Winter is closing in with a vengeance, and the skiing has never been better. The big storm systems rolling through are providing powder galore, and the NZ fields are kicking into gear. Big storms bring snow, but said snow sometimes comes in such high quantities, and is accompanied by such high winds, that the day becomes all but un-ski-able.
There are some hardy souls who spend storm days chasing fresh lines in the growing mounds of powder. I have endless respect for these dedicated individuals, but I am not generally among them. My preferred storm day activities include playing cards and drinking endless cups of tea, which transition into mulled wine at about 3pm.
This weekend however, I broke my own rules. The weather was stormy. In fact I would almost say beyond stormy. The whiteout I experienced at Craigieburn Valley was so intense that in getting to the day lodge I frequently lost sight of my friends skiing a turn ahead of me. I was reluctant to venture forth again; the lodge was warm and inviting, the hot chocolate was flowing, and a magazine sat temptingly on the windowsill.
Skiing opportunities are a bit slim this year, I’ve gone from being a theoretically full-time student who only attended lectures about 3 days a week, to a full-blown full-time student teacher who spends 5 days in a classroom, and the rest of my so-called ‘free time’ planning. Therefore, having made it up the mountain for the first time in a fortnight, I felt like I really couldn’t let an opportunity to ski go to waste.
I zipped my jacket up to my goggle line, buckled my boots as tight as cold fingers could pull them, and stepped out into the storm. The snow was sublime, light and fluffy, with just a few sets of tracks edging their way through the otherwise untouched slopes. Not that I could see any of this of course, I could hardly see my own skis! As someone who rarely ventures forth on storm days, this experience was a novel one, if a little terrifying, given the significant cliffs that adjourn the slopes of Craigieburn.
The moral of this story is a simple one: storm days are scary, but worth it. Next time the weather closes in, and the fireplace at the club looks inviting, consider abandoning it. Put down that cup of tea, don your warmest gear, step forth into the snow, and revel in the glory of an empty mountain. Better still, have someone on call to make you a mulled wine upon your return!