What has been happening
This newsletter has been a long time in the making. The recent lockdown has put me in procrastination mode where it is difficult to make plans and set direction when you don’t know when you can adventure into the wild.
Before lock down a couple of groups made it along the traverse starting at Treble Cone and exiting at Vanguard Peak. Both parties were absolutely fizzing and as I explain below in “adventurer or skier” the joy comes more from being in the mountains and pushing into the unknown than the perfect ski conditions.
I also had a small adventure where I biked up the Arrow from home with skis on my back, unfortunately (or maybe stupidly) I left at 3pm so it got dark a bit past Macetown and I spent the next 5 hours navigating by torch light to Saint Just Turk (difficult to find in the dark). The next day I skied to Mt Hyde Turk for breakfast then returned to Saint Just for lunch having scoped the ideal route. On the way home it got dark again and I discovered that a mountain bike, dim torch, flooded river and skis on your back make for a difficult and exciting experience.
I did also venture to the top of Sale peak at level 3 as an “extended walk”. The snow level is at 1300 metres with spring corn conditions.
Booking process / Refunds / Next year’s booking process
How to manage the booking process on the Mahu Whenua Traverse was always going to be an experiment and a work in progress. There are some things that have worked well such as making bookings span a week so people can choose the best weather window. One of the things I didn’t foresee is that about 50% of the bookings were by people who booked and joined at the same time. Having new members isn’t entirely bad but when their booking displaces existing members who have put in a lot of money and effort getting the project off the ground it is a problem. Next year the booking process will be much more structured, and you will need to be a member at the time of booking.
The price for these new members was $300 (minimum) to join the club and $100 for the Turk nights for the traverse. As one person pointed out the total price is cheaper than a flight to Tasman Saddle, which brings me to refunds of which there are three causes: lack of snow, the weather and Covid.
Covid is simple, yes a refund applies. The other two are not so simple and before winter the committee discussed framing it that if the ski areas were open and the avalanche risk was below ‘considerable’ there was no refund.
Prior to Covid, one party cancelled because of lack of snow but if you look at the video linked below there was plenty for a good time – not the perfect winter but when is anything perfect. Weather is similar, it is a combination of skill and judgement. When Covid lockdown started, the weather looked terrible on Metvuw.com and both parties cancelled but as it turns out 4 of the 7 days were good for travel (as per photo above), and the new snow was quite stable. If you started on Sunday then endured a two day storm you would have been skiing powder while the rest of the country was in lockdown!
My concern with this is that people who do not have the judgement to do the traverse are displacing people who do. When they cancel, turks are empty and people have missed out. In addition, some of the new members mentioned above have asked whether they can get their full $400 back – the answer is no, you can’t un-join the club.
The club would rather people re-book next year. We will refund the $100 but we ask that such people give others first go next year. Also, please remember this is a club and not a business, it is about what you contribute.
Also, several people have donated the $100 to the club. This is much appreciated and will go to a good cause.
Over the winter we’ve had weekly booking slots – these revert to normal nightly bookings per turk as of 15th September. We’re contemplating making more use of weekly booking slots over the summer as well, as it provides flexibility to work around weather for those who want to complete the whole traverse. However it also then makes it difficult to plan shorter overnight/weekend trips. We may end up alternating these two models – there’s further discussion to be had and we’ll keep you informed.
For those that were booked in over lockdown and missed their slot, I’ll be organising a meeting to discuss rescheduling for anyone that is keen to try and fit their trip in this winter/spring.