looking like we'll see some closed signs turning around over the next week.
After seeing what has been going at Mt Dobson and the Mackenzie country in general, it's a great gesture from mother nature to put us out of our misery in Canterbury.
Here's some pictures from Porters on Wednesday to illustrate the fact that I wasn't at work in the morning.
Freddy Nordt and Fergus McIntosh surveying Mt Olympus and it's new road from the top of Porters. Good on all the Great New Zealanders who contributed to getting that sorted.
Freddy Nordt, leaping on the leaper.
Yours truly definitely not pushing one up. Pic: Fergus McIntosh
With the inevitable surge of pow-hungry skiers heading for the hills, you'll be glad that the chill fields usually aren't tracked out before lunch - sometimes holding their freshness for much later in the afternoon.
There are plenty of spots where the sun don't shine and the skiers don't ski - so they're still fresh and untracked in the afternoon. If you know where to look, they could still be good the next day - and all of these spots are lift accessed, so if you're feeling lazy then these could be for you.
Read on to find out more. (Given the late arrival of the snow this year, most of these pictures are from the archives)
Point and Chute: You can pick up a bit of speed on this one, so get to it before the moguls form on the runout.
Broken River: Straightline down the buttress between Allans and cornice Bowls
The Score: Freshies and a fast runout.
You might choose this earlier in the day because: The locals might get there first, and you don't like going mach 10 into moguls.
Look out for: Sharky rocks on the entrance - careful if you're looking to slide over the ridge, you're better to save the stopping for once you're past the ridge. Also be careful for the ever present sharks & stay light on your feet in the pinch, there are usually a few hidden below the surface.
If you can get the run all the way to the base of T2, it's a reasonably steep section worth the traversing.
Porters: Backside of the leaper, skiing down to T2 Base (to the lookers right of the photo)
(NB the photo is of the leaper, so go to the Skier's Left of the rocks you can see at the top, and ski fall line to T2 base)
The Score: Untracked turns through the rocks.
You might choose this earlier in the day because: Everything else on T3 is tracked, and Bluff/ Big Mama isn't open.
Look out for: Sharky rocks on the entrance - careful if you're looking to slide sideways over the ridge. Also be careful for the ever present sharks where the snow has been wind affected, and when skiing down to T2
Back behind the kitchen, or back right as you look at the hut from this angle, is where you will find the Garbage chute. Pic: Powderhounds.com
Mt Olympus: Right behind the hut "Garbage Chute"
The Score: Mandatory air into untracked chute
You might choose this earlier in the day because: You're looking to get to the bottom of the hill at pace.
Look out for: Snow conditions - it's a mandatory air in, so you might not be able to check what they're like. Also keep an eye on the runout conditions, and pesky rocks.
For an easier option, the chute beside is often ignored later into the day too - but has no mandatory air in.
Fox Peak: Skiers right off the Apex tow, in the boulders.
I haven't skied this section of Fox Peak for a long time, as you can see by the number of pixels in the above instagram post. In terms of inbounds skiing, this has the most features of anywhere on the field. If the snows's there, then its a must visit.
The Score: Tight mini-golf lines, with boulders that will turn on little pillow lines if they get the snow.
You might choose this earlier in the day because: Snow has been wind loading across the lookers right of the field, or you're looking for some exciting terrain.
Look out for: Pesky rocks, and don't miss the traverse back to the base - or you'll be post-holing your way back up the hill.
No photo for this one, you'll have to use your imagination. Unfortunately every time I've skied this I've just been having too much fun to point and shoot.
Craigieburn Valley: Laps on the bottom top below Access Chutes (Skier's left)
The Score: Fresh snow, ignored by the masses as they head for Hamilton peak or Middle basin. (It's also right beside the tow, so super fast to lap).
This might go unnoticed to the average skier, but it's reasonably steep and with the right wind you can get great windblown powder that refills your turns every run. It's also not too bad if you're linking it in with the Access Chutes and/or the ridge between them and Marty's - check the trail map to see where I mean: https://www.craigieburn.co.nz/About/Trails
You might choose this earlier in the day because: Hamilton face and/or Middle Basin aren't open.
Look out for: The occasional rock or unruly native plant - particularly lower down. This section can take a while to fill in, so be careful early season.
Broken River: Lower Avalanche Basin, entered from lower down sunnies.
The Score: Fresh snow, tight chutes, and steep skiing.
Avalanche is Broken River's hidden gem, perfect sidecountry that is fully lift accessible.
You might choose this earlier in the day because: Ridge tow hasn't opened, and the rest of Avalanche basin is tracked out
Look out for:Rocks aplenty in here, and it's reasonably steep too. Don't bin it as there is a long steep runout and you'll likely be hiking back up for a while if you do. Don't miss the traverse track back to Main Tow, and be careful when coming back onto the field.
Take an Avalanche transceiver, and check the snowpack too - it's not patrolled terrain.