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 Post subject: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:56 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:56 pm
Posts: 4
Location: Melbourne, Australia
After a trip to japan earlier this year in January / Febuary, I decided that snowshoes just weren't cutting it for me anymore :cry: . I have a pair of yowies (http://www.yowies.com.au/), which are an Aussie snowshoe that most people have probably never heard of. They're not bad, but watching our guide in Japan in deep, deep powder (you don't wanna know :wink: ) on skins looked way more efficient than snowshoes.

I planned a trip to the South Island of New Zealand last August, which included a 3 day touring trip in the Mount Cook Area.
I left the snowshoes behind and rented a splitboard and bindings (Voile Mojo 161 and Voile Lightrails). This is a bit of a story of how it went, hopefully other virgin splitters will get the bug and maybe get some stoke from my experience.

Firstly, I didn't realise how long it takes set up the pucks and bindings in the right spot. When I went to the rental shop I told them how I wanted my bindings set up. Well, it must've taken the guy in the shop over an hour and 2 cans of WD-40 to get it done properly.

Luckily, I decided to practice going from touring to ride mode and vice versa in the quietness of my hotel the night before, that certainly helped the next day.

We caught a chopper up from Mt Cook airport to Barron Saddle Hut in the Mt Cook National Park. You can check out the exact location (incl. day by day itinerary) of where we went on the whole trip on my custom map here - http://g.co/maps/y3r9r

Let me say that, if you haven't been to the South Island of New Zealand, the terrain is absolutely insane. It's positively Alaskan (not that I've been there, but I've seen "Deeper"!).

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You think Jeremy Jones would like this?

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The weather was awesome, total bluebird with no wind for the 3 days, but it was quite warm with daytime temps up around 8 or 9 celsius (no I'm not converting that to fahrenheit), but it hadn't snowed for a while and the cover was a bit thin and wind blasted in places. The snow corned up a bit after some sun. The avalanche danger was very low.

First day we toured around Barron Saddle hut which is that tube lookin thing about a 3rd of the way up the photo.

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This is a crapper with a view!

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I got the hang of skinning (easy, and way more efficient than snowshoes) and going from ride to tour mode, putting skins on etc. I was with a group of 4 other skiers (ewwww, 2 plankers :roll: - I know :oops: ). A switchback definitely requires some practice, especially when it's steep and icy. I certainly got very few points for style, but always got there in the end! It also helps if you can ski a bit as we came across a few mellow, but short, downhill sections where it just wasn't worth going through the hassle of going to ride mode and back again, it was easier just to ski (I haven't done that for over 10 years and even then was crap :mrgreen: ), although don't get too much speed! The skins provide a bit of welcome drag in these cases.

The board had dual height climbing heels, which was very handy 'cause sometimes it was mellow and other times steep. I found it a bit difficult to get the climbing heels up whilst skinning. I have the Black diamond 3 piece collapsible poles (awesome btw!), but the handles are fairly round and I just couldn't find any part that would easily hook under the heels to get them up.

The skins stuck really well (I didn't have tail clips), unfortunately the previous renter must have mowed his lawn with them :nononno: as they had a lot of grass stuck to them. none of the huts we stayed at had heating, but an hour in the sun in the morning (it was quite warm) helped dry them out.

I found it's really important to get a logical and set routine going in terms of how you go from ride to tour and back again. It's easy on a flat hardpack section, but if you don't have a good routine when you are going to ride mode on a steep and deep section you may find half your board or a binding goes flying down the hill, or your get powder all over your new extra sticky skin :cry: .

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Unfortunately, the rental shop couldn't give me any ski crampons (the other 4 guys had them), and straight away on a steep traverse I was at a distinct disadvantage especially since my "skis" were also a lot wider than the skiers so I found it harder to hold an edge.

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The terrain in this area was all incredibly glaciated (dropping blind rollovers not recommended!), but our guide knew the area pretty well.

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The second day we toured from Barron Saddle Hut to Mueller hut, which our guide thought would take us about 6-7 hours, but ended up more like 10. This was mainly due to the fact that the snow cover was a bit sparse and we had to do a lot of rock hopping. Also, I could have been a bit fitter and quicker :scratch: . Luckily it was a full moon as we ended up arriving in the total dark!



