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Issue 37 - 10 August 2009
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ISSUE 38            MONDAY 10 AUGUST 2009...

Welcome to the latest edition of the SMC/Manganui e-newsletter.

Firstly, apologies for the late issue; some computer problems with our website provider have delayed this issue.

With a top tow cover that is excellent at present, even after last weeks rain, we have been operating merrily for those of you who can make it up to our slopes.

No fighting the masses on our Top Tow here!

We have been teased of late, with snowfalls not amounting to enough to be able to operate our lower mountain. So far the best T-bar coverage we have had was that mid-May snow we got - seems a long time ago now.

Keep hoping for decent snow and hopefully our lower mountain will swing back into action, and we can host the Primary & Secondary Schools champs as well!

The NZ Mountain Film Festival is coming around fast, this week in fact, and films showcased promise to be great viewing. This weeks Feature Article details all the films on show.
Looks to be some great viewing - can't wait!

Please do your best to support this local event; if it breaks even, we can do it again. If we take a hit, then its gone!

With 2 recent avalanche fatalities in NZ over the last 2 weeks, backcountry and lift accessed backcountry ('slackcountry') is in the limelight. Both deaths were avoidable and unfortunate waste of lives. They highlight the dangers of backcountry travel, even to the experienced.
We here do our best to educate the public on the daily hazards on our mountain. With our walk-in access crossing a prominent avalanche path, we monitor and advise for our users and the public at large.

See below for a recent backcountry avalanche advisory. Updated daily, this advisory gives information on weather, snowpack, and travel recommendations, for those venturing away from our ski area boundary.

Our feature article this issue is on Club Fields, from Freelance Journalist Ady Shannon. Her article ran in 21 July edition of The Dominion Post. Manganui Features in this article.

In this issue...


Get all your winter gear here.
New season Icebreaker now in store!

Kiwi Outdoors Centre
18 Ariki Street,  New Plymouth
Phone and Fax (06) 7584152

4 Mustang Dve Bell Block
New Plymouth
phone and fax (06)755 0005


GOINGS ON’ Around the Manganui Ski Area

Safety Services Coordinator's Report

It was great to see the snow that came for the school holidays early in July, and lots of people enjoying the lower mountain.  Alas, the rain has washed most all of the lower mountain snow away now, but the skiing on the Top Tow has been great.  We are still hoping for a big dump on the mountain in order to get the T-bar going again.
We have had some good skiing up high and a fair amount of snow has fallen in the month of July.  A couple of storm events have kept us busy de riming the Top Tow and some mild avalanche control has been required on some of our steeper slopes to open the Top Tow as well.  The backcountry has gone through a couple of moderate natural avalanche cycles as elevations from 1400m and above have been getting a fair amount of snow and wind out of our storms.  Overall our inbounds snowpack is stable and the only concerns are for any newly fallen snow.

There are some new signs in place out on the mountain marking the ski area boundaries, emergency stops on lifts, and cliff areas.  There is also a summary sheet describing Manganui Backcountry Access that has been posted in the locker room, and in the Top Tow shed.  If you would like a copy of this sheet please let me know.
I have been in contact with all three of the Ruapehu ski patrols and it sounds like some of those folks are keen to come check out Manganui.  The new avalanche transceivers have arrived and I will be setting up daily practice searches at the Top Tow shed if anyone is interested in practicing with an avalanche transceiver. 

It's been a good month overall, and heading into August the prospects for more snow look pretty good too.  Keep your fingers crossed and I'll see you on the mountain.

Brad Carpenter

Snowboarding, Manganui Top Tow Saturday 25 July

check out the video posted on YouTube by some keen local Snowboarders...

Bits & Bobs...

There's been plenty happening on the hill of late...

  • We are expecting a visit from Grant Horner of Dopplemar along with owners from Roundhill ski area, who are interested in looking at our top tow lift
  • We have installed a new fan in the Drying Room
  • We have replaced the ageing(20yrs) base radio sets
  • We have installed a new base radio set in the t-bar shed
  • We have now replaced our hand held radios with 10 new
  • We have received 4 new avalanche transcievers for staff and volunteer staff use
  • We are expecting the new top tow rope any day now; the old one is hanging on by a thread (not that bad, but deteriorating rapidly)
  • We have replaced the double matresses in the Lodge
  • Our new buildings maintenance scaffolding is now on the hill

Remember that you can now access the reports on the go - just punch in on any WAP capable handset and access both the cameras and full reports on your mobile.


