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Pre-season ski adventure at Tasman Glacier

Skiing the Tasman Glacier

By Elmo Cotter

It was Thursday afternoon before Queens Birthday weekend and I was packing up to head home from work when I received an email. "Hey, we are going to Mt Cook for some ski touring if you want to join. You'd have to be here tomorrow night. Back Monday evening. Cheers, Dad"

The ski fields were still a week away from opening and about a week earlier there was a huge snowfall throughout the south island, I had been itching for a ski since!

"Count me in!"

24 hours of anticipation later and I was in Wanaka gathering my gear from all over the show. Due to last season’s gear not all being up to scratch I was able to treat myself to some new Smith goggles and an O’Neill ski Jacket from Outside Sports. We packed our bags and went to bed for an early start. 

After loading up on a full-monty breakfast and checking avalanche.net.nz to assess the conditions we were on the way to Mt Cook, I was still unsure of what was planned for the trip. Once there we met some friends who just the night before had decided to join us at Mt Cook airport for a 10am chopper into Tasman Saddle.

Tasman Glacier Elmo Cotter Outside Sports NZ

We flew past Mount Cook and up the length of the Tasman glacier, scouting the area we planned to ski for the long weekend. We were dropped at an altitude of 2000m and as the sound of the helicopter drained away, we found ourselves in knee deep snow surrounded mountains and without another soul in sight.

"The sky was blue, there was not a breath of wind, the snow was light and frost dried. Perfect conditions - we were amazed to see we had it all to ourselves". 

 Tasman Glacier Elmo Cotter Outside Sports NZ

As we walked over to the hut we found the door almost completely buried in snow, which we had to dig out before moving our stuff inside. After a cup of tea and some admiration of the stunning views of Mt Darwin, Mt Aylmer the valley back down the glacier to Mt Cook; it was time to put the skis on! 

Tasman Glacier Elmo Cotter Outside Sports NZ

Our first slope was up toward Mt Aylmer and after an hour or so of skinning uphill we were at the top looking down the Maximilian Range. Time to get rid of the skins and switch to ski mode. Yew!

 Tasman Glacier Elmo Cotter Outside Sports NZ

"Between the 5 of us, we cut 10 fresh tracks down the wide untouched slope and had a great time getting our skiing legs back on".

As the sun started to set behind the hills we got back to the hut for a big dinner and stories around the table. 

Tasman Glacier Elmo Cotter Outside Sports NZ

The next day we bounced out of bed and got prepared for another day of it. The recent wind had been blowing snow into North Westerly facing slopes and due to the consistent snowfall and cold weather, most terrain was at low avalanche risk. We spotted some steeper slopes in the shade below Hochsetter Dome and headed straight over. When we got to the base of the slope we found the snow was even lighter and deeper than what we were skiing the day before – just what we were hoping for.

 Tasman Glacier Elmo Cotter Outside Sports NZ

We cut some skinning tracks zigzagging up the hill and spent the whole day making the most of this awesome zone. The snow was about shin deep and if you really turned hard into it in the right spot you could almost get a face full of snow. We made lines between the crevasses until the whole area was covered in our tracks. Even found a couple of spots to jump off.

Tasman Glacier Elmo Cotter Outside Sports NZ

The sun started to drop behind the hills and we squeezed one final run in before it went dark. After a full day of skiing, we were more than ready to get cosy in the hut and rest the legs.

The next morning we set out to ski down the glacier to the bottom of the valley. After a short skin up we started the 15-20km journey. The terrain was quite flat on the glacier so we just cruised down admiring the scenery as we went.

Tasman Glacier Elmo Cotter Outside Sports NZ

Several hours later we found ourselves near the top of the Tasman lake with scroggin levels depleted and our legs spent. It was time to go back to the real world.

"It may seem difficult to drop everything and head off on an adventure for the weekend but all you really need is the right gear and a keen attitude - everything else is right on our doorstep".

Happy birthday to the Queen!



