International cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Every winter I look forward to the racing series at the Snow Farm. It’s fun being involved, and as the competitors are at the top of their game world-wide, it’s nothing short of amazing to be involved so closely. A few are friends even, as they are Snow Farm regulars. And then every second winter there is the Winter Games… well actually this year under the moniker of the Audi Quattro Winter Games NZ. A pretty big deal proceeding the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics happening Feb 7-23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

My favourite job is to arrive on site pre dawn, and help lay timing cables and place cameras and crowd fences…
Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

My trusty 4wd camper is still going strong and takes on the roll of “cafe Toyota” somedays…
Snow Farm road

You may wonder why below I’ve omitted last names: well a couple of winter’s ago I was approached by a European newspaper wanting an image, but thankfully I was able to find out it was part of a “smear” campaign so declined them. I could have done without the time it wasted, so I now take a low key approach!

When my job is done, and dawn has broken, I then enjoy photography [some images end up world wide via my good friend Alexei’s promotion on the Salomon FaceBook page so I have “purpose”]. Here my friend Andy is able to still stand after a sprint…
Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

The world’s fastest woman on x/c skis Justyna from Poland shows her style, and lead…
Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Brian on the left, whom I enjoy catching up with every winter [he once took valuable time out the evening before my first ever entry in the citizen race the local Merino Muster to coach me and help prepare my skis], is here neck-in-neck with Maciej from Poland, who eventually won. What was fascinating here is it was a classical race [not skating] and Brian was working with a new technique whereby he propelled himself 15 Km with his upper body, while on the theoretically superior glide capable skate skis. Maciej was using the classic kick wax under the middle part of his ski, so could “kick” to glide with each stride…
Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Sarah [NZ] and Snow Farm regular, when not racing all over the world, is about to be interviewed…
Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Justyna again well ahead of Daria from Canada…
Winter games Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Daria despite an exhausting race end to the sprint, checking me out!
Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Alexander, and another Russian come in with Canadian Devon, all striving to be the first foot through the lights…
Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Daria, Justyna and Anastasiya [Slovakia] on the podium…
Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Me, surrounded by lovely ladies Epp and Mary…
Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Wanaka’s Hair Fairy Rika…
Merino muster Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Good friend “Capt” Ron, gets close to Justyna for the start of the Merino Muster. Was he sacred he was asked, “Yes, I was worried I might stand on her ski!” Ron has since approached me for a copy of this image. Wonder if he’s got it autographed yet [footnote: in Europe these people are the equivalent of rock stars]…
Merino muster Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Epp, here to check out how we run races with a view to NZ hosting a race on the World Loppet circuit, got to to present flowers. It was pretty nice to meet her as we have a mutual friend Christina who once flatted with me for a winter..Winter games Cross country ski racing at the Snow Farm

Those who complete Worldloppet races in 10 different countries, at least one of which is from another continent, qualify as a Worldloppet Master. They qualify for Worldloppet Gold Master if they have completed 10 main races, or a Silver Master if they have competed 10 races where some or all of them are short races. By standing of May 2013 there are more than 3700 master titles issued so far.

Actual racing distances may vary from year to year according local snow conditions, but usually, there are different categories: full distance (at least 42 km, the length of a non-skiing marathon (26 miles)) and shorter ones for children and less experienced skiers. For Vasaloppet, the oldest of the races, the full distance is about 90 km (56 mi). Some races are freestyle (both skating and classic are allowed), but others only permit classic style. via Wikipedia

I’d been humming and ha’ing whether or not to enter the Muster again. It’s been awhile. Thankfully [yes I can say this now looking back from the other side of post race tiredness], Epp twisted my arm. And it was great – it took me back to racing with my son…
Donald and Dougal, Merino Muster

So two days prior to the race, during a rush of blood to the head I signed up to try another 21Km classical style. And like my friend Sarah’s wonderful achievement of 42 Km in what everyone described as “brutal” conditions, I’m chuffed that I finished, and I had a bit of puff left as well.