Setting out from Barron Saddle

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We had to change quite a bit from skinning, to clambouring over rocks, to bootpacking steep sections, to ride mode and back and forth a million times - which I must admit tired me out quite a bit, especially when there's only a short section to ride coming out of tour mode. Skiers certainly have a big advantage particularly going from tour to ride - lift that leg, off with the skin, lock the binding down (v.important I'm told!) and off you go.


Steep bootpack section

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Rock Hopping Required (I was over that I can tell you!).

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And back to skinning again...

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In terms of the gear, I found that, of course, it's a compromise, mostly with the bindings.

The board was fine, it was really stiff which I really like in a freeride board. I'm 5'9" and 185lbs and the 161 suited me fine, although I only tried it on corn and hardpack. I would like to see how the float was in powder, normally in those conditions I rock a burton malolo 162 or supermodel x 160. I didn't get to hucking anything as we were carrying sleeping and eating gear for 3 days in our packs.

I had some problems with the Voile bindings. A couple of times the locking pin came out in tour mode even though I was very careful to stow and lock it properly. Luckily both times I realised before half my board disappeared into the glaciated, rocky valley below. The main problem I had with the Voile bindings (admittedly these were a rental pair and looked quite old) is that sometimes that the cap strap wouldn't ratchet properly when I was trying to tighten it. Of course, this happened right at the top of the days most epic run, a 40 degree descent down from Sladden Saddle with the 4 skiers probably thinking "What the f%*k is this d#@^head doing up there!". In the end, I made it work but whilst I am happy with the Voile board, I am thinking of the Spark Burner LTs over the voiles.

The feel through the board is not as good as a "solid" (am i getting the hang of this splitty lingo?) because of the extra height the bindings sit above the board, but that's just part of the deal with splitboarding and something you compromise on for the ability to be able to skin.


Skinning's awesome! :thatrocks:

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Top of Sladden Saddle. That small peak in the background is Mt Cook (Aoraki in Maori), NZs highest mountain. I am ripping my skins apart because I folded them really badly with lots of air gaps the 1st time I did it.

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Epic Views around Mt Cook

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The last rays of sun hit Mt Cook, we still had a good 2 hours to get to Mueller Hut though :roll: !

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Skinning by moonlight

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We finally got to Mueller Hut that night about 8pm where we rested, made dinner and I ate my own bodyweight in food 'cause I was so hungry.



Mueller Hut the next morning

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Another crapper with a view, and a choice splitboard.

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I took the morning off while the skiers went for a bit of a tour and then we all headed off after lunch for the descent back to Mt Cook village.

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Mt Cook is the peak in the background.

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That's a f*$%in big piece of rock, ice and snow!

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Our corn tracks on the descent (compare this with the sick powder on the photo at the end of this post)

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We had to bootpack the last part on the way down as the snow was too patchy, Mt Cook village in the background.

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At the bottom and thinking about a shower, a cold beer :guinness: or 15, a medium-rare steak and a nice glass or 7 of red wine to celebrate my birthday!


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Hopefully I didn't bore you with this. If anyone's got any tips regarding anything I said, feel free to say something.


Overall, I'm definitely hooked on the splittin' gig :clap: , I'll keep my snowshoes as I can see there are times when they'll be useful. We don't get a lot of snow here in Australia, but there is this place known as Mt Feathertop I am keen to check out with a splitty.

Now I just gotta work out what gear to get!



P.S. You might be thinking from these photos that NZ doesn't get enough snow, well this is 4 days later :rock: :rock: :rock: ...

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Unfortunately, a 2 planker, but the snow's awesome!

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Now that's what I'm talkin about!

