Alpine Instruction: Snow 1
29 and 30th June 2007
Snow 1, the first opportunity for seventeen excitable ‘international’ (NL, D, GB, NZ) students to get onto Ruapehu, guided and fed by our eight expectant instructors and three culinary providers. Rain 1 would have been a more appropriate title. The windscreen wipers weren’t rested and there was no respite between. Anyone who read the five day mountain forecast would have safely bet their last dry polyprop on continuous rain, even at 1800m ASL.
The course objective was to get us snow novices to grips with using ice axes and crampons and generally comfortable tramping around the snow. The latter was achieved successfully, in the rain, on our first excursion on Saturday. After a warm feed and drip dry at the hut, we headed out again for step cutting. It was definitely a more theoretically advantageous lesson. A longhandled teaspoon could have cut steps in this soft, wet snow. Fall arrest followed, very keenly demonstrated by Paul, and meant the effects of the still persisting rain were surpassed by those of snow forced down our necks, pants, noses, etc. A fun and valuable lesson.
Saturday night involved a quiz, rope games and a few cheeky drinks. The ‘all NZer’ team won the quiz. I won’t shame or model those with memorable performances in the belaying competition, except to say we can be certain a couple had been practising!
Day two, still raining! We weren’t hopeful of finding ice but we were not pre-warned we would be crossing a river. Sunday morning tested the ‘courier bags’ more than our crampons. Then it was home time. Unfortunately the rain wasn’t enough to drown out the Beethoven playing in our minibus, which, I hastened to add, should perhaps not have been turned down for the telling of some jokes!
A rainy, wet but great weekend overall. A very ‘harmonious’ (PM, 2.7.07) and ‘advanced’ (JN, 30.6.07) group, which is rapidly growing in confidence and respect for their instructors and cooks, who made the very best of the conditions and food supplies. Cheers John, Cherie and Co.
- Party members
- Helen Holyoak (scribe), and many others.