Remarkables closes early

Remarkables Ski Area senior leadership team members (from left) Adam Moore, Judy Stevens...
Remarkables Ski Area senior leadership team members (from left) Adam Moore, Judy Stevens-Dickerson, Ross Lawrence, Mo Rush and Will Curnow bid farewell to the most unusual winter on the mountain in memory. Photo by James Beech.
The last guests departed from the Remarkables Ski Area yesterday and the chairs will be taken off the lines and stacked on Wednesday, signalling the first time the ski area has closed before Coronet Peak.

After celebratory refreshments yesterday, 40% of the Remarkables staff will work at Coronet Peak this week then disperse, while 30% will chase the winter to the northern hemisphere.

Coronet Peak was now scheduled to close one week later, on Sunday, October 9. NZSki announced Remarkables season pass holders were welcome at Coronet Peak for rest of the season.

The Remarkables Spring Carnival will be moved to Coronet Peak this weekend.

"It's been a very unusual winter, in that we were two weeks later than scheduled," the Remarkables Ski Area manager Ross Lawrence told the Queenstown Times on Saturday.

"We opened on snow-making alone for the first time in the history of the Remarkables and that was on Sugar Bowl and Alta chairlifts. And then it was only three or four days later, we got 30cm of snow which started to blanket, and that was the beginning of winter."

Mr Lawrence said the Remarkables received 140cm of snow in July and the snowfall for the season was 245cm, half the volume of last year. Strong and persistent winds prevented dry powder from settling, which was rare.

Coronet Peak enjoyed fairly even cover and cold spells for longer than normal. It had 211 fully automated snowguns at its disposal, compared with 50 guns at the Remarkables.

Mr Lawrence said there had been "excellent" benefits from works carried out at the Remarkables last summer, which included 15,000cu m of rock blasted in the Sugar Bowl and Shadow Basin, a dozen new snowguns installed, the early intermediate Turquoise Trail doubled in width and 3.4km of extra guardrails on the access road.

"There is still a lot of scope for more development of terrain within the Rastus Burn Basin," he said.

"As our business grows, the facilities need to grow with it."

He referred to the instances of thousands of skiers and boarders attempting to get service simultaneously from the one food and beverage outlet at peak lunch times.

At least three overseas nationals and one New Zealander were found to be fraudulently using ski passes during the season, about the same number as in 2010. They were reported to Queenstown police, and given two-year trespass orders.

The bus service from Queenstown to the Remarkables began three years ago. A "reasonable" amount of business was arriving by bus which, coupled with the 6km of railing on the access road and the absence of a serious accident since 1990, meant additional railing was unnecessary, Mr Lawrence said.

There had been a 50% return rate of staff and up to 176 employed for the 2011 season, including 75 instructors. The majority of staff, 47%, were New Zealanders, with 23% from the United Kingdom, 11% from Australia, 9% from the United States and 10% from other Western countries.


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