Broken River, New Zealand, July 21, 2010, pics added

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Broken River, New Zealand, July 21, 2010, pics added

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:34 pm

I considered myself quite lucky on my last ski day. As noted in the Mt. Olympus thread the 19th and 20th probably had miserable skiing. Overnight the snow level came down and there was an inch or two on the ground where I was staying at "The Burn" B&B at Castle Hill at 2,200 feet when I woke up.
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Heather from Black Diamond Safaris picked me up around 9AM and helpfully had brought me a pair of Apache Chiefs (98mm underfoot) for the likely wet new snow.

As alluded by sven's comments, one cannot help but be impressed by the facilities the members have built at Broken River. From the parking area at 3,800 feet they have built a funicular up through the steep birch forest to Lyndon, White Star and Broken River Lodges, where members and guests can stay on the mountain.
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It's about a 10-minute walk from the top of the funicular to the lowest access rope tow. The funicular has been there for 20 years but until 2 years ago was only certified as a "goods lift," so before then you had to hike ~45 minutes from the parking, as is still the case at Temple Basin. My guide Heather Dent.
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She and her husband Symon own Black Diamond Safaris.
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There was about 5 inches new snow of probably 20+% water content, as the snow level had started out high on Tuesday.
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This was what they needed to bond to the hard snow beneath, and with fat skis there was little if any bottoming out in untracked snow in the main Broken River basin. When we arrived the top of the mountain was still in fog so after a few runs on the access tow we broke for an early lunch.
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By noon the fog had lifted so we could see up the main tow, and after a couple of runs there the upper tow to Nervous Knob was opened.
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There were only 15-20 people skiing on a Wednesday yet by 2PM or so we had managed to track up the main basin fairly well. We also skied 3 steeper chutes from the top of Nervous Knob.
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Looking back at Nervous Knob chutes from west of the Main Tow.
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Slackcountry Avalanche Basin at western boundary is a terrain trap and needs some time for snow to settle.
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Looking down Broken River Basin to the Palmer day lodge. The 3 overnight lodges are just below the birch forest tree line.
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Only a short section of Allan's Basin on skier's left from the access tow was open. They decided to let the snow settle in upper Allan's Basin north of Nervous Knob. That would have potentially offered some untracked for Thursday's skiers, but as it turned out we hit a rather narrow window of powder conditions. By 3PM a crust started to form on the surface due to dropping temperatures on the high water content snow.
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Thankfully for NZ skiers another storm was getting under way as I left for Christchurch airport early Thursday morning.

Under current conditions Broken River skiing was confined to about 1,000 vertical in the main bowl from the Palmer day lodge up to Nervous Knob. With upper Allan's Basin acreage nearly doubles with a bit more vertical down to the access tow. With good coverage Allan's Basin is skiable for ~2,300 vertical to the parking lot. As at most club fields there is considerable slackcountry further expanding terrain with short hikes back to the lifts in some cases. The far end of Allan's Basin is just below Hamilton Peak, which is also the southern boundary of Cragieburn. So touring between the areas is common in good conditions. Backcountry guiding is also a key part of Black Diamond Safaris' services. Everyone wears transceivers, they assess snow conditions, teach one-at-a-time skiing to islands of safety etc. as I have seen at snowcat/heli operations in Canada. This is educational and often completely new to the Australians, who are BD's most frequent clients and don't see this kind of terrain at home.
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Tony Crocker
 
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