This was a combined training with members from the Golden Bay, Marlborough and Waimea Tramping clubs along with guests. At one stage there were 57 people registered to attend this training, but with lack of snow, most chose not to attend the weekend. Those hardy souls who attended the training set off armed with crampons & ice axes to look for snow…any snow to practice their snow skills on.

Snowskills 1

After an early start from Nelson or Blenheim we all met up at the top Mount Robert car park.  Those going to Lake Angelus (from NTC & MTC) went on ahead. Before setting off our leader, Debbie, gave a demonstration of how to put crampons on and adjust them.  We practised putting them on, then attached ice axes and crampons to our packs.  We set off up the zig-zag Pinchgut Track, getting used to the weight of our overnight packs.  At a couple of places we stopped to decide where on the map we might be.  Higher up we had a break for smoko and then carried on up until coming out into the open. We went up to Mount Robert summit cairn and then walked along the ridge track until we came to the original ski basin and walked down to the huts.

We all stayed in Robert Lodge which was built in the 1950s. (Christie Lodge was built in the 1960s.  The huts can be booked:  $20 per adult per night and $12 for school age children. Pots, pans, cutlery and crockery are provided and there is an indoor toilet. There are also blankets and other bedding in the bunk room area. Rainbow ski field was developed when the snowfall on Mt Robert became unreliable.) 

After lunch most of us went for a walk up to the ridge, on a track to start.  Higher up we paused to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different routes – navigation training in action. Some of us carried on, going part way up Christie Ridge, from where there are excellent views, and then we turned back. Pat and Ian carried on to the summit and down from there. On the way back three of the women in our group sat down and reverted to childhood as they slid down the snow grass, with shrieks of laughter. Back at the lodge, meals were prepared and eaten. With the size of the group we had, it all worked well.  Debbie was relieved that not all the fifty or so people who had enquired about the trip turned up!

snowskills 2

On Sunday morning we woke to the sound of a strong gusty wind.  After breakfast we  set off up to the ridge again in search of snow to practise on. On some small patches of firm snow we practised kicking steps with our boots. When we came to bigger areas of snow we put our crampons on and went up and down making sure that all points of the crampons were on the snow and trying to coordinate the use of ice axes and crampons. 

Team on Julius summit pass

Shortly before Julius Summit we had a lunch break and then most of us went up to the top of the ridge from where there were beautiful views and firm snow to practice our crampon use. Lower down we were surprised to meet some of the MTC - Lake Angelus party back so early, until they told us that they had gone up Mt Angelus the day before. (See the trip report for the Mt Angelus trip). Some returned to the cars via the Speargrass track.  Back at the lodge we packed up and then set off back up to the ridge and down to the car park after an excellent weekend. A huge thank you to Debbie and to the others who helped organise it all and provided equipment.

Nelson T.C.:  Debbie (Leader), Ian (Trainer), Marilyn, Mary, Anne, Pat (Trainer), Maaike;
Golden Bay T.C.:  Karen;  Marlborough T.C.:  Ana and Jane (Scribe);  Visitors: Angela, Claire