Touch-down NZ and we were instantly crystal balling the snow reports - the expanse and variability of the Southern Alps of New Zealand keeps you reading between the lines with every 3 hour update. The call was made and we were Otira bound!
Generally strained for dollars and time, New Zealand’s southern alps keeps drawing me back and has been a ‘go to’ for pushing my snowboarding and testing my skills. I’ve always had a healthy fear of avalanche, so training, building skills in reading the snow pack and testing these skills in complex terrain has been important – New Zealand has a fair bit to offer in this respect.
The snow was on and we were straight in to it! The rope-tow access was testing - somehow I managed to strip my pack of gear hoop and ice axe in split seconds. The couloirs above were beckoning; however, and I had to get up there – ‘I’ve been walking since I was a bubba, I’m just going to hike this sh_t!’
The light was low, enclosed by clouds and snow....Breath and step...breath and step…the soothing rhythm sets in… the guts of the bluff appear, the craggy rock walls finally giving definition to Temple Buttress...breath and step...breath and step...hand pit tests reveal the underlying layers...10-15 on icey rain crust - the decision for boot crampons validated.