Re­sort shop straps on ski tour­ing

An in­ter­na­tional resur­gence in ski tour­ing paired with back­ing for a Queen­stown busi­ness from an in­ter­na­tional ski tour­ing in­dus­try leader means the sport is sure to grow in the Wakatipu, GRANT BRYANT re­ports.

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

Queen­stown is now the home of a Dyna-Fit Com­pe­tence Cen­tre – the only one in the coun­try and one of only 30 world-wide.

Well-known Queen­stowner Dar­ryl Tatom’s Small Planet brand has be­come Aus­trala­sia’s sole Dyna-Fit Com­pe­tence Cen­tre in a new Shotover Street premises, which opened this month.

The cen­tre is a hub of ski tour­ing, an old Nordic trans­porta­tion mode that is en­joy­ing a huge global resur­gence, and is look­ing as­sured to grow in the Wakatipu.

‘‘Ski tour­ing came from the days when people from the Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries used seal skins on the bot­tom of wooden skis to get from A to B, but has en­joyed a huge resur­gence lately,’’ Tatom said.

Tatom and Small Planet staff had been ski tour­ing for 12 years, and lo­cal ski tour­ers could be spotted, with head­lamps on, get­ting off piste on any early morn­ing on the moun­tains sur­round­ing Queen­stown, he said.

‘‘There’s people get­ting an early morn­ing hike in on any day of the week – just get­ting into the ter­rain and get­ting away from the hus­tle and bus­tle of the main fields.’’

There were two main cat­e­gories of ski tour­ing – side coun­try or front side tour­ing, or light­weight ski tour­ing.

‘‘Side coun­try or front side tour­ing can be done off the ski lifts, but light­weight tour­ing is more for the back­coun­try purists, who might go out for one or two or more days, tent­ing up or dig­ging snow caves while they’re out.’’

With back coun­try tour­ing safety was of ob­vi­ous im­por­tance, and knowl­edge of the ter­rain, its cur­rent con­di­tions and car­ry­ing per­sonal trans­ceivers, probes and shov­els were all nec­es­sary.

Ski tour­ing was pop­u­lar mainly among the 30 to 60 age group, was an ‘‘in­cred­i­ble’’ from of build­ing up fit­ness and al­lowed free­dom in the back coun­try.

‘‘It ap­peals to first-time skiers with ex­pe­ri­ence in tramp­ing, good skiers who want to es­cape the crowds, lifts and price of lift passes, people who don’t want to be dic­tated to by ski area open­ing or clos­ing dates or look­ing for un­tracked pow­der.’’

The num­bers of ski tour­ers were grow­ing on a yearly ba­sis, and the Dyna-fit con­nec­tion was sure to grow those num­bers, Tatom said.

‘‘One of the head Dyna-Fit guys vis­ited New Zealand last year, scout­ing the coun­try for po­ten­tial Com­pe­tence Cen­tre lo­ca­tions, and ap­proached us.

Af­ter a trip to Europe to check it all out we de­cided to get on board. The in­ter­na­tional con­nec­tions that Dyna-Fit have as [Ski Tour­ing] in­dus­try lead­ers are sure to help the sport grow here in the Wakatipu, which we’re ob­vi­ously 100 per cent be­hind.’’ While heli-ski­ing was tra­di­tion­ally the do­main of big hill back­coun­try ‘bombers’, trips were be­ing ar­ranged for ski tour­ers on Mt Larkins, near Glenorchy, through Dan Kelly’s Steep­WHITE com­pany, which had had a six to eight-per­son hut built on the peak. Dave Ma­cLeod’s In­de­pen­dent Moun­tain Guides is or­gan­is­ing cus­tom ski tour­ing trips.

Tatom started Small Planet 16 years ago. He was one of three orig­i­nal founders of R&R Sports in 1988 but has sold his shares.

Photo: GRANT BRYANT/FAIR­FAX NZ

Shop front: Small Planet owner Dar­ryl Tatom (right) with staffers (from left) Ed­die Hollins and War­ren ‘‘Waza’’ Greer in the new Dyna-Fit Com­pe­tence Cen­tre.

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