Crackers & Cheeseman (Part One) – Mt Cheeseman(2031m)

“On a Mish” #58 Crackers & Cheeseman (Part One). Mt Cheeseman(2031m). Craigieburn Forest Park. 31.8.2016. For years I have visited the sunny slopes of Mt Cheeseman Ski field. Along with the pleasant terrain and friendly atmosphere, the mountain has always had a close connection via the ski shop I worked in for many years. For a very long time I worked in a place where seeing some form of Mt Cheeseman logo was constant. Being a ski field with a mountain in the name you would think I would have climbed the peak straight away, however it took around four years before I’d venture out for some crackers and Mt Cheeseman…

Being only an hour or so from Christchurch, the Craigieburn Range is an excellent playground for adventurous Cantabrians. Topping out at over 2100m, the range not only offers options to hikers but it is also the range with the most ski fields in it in all of Aotearoa. Four fields are located amongst the rolling mounds, each with their own special slopes of snow.

I found out when first learning about my role at McEwings Ski & Board, that along with the almost endless range of ski gear, I could also head up to Mt Cheeseman for a shred whenever I had the time. The long relationship between the shop and the mountain was evident in the way the shop owner and ski field manager got along. Having the ability to zip up and cut some lines in the freshly groomed runs was a job benefit I used as often as I could.

The field and mountain are actually located in slightly different places. The field is actually located on the eastern faces of Mt Cockayne(1874m), and I can understand that a mountain named Cockayne might have some advertising issues. Mt Cheeseman(2031m) is around 2km south of the bulldozed runs and base buildings, and although it can be accessed via the high ridges between the two mountains I decided to climb the peak via a camp at the base of the east ridge.

The norm for me at the ski shop was four days on three days off. This meant I had more opportunity for missions and if the weather was right I was in the mountains. When I wanted to climb Mt Cheeseman the weather only gave me a 24hour weather window, and I used every second of the small window on my Mt Cheeseman mish.

Day one of my free days was prep as there was rain and a little snow forecast for the Craigieburn Range. During my spare time I researched the ridge I was going to climb along with sorting gear needed for climbing and camping. The day was perfect to build anticipation for my adventure.

The next day the clouds slowly cleared and by mid morning I was loading the car and doing my final gear checks. I wasn’t 100% sure if I was going to get to the summit of Mt Cheesman(2031m), but I knew for sure I would be enjoying some crackers and cheese from a camp at the base of the peak…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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