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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:45 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 9:31 am
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Location: a vanagon somewhere in WA
nice work, aoraki is a hell of a place to learn to ski! where the heck in canturbury did you find a rental splitboard?!

this time last year i was just getting ready to head up on the west side (franz josef) for a couple weeks with 2 skiers. it certainly seemed like many of the skiers i met up there had never seen a splitboard before, and i spent a lot of those 2 icy weeks wishing that i had brought my board crampons. a few of our traverses and boot climbs had me wishing for hard boots, too.

next time you are on a splitboard, you should try swapping the "skis" when you skin. most splitboarders prefer to have the "inside edge" of the board as the "outside edge" of the skis. a certain well respected canadian ski guide may contradict this (and berate anyone who disagrees with repeated exclamations that talking sense into a snowboarder is like "trying to teach a dairy cow to rock climb"), but i have tried it both ways and found that i often trip on the hooks when i do not swap the skis so that they are on the outside.

where'd you find the powder shown in the last few pics? was that accessed off one of the arthur's pass club fields? or one of the cook village heli operations?


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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:35 am 
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Location: Cupertino, CA
Nice work and a helluva intro to the board, welcome! :thatrocks:

Beautiful country down there :drool:


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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:19 pm 
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Great trip report---thanks for sharing!!


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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:57 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:15 pm
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Location: mountains of portland, oregon
as bs said swap those skiis around. theres a thread on here going around about that. And with the spark or karakorum bindings you'll sit right on the board, rather than the few cm's higher with the voile's. start the addiction. you're hooked now bud.

looks beautiful.

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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:13 pm 
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Posts: 145
WOW!! :bow:


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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:23 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:56 pm
Posts: 4
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote:
where the heck in canturbury did you find a rental splitboard?!


Spent the 1st couple of days in Wanaka and rented it there at Mt Outdoors http://www.mtoutdoors.co.nz/

Quote:
next time you are on a splitboard, you should try swapping the "skis" when you skin. most splitboarders prefer to have the "inside edge" of the board as the "outside edge" of the skis


ok, I had read that, but didn't try it. Next time. Thanks for the tip.

Quote:
where'd you find the powder shown in the last few pics?


The 1st photo (with the skier on the windswept ridgeline, powder bowl in the background) is hidden valley at treble cone. I've been to TC 4 years in a row and this time was the 1st time there was enough snow to ski this run out to the road (comes out below the bottom of the ski runs).

Splitboard and hiking purists don't read on... The next 3 were heli assisted (Harris Mountains Heli) in the harris mountains north of TC.

The storm that delivered that lovely fluffy white stuff was one of the biggest they've had in years, shut the airport at Queenstown for 3 days or so. You even needed chains to drive from Wanaka to Queenstown the long way, never mind crown range road.

Next southern winter I am thinking of Tasman Saddle hut, which is in the same general Mt Cook area. Anyone been there?


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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:37 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2006 1:57 am
Posts: 1110
Location: Santa Barbara, CA/Ashland, OR
Hey Powder "Junky".

I love the stoke you've posted here, and I'm not wanting to cuntup the thread or anything, but I figured you may not know this:

There is a very well respected, liked, and longtime poster on this forum with the name Powderjunkie, and out of respect for him, I think it'd be very cool if you considered changing your screename. He'd never ask you to do this himself, and probably doesn't give a crap, but I just think it'd be super cool of you and a great way for you to get in the loop with this community and fit right in. He's also the kind of person who is the reason that so many people in this community started splitting in the first place, an ambassador and hero of sorts in the same vein as Tex.

Anyway, that'll be the last I have to say on the topic, I just thought I'd pass the info along. Thanks for sharing the stoke looks like a kick ass trip!

PJ, if you read this, it's all bullshit. I don't want your head getting so big that I can't fit in the camper at breakfast time!

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"Winter is not a season, it's an occupation."
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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:34 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:56 pm
Posts: 4
Location: Melbourne, Australia
ok because you asked so nicely, request approved - powder junky is dead - long live Method


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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:03 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 11:31 pm
Posts: 590
Location: ca. - sierra
amazing TR and I cannot believe for your first split you went to mt cook. i think i like this guy. what is your name?
_______________________________________________________________________________________
mowing the lawn with skins? ha ha! i like your sense of humor. and ill have to try that sometime. paging tex? can i mow your lawn with the tractor in split mode with my skins on? please? ha ha ha!
______________________________________________________________________________________
also looks like you scored some amazing conditions. way to go bro! keep the NZ stoke coming and if you ever get to cali or chile PM me OK?
______________________________________________________________________________________

tips....><><><><><><><>><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>><<><> - get it? tips?

