Sunday, July 31, 2005

Rockclimbing? Surely not...

But yes, it's true - we went rockclimbing on the weekend and Kieran actually put a pair of rock shoes on for the first time in nearly a decade. What's worse, he even kinda enjoyed it.

As part of the NZ Alpine Club's Basic Mountaineering course that we're doing, we spent Saturday out at Long Beach, about 35 minutes north east of Dunedin. It's an amazingly nice place - reminiscent of Broulee or other small towns on the NSW South Coast. It faces northeast, so it's really sunny, the beach is long, wide and golden, the water laps gentle and blue-green against the shore, there's a sleepy little town behind the beach and there's a line of enormous dolerite cliffs. Kieran forgot to take the camera out, so you'll have to content yourselves with the best online shots we could find. If it ever gets warm in this place again, we're going to have to head out there for a day lounging on the beach.

Long Beach

The crag we went climbing on is called either "The Pinnacle" or "Sunnyside" - imaginative, eh?Either way, it's nice and cruisy - we did a few top ropes, looked at some mountaineering abseil systems, abseiled off the top of it for practice, spent some time hiding and finding avalanche tranceivers, watched some seals play in the water and threw a frisbee around for a bit. Good day all up

Sunnyside Crag - Long Beach

As a special bonus, here's a description of Dunedin's various suburbs and their own special characteristics - For those who don't know, we live in Macandrew Bay, which apparently has the biggest icecream scoops in town...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lots of mountains, not so much snow...

Image hosted by
Wye Creek, as seen from Wye Saddle.

The original plan for the weekend had been to celebrate Chris and Alice's birthday's with a gentle, cruisy ski tour out on the Pisa Range, between Wanaka and Queenstown, out to an easily accessible hut. On Wednesday we had a group of 8 people organised for the festivities. By Friday this had dwindled to three - Kieran, Chris, Alice - as illness and a poor weather forecast took their toll (Rochelle was a little unwell during the week and decided to have a weekend off).

As I waited at the base of the access road, a car drove up with just Chris in it - Alice had bailed that morning when the weather turned pear-shaped in Queenstown. So then there were two. We decided we'd drive up to the start point, sit in the XC ski-field cafe and wait for the weather to clear. As we slurped down a hot drink (soy hot chocolate anyone?) the weather broke, right on cue as forecast, to reveal...

Well, to reveal not very much. NZ's appalling ski season so far meant that only the south and east faces on the Pisa's had any snow on them, the north and west aspects were just tussock. Faced with the prospect of walking to Kirtle Burn hut, we decided that discretion was the better part of indolence and bailed back to Queenstown.

Night skiing at Coronet was deemed to be a suitable substitute. At least I now know why it's nicknamed "Concrete Peak" and a few hours of bone-shaking telemarking ensured that Christian woke up on his 30th birthday feeling his age.

On Sunday we got up late and "assessed the situation" - that is, we lazed around and speculated on what might be a suitable location for a day trip. Saturday's bad weather had raised the avalanche report to high, and the lack of snow cover meant that most trips would involve a fair chunk of walking. In the end we decided to drive to the Remarkables Ski Field and skin up to Lake Alta, then, depending on conditions, we might continue as far as Wye Saddle.

So we did. We skinned through the resort to the frozen lake below Double Cone - Chris and Alice marvelling at the joys of new skins. Once up there we did some tranceiver practice and started digging a snow cave. At some point, two of the original group who'd slacked off due to injury suddenly appeared, having decided that their colds had recovered enough to go resort skiing. So we made them dig the snowcave for us while Alice and I skied across the Lake and up to Wye Saddle. In the end the skin up to the saddle was more fun than the ski down, as the north facing slope had become sticky, wind-affected and 'orrible, spitting us both out a number of times.

By the time we got down the snow-cave was now a five-person palace, the diggers were thoroughly saturated and it was time to ski down through the rocks and get ready to drive home. NZ really needs more snow...

I took a few photos on Saturday - none of them very good, but here they are nonetheless.

Image hosted by
Alice gearing up for the decent. Remarkables ski field behind.

Image hosted by
Lake Alta from Wye Saddle.

Image hosted by
Standing on Lake Alta - Wye Saddle behind.

Image hosted by
Inside the snow cave.

For those who care, this weekend we've got a few things on. Friday night we're hosting a visiting Australian Air Cadets officer on behalf of Rochelle's Air Training Corp. On Saturday we're going abseiling as part of a mountaineering course with the local branch of the NZ Alpine Club, then on Sunday we may head back to SnowFarm on the Pisa Range to attack the NZ Ski Orienteering Champs again. Oh, and we're starting Spanish lessons on Thursday night.

One last thing, the first phase of Rochelle's work project has finally finished, and it appears that the second phase will take her to Christchurch on a regular basis - so if you can't reach her here at Casa Porterfield, she may be headed north.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Christchurch and Queenstown

On the first weekend in July Rochelle's parents flew down to Christchurch for a family reunion. Always up for a road trip, we drove up to meet them. Christchurch was, as always, lovely - beautiful parks, great food, hip vibe. The reunion suffered the fatal flaw of being on at the same time as an All Blacks test match, so one by one pretty much everyone snuck downstairs to watch the match (for those who care, the ABs beat the British and Irish Lions by 48-18).

We also took a quick side trip out to Akaroa, on the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch. Akaroa was a French settlement, and still retains a few French touches, in a beautiful volcanic harbour setting.

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

We spent last weekend in Queenstown with Christian and Alice, kicking off out ski season with a day at The Remarkables. It's the first time either of us have skied there and it was a pleasant surprise. The area is sunny, the snow was a bit thin, but was good quality, the weather was fantastic, the scenery NZ's usual amazing and the ski terrain was varied and entertaining. NZ ski fields are often steep and demanding, but The Remarkables had a unexpected amount of cruisy, fun, accessible intermediate terrain - perfect for a first day of the season.

Image hosted by
Rochelle and Alice - Double Cone in the background.

Image hosted by
Christian showing his style in the air...

Image hosted by
Helmet Heads!

Next weekend it's back to Queenstown for an avalanche course - should be fun!