I’ve driven through Kiakoura so much but have never really spent any time there. Such a cool part of the drive south, along the rocky shoreline. We went there to film Blake Thornton surfing for the second episode of Diaries Down Under, its the middle of winter and I wasn’t really that excited about surfing that icey water. That view changed pretty quick after I saw the setup, a right hand point, waves quite small but it looked super fun. I managed to borrow some gear and get out there. We had a fire on the beach and there was a guy there pulling in Kahawai that were schooling just meters off the shore, seals hanging out, a few dolphins out there, so so epic!! We hung out till dark then came back first thing in the morning and done it all again before we had to nos off to Christchurch to catch a plane. Kiakoura I will be back!
The last and only time I’ve been to Mount Cheeseman I landed on a bunch of rocks got a swellbow and jacked back. However I was stoked to get back there and the snow and weather was looking pretty good. We went to film for the second episode of Diaries Down Under. These trips are always awesome because usually we a checking out stuff we don't do much or haven't done and because of the good crew of mates thats always on them. This trip we had ozzie surfer Blake Thornton joining us and also my old man came along as I have a clubby mission planned with him after this one. Cheeseman stepped up the first couple of days and we got to hike our asses off and ride some good stuff. A couple of lines and a few pat downs and cliffs, so fun! We stayed at the lodge on the mountain, its cool being up there at night and there also seemed to be a lot going on mostly down at the ice skating rink. Local ice hockey teams played the first night, so we went down and had a go at slipping round. The second night there was some curling meet which was real funny. A lot of drunk old guys heckling each other. There was actually a fight to, ol Jerry got knocked out, pre serious for curling. Super good couple of days all up, shout out to the Cheeseman crew for having us up there!
Went for a hike up single cone with Mahi Manes filming for the first episode of Diaries down under. I’ve never been up there so it was cool to finally go for a closer look. I have always looked at the lines though the cliffs on the lookers left so was hoping they would turn out good. As we hiked up another shute came into view that looked quite good, long, narrow and steep, on the right, next to and above a bunch of big cliffs. Decided to try go with that so Mahi and I started the hike. Turned out to be quite a long hike and steeper than I thought, the top was pretty steep and scary, hiking over ice and rock over cliffs and along the ridge above Lake Alta. Wished I stayed in bed that morning for a while. The view of remarks and looking out to double cone and the weather station was pretty impressive. The run was pretty good, long and fast. It was a bit of a relief to get to the bottom in the end. Looking forward to going back out there, some amazing lines to be had!
For about the first time ever I have arrived in Queenstown when there is good snow at the start of the season. Everyone is amped thinking its going to be the best snow year ever so hopefully it will be. With so much snow around and the snow so low we were lucky enough to go heli to film for the first episode of Diaries Down Under. This has never happened before, usually we stumble around a thin amount of snow, breaking through to rock, tussock and those little stabby flax's trying to find areas to hack a turn or whatever. The heli trip all came together last minute. The thought was to try and ride the backside of Cecil Peak, which is the mountain directly across the lake from Queenstown with the rock table jutting out of it. Cecil Peak is quite low and doesn't really have snow most of the time so there are not many opportunities to ride it. After a fly around Cecil with Helitours to check the amount of snow and the quality it was on. The heli day was a super nice cold day -8 at the airport where we flew from. It turned out to be real good fun terrain and the snow was as good as it gets in NZ. We did a few lines and hiked a couple of features. The days are super short here at the moment so we didn't have that much time before the shadows came in. We found one more run to do some turns on and I somehow took a beating doing a pow turn. Helitours have a thing going with another company Helispa. They heli spa pools to remote locations for people. So we had that lined up for the end of the day which was super sweet, on top of Cecil looking out over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu with a whiskey watching the sun set. Was a pretty epic day!! Check out the new Diaries Down Under ep when its released soon.
After talking about it for way to long, finally we were on the road to explore northern BC and Alaska. The crew was Ryan Anderson, Jye Kerney and myself. Two days of trying to sort truck, sleds and rusty seized trailer wheels but it had come together and now I had just locked the keys and my McDonalds in the truck while we were filling it with gas. Shitty start since it was 4pm already and we wanted to knock out 8 hours driving that day.
