What is this blog?

Designed to be an unofficial guide to ski mountaineering in Canterbury, the idea of this blog is that anyone who has skied a peak or a couloir in the region can post photos and information here to inspire and inform others. If you have something to contribute, send photos and a description of the route to:


and we will post them up. We will also start a list of contributors so credit can be given where due. If everyone gets out into the backcountry and remembers to take photos, a guide of sorts will form.

To standardise the guide as much as possible we will grade any routes using the "D" system. Details of this system can be found at:


Routes will also be marked with a green line for the ascent and a red line for the descent.
This guide will only work if the regions skiers take time to contribute
and we are really keen to see what everyone is skiing so send us an email.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Temple Basin, Arthur's Pass National Park

Submitted by Grant Guise.

Lower Bills Basin/ Temple Tow

The following are the main couloirs that are accessed from "Temple Tow" (B & C) and from the low traverse from the top of "Down Hill Tow" (A, D, E, F, G & H) .

A- Crosscut -D6, I, R2
B- Upper Leap In- D6, I, R2
C- Lower Leap In- D5, I, R2
D, E, F Steve's Folly- D7, I, R2
G- Main Chute- D7, I, R2
H- Cassidy Chute- D6, I, R2
I have given these all a R2 rating, but of course in thin snow years and/or firm conditions this could go up.

Mt Temple
Main SW couloir D7, I, R2

Accessed from Down Hill basin, either traverse under Temple Buttress and climb directly up the SW couloir, or drop east over Temple Col and then travel north, gaining the ridge between Temple Buttress and Mt Temple near the top of the SW couloir.

Looking down off Mt Temple

The following video was taken in July of 2007 which was a very slim snow year. Thin snow cover and breakable crust was encountered.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cheeseman Ski Area

Craigieburn Range
Skiing couloirs and Mt Cheeseman ski area generally don't go together, but there are some fun short shots to be had.

Gun Barrel (D4, I, R1)
This is the big obvious one as you get into the car park. Access is easy, the entrance is between tower 3 and 4of the main T-bar and a short traverse brings you back to the car park.

No need for a red line to mark this one out.

The A-Basin Chutes (D5/6, I, R2)
These are a little more interesting. The entrance is reached with a high traverse above A-Basin. From here two main descent options are on offer, with skiers right couloir being the pick of the two. There are a few more variations for those who are creative and enjoy kick turns and stepping over rocks.

A-basin chutes in a snow storm?
Chutes start top right of the photo (Photo from David Poulsen)

These two little guys can introduce a newbie to the narrow stuff and give some good opportunities to work on some skills especially for those without touring bindings/skins and the avalanche know how to be in the backcountry.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Avalanche Peak

Arthurs Pass National Park.
Skied 12 October 2008, Duncan Sherratt, Kathy Conlan and Tim Ensor.
"D" System Rating: D4, II, R1
Avalanche Peak is accessed right out of Arthurs Pass village. If it didn't involve a couple of hours of walking in beech forest to get to the snow it would have quite a European feel.
Walk north out of the village and follow Scott's Track up the ridge until you reach the snow. From there ski and climb the ridge to Avalanche Peak at 1833 metres.

On this trip there was good skiing into the east and south east drainages but with more snow there would be lots of options.
Descend via Scott's Track.

Route skied in the south east (Rough Creek) drainage.

Kath getting some nice turns in off the peak.

Sweet corn.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Black Range, North West of Craigieburn Ski Area
Skied 6 August 2008, Duncan Sherratt and Tim Ensor.
"D" System Rating:D7, III, R2
This is the major peak viewed when looking NW from the top of Craigieburn Ski Area.
Access is gained by skiing from the ski area down to Cass Saddle or by walking up the Cass River from Grasmere Station (a much longer option).

We skied up the ridge from Cass Saddle and as this was hard going in the new snow conditions, skied a short couloir into the drainage to the SW. From here it was a relatively easy ski up the SW face to the summit (part of ascent out of view). Another option would be to drop off this ridge early on and ski the whole way up this drainage.
There are various lines off the summit depending on conditions but here are ours.

Then it is a long ski up the sunny NW face back to Craigieburn and a cold beer in the bar.
The SW face of 1912 also has some great skiing as the video shows.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Couloir "A"

Otira Valley, Arthurs Pass (if anyone knows the real name please tell me)
Skied 19 October 2008, Duncan Sherratt and Tim Ensor.
"D" System Rating: D8, II, R2
This line is located on the west side of the valley and drops from the ridge between Mt Philistine and Mt Rolliston (approx halfway between points 1860m and 2000m). It is the wider of the two prominent couloirs marked in red on the map below.

The climb starts with an easy skin up the apron until the terrain pinches off. We encountered a rock band here which necessitated a bit of scrambling (this can be avoided by following the line of decent for the ascent or starting further skiers left and cutting into the couloir). Skis are then on the pack for the remainder of the ascent.
A nice pitch of around 42 degrees off the top mellows in the middle section and steepens again slightly where the terrain narrows. Exit either skiers left or right if the snow is too thin to ski the bottom rock band.
In true ski mountaineering style green for up, red for down. Alternate ascent/descent route on skiers left.
Duncan scrambling.

The descent. Ski tip for scale.

Getting Started

While on a recent ski tour Duncan Sherratt and I got talking and decided it might be a good idea to set up a blog where people skiing in Canterbury can post reports, and most importantly photos, of couloirs and peaks they have skied. This will then serve to inform others who wish to get out there and ski them and so act as an "unofficial guide".
I'm going to get started so let me know what you think.