Mount Cheeseman is a club snowfield in New Zealand's South Island, near the town of Springfield, about an hour and a half from Christchurch. Situated in a south-east-facing basin, it features two T-bar lifts and one learner tow. Wikipedia
My workmate Steve agreed - tomorrow was the day, with a good possibility for some untracked stashes.
By 8.45am we were at Texas flat, an area where you can chain up at before getting into the steeper, shaded, icy sections of the 11km club road. Using chains is a good idea at this time of year, as what is easy going up can moisten, then snap freeze if the temperature drops. Chains offer safety and control, and minimise anxiety.
10 minutes or so later we arrived at the car park.
The snow was packed powder on the groomed runs, and chopped powder on all the ungroomed. Skiing was excellent although runs are quite short.
After a few circuits we decided we needed to make new tracks somewhere. There were no untracked areas on the main basin unless you went low then trekked out so that is what we did.
You can see our rabbit tracks coming out from where we skied to
Here's the close up about the middle of our untracked run. The powder was light. The area is directly under the run called far out (far right as you view the trail map)
And here is the car park, where we end up after traversing and climbing for about 15-20 minutes. Steve, on the left, is wearing the skis with Scotty behind him. The day lodge is above to the left, and the accomodation (Snowline) lodge is behind that.
Here I am with Steve
After we made several passes in this area it was time for lunch, then Scotty decided to visit Tarn basin, which is the large unpatrolled area on the left as you view the trail map. Note the actual Mt Cheeseman is above Tarn Basin, and the actual skifield is under Mt Cockayne, just to confuse us all.
While Scotty went bush, Steve and I messed around on the main field for a few post lunch runs, then traversed out to Sunny Face, where we went low again, down to the access road
This run was very nice with a change to a gentle grade as the snow got just a bit heavier. Me again on the left, and on the right, Steve wants to give up engineering and market skis. Note the Snowline Lodge building up at top right. From here it is a pleasant 10 minute walk back to the lifts.
Scotty reported back that the Tarn mission was an abject failure, with ordinary snow, impossible skinning conditions, and a gruelling steep climb out in too light powder.
Did I mention the Thursday crowds? Count the cars, and also you can see some of the mountain area
It's hard to say exactly what makes a great ski day, but this was one of my better days for sure. Probably the relaxed environment we found ourselves in, along with the pleasure of skiing some untracked powder, and a nice feeling that we sort of earned our fun. Add to that the blue sky and scenery and we have a complete package.
Anyway, thanks for a great day guys