British Association of Snowsport Instructors

RIP Tom…


Tom Donnelly Snowboard examiner

We received bad news last week. Tom Donnelly, the trainer that taught myself and Mike snowboard instructing died during the week, the day after his fathers funeral. He was the BASI examiner who I was training with most of the season in Wanaka.

I never forget when during heli-boarding in the Harris mountains in south island. The guide (a skier!) said that a ledge was fine to jump off, he ollied off it and found it to be a huge jump. It ended in his puffer jacked de-puffering, the cracking of his mobile and the destruction of an iPod… he always knew where the best hits were at TC, even down runs you’d been down 1000s times before and never even noticed!

He asked not to send flowers but to give money to his favourite charity (Angela Donnelly, 13 Harberton Park, Belfast, BT9 6TW).

You’ll be missed man!

Interesting Week in Wanaka


Things are getting a bit dodgy, the mountain is suffering a quite a bit, main street (one of the main runs) is very earthy at the bottom with only a metre gap of snow to get down on. The mountain has been closed for 3 days in the past week and we’ve just been doing more MA and lessons ready for our exam next week. Good news tho its been confirmed that were doing the exam at Treble Cone and not another mountain and we also have 3 extra days training next week which will be good (I need it).

All the skiers passed there exams last week (except one person who didn’t make it, another dropped out before the exams started) so its been a bit of a party atmosphere… they are now starting to concentrate on their BASI exams.

The mountain was closed today so I took the chance to dive over to Queenstown to finish off my medical which I need to do to get my Ozzy visa. Thats been sent off so should get something soon.

Today we got asked to stand by the trainers we wanted to teach us and infact it was quite evenly spread. I choose fatty because he hadn’t trained me for quite a while and he is one of the NZ examiners which is always useful before the NZ level 1 exam 🙂 anyway i’m off to sleep… up the mountain tommorow teaching some friends of Mikals.

Avalanche what Avalanche?


Last week was Avalanche/first aid training week. You need to have a valid first aid certificate to pass BASI level 1. First day we were just going through types of terrain and how avalanches are triggered and the flow of them. We saw an AMAZING video of an avalanche was was triggered on purpose but only expected a small avalanche. It started off relatively small and then the entire side of the mountain triggered and everything came down. Interesting fact over 90% of people survive avalanches who are wearing an avalanche transceiver.

After the training on the Tuesday night we were out on the mountain digging our snow caves. Unfortunately the snow was too dry to make snow caves so we had to make a snow “trench” instead…

Our camp The camp kitchen

Damit I knew it was a bad idea to go to the loo at night… now wheres our snow hole?!… Infact Matt did want to go to the loo in the night and the empty bottle you see in the picture of mike below was by the morning full of liquid… nice! … orange juice anyone?!
Matt having a look around

We slept right on the snow/ice I had a bivvy bag, under mat and sleeping bag. The general idea was that you kept your boot inner linings, fresh thermals for the following day etc in the sleeping bag with you. Anything that you want to stay damp and cold but not icy you have in your bivvy bag (so boots, jacket, trousers/pants etc).

We did manage to create a bar tho, with table, benches (made out of snowboards) and an ice chair.
The Bar

If you look at this pic of Mikal you can already see the frost on Matts bivvy bag! (and the loo bottle!)
Mike in bed with his cheaky grin! Me setup for the night

It got to around -6oC during the night. Not too cold for I was getting a bit cold by the morning. We didn’t build our hole in the ground that well. You should have a doorway at one point to let the cold air out otherwise it says at the bottom of your hole where you are. Unfortunatly the original place we had our door was facing the wind, so we had to fill it in and didn’t create a new one… DOH!

One jump for man on giant leap for mankind… well the snow holes had been made… hurray! 🙂

But the best thing has to be the sunrise in the morning. It was enough to get anyone up!
Sunrise One of the guides

My frosty bag. Its supposed to be a brightish blue!
My frosty bag... its supposed to be bright blue

During the day we practised finding people/bags with avalanche transceivers in a mock exercise. What I didn’t know is when the transceiver points the direction you want to go it doesn’t point directly at where the signal is coming from. It takes you on an arc before you get to the person.

The last two days (Friday and Saturday) we were doing mountain first aid training. The training seemed to be a bit more in dept than the first aid training I have done in the UK. Basically because you may have to keep a patient alive for maybe 12hrs or more before help can get to you, unlike in the UK when you expect an ambulance to turn up well within 30mins. We were told a load of really gruesome stories of incidents that have happened. One was of a parent who had their child in a backpack doing some runs, after a while they thought the kid was being quiet so while they had another couple of runs. But when they got to the bottom they found that the kid had hyperthermia and in the end died. Also another interesting thing, if someone does have hyperthermia don’t put them right next to a fire or try and warm them up quickly, it will kill them, it has to be gradual as otherwise the mind thinks they are too hot and any warmth that is in the core of your body goes to the surface and you get even colder.

Jim Hart the wizard


Ok back into the NZ way of things, and it instantly made a difference. Jim incresed my binding angle to F4, this is basically the biggest angle you can make your lower leg go. When you increase your binding angle it pushes your knee down so you are “crouching” more, really painfull staying the that position all day but GREAT for my posture. My riding instantly became better. Jim also got us going through some teaching of the main progressions in NZ and we realised some things instantly clashed with the BASI way of doing things. We just need to find a way that satisfies both, which most of the time is quite easy.

SNOW INFO: Quite slushy today but it started to rain at the base station, and snow further up the mountain, all in all 5cms by 5pm.

Day 5: BASI trainee Instructor


Well today we did some work on beyond the central theme, went over bumps and also some different types of excersises we could use for warm ups and streaches. We were then tested on: Basic, Bumps, steeps and piste performance. You need to get a score of around 5 for all these areas to pass your Stage 1 BASI course, most people of 2’s and 3’s, a couple of good people got all 4’s… we’ve still got a lot of work tho. I got 2s and 3s and I really need to work on my carving but so far so good. Tom our examiner/trainer is really good at the teaching of snowboarding and analysis, its been an interesting yet frustrating week in some places.

Yesterday I managed to twist my left thumb… friday I managed to twist my other one and my wrist! Not happy… i’ll take it easy over the weekend and everything should be sorted for monday.

A load of us went to “Star Burgers”, a takeaway burger bar who sell AMAZING burgers!!! if you come to Wanaka this is the place too go! Beef, chicken, fish, bbq burgers every type of burger you can think off.

SNOW INFO: No new snow about 0 degrees temp.

Go to Top