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Ode to October

  • 2 min read

By Anna Keeling

August 17 was both the best and worst day of the season. Best because we got 80cm of powder. Worst because we locked down and didn’t get to ride. Short term pain for long term gain. Team of 5 mill. Look forward not back. Get vaccinated.

Training for Apres
Training for Apres. Photo by Swampy and Ali Marsh.

No Friends on Powder Days
No friends on powder days. Photo by Swampy and Ali Marsh.

We can make winter longer: It’s just a case of accepting spring. October is the new July. Don’t let your interest wane. Here’s why October is better than July for skiing and riding:

NZ gets more precipitation in October (and December and January). Up high, this falls as snow. Sometimes up high means 1400m if we are lucky (the bases of most ski areas are 1300-1500m).

Avalanche danger is often lower or at least more predictable. The spring diurnal cycle means an icy start to the day followed by surface melting and velvety corn. Ski like a hero until it gets mushy then retire to the carpark BBQ, deck at Palmer lodge, Glenfalloch station, Wānaka waterfront or similar relaxed venue for aprés.

More snow cover in later season = fewer rocks = less damage to boards.

Relaxed ski field staff. They’ve dialled in the job, done the hard yards of digging, completed all-nighter splice jobs on rope tows. Now they can finally relax and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Better access road conditions. Chains can remain in the car (mostly).

Sunny afternoons.

Stable snow = longer traverses and opportunities to access bigger peaks.

Crevasses on the glaciers are filled by the winter snows and spring storms. Access is better.

Quiet nevés, warmer huts.

Guides have more space in their schedules.

The hope of spring - lambs gambolling, blossoms, daffodils, asparagus on the Old West Coast road.

If you ski until the end of October (or even Snovember) then you only have to wait 7 months to ski or ride again.

Preparing for Heli Skiing
Preparing to heliski. Photo by Swampy and Ali Marsh.

Right now I am looking to October. Even November. We will ski and make merry when the lock down eases. Your ski holiday can still happen. As I type, the powder of last week cycles into corn. If we are lucky, more powder will fall on it. We will ski powder for a few days (concentrating on getting our aspects right) until the corn re-forms. The avalanche danger will bump up during this period. Then it will stablize.  We will ski the velvety goodness again.

Training for Cardies
Training for Cardies. Photo by Swampy and Ali Marsh.

Wax your boards and sharpen your edges. The season is still on. We will be here for you when we unlock. We’ve still got two months. Be faithful and keep the faith.

Love from your local ski area, ski guides, ski shops and others who remain hopeful. S’now 2021.

Training for Middle Tow at Craigieburn
Training for Middle Tow at Craigieburn. Photo by Swampy and Ali Marsh.

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