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This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper Volume 89, no 9, October 2017

Youth Snowcraft Course

Mid-June 2017

On a dark but otherwise ok Friday night in mid-June, nine members of the TTC youth group bid their fond farewells to those who had dropped them off and climbed into the Michael Taylor Memorial Van. The instructor crew, Fiona, Bob and Stu got in and we pulled out heading into a soggy mountain forecast. The journey was straight forward enough. A little bit of bunny hopping in traffic from those more used to driving an automatic, non-stop chatter and a musical device with remarkably poor volume control.

Driving sleet greeted us at the Top of the Bruce but the students remained enthusiastic, and we all set out into rain drenched snow, sinking occasionally, following the groomed trail up Tennents Gully. We could only hope for a better snow pack the next day. Safe at the Lodge, and dry once more, we all went in the general direction of bed where some played cards and others opted for sleep.

Saturday dawned consistently damp and windy but this could not deter the students’ enthusiasm and we all headed out to the bottom of the Yankee to learn a few things. A morning of wading through deep rain-soaked snow covered the basics of using ice axes and walking around on snow. After a good lunch we spent the afternoon higher up the Yankee, sliding downhill, self-arresting (in sight of the hut when the visibility was good enough) until students were self-arresting every which way, some with considerable flair. As the wind rose we headed back in to get warm and dry once more. That was the last excursion out on Saturday, a suggestion to practise transceiver searches in the late afternoon was meet with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. An indoors game of hide the transceiver ensued giving roughly the same effect.

Before going to bed the students practised putting their crampons on (multiple times until veteran instructor Stu was fully satisfied) and laces-tying, a serious art. This speeded things up the next day and we did not have a single loose crampon on Sunday’s walk, so well worth the time.

Sunday gave us a frost and we leapt to it, making our lunches and heading out. We took advantage of the decent conditions to go over yesterday’s snow skills to see what a difference the harder surface made to walking and self-arresting. On went the crampons, pretty quickly with our new expert students; they learnt a few more vital skills and then headed off for a good walk. Stu led the team up the ridge, skirting around the amphitheatre as the visibility started to close in, before heading back to pack up, clean up and head out back to Wellington with non-stop chatter and singing the whole way. Many of the students also went on to participate in the follow up Tongariro tramp in September. (See the following report.)

Ursula, Sacha, Lewis, Bryn, Ray, Connor, Hannah, Patrick and Nick you were all great fun and so enthusiastic to be out in the mountains despite some less than ideal conditions. It was a really fantastic trip to teach on, so thank you!

A big shout out from all of us to Colin and Jenni Bell who provided assistance from the Simon Bell memorial scholarship this year, and helped open the world of mountains to nine new students, some of whom had never been on snow before! EC

Party members
Instructors: Elizabeth Claridge (Bob) (scribe), Fiona Girdwood, Stu Hutson.
Students: Patrick Comeskey, Ray Cook, Sacha Langridge, Hannah Mills Workman, Nick Moore, Connor Riley, Bryn Shanks, Ursula Steeds, Lewis Thomson

Page last modified on 2017 Oct 30 21:11

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