Thanks Sarah for your encouragement as you lapped me, Alexei for announcing with much encouragement each time I passed Go, and of course The Snow Farm for the organisation. And to Snow Farm founder Mary, especially in the old days for not only correctly predicting I’d become enamoured with “dancing” on light skis, but for giving my son the means to learn responsibility for self in the mountains. It went like this:

On my first Merino Muster we gave him the job of looking after me at the relevant drink station. On my typically late finishing, he ran to meet me and crossed the line with me. This was one of those special parenting moments!

The next year as per the photo we raced together. The next off he went to Aust. to race sans Donald.

And in between Capt. Ron encouraged him to work in ski hire as a volunteer, further giving meaning to his entry into the teens. Big thanks there too Ron, and as usual it was a joy to be on the same course as you again!

Such is my mind of-late, and my body seems happy too!

Btw there’s some amazing footage of the above Winter Games on the TV3 web site [friend Alexei announcing], about 10 mins into the doco >>

Bye bye for now…
Donald Lousley at Snow Farm

Moody lines

Snow Farm fencing, Pisa rambles, and rain at last

I had to go up to the Snow Farm yesterday [Sat] for a meeting or two, a barbecue and a working bee. It was great to be back in my winter wonderland!

Snow Farm NZ

After the barbecue [above] and meeting I decided I’d enjoy doing some physical work, which I plan to extend over the next few months, repairing snow retention and trail fences, so I made a start here…
Snow Farm NZ

I’ve long had a very simple winch, modeled on wire fence strainer, and found it really handy to pull poles leaning due to soil subsidence and snow build up. It’s a very simple device, employing a long handle for leverage and two ratchets…
Snow Farm NZ

There are a lot of fences to tidy…
Snow Farm NZ

In the evening I headed off in my 4wd camper to spend the night high up on terrain I often ski tour on each spring…
Snow Farm NZ

The same area as of Sept. last year…
Snow Farm NZ

Mt Aspiring, and the weather looking threatening…
Mt Aspiring from Snow Farm NZ

Very fragile alpine vegetation and soils higher up. There is only one track so the idea is to never deviate from it, as it’d take hundreds of years for such vegetation if damaged to regenerate…
Snow Farm NZ

Just on dark…
Snow Farm NZ

The lights on the right are of the Lake Hawea township, the glow on the left the light from the larger Wanaka community. I could also see the glows of Cromwell and Queenstown reflected off the bottom side of the thickening cloud ceiling…
Lights of Wanaka from Snow Farm NZ

Dawn, and more rain to follow the start of same at 2.30am…
End Peak from Snow Farm NZ

Snow Farm NZ

Gathering clouds on the background Pisa Range are a sure sign of weather closing in…
Cloud on the Pisa Range

Same spot as of last Sept…
Snow Farm NZ

Since it’s not rained for several weeks until now, the rain just beginning to fall again as I was leaving gave a rich colour tone to the “browned off” vegetation…
Alpine vegetation Snow Farm NZ

The bent steel of this fence is caused by snow buildup each winter, The fence was probably built in the 1930’s…
Snow Farm NZ fence line

The same fence line as of last Sept…
Snow Farm NZ fence line

It’s been a great summer for snow grasses…
Snow Farm NZ snow grass

Alpine Bog land…Snow Farm NZ alpine bog

The same spot as of last Sept…
Snow Farm NZ Tranquility

Snow Farm NZ alpine bogland

Although not obvious as I descend into the Cardrona Valley it’s been raining for about an hour. Love the light that this brings on…
Mt Cardrona from Snow Farm NZ

And I headed next to the Cardrona Hotel for a coffee and choc. muffin with cream by the fire. I was chilly and damp after my follies so it was nice to warm my knees, before heading off home to Wanaka. The guy who restored it many years ago suffers from migraines, and maybe this is why it’s dark inside…

Cardrona Hotel

And a few hours later it’s still raining! The drought, if such a thing ever exists in a Central Otago summer, would appear to be over.

Andrew Pohl – New Zealand Cross Country Skier

A great post by my Snow Farm friend Andy Pohl..