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Energy Food for Skiing and Snowboarding

Food for thought

Nutrition is a vital factor for skiers and snowboarders as the body adjust to the physical demands of the sport in a cold climate and higher altitude. Exercising at a higher altitude means the body needs to adapt to the reduced amount of oxygen by increasing respiratory, Heart rate and red blood cell production. Exercising in cold temperatures can cause dehydration as the body works harder to maintain its core temperature.

“The average skier burns 300-600 calories per hour. Racers, or intermediate to advanced skiers tackling difficult terrain at a fast pace, can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour”. Reference: Kristen Gravani, MS, RD- Nutrition for Skiing

Energy Food for Skiing and Snowboarding Outside Sports NZ

Maximise performance on the slopes by eating nutritious food that will fuel your body ready for a day of skiing or snowboarding and significantly aid recovery so you won’t “burn out” this season:

Fuel up!

1. Eat breakfast - to help jump start your metabolism and energize your brain and muscles, go for a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk. Whole grains offer carbohydrates for energy and milk contains protein, which offers energy and aids in muscle recovery.

2. Snack- studies show that consuming some carbohydrates and a small amount of protein during skiing or snowboarding can help minimize muscle damage from the day, compared to not snacking throughout a day on the mountain. Try some pocket friendly snacks such as Cliff energy bars, muesli bars and trail mix.

Energy Food for Skiing and Snowboarding Outside Sports NZ

3. Lunch- give your body a physical and nutritional break at lunch with a sandwich that combines lean meat, low-fat cheese and whole-grain bread. This will provide a good mix of carbohydrates, fat and protein, which optimizes your energy levels and gives you plenty of glycogen for a day of skiing. Finish off with some fruit.

4. Apres-ski snack & dinner- your body uses food most efficiently directly after exercising so grab carbohydrates and protein such as some cheese and crackers whilst you kick back and relax-it will significantly improve recovery, decrease soreness, and improve performance. For dinner re-fuel and stock up for day 2 with carbohydrates, protein, vegetables and some healthy fats such as avocado.

5. Hydration-important not only in sport but in everyday life. Studies show that drinking water throughout the day minimizes muscular damage, in comparison to not hydrating throughout the day. Try a Camelbak hydration pack for easy access to water whilst skiing and snowboarding. Avoid the consumption of alcohol whilst exercising in the cold, as alcohol is a diuretic that tends to dehydrate the body- save it for moderation in après ski.

Energy Food for Skiing and Snowboarding Outside Sports NZ

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NZ Ski fields open this weekend!

Cardrona Alpine Resort and Coronet Peak open this weekend, Saturday June 13th 2015.

We have had an amazing few weeks of early snowfall in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, making an excellent base for the Ski resorts and allowing for plenty of Snowmaking. Coronet Peak, Queenstown were making snow for 6 consecutive days last week and Cardrona Alpine resort, Cardrona, have been busy preparing more terrain for opening early this season. Both mountains could see all lifts operational in record time this ski season if Mother Nature allows.

Coronet Peak Ski Field Outside Sports NZ

Snowmaking in progress. Photo Credit: Coronet Peak

Cardrona Alpine resort have a new learner conveyor this season to help decrease lift lines and allow more time on the slopes for beginners, there’s also another intermediate trail along the ridge line connecting Valley View and Tail Race trails.

Cardrona Alpine Resort Ski Field Outside Sports NZ

Sunrise at Cardrona. Photo Credit: Cardrona Alpine Resort.

The forecast for opening weekend sees cloud building with a risk of sleety showers in the afternoon, so get up there early and grab some opening day champagne at the lift line for first chair.

Here’s to an awesome season. Enjoy.

Need to get your skis/snowboard tuned? It's the final week of 50% off tuning at Outside Sports Ski Workshop, Gorge Road Queenstown.

Need Ski rentals, transport and a lift pass? Outside Sports have you covered. Get your ski and snowboard packages all in one place at Outside Sports, 9 Shotover Street Queenstown.

Ski hire at Outside Sports Wanaka.

Treat yourself this winter with new in 2015 Skis and Snowboards at Outside Sports #WhereAdventuresBegin

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