Ruby Retreat 2023


We hadn’t run a ruby retreat in a long while, since before Covid.  I mentioned this to Phil Arndt, and with his encouragement I agreed to help run the conference again.  It’s quite a bit of work organising a conference – especially one up a mountain.  It’s made significantly easier because we’ve run it there a few times, so, we know how we’re getting up there (smylies busses) and we know who we’re getting catering with (country feasts – they’re amaaaaazing), but, there’s just a lot to organise.  Setting up the website, getting responses, having people change their responses, trying to get people’s flight details, getting ripped off by surveymonkey because they only allow you to have 10 responses before you have to pay, and they do not make that obvious.. buying drinks, getting them up the hill etc. etc.

I’ve now helped out running three of these events, and, honestly, I do get a buzz from having it run smoothly, and I love giving back to the ruby community for sure, but, I’m ready for someone else to run the next one!  We do have a pretty up-to-date runbook (now), so, hopefully it’ll be easier for whoever runs the next one.

Anyway – the conference.  It was slightly stressful to begin with, because there was an unscheduled snow dump (well, I hadn’t scheduled it anyway) and so we were a little scared that it might be impossible for the drivers to get up the hill at all.  As it turned out, it just made for the most perfect retreat, as, the place was covered in snow and just extremely beautiful.  We had visitors from Australia, one couple brought their 7/8 year old and she’d never played in snow before, so, that was awesome!

The food was delicious.  The event ran really pretty smoothly.  We had less sponsorship this year than previous, so, providing free alcohol wasn’t an option.  We also told people not to drink after 10pm (not strictly enforced, but, at least we had a  “rule” in place).  These two things meant a smoother conference too… just less disorderly and better.  I’m sure we’ll have similar things in place the next time.

Maaike really helped me by giving me a mihi and whakatauki for the opening ceremony, and, she also suggested a Poroporoaki (closing sharing ceremony) which were really good ideas.  I can see more of that happening in the future too, perhaps with a waiata for greeting etc.  It felt really good to include it, even though my pronunciation wasn’t up to that much.

There was only really one part I found properly stressful, which was that the mountain manager (Cam) had warned us to keep the gates up the hill locked, and, while I had mentioned it to smylies, I hadn’t ensured it happened.  So, at about 11pm the first night, just as I was going to bed, I heard revved engines, and, there were two cars doing doughnuts in the top car park (see below).

Phil and his friend went down the hill (once they’d left) and locked the gate.. and it remained locked for the rest of the weekend.

Anyway, it was a fabulous conference, there are a few improvements to make (which have been noted!), but, I was really happy with how it all went.  Everyone had a great time, games were played, mountains were climbed, runs were run, delicious food was eaten and yeah, just a real success.

Cheeseman & Broken River


Headed away for a weekend in the hills with friends. The first day was at Cheeseman where the coverage was pretty average (35-70cm!)… seems to be the way of the future though.  Paddy and I stayed on the field, while Ian and David and Mark went backcountry (touring). I think they found the better snow (and had to work pretty hard for it!)

We stayed the night in a proper bach in Castle Hill… quite strange to back in what used to be the more common way of staying in holiday houses in NZ (cheap place, basic furniture, clean up after yourselves) – rather than the more polished (and expensive) AirBnB’s… it was nice.

The second day we headed up to Broken River. It was an absolute cracker of a day. The conditions were good, the sun was out, the saxophonist from The Black Seeds was playing away over lunch.. it was just great.

Skied all the way out down Alan’s Basin and out towards the road. I was pretty tired by the end of it. Managed to get stuck getting out of my boot (that has never happened before!), but, Ian sorted me out without needing to chop my foot off ;)

Brilliant weekend – Thanks for organising Mark!