Mountainwatch | Video
Sam Smoothy and Fraser McDougall, best mates and two of New Zealand’s leading international big mountain skiers, had been wanting to ski Mt Aurum, north of Queenstown, for a long time. It is an impressive mountain with a jagged peak and a variety of lines that capture the imagination of any big mountain skier.
“The line off the true summit hadn’t been skied yet and Sam and I had been looking at it for years and wondering when we were going to ski it,” said Fraser
The first time Fraser and Sam skied the line off the “true summit”, they were dropped off by helicopter in a hit-and-run mission that took 30 minutes from heli-pad to heli-pad. The conditions and snow were perfect and while the run from the summit was incredible, neither Fraser and Sam felt completely satisfied.
“Just to use the heli and do that mountain, and be done with it, didn’t feel right,” said Fraser. “We just had to do it again and hike in from the valley floor and really get the real experience.”
The “real experience” required a lot of commitment with two days of hiking with multiple river crossings just to get to the base of Aurum. They made the final climb to the summit on the third day in the dark, arriving at the top at sunrise, which was a special moment for both. Fraser was the first to drop in.
“Dropping in the second time was pretty intimidating. Just knowing that if it all goes wrong, it’s just you, the mountain and your mate standing at the top.”