Dec 13th 2012: Nor-am 2 and World Cup 15km Mass Start

So a lot has happened in the week and a half since I last updated everyone. ¬†Firstly I travelled to Silverstar Mountain Resort in British Columbia, about 7hours away from my base in Canmore. ¬†Silverstar and its partner Sovereign lakes nordic center is an amazing place to ski. ¬†The share amount of well-groomed trails there never ceases to amaze me, and to top it off they get a ton of snow. ¬†I travelled there for two races the first being a 15km classic mass start. ¬†I was keen to do well in this race […]

More via: Andrew Pohl РNew Zealand Cross Country Skier.

Cross Country Skier Andy Pohl Tracking Well Ahead of World Cup » Snow Sports New Zealand

One of my Snow Farm nordic skiing friends is off to a good start this nth. hemisphere winter. That’s Andy on the right…
IMG 6196

New Zealand cross country athlete Andrew Pohl has enjoyed a positive start to his season, racing at the Haywood NorAm in Canmore, Canada last weekend.

Andy finished 40th in the men’s open field in Saturday’s skate sprint race and 12th in the 15km Classic Mass Start on Sunday.

more via >> Cross Country Skier Andy Pohl Tracking Well Ahead of World Cup » Snow Sports New Zealand.

Intuition, art, search and rescue, and my 4th attempt to ski tour Mt Pisa

Last week one of my readers noted I’d not done a philosophical post for awhile.

Well… a few things happened mid week that lend themselves to this topic!

Out of the blue I’ve been voted onto the committee of the Upper Clutha Community Arts Council – an elected voluntary organisation to promote and support the arts in the Upper Clutha region, including Wanaka. I’ve attended the one meeting so far, and it’s fun – we give away money!

This seemed to come about maybe because I’ve occasionally posted 2-3 photo images in FaceBook to gauge reactions, and Susan the chairperson, an old time local and friend noticed and probably recalled I had the odd photography exhibition many years ago in town here.

I love art because it engages our hearts often to balance out our intellect [ego] – both seem best held in a sort of tension. Awareness of this has a lot to offer a very troubled world.

Also mid week I attended yet another Wanaka Search and Rescue training evening. I’m rather chuffed to be part of this wonderful group, not because it seems now locally to be regarded as elite, but for other more humanitarian reasons. Somewhere along the path of life I’ve learnt useful skills that can be used in ways never intended at the time!

In a way both disciplines give us avenues of enlightenment that can, it’s said, be gained most effectively by being in the service of others. The Dalai Lama for one preaches this consistently.

What’s interesting for discussion here is I’d not actively sought inclusion in either of these groups! So it’s struck me yet again that often the best and most interesting progress in life does not come from thinking, but more from a heartfelt awareness.

We can only ever be aware of the magic of this, because the moment we think about it we bring the formless into form. Form by it’s very nature is transitory, temporary and has a nature akin to illusion.

When we can observe the constant stream of events, situations, emotions, desires, ambitions, fears, drama, which all come pretending to be important into our brains daily, then be it even if we can notice the gaps, our lives can change to a more healthy state.

We can then be the dreamer observing the dream that contains events we look back on often asking “were they ever real?”

Mountaineer and author Aat Vervoorn sums it up in one way I can relate to:

Daoist concept of non action: Do nothing and there is nothing that is not done by Laozi. He means that if we come with fixed ideas and preconceptions, and try to impose our will on events, we are likely to fail. Action succeeds when it is, in a sense, non-action, when our acts are entirely in accord with the disposition of things, so that it’s as if our desired outcomes just happen by themselves. Successful action depends on correctly perceiving the innate tendency of situations (what does ‘the innate tendency of situations’ mean?) and understanding the importance of timing. This requires full alertness to what is going on around us and within

Mountain Solitudes by Aat Vervoorn

In the ’70′s a few of us pioneered [maybe?] a new route, the Hoophorn Ridge on Mt Sealy in the Mount Cook National Park.

When we’re sick, or getting very fatigued as in mountaineering, as we were as we probed this presumably unknown terrain, often our egos disengage. This opens up our intuition, or as I’m learning these days our hearts – the part of us it pays to listen too!

