Sam and Stu's Kiwi Travels
We had another day up at the Remarkables today. We caught the early bus again at 8:15 and were at the base station by 9. The weather in Queenstown had been all overcast and dreary when we left so we weren't expecting to see much sunshine today, but on the road up into the mountains we had driven through the clouds and when we got to the ski fields we were welcomed by warm sunshine! The ski field at the Remarkables was actually above the clouds so we had sunshine and bright blue skies but below us all we could see was thick grey cloud so i'm guessing Queenstown didn't see much of the sun. It was a really pretty sight, felt like we were completely cut off from the rest of the world by these big, thick clouds. We headed straight up the Sugarbowl chair as usual and warmed up on a couple of blue runs. The snow wasn't quite as good as yesterday and it was getting a bit thin on the ground so we came across a few icey patches, but all in all the skiing conditions were pretty good. After a few runs I was feeling brave and suggested we head over to the shadow chair for a change, I was only intending to do the blue runs but i thought it would be good to record Stu doing a few of the black runs while he was on skis, rather than his board. Off we went up the shadow chair. When we got to the top Stu headed off along a run called the "Highway" which leads to the main black runs while I opted for the safer blue run. There are two blue runs to choose from at the top of the Shadow Chair (the rest are all black). We'd been down both of them before but I had struggled a bit at the top of the steeper run as the top part is very steep, if you can get over the first 100 metres the rest of the run isn't too bad but the inital slope is pretty steep and I'd had to edge down sideways last time we did it. I was feeling pretty confident with my skiing today so i thought i'd give the harder run a go and was determined to ski it properly this time. I had a quick look over the edge at the top and off I went....I skiied it no problem and was really chuffed with myself when I got to the bottom! Shame Stu wasn't there to see it! I skiied a bit further down the run to find a good vantage point to watch Stu come down his balack run - 'Shady Lady' - the one he'd struggled with on his board. I waved to say I was ready and down he came. He looked really good coming down on his skis, I was pretty impressed as I haven't seen him come down a black run before. I met him at the bottom and he said he was feeling much more comfortable on his skis now. From the top of 'Shady Lady' Stu had seen 'Homeward Bound', a big open black run that leads right down the other side of the mountain. You ski right down to the road and then wait for a shuttle bus to come and pick you up and take you back to the base station. He said it did look quite steep but it was very open, like a big field of snow, and he thought we should give it a go. I was a bit dubious as I knew it was meant to be quite hard but I'd heard a lot about it and I did want to give it a go to see if I could handle it so I agreed to go and have a look. We skiied down to the base station and headed back up the Shadow Chair. One of my main reservations about 'Homeward Bound' was that it meant I would have to go along the 'Highway' run to take a look. To start with 'Highway' is very narrow and takes you right across the top of the mountain with a very steep drop on your right (not being particularly confident with heights this wasn't very appealing!). Secondly there are no blue runs off of 'Highway', they're all black, so if I didn't think I could ski 'Homeward Bound' I was still going to have to ski down a different black run to get back to the bottom! I was pretty nervous when we got off the chair at the top but I was determined not to wimp out! Stu skiied off along 'Highway' and I followed slowly in a snowplough as I didn't trust myself turning on such a narrow run with such a big drop off! I was so relieved when I caught up with Stu at the end of 'Highway'! 'Shady Lady', the run I had filmed Stu coming down earlier, was right opposite the path that leads to 'Homeward Bound' so I had a quick look over the edge to see what the run looked like from the top. There was a very scarey looking lip that you had to tackle at the very top of the run, but after that it didn't look too bad....if I could get over the lip at the top I reckoned I might be able to get down it. If I got down 'Homeward Bound' ok I thought I might try 'Shady Lady' as well. Look at me getting all adventurous with the black runs!! We skiied across the top of the mountain and found ourselves at the top of 'Homeward Bound'. It looked much steeper now we were looking down on it than it had from the top of 'Shady Lady'. Oh dear...I was really quite scared but it was too late to turn back now, there was nowhere to go but down. "Do you want me to ski down in front of you?" Stu asked. Ok I said, expecting him to do a couple of turns and then wait for me to catch up. No, what does he do, he skis halfway down the run until he's pretty much a dot in the distance....and then...gets the video camera out!! Great! So I'm shaking like a leaf at the top of this run, too petrified to move, and Stu's catching every moment on film!!! Not quite what I had in mind! I decided I had to move at some point so very slowly I started to ski across the mountain. 