Ski Progression at Porters

Friday, 21 June 2024

Ski Progression at Porters

Words by Mari Henderson

Only 89km from Christchurch, Porters Alpine Resort is a great place to take your first steps on snow or learn to tackle the steep slopes of Buff Face.

For both skiing and snowboarding, Porters has a great variety of terrain and lifts to suit anyone's riding ability, being one of the smaller ski resorts you can enjoy less crowds on the slopes and heaps of friendly faces.

Unlike many other ski resorts in New Zealand, Porters is fortunate enough that the terrain in the resort doesn't fall victim to what I call the “Funnel Effect”. The funnel effect happens when all the ski runs, beginner, intermediate and advanced all funnel into the same slope.

Now if you're anything like me and you know what I am talking about, you will also know these slopes cause a huge amount of chaos, especially towards the bottom of the lifts. The chances of finding yourself in a nice pile with some strangers can be very likely. For someone starting out skiing or snowboarding having the constant fear of being hit or hitting someone else is not at all pleasant.

That's where the slopes at Porters play to the advantage, both the magic carpet and platter are off to the side of the main slope, giving people the opportunity to progress enough to have some skills and confidence to navigate down the slope safely before taking steps towards the slightly busier and longer slopes.

On the other side of the equation, advanced slopes at the top of the resort are out of the way from the main intermediate slopes. As an advanced skier, it gives the chance to challenge yourself on longer runs and ride at your ability without fear of colliding with a more novice skier.

There is a large variety of terrain for any level. As an intermediate, there is a huge amount of accessible terrain all over the mountain, from the wide-open slope of Easy Street to the views across the Canterbury Plains from the cat track down McNulty’s. The variety of terrain I truly believe can transform your confidence as you adapt to the steeper more exposed environment around you. A vast amount of progression can be made towards the iconic faces such as Big Mama and Bluff Face.

For anyone starting to ride off piste or on more challenging advanced terrain, there are some great options. Sundance is the first of them, it's a great slope with a mixed variety of steeper and mellow sections, furthermore, it is still a groomed run so it's a great one for building your confidence and preparing yourself for the steeper off piste slopes.

Progressing further is Leeper, this face is awesome, you have the opportunity to start off skiing down the wider sections of the face which drop back down onto Sundance, it gives you a great first feel of what skiing off piste can be like, without pushing your ability too far.

As you become more confident there are the other sides of Leaper with more rocks and exposure to it. A great one for starting to get familiar with not only off-piste conditions but the exposure and the steepness of the terrain.

Both Sundance and Leeper are shorter slopes so familiarising yourself and gaining confidence in that terrain is a great step towards progressing to a longer slope. In bounds there is an abundance of freeride terrain for those eager. Most of it is easily accessible and slightly more friendly than some terrain found in the club fields nearby, making it a great first step for those starting to dabble in skiing freeride.

Obviously, it can be hard to feel confident in the terrain and be nerve racking as you try and progress to harder slopes. Porters offer both ski and snowboard instruction for any ability providing both private and group lessons as well as weekend and holiday programs.

As a ski instructor myself and part of the Snow School at Porters, there's a lot of gain from taking a lesson. The support from our instructors allows for not only an outside perspective on your skiing but they are here to help and support you to gain confidence in the terrain.

If you are nervous or timid on any slopes the support of an instructor is super motivating and reassuring. As trained professionals they are here to make your skiing as proficient and as easy as possible as well as dusting off those bad habits we all have. NZ is notorious for the ever-changing conditions. There are definitely days up on the mountains where the conditions are tricky. Taking lessons will allow you to learn the skills to be able to ride controlled and at ease in tricky conditions.

With great terrain comes lots of fun and there is plenty of that to be had at Porters. Whether you're here with your family and friends that have never seen snow before or are absolute chargers on the slope there is something for everyone.


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