We’d been climbing on delightfully firm and warm rock [see image below] in the left background gully I’m traversing out of towards the photographer, when for no particular reason we decided it might be better to be on a more defined ridge behind him.

Upon my completion of the traverse a wet snow avalanche came down the whole gully – side to side. Such avalanches are slow on moderate snow fields, but in this environment it came [and went] like an express train. Had we not exited/crossed when we did, I’d not be writing this now!

Moral of the story: follow our hearts – listen to that awareness of awareness itself! Don’t try to understand it and give it form – just trust, follow and be grateful. God has a hand in it!

When I look back on this incident, and a few others like it, I always realise the intuition, the action or spontaneity came from a part of me, my core, that can’t be reached by my mind. It’s an uncanny realisation that leads to thinking that they come through us!

Please follow the story next by clicking on the first image…

Through nonresistance to form, that in you which is beyond form emerges as an all-encompassing Presence, a silent power far greater than your short-lived form identity, the person. It is more deeply who you are than anything in the world of form.

Eckhart Tolle ~ A New Earth

Third attempt to ski tour Mt Pisa, Central Otago, NZ

Why Mt Pisa? Well I’ve been up to it’s gentle summit a few times either walking or by 4wd, but I’ve never skied it before, and now I want to, and do it alone! The landscape is immense, and I want to feel how small I am in it and to be overwhelmed [well not too much!] and humbled by the experience. Being alone means maximum uptake of what is going on in the moment, and actually a trip like this demands being in the present, and being at one with it all, including one’s self!

As I close writing this post, the weather forecast for the next two days includes snow down to 300 meters! It looks like I’ll have another several weeks yet of ski touring opportunities on the Pisa range.

A duck on a ledge, “oh Kirsty how you made me Burn” and half a toilet stop

This winter has been, and currently still is, an amazing one for me. So many exciting changes: “full on” yoga of a style known as Anusara [opening of the heart], fitter than I’ve been for years, and my love of cross country skiing blossoming, especially thanks to some new gear that allows me to enjoy marginal snow conditions rather than survive them, notably Salomon skis I was introduced to by the welcome annual visit of my friend Alexei to our local Snow Farm, where he runs coaching clinics.

So as spring time takes hold, with all it‚Äôs usual vagaries of weather the longer daylight hours lend themselves to longer ski tours of several hours duration into the ‚Äúreal‚Äù mountains, where I like being forced to take responsibility for my own [usually solo] follies. Click on the first thumbnail below for a slide show of last Sunday’s “big burn” attempt to ski Mt Pisa‚Ķ

For those of you interested the skis are 185 cm Salomon Hadu models. They have metal edges and fish scales for grip, and along with Salomon’s heavier cross country ski boots with the wider binding fitting and a climbing/tramping tread, make for an amazingly effective and light combo for New Zealand snow conditions.

Best fun I’ve had for years on them!

Back to Bob Lee hut for an overnighter

Recently I’ve been posting a few photos of the odd nocturnal visit to Bob Lee hut on the Pisa Range near Wanaka, and part of The Snow Farm’s cross country ski area.

The down side of this is that I’m never there for the breaking of dawn! And it’s a spot that photographically has much to offer at either end of the day.

So yesterday afternoon two of us headed off [plus dog] into some pretty bad weather on a photo gathering sortie…
Snow Farm

Previous hut users left a cheerful decor…
Snow Farm's Bob Lee hut

Snow continued to fall well into night time…
Snow Farm's Bob Lee hut

The wind sighed and the snow continued all night, and the hut’s log burner highlighted the specialness of mountain huts…
Snow Farm's Bob Lee hut

There were a few minor wind shifts all night, and it got colder, with a biting wind. This is what we woke up to at dawn – we’d scurry out and click the shutter a few times, then head back in for a warm up…
Criffel Range from the Pisa Range, Central Otago, NZ

We got a few competent images, but for me it highlighted my need to live on the wild side more often! Not quite the wild side sought by many, but more one where the elements remind me that we’re fragile human beings, and that the basics of life are things to be grateful for.