Temple Basin, NZ Conditions Report: Powder & Backflips

Guest Author | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

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words and photos by Thomas Lloyd

Temple Basin has always been a place I have wanted to ski. Tales of long hikes and a rickety goods lift always left my mind skeptical about the idea venturing into the unknown. But news came Wednesday of a possible 80cm snowfall to the Craigieburn range and excitement led me to instantly book flights down to Christchurch for the next day.

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Upon a late Thursday night arrival discussion immediately began about where the best snow was to be skid. It was clear from the weather maps and reports that temple received the majority with a little under 40cm upper mountain.

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Friday morning Charlie Murray, Jamesa Hampton, Nick Pasco and myself set out early from Christchurch headed towards temple basin. The day brought cloudless blue skies, warm weather low down and as we arrived at the base of Temple, we were surrounded by views of freshly dusted peaks and cloud reflections in the still blue lakes.

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We put our gear for the weekend in the goods lift and headed up the gravel-walking track from road level to the lower hut at 1326m. The day had great light for shooting and we headed straight up to Hotpocket at the top of Bills Basin to be greeted by untracked freshies and endless opportunities for natural hits amongst the steep jagged terrain.

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The boys hiked all afternoon, skiing chutes and airing natural lips catching some of the best light and scenery, Canterbury has to offer. The day brought plenty of hot sweaty hiking in the sun, sunburn and no lack of footage and images. The sun set over Mt Rolleston and we filmed the last few lines of the day with the boys ripping down Bills Basin to the main hut, orange Crepuscular light penetrating the high cloud in the distance.

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Sunday was no less productive as an early start led us back up to the top tow and now over the back of Mt Temple into the Mingha. The high winds swept the light cloud through the peaks creating a real life time-laps effect. Luckily, the westerly wind meant we were sheltered in amongst the rolling hills of the Mingha. The decision was made to ski a series of lines from the top ridge of Mt Temple. I filmed the boys ripping down some of the largest landscapes and rollers I have ever seen in NZ making them look like ants against the quickly passing cloud.

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After a hectic morning of shooting on terrain only accessed by foot, lunch was well deserved, the top hut greeted us with a cold beer and a freshly cooked lunch made by the in house chef.  On the way back to the hut the previous day the boys spotted a jump that had been made several days prior by a group of snowboarders. The jump stretched off the narrow end of cornice hanging over a deep creep. It was decided that we would head back that afternoon to shoot it into the sunset so we headed out after lunch back to see who would be the first to guinea pig it. The boys sessioned the jump for a few hours waiting for the light to align in between hikes back up to the steep icy run in. Flat 5s, backflips and flat threes were sent against the setting sun and another awe-inspiring day at Temple Basin came to end.

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