'Homeward Bound' is classed as off piste so the run isn't groomed at all and is very bumpy. The powder was nice but there were bumps and mounds everywhere. I decided the only was I was going to get down in one piece was to resort back to my snowplough turns. I turned down the mountain and picked up a load of speed beacuse of the steepness of the run so I headed all the way back across the mountain again to slow myself down before I made my next turn. It was a pretty slow and painful process but I was making my way down. As I neared Stu I checked to see if he was still filming....yes he was. I was hoping he would have realised that perhaps this wasn't the best time to film but no he was still going!! Boys!!! I eventually got to the halfway point and got Stu to put the camera away. I took the rucksack off him and said I would go down the second part of the run first, and would film him coming down. I just wanted to get to the bottom! Off I went again, still doing snowplough turns and having to talk myself into every turn I made downhill, but i did make it to the bottom unscathed, and I only fell over once when my ski got stuck in one of the mounds of powder!! I got the camera out and filmed Stu as he came down. He got down really well and skiied brilliantly - put my effort to shame but he's been skiing much longer than me! I reckon I could take him if he was on his board!!! We had to walk down the last part of the run as it's really just a little foot path that leads to the pick up point and it's barely wide enough to walk through, let alone ski. Just as we got to the road a mini bus arrived and ferried us back to the base station. After the trials and tribulations of 'Homeward Bound' I decided I needed to do a quick run off the Sugarbowl chair before I dared to go back up the Shadow Chair. We did one of our usual blue runs and then, with me feeling slightly braver but still not particualarly comfortable, headed back up the Shadow Chair. We started off on one of the blue runs as I wanted to get a bit more practise in before I attemped another black. I did the blue run without a problem and decided to give 'Shady Lady' a go. Stu went off along 'Highway' first with the video camera. I waited until he got to the top of 'Shady Lady' and then followed. Again I was pretty nervous and had butterflies in my tummy but I was determined to give it a go. By the time i got to the top of 'Shady Lady' Stu was already waiting at the bottom with the video camera (this time I had asked him to film me as I had a feeling this could be my first and last attempt!). I had a quick look over the lip, decided it was now or never, and off I went. Apart from the fact I nearly hit a concealed rock at the top of the run, I actually got down amazingly well and got to the bottom feeling much less scared than I expected - feeling like I could ski it again! I think Stu was quiote surprised at how well I came down it after my earlier problems on 'Homeward Bound'. We headed straight back up the Shadow Chair to do it again! We both made it down ok again and I felt much more confident this time. Stu wanted me to film him coming down 'Shady Lady' again as this was his last full day on skiis. Once again we headed up the Shadow Chair, along 'Highway' and down 'Shady Lady'. I got the camera out at the bottom only to find the tape had run out!!!! We didn't have a spare so Stu skiied down only to find I hadn't been able to film him! We deleted a bit of scenery we'd filmed earlier (we'd rambled on a bit) and headed back up to do it again. This time I got to the bottom of 'Shady Lady' only to find the sun was setting directly behind the run and I couldn't see a thing!! Stu skiied down and again I had to tell him I hadn't been able to film him!! We had just about enough time for one last run before the lifts closed at four so we quickly made our way back to the chair lift (hoping that by the time we got back up there the sun would have moved enough for me to be able to film Stu's run). Luckily, by the time I got to the bottom of 'Shady Lady', the run was in the shadows and I was able to film Stu in all his glory!! We packed up our stuff and raced straight back down to the base station to catch the last bus home at 4:30. We were both pretty shattered by the time we got home - we'd had a long days skiing and we'd completely forgotten about lunch today as well!! We cooked ourselves some dinner and settled in for a evening of 24!