09 June, 2005

Scary ride up the Remarkables

No posts for a while as I haven't done a lot, apart from looking for a job.. No success there, but I do have an interview tommorrow afternoon... Mainly been going into Queenstown to ask all the bars and some of the hotels for work.. oh yeah I have had a couple of trips to Wanaka as well!!

So yesterday Kate had the day off work, so she invited me and her boyfriend Mike on a trip to see the Remarkables Ski field. Sure, why not?

1345 The Remarkables are the newest of the three resorts on our lift pass (Ohau is the third resort, but is about 5 hours away by car) .. Coronet is the other resort we will be using a lot, but we wanted to check out the Remarks because it has a much better terrain park and also better off-piste riding.. also its North facing which means in the Southern Hemisphere it is sunny all afternoon.

So midday and we get in Kate & Mikes Mitsubushi RVR 4wd for a journey up a pretty scary mountain pass.. it looks like a stone throw away when you look out of the house windows, but its about 25km away and a 45 minute journey because most of the journey is up an 18 km dirt track, which has very few crash barriers..

Kate_car_remarks So they we are listening to the tunes on my ipod, on this track dodging cattle and I keep looking to my right where its a drop to certain doom when we reach the snowline... the conversation goes a little like this>>

Kate "Shall we go any further?"

Me n Mike "Yeah..why not we have 4wd on the car.. no probs!"

Kate "Ok.. "

So there we are on this snow covered track going uphill towards base camp of the Remarks, and the road still has only a few crash barriers. We go past a Cell Phone transmitter with a turning around point, and Kate asks again if we should turn around.. "Nah.. its perfectly fine" chorus me and mike.

On and on we go, when we go around this particularly tight switch back turn and the car suddenly decides it doesn't want to go any further.. Kates revving and the car is slipping. At this point we all decide the safest thing to do is NOT to go any further and head  back down the mountain. So we put the brakes on..

They don't really have any affect.. this 4wd car is still sliding backwards..

At this point I come out with "Kate put the brakes on .." I look down at Kates hand where she is wrenching the handbrake out (think we need a new handbrake cable!!) and realise she is.. oh dear!! So I look at Mike and hes now taken his seatbelt off and hes got his hand on the door handle! (whilst trying to get his trainers on) .. I decide that this is probably the safest option and follow his lead!

Anyway we come to a halt and Kate makes one of the smallest "turns in the road using forward and reverse gears" and we start to head back down .. we are all a little nervous and Kate understandably more so, as she is responsible for herself, her boyfriend, there car and most importantly me! so she is using the brakes more than she should.. this (with hindsight) makes the car slide more than it should, so there we are sliding down quite a steep hill with certain death on one side of the road, and no real control of the car.. crikes!! I'm thinking "if we go, at least the view is pretty damn good" Mikes thinkign "Perhaps we can survice this fall..." yeah right.

We make it down about 150m when the car really starts to slide and it comes to a halt on the side of the road. At this point I decide that the safest place I could possibly be is outside of the vehicle.. Kate looks ahead and sees this corner approaching with no crash barrier, and decides that is quite a good idea.. Mike puts his trainers on.

The_slide_1_2 Safe for the time being!! so there we are on this mountain pass on a really icy road, and we have to come up with an idea of how we are going to get down. Luckily we all have mobiles with us and Kate & Mike know a few people in Queenstown who could help, so we start to call them up. Mike eventally gets through to Steve, who works Maintenance on Coronet / Remarkables. "Steve, Mike here.. we are in a bit of a fix. Can you help us out?"


Steve is working at the other mountain today, and phones Head of Maintenance on the Remarks, who for a case of beer, will help us out! 20 mins later a Mercedes pick up turns up with 2 maintenance guys .. they are laughing at us when they arrive, probably thinking "Bloody poms, can't even drive a 4wd car in the snow!" .. One of them gets in the car and straight away 1st gear and drives away with no worries at all!! Me and Mike get on the back of the pick up, Kate in the front and we head down to the snowline.

So they you have my brush with certain doom! we laughed long and hard about it after, and decided we were gonna spend the rest of the day getting drunk back at the house!

Oh and they are gonna buy snowchains the next time we go up!!


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