SPACE (noun) 1. the unlimited three-dimensional expanse in which all objects exist, 2. a blank portion or area, 3. the region beyond the earth’s atmosphere containing other planets, stars, and galaxies; the universe.
A visit to Adventure Consultants‘ new alpine heli camp high in the mountains of Wanaka’s Southern Alps will give you the opportunity to experience space in every definition of the word.
The futuristic geodesic domes – which resemble an igloo and/or spaceman’s helmet – seem to defy space like Dr Who’s TARDIS*, and at an altitude of 1600m provide a superb base for ski-touring in the vast expanse of the McKerrow Range.
Joining a visiting Australian journalist, I was privileged to get a first taste of the new ski-touring experience, oh, and those all important First Tracks.
Thanks again Guy & Suze!
* Time and Relative Dimension in Space.
ROTOR WASH. An icy blast as the helicopter peels away after dropping us in the heart of a pristine alpine wilderness.
THE McKERROW MARCH. Hiking up into the wilds of the McKerrow Range with our home for the night, the igloo-esque geodesic dome, to the right of frame.
SUNSET BOULEVARD. The Southern Alps cast long shadows as we hike towards the mountain tops.
SUNBURST. Spectacular back-country ski-touring conditions with great views of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT. The last of the evening sun lights up the dome at the camp below (bottom left of the frame).
SUNSET LAPS. Skiing at sunset in the shadow of Mount Aspiring.
GOLDEN GLOW. Scoping fresh lines for the next morning as the sun drops behind the Southern Alps and Mt Aspiring.
HOME SWEET DOME. The geodesic dome under the glow of the setting sun.
CHEERS! Toasting the first group of visitors to stay at the dome. The domes are equipped with a full kitchen range (inc. extractor fan), solar powered LED lighting, log burner, tables, chairs, comfy bean bags and bunk beds with plush mattresses (no plastic coated DOC style mattresses here)!
SPACE CAMP. To infinity and beyond!!….
400 BILLION. That’s the estimated number of stars in the Milky Way, with a mere 100 billion (ish) planets. I wonder who’s out there taking photos of us?…..
OLD FASHIONED STORY TELLING. Tall tales over a glass or two of pinot and single malt by the fireplace. Despite the down jackets and hats, once the log burner got cranking it was warm & cosy with the quilted double skin of the dome providimg great insulation.
PASTEL PANORAMA. Sunrise over the Southern Alps.
IN THE PINK. Yet even on such a stunning morning, I was the only person outside taking photos at 6:30am…
FROSTY FOOTPRINTS. Solitude at sunrise… Everyone else was still in their sleeping bags!
SUN KISSED. The summit of Mt Aspiring (3,033m) catches the morning’s first ray of sunlight.
MORNING GLORY. Mount Aspiring and the Southern Alps at sunrise.
FIRST TRACKS….BUT FIRST BREAKFAST. Steaming hot coffee, bacon & eggs.
LOADING ZONE. Loaded up with coffee, bacon & eggs, we load up for a day of ski-touring.
LINED UP & READY TO DROP. First run of the day on a pristine blank canvas.
FIRST TRACKS. Catchy name for a new ski-touring business perhaps?…
VALLEY VIEW. Ripping down the valleys of the McKerrow Range.
SPACE | THE FINAL FRONTIER. And freshies for days!…..
EARNING TURNS. Climbing upward for another lap.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. The dome blends in with the snow and is quite hard to see…although I bet the local population of kea have spotted it!
UPSIDE DOWN POWDER. Punching through a thin frost crust to the light, dry powder snow below.
BASE CAMP. Back at camp at the end of a sublime day of skiing in the back-country.
HOME RUN. The short helicopter flight back to the cars with more stunning views over Lake Wanaka and Mt Aspiring.
REFLECTION PERFECTION. Lake Hawea at it’s mirror-like best on the return drive to Wanaka.
DOUBLE VISION. Perfect reflections of Corner Peak in a glassy calm Lake Hawea.