Headed up to RaetihiRetro last week as Zoe had some time off and we wanted to get on the mountain, wasn’t sure with the forecast not looking great and so it turned out on Thursday, with the road closed at the 3km mark
Friday the conditions cleared and from 9am the lower mountain was open, with High Noon opening around 11am. With the dump (blizzard) the conditions were amazing with powder everywhere and deep, I’ve not spent time in these conditions so the first time I got stopped I did the usual, pushed down to get up and simply sunk arms length into the snow. Had to pull the soft dry fluffy snow into a central mound and compact it to allow myself to stand up and then work my way out.
Just awesome conditions but a bit tiring compared to the usual slip n slide you can get on Turoa at times. Well worth it though with it being the day before the school holidays and with the forecast suggesting another dump on the way. Sunday forecast was for continuing fine weather until late in the day so off we went, the day started well with clear skies – even frosty first thing which was odd as it had been very misty on Saturday night.
However forecasters get it wrong, and very quickly the high cloud came down and white out (dry snow) hit across the whole hill, with glasses on and poor light I was struggling and considered a final run around 1pm, then the liftie on the Giant told us all that they were worried about the hill road conditions and it was a good idea to start heading down. Called Zoe and gave her the news and headed to the car, under that much snow all cars are white.
And if a 2 wheel drive (and for a lot of 4 wheel drive) these conditions were unfamiliar and dangerous. While I waited for Zoe I helped push a few cars out and watched them slide away, Zoe arrived and we started down. A lot of people just went to fast, slid and went into snow banks so the first part at the top was mainly avoiding others while ensuring our own safety. It took about 45 minutes to get down – normally about 20 minutes is normal.
The rest of the afternoon we got text and Facebook updates from others still at the Cafe on the field who were stuck while others were pulled, pushed and rescued. One of our friends showed up at the house after 7pm, after waiting all afternoon for her chance to come down the hill.
This photo was taken while we sat behind this large 4×4 who had no idea how to manage the road and slipped and slid for a while, then the driver got out and waved us by, I have to say the old Subaru Legacy, set to the Snow/Hold drive setting managed beautifully.
The really good news? This snow fell and sat and once the conditions cleared on Monday the holiday renters should be having a great time, fully booked out until the final weekend of the holiday now. And the mountain (Turoa side) is at close on a 2m snow base and the forecast is for a few more dumps to come so a long happy season looks a distinct possibility.