yeah change your screen name someone here also has a very similar name and i thought you were him, but not! no its OK really. oh i see josh already asked much nicely-er-er. ok ok done deal. method you rock!

following skiers across traverseseseseses sucks! it sucks even more without crampOOOOns. my advice is use your pole to help keep yourself in the track when you can. make sure you are using the forward lean setting on the binders and crank it up all the way, and i like to roll my heal into the edge to help set it better, and get crampOOOONs, and dont follow the skiers. good to go with them but if you can find splitters....maybe better for touring....till you get more experienced with skinning.

tons of transitions - wow i feel bad for you, sort of. its good practice for getting it done quickly but the skiers always finish sooner, which always makes me want to rush, but then you screw up and put the binders on backwards or something else silly. best to be tranquilo and patient and do it right the 1st time. if they dont wait then oh well. i call those tours - "toury" and for me with splitting i am trying to find more direct up n down routes to avoid those hassles.

for clips, yeah also i have that problem and it sucks but like you said its a rental. make sure WHEN you buy your board to get the karkourum clips, they are much more solid and will help you when the tip doesnt clip or comes out, i think.


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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:32 am 
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Posts: 2
Thanks for the shots. I was in the Wanaka area touring at that time last year, pretty amazing stuff. Had just done an avy course, those storm cycles really gave me a workout!

Quote:
We don't get a lot of snow here in Australia, but there is this place known as Mt Feathertop I am keen to check out with a splitty.


I do 4-5 trips up Feathertop each year- It is awesome, Australia's only 'real' Mountain. The terrain is excellent (world-class believe it or not), from open faces to gullies and ridges, and the east face has incredible big-mountain style lines (up to 55 degrees???), but shorter of course. I generally get to ride good quality powder a couple of times a season up there, though usually the top 100-200 m is quite wind affected. There are more protected areas lower down near 'little Feathertop'.
As far as skinning, the access trail is usually snow covered for 4-5 km to the hut, and you can skin to within about 400m of the summit. There is reasonable touring on the ridges nearby, but the summit area is generally bootpack terrain (and the best riding). Lots of avalanche terrain, particularly the east face, so bring your gear (and ignore those that tell you avalanches don't occur here).

Another option in that area is Mt Bogong. Shorter runs, but less of a hike in (1-2 hrs as opposed to 3 +)

Enjoy


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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:27 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Yeah, the touring in NZ is great, the terrain is insane and of course they get better snow than in Oz. Shame there is nothing below the treeline for weather days, I am headed back that way from august 13 to about the 26th. Where did you tour near Wanaka?

Thanks for the Feathertop info. It's certainly not really an easy day trip. I went up and hiked it just before Xmas last year to scope out the terrain and yes, it truly is as spectacular as I imagined. Dragged the girlfriend up on the pretence of some romantic bushwalking, but she saw through it as soon as she saw Feathertop and said, "You're just scoping lines for winter aren't you darling?". ooops, busted. :nononno:

Planned a Feathertop 2 night overnight camping trip with my splitty at the end of August with a Falls Creek ski patrol guy who does guided trips.

I am headed up to Hotham the week after school holidays finish and gonna hopefully do a few day trips and tackle some of those gullies on the eastern side of the razorback if there's enough snow. I've flown over it a couple times lately and at the moment the middle of the razorback looks a little bare.

Would like to do Bogong, access sounds more suited to a day trip, you got any intel on this?

For those that don't believe that we have any mountains with pitch in Australia here are some photos of Mt Feathertop from my hiking last summer. :drool:

The little (look hard) dots on the top right of the peak are people to give you an idea of scale.

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I am guessing this gully runs down from "little feathertop"? The snow should be good in there as it's south facing.

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Again little dots as the top are people

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In less than 2 months I will be looking at this same view, except hopefully nice soft fluffy south facing snow in it :bananas:

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 Post subject: Re: My first time splittin' - Mt Cook National Park New Zealand
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:07 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:08 am
Posts: 124
Location: Melbourne, Australia
You will be mine, oh yes, you will be mine.

:drool:

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