The SMC Junior Ski Racing and Training Team's objective is to develop ski racers' skills and promote the fun of skiing through training and competition.

The SMC Junior Ski Racing and Training Team's programmes are designed to be adaptable to suit the needs of the athletes. Programmes are organized into categories based primarily on age classifications.

Christina Binsbergen the SMC coach, advises that conditions and snow permitting in the weekends, she will be keen to undertake some race training for those interested.

We'll keep the website and snow report updated if there is to be an upcoming coaching session. All SMC junior skiers are welcome!

We are still waiting for the snow for these below events! We are all set to go, so hopefully will happen soon...

The Taranaki Secondary Schools Ski/Board Champs
1st available ski day after the July school holidays.

The Secondary schools hold their Championships on the first suitable day of next term and the Primary and Intermediate schools follow on the next suitable day. The event is held at the Manganui Ski area on Mt Taranaki a suitable day means adequate snow cover and fair weather.
The SMC racing & training coordinator Clive Saleman will attend to set the race course, and we will have Safety Services on hand for any first aid requirements.

Please feel free to contact Clive Saleman, Stratford Mountain Club Racing Coordinator 0272906636,

Also contact  Mr. Richard (Titch) Turner at NPBHS for further details.

SMC will provide ONE complimentary (free) lift ticket voucher for each team manager from each school …on application to the race coordinator.
SMC will provide COMPETITORS lift tickets at members rate ($15), providing that each school get their manager to buy all competitors lift  tickets (ie organize total payment for all their schools competitors).

The Taranaki Primary&Intermediate Schools Ski Champs
Manganui Ski Area, 2nd available ski day after the July school holidays.

Over the last several years the Taranaki Primary and Intermediate Schools Skiing Champs have been coordinated by Philli Butt of Oakura School The Coordinator this year is yet to be announced.
The Secondary schools hold their Championships on the first suitable day of next term and the Primary and Intermediate schools follow on the next suitable day. The event is held at the Manganui Ski area on Mt Taranaki a suitable day means adequate snow cover and fair weather.

Bring your lunch - pies and snack food and drinks are available on the mountain. This event is all about participation - register with your school, turn up and you will be given a start!

I will be attending the event as per the last several years with radios, stopwatches, and computer and printer to record the results.

I will attend to set the race course, and we will have Safety Services on hand for any first aid requirements.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries.
Regards, Clive Saleman, Stratford Mountain Club Racing Coordinator 0272906636

SMC will provide ONE complimentary (free) lift ticket voucher for each team manager from each school …on application to the race coordinator.
SMC will provide COMPETITORS lift tickets at members rates ($15), providing that each school get their manager to buy all competitors lift  tickets (ie organize total payment for all their school competitors).
SMC lodge will be available to teachers, parents and kids attending the primaries.



Welcome to the August email president report, with a feel of spring in the air.
The T-bar has been marginal over the past two weeks, but it only requires a small dump of snow to get things going again. We are fingers crossed for this, as the Cub is keen to host both the secondary and primary school racing events. Clive is also keen to run some additional events to cater for the gathering interest of border cross and terrain park competition for the younger riders. Stay in close touch with the schools as these events have to be run within a days notice. That is, if there is snow on the tee bar and the following day is reasonable it will run.

To date the T-bar has run 27 days and the top tow 30 plus.

The top tow has over three meters of cover on the lift line so it is stacking up to what will be a great spring.
Just a warning though snow conditions can and do change rapidly so pay attention to signs and if in doubt ask our full time operational staff for advice on the current or potential conditions.
 So why drive four hours, battle for a car park (you have to be on the mountain road before 7.30 to get any where near the lifts) queue for twenty minutes with the other ten thousand before you can get a run, and come back home with a empty wallet!

We are in the process of getting some procedures in place to advise people of top tow conditions and amenities available so spring can be enjoyed by all. But in the mean time please advise people to bring cash to purchase day lift passes, snack food and drink. There are a small number of top tow belts available for hire, a micro wave and hot drinks available in the top tow shed.

We have a new top tow rope on order, should arrive within the next two weeks. We have trialed an extension to the top tow which takes us up close to the Policeman Rocks and opens up numerous new runs, so come on up and enjoy some fantastic runs on the classiest rope tow in N.Z. Roomer  has it that a major ski lift company wants to pay a visit to check us and the lift out.
I have just come back from our monthly Stratford Mountain Cub committee meeting and pleased to report that the club is in good spirit and that it has some money in the bank. Many thanks to Chris for his continued guidance and support.

