Sunday, October 26, 2008

Back-to-back Volcano Pics

Here they are finally. from just before I left New Zealand. I'm actually back, but had to go to hospital for an infection. On the road to recovery now, but I'll have to tell the whole story in a bit. For now, enjoy the pics:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Volcano Virgin No More

I did it 2x in as many days! Wonderful what you can do with a nice sunny day once the mountain sheds its shroud of cloud. I'm still getting the pics together into a slideshow, but in the meantime, go over to TetonAT and have a squizz (Kiwi for take a look) at the trip report I put together about our Earnslaw mission. If you have any comments, feedback, general thoughts, please let me know by leaving a comment there. Cheers!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Life below treeline

I’m sitting in ­­­­­the Mountain House, a lodge at the entrance to Taranaki National Park, and I’m the only one. There is a fire lit, but no guests, no reservations, and no one staying in the rooms. The ambience is stellar, except for the “Power Ballads on Pan Flute and Harpsichord” muzak (I’ll be watching you, Aguilera’s I am beautiful). There’s a persistent drizzle going on outside, but blue skies not 5km away. It’s the effect of the 2518m volcano upon whose flanks we’re perched: Mt Taranaki in Maori or Egmont as the English-speakers named it.

It’s a good chance to relax and reflect on the Kiwi peculiarities that I’ve experienced in the last few days. Just noticing the obvious things like driving on the left and light switches upside down leads to appreciating the other parts of Kiwi-land. New Zealanders are a friendly sort. I thought the smiling, happy attendants on the flight over just might be that way because they are paid to, but it’s really a stereotype that holds true for the most part. Everywhere there’s a friendly face and a quick smile. I have had no problem hitching around and even got invited into a ski club at Mt Ruapehu for the last couple days. This group of friendly folks shared their beer and wine, took me four-wheeling and on a hike to a great waterfall.

The weather wouldn’t let up there so I came to Taranaki and the Mountain House. The chef gave me a ride to a sweet little hostel set up by some surfers called Wave Haven. Still crappy weather, but I went and dipped my toe in the Pacific, which is only 15 Miles from Taranaki’s 2500m summit.Socked in weather for days on end is a non-Colorado difference I could do without, but the clouds should clear tomorrow and the mountain man can get back to what he does best. Update soon…

Monday, October 13, 2008

Headed to North Island for Volcanoes and Road Trip Pics

In just a few hours, I'm flying up to Auckland for a week on the North Island. I'm hoping to ski the three big volcanoes up there: Taranaki, Ruapehu, and Ngauruhoe. There's a map below to help locate them, but I am also putting up a slideshow (further down) of a road trip from a week ago.

View Larger Map

Road Trip Slideshow
Like most roadtrips, there's a lot of windshield time -and that's where I took most of the pictures. Take a look at the slideshow; it tells the story in the captions.
For best viewing, go to my Picasa site, but it also plays here:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Relaxing with Tourists

Hey all,
It's been busy with adventures around here so I have missed posting for a few days, but I'm working on catching up right now. Trip reports and updates coming soon: we skied a very big peak called Mt Earnslaw, I went on a road trip and met a bunch of new people, and took more general pictures of NZ. I'm about to go on a long hike near Aspiring so look for that post in a few days!

Today was quite nice. First stop as the frosty edge of the morning gives way to a fine, sunny day: Patagonia Chocolates.

Great view, Wi-Fi, and Spicy Chili Hot Chocolate.

Then over to the town soccer field where paragliders are landing and I work on my action photography. Here's a slideshow of things flying around, and some more of the scenic area around Queenstown:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Playing Ski Patrol

I enjoyed a special opportunity today and tagged along with patrol on an avalanche control route at Remarkables. First thing was to get up wicked early and drive the just-plowed road in the dark, while talking about conditions, sharing the forecast, and planning what routes are likely to need avalanche mitigation. We suited up in the patrol HQ, then got a boost up near our targets from the snowmobile and skinned up from there. We found definite loading in a couple chutes. The slabs of snow built up from all the blowing snow had to be cut loose before they got too big and could run down into the base area, possibly hitting buildings and a lift tower. This is just a part of ski patrol's main duty: making the hill safe for punters to go out and huck their meat. They're not cops on skis. They mitigate hazards that the mountain presents to the public and educate guests how to be safe and courteous to others on the slope. Check out this video of a friend who patrols at Copper, extolling the benefits (and challenges) of his job:
Many Thanks to Remarkables Ski Patrol for showing me around! Here are a couple more pics from that morning: