As each year passes and we get older, the reasons for doing things change and evolve. The drive behind an idea morphs and the subtle, smaller background things slowly move to the fore taking on more meaning. The time taken to appreciate each moment spent in the mountains becomes as important as the initial reason why we decide to venture there in the first place. The initial purpose of exploring new places with a snowboard slowly evolves into something much more and suddenly only becomes a small part of the reason in which we choose to spend endless weekends and annual leave chasing the never ending snow covered mountain dream. No longer is there just one thing that keeps pulling us back but a thousand little things along the way that when combined, create an unparalleled experience.

The thousand little things that form a mountain experience for one person will be entirely different for someone else. A photo essay of some fragments of our experiences over the past 2014 New Zealand Winter and Spring seasons exploring the Canterbury Mountains are below.

Approaches

Finding ourselves driving towards the mountains yet again…. Driving past Lake Tekapo with the Sibbald Range straight ahead.

(Photo – Yossi Jagger)

Boulder bashing up Bush Stream, Ben Ohau Range

(Photo – Yossi Jagger)

Heading up Birch Hill Stream Valley towards Mt Edgar Thompson (2379m) the obvious peak just right of centre

(Photo – Ellie Watson)

Strolling down the MacCaulay Valley. Yossi making the most of a glorious spring day.

Dan crossing the Anti Crow River, Arthurs Pass National Park.

Swing bridge crossing of the Maruia River (West Branch), Lewis Pass area.

(Photo – Ellie Watson)

Bush bashing. Scotty dealing with alpine scrub. Birch Hill Stream Valley, Ben Ohau Range.

More bush bashing. Finding a route through native forest. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

(Photo – Ellie Watson)

Food break enroute to Gloriana Peak. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

(Photo – Ellie Watson)

Snowline in the Upper Tindill Stream, Sibbald Range.

(Photo – Yossi Jagger)

Finally above the snowline. Kyle checks out the potential of Devils Punchbowl, Arthurs Pass National Park.

Along the way

The goal….Snow on the the Arrowsmith Range as seen from the Cameron River Valley. Highland Home is the hut near the bottom left corner.

Nesting Pair of New Zealand Native Falcons (Falco novaseelandiae) in the Birch Hill Stream Valley, Ben Ohau Range. We were lucky to leave with our heads after being dive bombed by these guys!

(Photos – Ellie Watson and Ryan Nicol)

Male and female Paradise Ducks (Tadorna variegata) claiming their territory. Cameron River Valley.

Icicles on a mid winters morning. Anti Crow River Valley, Arthurs Pass National Park.

Mount Cook Buttercup (Ranunculus lyallii). Birch Hill Stream Valley, Ben Ohau Range.

Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haastii) tracks in the snow (No not the shoe footprints…). Anti Crow River Valley, Arthurs Pass National Park.

Korikori or Mountain Buttercup (Ranunculus insignis). Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

Curious juvenile Kea (Nestor notabilis) in the Anti Crow River Valley, Arthurs Pass National Park.

Stacked lenticular cloud formations above the Tasman River from the flanks of Mt Edgar Thompson. A sign to get out of the mountains….

Camping/Huts

Ellie approaching the Crow Hut with a stormy Mt Rolleston behind. Crow River Valley, Arthurs Pass National Park.

MacCaulay Hut. MacCaulay River Valley.

Setting up camp at Back Bush Stream with Mt Dark (2496m), Kai Tarau (2542m) and Mauka Atua (2557m) forming the back drop.

(Photo – Yossi Jagger)

Camp next to a frozen unnamed tarn. Spenser Moutains, Lewis Pass area.

Snow Bivy. Head of Anti Crow River Valley. Black Range, Arthurs Pass National Park.

Drying out gear and airing the tents after 16 hours of rain…Snow was fun slushy riding though! Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

Camp on the South Cameron Glacier, Arrowsmith Range.

Water collection duties. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

(Photo – Daniel Wilson)

Hut Life. Crow Hut, Arthurs Pass National Park.

Getting a brew going. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

(Photo – Ellie Watson)

Yossi, Catherine and Kyle in the kitchen. Back Bush Stream, Ben Ohau Range.

Beneath the southern stars. Back Bush Stream camp, Ben Ohau Range.

