Ski Touring on Franz Josef Glacier


Here are a few images from our last ski tour on the glaciers. We were based at Alymer Hut which, considering the snow conditions, made for a rather long commute to the best skiing. Next time we’ll snow cave in the pow!

One of my favourite places in the world: where you can ski powder and look down at sunsets in the ocean


Story about avalanches in New Zealand Geographic


The 117 (September-October) issue of New Zealand Geographic magazine has my cover story about the dangers of playing in the snow. I think we tend to take these dangers a little too lightly, with a little too much “she’ll be right,” especially when the powder fever rages. Until you get buried, as I did for this story, and realise that snow in an avalanche is no longer the heavenly eiderdown we so passionately seek but more like quicksand. If you get caught on an out-breath the concrete corset of snow around your chest won’t let you breathe in again.

Also, a sobering realisation which came out of my research was that in New Zealand almost all avalanche accidents happen NOT in winter, as you’d think they would, but in spring and summer, when we no longer consider snow to be a danger. So, have a read. Next time you’re out there play hard but play for keeps.

Life is short, the art long, opportunities fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult.” Hippocrates

They were skiing together all morning, on this most special of days. A slow-moving weather system has deposited over 60 cm of eiderdown snow on the mountains around Wanaka and all of it fell without wind, a rare thing in New Zealand Alps. On such occasions ski towns like Queenstown, Ohakune, Methven or Wanaka become gripped by the “powder fever.” Shops are closed – “Powder day! Back in the afternoon” – tradesmen down their tools and race up the mountain, road rage is not uncommon. Even the classrooms are empty, and this despite stern memos from principals that parents are not allowed to take their kids out of school on “powder days.” The towns are likewise deserted as most of the able-bodied populace is up the mountain, indulging one of the greatest joys known to humankind – skiing or boarding the fresh deep snow, pure and pristine and sparkling as if it was made of microscopic diamonds.  Continue reading