So till next time, stay healthy think snow and see you on the big hill.
All the best and good luck to Mano who heads down to Palmerston North this Sunday. We will be thinking of you.


Kevin Rowlands.


The SMC committee has a number of projects on the go.
These include…

  • Warwick Brown building upgrade - DoC consent, support letters and funding applications
  • Social Event - NZ Mountain Film Festival (formerly Wanaka Fim Festival) involvement GET THERE!!! 
  • Top Tow replacement (new rope delivery is imminent)
  • Top Tow maintanance - new return & night pulleys manufacture
  • Coffee Machine for Ticket Office/Canteen investigation


B Tech 70 was $690.00 now $518.00   28.5/29 sizes

B Tech 100 was $845.00 now  $633.00     28/29.5  sizes

B Tech 120 was $899.00
now   $675.00     27/27.5 sizes

Womens B 70 was $590.00
now   $450.00     26.5/25.5 sizes

Womens Hawk 80  was  $849.00 now   $636.00     26.5 sizes

Backcountry Avalanche Advisory for Taranaki
Synopsis for week ending 4 August 2009
Sadly for the second week in a row an avalanche fatality has made headline news. Even after 12 days of being on a HIGH avalanche Danger a casual backcountry user was ill equipped to leave the ski area boundary and paid with his life.
The snowboarder, accessing the backcountry from a Queenstown skifield, had no backcountry safety equipment with him when he entered onto a steep SW aspect, triggering a large slab avalanche. He was buried deep in a terrain trap. By having no means of self rescue within that party (no shovel, probe or transceiver), the long delay in raising the alarm for professional outside rescue diminished any hope of finding him alive.
Most people casually access the backcountry through ski areas. Often they have no safety equipment and think that because of their proximity to the Ski Field they are somehow safe. This is wrong!  The moment you set foot over the ski area boundary you are on your own, and you need to be prepared and equipped for the dangers you may encounter. One of these is the Avalanche danger... The backcountry snow pack is uncontrolled meaning it has not had explosive charges used to bring down avalanches before you go out there. Weak layers within the snow pack can persist for many weeks, and can remain sensitive enough to release under the weight of one person.
You are just as likely to get caught in an avalanche 10 meters from the ski area boundary as you are being deep in the Southern Alps. It is all uncontrolled.
Please read and follow the recommendations made in our advisories. Currently the Danger is very real and widespread across many regions. Help us by getting the message out to those that may consider going into the backcountry when the region has a HIGH Danger.
Pay close attention to our daily advisories, and seek local advice from Ski Patrols, and Guiding Companies before heading out.

Gordon Smith

Taranaki Region
06 August 2009
A mix of fine and cloudy conditions today with some light showers expected and moderate west winds. The freezing level will rise to 2200 by evening.

Variable surface conditions exist on the mountain today. Most catchment areas lee to the south and west have been filled in with recent wind activity. Some ridgelines have developed large overhanging cornices. Highpoints generally are scoured back to very firm and icy conditions, as are any exposed faces. Below all of this, our snowpack is a very consistent layering of ice crusts, and well settled and well drained snow.

No avalanches observed in 24 hours

Safe travel will depend upon terrain choices today. Watch for scoured off icy areas that exist throughout a variety of aspects and elevations. Avoid any heavily loaded areas lee to the south and west today. Be aware that some ridges have developed large cornices which it is best to avoid today as well. Crampons and an ice axe are advised anywhere above 1200m.

The Danger Rating is at MODERATE.

At Manganui Ski Area we have access to the backcountry. Deemed 'lift accessed backcountry', the area South of the Top Tow, 'the Manganui' as it is known, is a backcountry area. If you are venturing into this area we strongly advise you; first check with Ski Patrol or the Lift Operator on the day, to gain knowledge on the conditions in this area; don't go it alone; and that you carry the equipment you see below + crampons and ice axe, know how to use it.
 It is a mighty dangerous area for the unfamiliar, with bluffs below; please excercise caution in this area.

Standard backcountry hardware...

...and know how to use them!

It should not be thought, however, that these 3 key things give protection against all risks; they do not encourage liberties to be taken with avalanches!

The best mindset to have is that you are never in a situation that you have to use them. Moving in avalanche terrain is serious business - as the recent 2 fatalaties in the south island show.