(Photo – Mike Wigley)

Sunrise/Sunset

Dawn at Lewis Pass as frost smoke rises from a tarn. Pts 1911, 2087, sub peak of Gloriana and Gloriana Peak (2218m) greet the sun. Lewis Pass area.

Alpenglow on the Crow Face of Mt Rolleston viewed from Jelliecoe Ridge. Arthurs Pass National Park.

“The daughter of dawn gave an approach over snow and the ripples of an alpine ridge.” – John Pascoe

Sunrise on sub peak of Gloriana Peak, Gloriana Peak proper (2218m), pt 2145 and pt 2192. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

Sunrise on Mauka Atua (2557m) above Back Bush Stream, Ben Ohau Range.

(Photo – Catherine Loye)

Sunset on the Main Divide of the Southern Alps. Mt Sibbald (2811m), Mt D’Archiac (2875m) and McClure Peak? (2486m) dominate.

Sunset on the Mt Hicks (3198m) and Aoraki/Mt Cook (3724m) viewed from the Ben Ohau Range.

Touring/Climbing

On the skin track below Mt Cheeseman Proper. Craigieburn Range.

Dan breaking trail. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

Kyle breaking trail into the shadow of Mt Wall. Craigieburn Range.

Ellie gaining elevation on the South Cameron Glaicer, Arrowsmith Range.

Booting through breakable manky crust below Mt Sibbald.

(Photo – Steve Savage)

Booting up the south face of Mt Wall, Craigieburn Range.

Kyle and Mike in the upper section of a coulior in Devils Punch Bowl, Arthurs Pass National Park.

Yossi and Steve take a break on an ice field enroute to Mt Sibbald. Lake Classen below Mt Moffat (2638m) and Mt Loughnan (2590m) on the Main Divide in behind.

Crossing the bergshrunds beneath the Central Coulior on Mt Arrowsmith, Arrowsmith Range.

(Photo – Ellie Watson)

Scotty on the ridge below Mt Edgar Thompson. Lake Tasman with the Tasman River and Hooker River in the valley below. Ben Ohau Range.

Summiting

Kyle negotiates the last section of ridge to the summit of Mt Dark (2496m), Ben Ohau Range. Mt Sefton (3151m) and Mt Cook (3724m) dominate the skyline on the right.

Steve and Yossi line up the last few meters of vert to the summit of the North Peak of Mt Sibbald (~2800m), Sibbald Range.

Mike (Pow Slashing) Wigley making friends with the locals on top of his first New Zealand peak, Blimit (1921m). Arthurs Pass National Park.

Kyle on the summit of Mt Cassidy (1850m) with Mt Cassidy’s characteristic corniced summit. Blimit (1921m) dominates to the left behind Kyle. Arthurs Pass National Park.

Dan on the summit of Gloriana Peak (2218m) looking north toward the Faerie Queene (2236m) and further afield to Mt Una (2300m). Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

…Cheerful on top, with another mountain gained as a friend.” – John Pascoe

Ellie and I stoked to be on the summit of Mt Arrowsmith (2781m) but looking decidedly shattered!

(Photo – Wayne Robertson?)

Views north and south from the summit of Mt Arrowsmith. Spectacular!

“Pulling out my camera is out of the question! I would lose everything and what this moment gives me is too precious; a lens would spoil it all. The moment is exactly that.” – Bernard Mortessier

Yossi and Steve contemplate the view north and west from the summit of the North Peak of Mt Sibbald (~2800m). The main divide from Mt D’Archiac (2875m) through to Mt Arrowsmith (2781m) is visible. Sibbald Range.

Riding

Dropping into a coulior. Black Range, Arthurs Pass National Park.

(Photo – Daniel Wilson)

Turns through the lower chutes below the South Face of Mt Edgar Thompson, Ben Ohau Range.

(Photos – Ellie Watson)

Mike ripping the Elbow Chute above the Mingha. Arthurs Pass National Park.

Good snow but flat light. The bowls below Mt Guinevere, Jelliecoe Range. Arthurs Pass National Park.

(Photo – Ellie Watson)

Kyle riding the upper section of the North face of Mt Dark. Ben Ohau Range.