Two evenings later we drove into Stewart, we had just driven over the range, it was snowing the whole way. We found some accommodation(Ripley's is the best place to stay there as we found), got fish n chips and found a spot on the sound with an amazing view of the sun going down. After dinner, a couple of beers and a fire we went to drive back only to be waved down at the Canadian border for trying to drive though it with out stopping. To be fair it doesn't really look like a border more of a truck stop, anyway the lady was pissed, we didn't have our passports either so that made it worse. Eventually after some smooth talking kiwi conversation about how awesome Canada was and how many Canadian friends we had they flagged the $1000 fine and we got to leave.
The next morning we were up early ready to sled, but found the border didn't open until 8.30. There was a couple of other crews around town and speaking to them they thought it was going to be bad weather but the next few days were looking good. The first good weather and snow in a few weeks. We headed up anyway. To get to the spot to sled from you drive across the border into Alaska then drive until road has to much snow on it and sled from there. There was some other people sledding so we just followed them because it was cloudy still and we didn't know where we were going. After a while we caught up to them and found out they had never been there either. Blind leading the blind through the cloud. We parked up and started building an igloo while we waited for it to clear. It never did clear so we ended up with a real sweet igloo, it had seats a table, a pretty good entranceway. The next three days were good, mostly sunny a little cloud sometimes. The sled zone was massive, it was scary to me how far out we sledded. There were glaciers everywhere, lots of open flats, cravasses and cornices surrounded by mountains just carrying on forever. We had planned to only stick around a couple of days and then carry on but its hard to pass up a sunny day with good snow in Alaska so we stayed on. The days were super long so every night when we got back town was shut down and we could only eat the microwave food we had, that wasn't to epic after a long day. By the time a bad weather day came we were looking forward to getting out. We planned to carry on to Haines but the weather was looking bad for the whole long term forecast so we flagged the drive(a further 18 hours) and drove the 18 hours back to Whistler. Was such a good trip, such good terrain up there and can't wait to go back and explore further next time!! Look out for an article from the trip in aus/nz snowboarding issue #62
The season here has not really got any better, worse actually. All the resorts in Washington ended up closing due to lack of snow. I have been getting some sick days up in Whistler. The snow line there is still super high but up top the snow is pretty good. Brandywine has been unusually quiet, for those of you unfamiliar with Brandywine it is probably the most popular place in the world to film backcountry snowboarding, if you've seen a snowboard movie some of it was probably filmed here. Its a cool place. You drive up the access road probably 10km further than usual then after sledding over rocks for a while you get to the snow and the first zone. Above that its good, a bit late but my first pow of the season!!
Nick Brown snowboard
I remember the first time I came to Washington. Nick Hyne, Ben Ryan and myself left from Salt Lake City one morning in my Ford Exploder and drove the whole way. Driving over the last pass called Snoqualmie pass at about 11pm to drive into Seattle it was snowing hard and there was about 20cms or more of snow on the road. There were massive snow banks on the side of the road, trucks were stopped everywhere, it was an intense hour or two of snow driving. That season was amazing and I've come back here every year since then to snowboard and shoot photos with my buddy Greg Roebuck, who lives here now. Washington is known for its deep powder, Mount Baker holds the world record for snowfall in one winter (1140" or 29 meters). This winter is not one of these winters. Driving over Snoqualmie pass now it looks like summer, hardly a drop of snow the chairlifts just hanging over dirt, most haven't run at all this winter, others did briefly but not any more. Luckily one of my favourite resorts 'Stevens Pass' had some snow and have built a super fun park. It has kept me sane for the last month as week after week I look at the snow report telling me its going to be sunny and warm or raining. Every time I look I think its going to change and snow a couple of feet overnight like it usually does here but nope, just more sun or rain. Stevens Pass has some super good terrain to hike and lots of steep resort runs which makes it so good on a powder day, plus its almost never busy. I don't usually ride the park here much but this season I've had so many fun slushy park days which is the next best thing to powder. I still wish it would snow, the mountains here look worse than coronet on a bad year, global warming is a worry!
Nick Brown snowboarding
Not far from Queenstown is a place called Steep White. Its up by Mt Larkins and you can heli in from Queenstown or if your real keen hike/skin from Glenorchy. We went there recently for a Diaries Down Under trip. Expectations were pretty low due to the recent snow conditions and weather forecast but we were pleasantly surprised with how the trip went, the terrain, the hut and even the snow was amazingly good. Definitely recommend getting up there if you get the chance.
nick brown snowboard
Check out these behind the scenes episodes. It gives a little insight on what went into filming the project. Stoked on how these turned out!!
Nick Brown snowboarding
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