At Mt. Taranaki 'slide for life' conditions abound regularly, so Ice Axe and Crampons are a must!





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phone: 06 758 1757 
Hours  ( Mon - Fri ) 9.30 -5.00
             ( Sat )         9.30 - 3.00


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& Atomic Skis and Boots





Next week is the Mtn Festival, and tickets are now on sale at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery in town for this venue, and Butlers Reef Tavern in Oakura for the Hall.


We have 13 movies in all including the  3 festival Prizewinners Lost Tower, Acopan Tepui and No need for Parking.  These are split over the two nights, so If you would like to see them all, grab a $25 double pass, if you only have time for one, choose your night for $15.  Beware that seating at the Govett Brewster in town sells out rapidly as they only have room for 100 (50 couples) and we have sold out on a number of occasions since screening there from April thru July.  Oakura Hall has room for 200 - punters are advised to bring a blanket and/or cushion!








Feature Article


Skiing at New Zealand’s unique club fields is a growing business,  keen clubber Ady Shannon discovers.

Ski and alpine clubs have been around for a long time.

Established by hardy and tenacious individuals who shared a love of the mountains and a keen sense of pioneering spirit, many of those early alpine clubs have grown and evolved to own and operate on-field accommodation lodges. And some clubs manage a skifield operation as well as accommodation.
In exchange for their input, club members receive discounted accommodation rates, reduced or free ski passes and the companionship of others who share a common interest. But it is not only members who are drawn to ski the club fields; challenging terrain, amazing powder runs, uncrowded slopes and lift rates as much as half those of commercial fields are just some of the perks offered by the club fields.

Club fields are a special New Zealand phenomenon. There are more club fields in the South Island than the North, but many people belong to ski clubs that exist alongside commercial fields: on Mt Ruapehu, 47 lodges are owned and operated by alpine clubs.
Most offer shared facilities, congenial communal living and a relaxed and rustic atmosphere, and there is an expectation that guests will contribute to their keep. The skifields have a rare novelty value and appeal. Although day trippers do not have to volunteer to help out, the atmosphere is as laid-back and inclusive as in the lodges.

In the North Island, some ski clubs are enjoying growing memberships.
Clare Nixon, president of Aorangi Ski and Board Club, suggests the self-help lodge atmosphere is part of the appeal. Aorangi Club owns three lodges at Tukino, Ohakune and Iwikau and its members contribute to operations at Tukino club field, a small field accessed from the Desert Road. "A big day at Tukino is when you don't know the names of everybody on the field," laughs Nixon.
Aorangi started in Wellington but its 600-plus members come from all over the North Island.
"At the moment we have lots of families. They are attracted by the atmosphere. Kids ski in a flock; parents get the extra freedom and the kids learn to be more self-reliant. There are DVDs and laptops but generally no TV, so kids play board games and cards, while parents talk. It's a healthy atmosphere."

It was early May when Jenni and Brooke Fletcher headed up to Manganui Ski Area laden with supplies and gear in preparation for the opening of the field on May 12. Jenni makes soup, staffs the canteen, sells passes and does ski patrol.
Brooke spends his time outdoors, getting the tows running, mending broken equipment, operating the groomer and troubleshooting. In between, if time permits, they ski. Jenni puts a sign on the canteen: "Come Back Later; I've Gone Skiing".
The Fletchers joined Stratford Mountain Club in 1990. Living in Taranaki with three young children, they were attracted by the Manganui Ski Area on the flanks of Mt Taranaki, owned and managed by the club. Twenty years on, the Fletchers are still heavily committed.

My first experience of skiing a club field was at Mt Olympus almost 20 years ago. I had heard about the benefits of ski club membership and the appeal of club fields: friendships forged in the lodge and on the snow, the challenge of hard-out days skiing untracked powder, and the relaxed ambience of the on-field lodge where snow enthusiasts come together to board, ski and party in amazing alpine environments.
As a novice skier, I was keen for a week in the mountains but less enthusiastic about the prospect of using rope tows and the ubiquitous nutcracker. Access was a ride up a gnarly goat track, several of us "ski weekers" wedged into the back of a Land Rover. I was given a leather glove protector, a device for flipping over the rope and gripping (a nutcracker) and pointed towards a rope tow that snaked up a slope towards the lodge on a ridge. I was advised to "hold tight, keep your skis straight and maintain a line close to the natural run of the rope". Stay close, heck. I sideswiped every steel pulley and got blue bruises on my hip that took weeks to fade.
Our all-inclusive package included full board, tow fees and daily lessons. For seven days we skied perfect powder and at night after dinner, those too tired to party retired while in the lounge, cards, board games and dice were rolled out.
Like all clubs, Mt Olympus has survived dismal seasons and financial highs and lows. The club now has about 450 members and club captain Thomas Stephens says work parties this year have been well supported.