Ryan?? riding the lower section of Phipps Peak during the New Zealand Splitfest at Temple Basin. Arthurs Pass National Park.

Following the softest snow through the middle section of the Central Coulior route on Mt Arrowsmith.

(Photo – Ellie Watson)

Ripping a fun chute on rain soaked snow. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

Scotty negotiating wet slide avalanche debris below Mt Edgar Thompson. Ben Ohau Range.

Yossi turn sequence. Riding the North Ridge route off Mt Sibbald. Main Divide of the Southern Alps behind.

The view down the Central Coulior route on Mt Arrowsmith.

Part way down the east face of Gloriana Peak. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

Yossi on the North Face of Mt Dark with Mt Cook/Aoraki in behind. Ben Ohau Range.

Steve getting dwarfed by the surrounding ridge as he drops into Upper Tindill Stream. Sibbald Range.

(Photo – Yossi Jagger)

Yossi on the lower section of Mt Dark with Back Bush Stream and Bush Stream below. Ben Ohau Range

Dropping into the mist on fun stable snow. Wall Creek, Craigieburn Range.

(Photo – Yossi Jagger)

Kyle riding a coulior in Devils Punch Bowl. Arthurs Pass National Park.

Steve following the snow through the moraine below Mt Sibbald.

Scoring some good turns as we head back to camp with the weather chasing us. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

Heading back to camp. South Cameron Glacier, Arrowsmith Range.

(Photo – Ellie Watson)

Lines

Skin track in Wall Creek as Mt Wall’s shadow threatens to envelop it. Craigieburn Range.

Turns off Mt Cheeseman proper. Craigieburn Range.

Sneaky Chute below Mt Cockayne. This drops approx 650m of fall line directly to valley floor from Mt Cheeseman Skifield. A hidden gem!

Turns off the shoulder of pt 2087. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass area.

Skin tracks, bootpacks and turns.
Blimit (1921m) from Upper Bills Basin at Temple Basin. Arthurs Pass National Park.

Unnamed peak near the head of the Anti Crow River Valley. Black Range, Arthurs Pass National Park.

Couliors
Anti Crow couliors. Black Range, Arthurs Pass.

Devils Punch Bowl coulior. Arthurs Pass National Park.

Central Coulior route off Mt Arrowsmith from the South Cameron Glacier.

Perfect turns in the fading afternoon light. Mt Wall, Craigieburn Range.

Touring and Climbing Buddies

Because doing stuff is more fun with someone else!

“Do I have to get out the tent to make tea?” Camp shenanagins between rain showers. Spenser Mountains, Lewis Pass Area.

Scotty’s ski boots with a temporary crampon strap repair using voile skii straps.

Steve preaches the virtues of fishing, Cassels Milk Stout and of course snowboarding. Upper Tindill Stream, Sibbald Range.

(Photo – Yossi Jagger)

Summit time banter on Mt Wall. Mike snaps a classic photograph of a photo while Kyle poses.

Dan smears on some Zinc as the sunscreen was frozen…Black Range, Arthurs Pass National Park.

“Turfs up Dude!” Yossi scoring a rare turf tube in the McCaulay River Valley.

The 2014 New Zealand Splitfest crew at Temple Basin. A fantastic weekend that comes highly recommended if you are interested in learning more about splitboarding in New Zealand. Looking forward to next years event!

(Photo – ??)

These are all but a few of the thousand little things that make up the greater experience of being in the mountains.
It doesn’t matter which form you experience them in, be it snowboarding, skiing, climbing, hiking, paragliding etc, each experience is unique and made up of a number of smaller things along the way. Embrace the good the bad and ugly; the experience will be all the richer.
Ensure you take the time to discover and appreciate the smaller things for yourself.

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so……get on your way!” – Dr Suess

(Photos by Ryan Nicol)

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One thought on “Winter and Spring 2014: A Thousand Little Things

  1. Reblogged this on Splitboarding New Zealand and commented:
    Fellow New Zealander splitboarder Ryan Nicol has spent some time on an epic looking photo essay of his 2014 Winter season in the Canterbury area of New Zealand’s South Island. For those who haven’t met Ryan before he is arguably the biggest contender for being a chamois in a previous life.

    Like

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