By now, I really hope that if you're reading this you know what 350 is about.....if not please read my previous post. I'm also pretty certain that if you've ever spoken to me about it you'll have heard me talk about how cool it would be if we could do something connected with one of my passions.....snowboarding. As the effects of climate change start to happen there is a possibility of our snow conditions here in Wanaka changing. Not something I welcome at all. So we need to do something about it.
Some people have credited me with the idea but I'm sure I stole it off someone else, I can't remember who, but someone. If that someone is you, thank! So, lets get to the idea.....Could we make a human 350 stencil on Wanaka's favourite ski field, Treble Cone? Of course we could. What I love about living in Wanaka is our communities ability to get things we want.
After some discussion about this event, Sophie from Sustainable Wanaka and Ivy from Wanaka Wastebusters set about making it happen. Discussions were held with Treble Cone. Experiments were performed and soon enough a plan was being hatched.
My part in this was fairly small. I had the job, along with one of the best volunteers ever - Mike Illingworth, of drawing the outline of 350 in the snow. The spot had been picked and all we had to do was make it happen. Easy! Actually......maybe not.
We started our efforts on Tuesday morning. We were kindly lent two sprayers by Treble Cone and given a few of their special blue dye tablets. As a reserve we were armed with some food colouring, that has to be the same as the blue tablets. It's really, really, really hard drawing something massive when you're in the middle of it.
After lots of conversation and pacing around the area we'd chosen Mike started spraying out the letters using me as a movable target of where to draw the lines to. The 3 was in blue and the 50 in green food colouring. Ok, so out first attempt was scaled a little strangely, but it would do. Time to ride.
After we got back from the saddle and headed up the six to check it out imagine our horror to see that after only two hours all the food colouring had vanished and we were left with a giant 3! So much for the early finish. It didn't take too long to redraw and to be honest it looked a lot better the second time round. Phew! Fingers crossed it would last until the morning when we could outline it again.
To get the photo a blue sky was desirable, but we certainly needed no cloud hanging around the face. One of our local photographers, Garrick Cameron, had very kindly offered to use his super lens from Diamond Lake to take the long shot for us. As we made our way up the hill on Tuesday it was becoming rather obvious that today may not be the best day to do this. Ivy spent most of the morning phoning people giving updates and telling everyone she could find about what was going to happen, either today or tomorrow.
The dye had faded a little so once again we got to respray.....changing the shapes a little to ensure version 3 looked even better than 1 and 2. Around 10:30 we finally realised it wasn't going to happen. Fingers crossed for Thursday.
Wooo hooo, 7am on Thursday morning looked like a cracker. A couple of clouds in the sky but not many. Mike and I were warned that it was rather icy up on the hill at 8am but we thought we'd be ok. Hmmmmm, the first few turns down Triple Treat, or should I say Iced Triple Treat, demonstrated what we faced. When we got down to the site there was a faint outline from Wednesday mornings spraying, but not much. More worryingly was the fact that the slope was frozen solid. Have you ever tried walking on a fairly steep slope with 15kgs of liquid in a sprayer on your back? Don't bother if you haven't, it's not that flash. We sat there for a while looking at the glorious blue skies chewing the fat. What we hadn't seen was the rather large looming grey clouds coming over the back of the hill. Coffee time!
Who knows if this cloud would clear....there was no way we could even walk on the slope to spray the letters, let alone have over a hundred people get there and stand safely. It seems to me that when you get involved with sports that are effected by weather you develop a sense of patience.
It was about 11:30 by the time the snow softened enough to start spraying again. Ivy was doing a fantastic job of telling everyone what was happening and that 1:30 was the time to show your support for a fair global climate treaty. Since we were right under the main lift everyone was asking what we were doing. We were on the radio, the journalists had been contacted....all we needed now were people. As with anything Wanaka based you just never know how many people will turn up.
I was blown away by the amount of people that turned up. I did my best to arrange them on the stencil with gaps to begin with and then as the others turned up they could fill in the blanks. Garrick was in position, all we needed now was the cloud to clear. The mood of everyone there was amazing, such a great buzz about being part of something so cool. I must admit....I'd have preferred if I hadn't been pelted by what felt like a few hundred snowballs, but you know it's not the worst that could have happened.
Once the photo had been taken it took seconds for everyone to disperse and Mike and I were left standing there kinda wondering what had happened. What a crazy week.
Upon reflection, what this felt like to me was almost a minute silence type feel. We took longer than a minute, thanks everyone, but for around half on hour on Thursday 1st October you were at the 350 site or on your way to it. If you weren't, it was like you were breaking a minute silence. I have been absolutely blown away with the support we had from everybody up there! So thank you all so much, what an inspiring message to send to our politicians and all the other groups who are planning action to demonstrate what they feel about 350 and their desire for a fair global climate treaty.
With all that in mind, I'd like to thank once again; Mike Illingworth - The worlds best volunteer, Ivy Willmott - Little Miss Energy and Motivator, Treble Cone, Sustainable Wanaka, everyone who helped in the planning and the hundred and seventy or so good people who took time out of their day to support 350!
Stop Press: 350 Wellington have just been sent the photo to use in their launch party slideshow tomorrow night! It's being used already