Mt Ruapehu ski group

Whakapapa – Over and Out

I’m writing this as I lie waiting for the bus to take me out and back to Auckland. I then fly out for some diving adventures in Bali and maybe a bit of surfing too. Then after 6 weeks I return to Rusutsu in Japan.

No British summer for me this year (did I miss a decent one? Mmm, maybe not), but I’m more than making up for it by heading to Bali. Roll on sitting on an idyllic beach with a gorgeous sunset and a cold beer in my hand! 24 hours and counting (in your best Bond baddy voice).

Inevitably at the end of any ski season you reflect back on what was good, not so good and downright awful (yes it does happen!).

Highlights were skiing into the crater of an active volcano (it wasn’t doing much at the time thankfully), working with the Ruapehu Ski Club adult squads and being generally involved with the club, meeting another great bunch of folks in the Snowsports department and getting some great pictures of it all along the way.

Ultimate lowlight? Realizing that I can’t drink as much dark rum in one sitting as I once could! At least I can remember only two things from the entire night! Not sure that’s a good thing though.

This was closely followed by falling 400 metres off a ridgeline (I hasten to add I didn’t have skis on my feet at the time). Fortunately I survived relatively intact, but wrecked my backpack in the process. I wouldn’t have minded, but I’d been climbing for an hour and a half and was literally three steps from the crest of the ridgeline!

So would I come back?

Well I love the riding on the mountain, virtually every run has bags of character, including a couple of the steepest marked pistes I’ve seen anywhere in The Chimney and the Chute. There’s also lots of opportunity for hiking to access some good steep backcountry.

However moguls were essentially an extinct species on the hill. Too much grooming in certain areas for my liking. This is a real shame and hopefully not a growing trend worldwide. Moguls really test your skills and add a huge dimension to your overall skiing. Hopefully we are not seeing a global ‘dumbing down’ of skiing skill to keep the large majority of recreational skiers happy.

The lift system it has to be said is outdated and in need of complete replacement bar one magic carpet! This is partly down to I expect the mountain being in the process of renewing their lease to run mountain operations, but only partly.

All this would only slightly affect my decision to come back though. The real killer is the weather. As I’ve mentioned before the weather is very similar to that in Scotland. Therefore we suffered a lot of closed days, some of which were entirely justified, others I’m not so sure about.

This meant getting the required amount of work to be able to save was not possible and I really need to save over a season these days what with working back to back seasons again.

So it’s unlikely I’ll be back, but I still had a great time and will remember Whakapapa and all the people I worked with, partied with and generally experienced a little of my life with with fondness.

Goodbye Whakapapa and the best of luck to all of you who will still be there in years to come.