In a commercial world, poor seasons can ruin a skifield operator, yet ski clubs have weathered storms, avalanches, lodge fires and too much and too little snow, and continue to operate. Revenue from daytrippers makes a contribution to the bottom line, but ski clubs depend on their members to do much of the spadework involved in their upkeep and survival. Given the choice of leisure activities these days and the demands on time, ski clubs are having to endure more than adverse effects of nature to survive.
Club stalwart Anton Coberger says it is increasingly difficult to find people with the skills and practical knowledge to volunteer their time but "maintaining a stream of capable volunteers" will alleviate what he considers to be the biggest threat to the survival of club fields. Coberger's daughter, Annelise, was the first person from the southern hemisphere to win a medal at the Winter Olympics - a silver in slalom at Albertville, France, in 1992. He has skied all over the world and rates New Zealand's club fields as "unique in the whole world of skiing".
"They exist in a parallel universe. Cost is not the only reason people belong; savings compensate for the extra time, effort and energy to get there. It's a rather Kiwi ethos; practical people using skills to maintain their skifields."
A good season helps ease the financial pressure on clubs' resources and allows for redevelopment and capital expenditure, but member numbers do not appear to be adversely affected by poor snow conditions. Member loyalty transcends fickle weather patterns.

Nick Jarman has overseen the operation at Craigieburn Valley for more than 20 seasons and believes a change in the way people manage their time has affected club numbers.
"Time is precious and people's ability to put aside time for recreational pursuits has diminished. They are more picky now. Information is readily available; they get up, trawl the internet and make a decision based on different mediums. They want to make sure they enjoy their recreation time."
Like Coberger, Jarman has a sneaking suspicion that a lack of Kiwi ingenuity and know-how could be the biggest threat to ski clubs. "If I need help with my computer, nine out of 10 people offer to help me. But if I say 'here's a post rammer, I need help', people just look at me."
Regardless of the motivation - a love of deep untracked powder, an aversion to crowds or a desire for new adventure or a recession-proof winter option - club fields offer a cheap and very cheerful high- altitude experience. And given the commitment of members, it seems likely the club culture will continue to thrive in the lodges and snow-filled basins of New Zealand's high country.


Stuart Waddel is adamant there is a great future for ski clubs and especially club fields,  and he is staking his livelihood on it. Waddel is co-founder and owner of Chill, a business  selling multimountain passes to many of the South Island's ski areas.
"Club fields are all  about experiencing something alternative and new; they are more about finding a lifestyle  and enjoyment of outdoors rather than just saving money."
In 1998 when Chill was launched, four of the five mountains on the pass were club fields.  This year the pass includes 12 fields, seven of them owned and operated by clubs. Waddel's  concept has had a significant impact on patronage of club fields and, in many cases,  generated new memberships.
"Lots of people have purchased Chill passes, found they like  to ski the club fields, and have then chosen to join. Club fields break down barriers. The  terrain and enthusiasm is inclusive, not exclusive."

* The writer is a member of Porter Heights Ski Club and is still working on her skiing technique...she continues to us below...

"The life and times for a freelance writer are as unpredictable and fickle as the weather.   
My ski season has been tinged by 'grey' this year and all entirely unrelated to the weather and snow conditions. Thursday 16th July whizzing down the powder slopes @ Porters, I hit unexpected moguls @ high speed.  All ended in tears when I dropped a ski, flipped head over heels and landed heavily on my shoulder many metres down the moutain side.  Clearly not as competent or as clever as I thought and am now nursing a fractured shoulder and likely to spend rest of the season keeping a seat warm in the cafe.  Buggar.  But a small ray of sunshine on the horizon with this story in print."

By Ady Shannon - The Dominion Post

If you would like to post a classified advert (buy/sell gear etc), please post it on the SMC  'Garage Sale' page of our website.

We now have a link from the Taranaki Daily News online website homepage direct to our Manganui Ski Area snow report/webcam page.
Thanks to


pic thanks Mike & Sarah

See you on the snow in August!
SMC Management
© copyright 2009 - Stratford Mountain Club