6-8 August 1999
This trip was three years in the making. Cancelled two years ago due to an abysmal forecast, and last year through lack of snow, it was with some surprise I found no names on the list on the club night prior, especially since it was the only ski field in the North Island fully open, and with full snow cover.
A couple of casual inquiries didn't amount to a firm booking that night. The next day an e-mail to an ex-club member in Auckland got the trip under way, and then one of the inquirers from Tuesday signed on.
Bill and I left Friday at 4pm, getting out of town before the traffic. Had a dinner that couldn't be beat at Jabies Kebabs on the main street of Wanganui, and rolled up to the Taranaki Accommodation Lodge in Stratford 9ish. This was the former nurses' home now used as a backpackers and very comfortable it was. We settled in and Jim arrived just after 10.
Saturday found us driving up the sealed mountain road through rain that turned to snow. A pleasant, but cool walk took us to the goods lift where we left our gear, and strolled round the gorge.
The T bar was operating and we wasted no time. The cloud and visibility came and went, but the snow as good, and the public shelter was a good place to take lunch. We tried a run up the top tow, but a wet rope, borrowed nutcrackers, and whiteout put us off.
Some of the locals had surfed before breakfast, come up for the day's skiing, and hoped to get another wave or two in afterwards!
After staying till last run on the T, we headed down to pick up a refill of O'Neill's finest from a boutique brewery south of town. After trying a handle, having a game of darts, we had to stay for pizza and a chat with mine host and friends. Apres ski indeed.
Sunday was one out of the box, the cone of Taranaki, smothered with snow down into the bush, beckoned, no pulled. It was calm on the field, with hard snow that was a pleasure to traverse, and bright sunlight. With our own nutcrackers we were up the top tow as soon as it opened at midday, when the snow had softened. This tow provides access to a superb slope, with a consistent gradient, and a variety of routes. I really shouldn't tell you how good it was. Suffice it to say this is going to become a regular skiing destination for me, and there will be a club trip there next year. A friendly club member showed us some of the best runs. The top tow ran until after the T finished for the day, but the sun went, and we had to get home. On request we had kebabs again in Wanganui.
We were Jim Simmons, Bill Dashfield, Simon Davis and skied out. Now where is that excuse for staying Monday?