If you’re in the southern-hemi shred-Mecca of Wanaka, New Zealand, and want something other than a jibber’s paradise, Treble Cone is the only game in town. Fitted with just two lifts and a modest base area, there’s a gripload of terrain options; steeps, cliffs, bowls and chutes abound. The big-boy (and girl) terrain is mostly in the Saddle Basin, where, straight off the quad chair, you can just rip the fall line, hop some cliffs and make laps. Don’t come to ride the trees though, cuz there’s not a single bit of greenery out there. It’s all well above the treeline. Oh well.
For the un-lazy type, as I like to look at it, a fifteen minute hike can get you up the Sundance ridge for a long, steep unobstructed pow run. For the real prize, head to the Motatapu chutes, skiers right of the quad lift, through the access gates (avy gear recommended) into tight, varied and technical chutes that finger out in a puzzling maze as they empty to the valley below. Hike straight back to the lift and repeat.
Me and two yank female rippers (with whom I hap hopped the pond for the season) headed up to TC recently. About 40 cm had fallen in the saddle and the familiar buzz of a powder day was running rampant through the crowds. 40 cm mixed with bluebird conditions is a recipe for epic mayhem. Powder thirsty kiwi’s, nomadic snowbums and beater families all mixed together in anticipation for patrol to drop the rope for the saddle, which had been untouched in the previous day’s storm.
With strength in numbers, the saddle gate had been breached before it was properly open and dozens of overzealous shredders nearly put the kibosh on the whole damn thing. Luckily, they (including Jess, of our party, for shame) received a firm reprimand. As I pulled into the cluster%@#* of too many people jostling to get on the chair, it had me stressed out in a pleasant way. I got on about five minutes after first chair and ripped some mean, tight turns through a mellow chute that paralleled the lift line. Pow turns in July. Not bottomless but real, in-the-flesh powder. Next lap up I met up with my Jess and Julia, the other gringo, and we whooped it up. Jess dropped a few rocks, Julia shredded the poop out of the slopes, I sliced and diced the powder and life was good.
Although Patrol kept the ‘sidecountry’ chutes closed on account of avy danger, they opened up the summit hike at around 2, and we booted up to the summit in about 20 minutes. We soaked in the 360-degree views of AK-esque death spines across the valley, the endless oblivion of the Alps, and mystical, island-studded Lake Wanaka. The view is worth the hike, shredding down is a bonus. From the summit is a mini-tech section through rocks followed by some nice wind-buffed powder. We rode straight to the base via Easy Rider, the seemingly endless groomer with all the cat track lips, jumps, and snow-blower jibs a boarder can consume. You can even get your jib on here at TC without a mega-park.