Earning Turns in Middle Earth

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ANNABEL WILSON explores the magic of a powder day at Treble Cone, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand. There are many cliched phrases for days like these. One out of the box, bluebird, epic. This was one of those unforgettable powder days. Days when you wake up to find it has snowed overnight - there hasn't been any wind - and now your chosen mountain is loaded with lashings of downy powder, like sifted icing sugar. This was one of those days when everything just fell into place. It started when I picked up an old schoolmate and she'd made us espressos with proper frothy milk in traveller cups. Yus! We met two more friends at the bottom of the access road. Car banter revolved around our favourite lines and where we'd ski first. It all happened high in the Saddle Basin at Treble Cone above Lake Wanaka in the Southern Alps. Treble Cone is known for its next-level terrain. Wide bowls, rolling gullies and narrow chutes make for unlimited fun when there's been a fresh dump. Like the rest of TC's loyal snowriders, we were pumped. Shepherded to our preferred carpark (again - result!), we erupted from the Suburu, onto the lift and into the realm of the hyperreal.

The Walk Out of the Motatapu Chutes. PHOTO: onmag.co.nz

We charged the Indicator Chutes, Powder Bowl, Sundance. In the liftline, we bumped into friends we hadn't seen in years. We had muesli bars in our pockets and smiles on our faces. As we veered off the chair, local Conehead and Icebreaker rider Richie Johnston made the call "To the Chutes!"

Richie Johnston, TC snowrider

We got the drift and headed left through the gate into some of Middle Earth’s most mythical backcountry: Motatapu. Named for the ancient greenstone trail the Maori travelled between the Southern Lakes, it's out here you get a real sense you're skiing the Antipodes. A wide glade drops away into a series of flutes aptly named No Man's Land, The Diamond and Fickle Finger of Fear. These are steep, challenging lines surrounded by schist which snake down to the valley floor and alpine creek below. It's a boot pack or a skin out of there, but oh so worth it. We thought so, and so we did it again.

Once more we dropped in one by one into sheer, untracked bliss. Selected new slopes to slash and crevices to squeak through. Hoots of joy and camaraderie from our crew - old mates and new - echoed around the sacred valley. We were all stoked on the same thing: the mystique of a magic day. A fresh reminder that the best things in life are not things. Skiing the Southern Alps, Ka Tiritiri O Te Moana is like skiing on the edge of a dream and into a myth.

Skiing til sunset. PHOTO: Qfoto.com

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