Last Minute Strike Mission
By Ben Hume
I am notably disorganized and have found myself in various situations I had not planned on being in this winter. However, if I am honest, while flying from the seat of my pants the skiing has only gotten better!
Here’s me, in the Mechanical suite, Wednesday night, pretending to do my design Assignment. But clearly just flicking through tabs trying to find the most promising snow report and consulting group chats as to where I would ski tomorrow. Days before this ordeal, filmer Glen Chesterman and I had begun planning our week around not being at Uni on Thursday. Nevertheless, by Wednesday night we still had no idea where we were going to ski. Monday told us we were spoilt for choice with 20-30cm hitting each Chill field, Tuesday was a little less ambitious but still looking good and then Wednesday…well, Wednesday told us bugger all.
After a few inside tips from full-time skier, part-time medical trial patient Jamesa Hampton it was finally decided (at 9:50 pm) that Temple Basin was the pick of the crop, albeit with the daunting restriction of a single day mission from Christchurch. We set off bright and early on Thursday morning - so early might I add that the supermarket could not legally sell us beers yet (don’t worry, we stuck around until 7am).
The walk came as a bit of a shock to the group with three temple first-timers (Matt Sweet, Tenaya Driller and Glen) following me up the access track. Even more of a shock was the “10cm’s of fresh with a thin crust on top” looking less than desirable when we arrived at the lodge. After a couple of laps on the downhill tow in less than ideal conditions, moods had drastically soured. We figured that the snow report had bamboozled us and called for an early lunch, “good thing we bought beers up” declared Glen.
It was at this point that Matt realized that a brush of his jacket with a pulley had in fact pierced a hole in his only Double Brown. Devastating news at 11:30 am.
The near 40-person queue at the downhill tow cleared in a matter of minutes once a boot pack was put in to Upper Bills Basin. As a group of Temple rookies we quickly figured out that we were not seeing the bigger picture and scurried up over the ridge. We were greeted by 15-25cms of fresh goodness and an abundance of terrain, plenty of it accessible to our crew only equipped for boot packing.
The remainder of our day was spent in an incredibly fun zone called “Hot Pocket”. Glen set up the tripod and nestled himself in for a couple of hours while Myself, Matt, Tenaya, Jamesa Hampton and Patrick O’Regan all hiked and skied various lines across the mostly shaded face.
Although, Matt and Pat eventually had to put a blanket on things due to niggling knee injuries.
Our day had started with a hiss and a roar, and then we all thought we were all in for an absolute shambles. Even so, as it always seems to happen, the things that fell out of place just fell back in. We even managed to get our gear carried to the bottom thanks to a very kind gentleman from Auckland, who paid to run the goods lift on a Weekday afternoon when it otherwise would not have. How’s that for end to an already marvellous day.
Photos by Glen Chestermen & Tenaya Driller.
While attending Canterbury University Ben made the most of a Chill Season Pass and wrote regular features for Chill about epic days in the mountains and events.