Charlie Murray: Winter Freeride Camps

3 mins

The Gritt Freeride Camps is a program Charlie started with his brother and friends five years ago. Since inception the camps have grown in popularity each year and Gritt has been able to pave the way for two camp attendees to compete at the Freeride World Championship in Europe. Charlie has been a keen skier all his life and has competed and filmed around the world. His goal is to provide coaching and advice to young skiers who are in the same position as he was 15 years ago. To support these up-and-coming skiers and teach them what he and the Gritt crew have learnt over the years has been dream come true.

The 2023 Gritt Freeride Camps were certainly one for the books. The warm weather and recent rain had the Canterbury Clubbies looking more tussock than snow, which resulted in mountains pulling their closing day forward. This included Craigieburn Valley, which was the planned first stop. Luckily, we were able to move this camp to Broken River. 

The coaching roster this season was incredible. We had Freeride World Tour event winners Craig Murray and Andrew Pollard along with the 2022 Overall World Champion Jess Hotter. The coaches are so passionate about giving back to these small ski communities in Canterbury, we had coaches grinning ear to ear just loving watching the talent young rippers learning tricks and skills. 

It was incredible to see the instant change in conditions that we are so susceptible to here in NZ. As we hiked up in the morning we literally couldn’t see any snow until we got close to the mid mountain lodge (palmer lodge). Just as we arrived big, fat snowflakes started to fall and before long the tussock started to get whiter and whiter until it disappeared completely. We spent the afternoon jibbing and messing around on the learners slope with the kids. We were proud of everyone having a go at jumping and hitting rails even though the conditions were sub-par. After five hours in the wet snow I was happy to be wrapped up in my Macpac waterproof layer. Once we had our fix of jibs we started heading back down to Lyndon Lodge. What was dirt when we walked up was now completely covered in the fluffy white stuff allowing us to ski down to the base of the lift. 

Waking up the next morning we were greeted with 40cms of snow all the way down to the valley floor. With this new lease on the mountain we got stuck into learning about, Jumps, technique, avalanche safety and competition. We also had evening classroom sessions in the lodge and covered things such as sponsorship, equipment, safety and competition advice. These were all put into practice at Broken River's first ever Freeride event on the Nervous Knob run. The coaches and kids all got to ski a run and showcase what we had all been working on. 

We then moved onto Mt Olympus who are no strangers to the camps (it's where they began) and have run them for the previous 5 years. With another dusting of snow, we were able to take groups out of bounds to the Back Ridge zone to put the newly dialled avalanche and freeride skills into practice. Jump building skills were also put to good use and many new tricks were learned on the kickers we sculpted in the main basin.

After two days of ripping around Mt Olympus we held our classic prize givings and waved goodbye to the Freeride class of 2023. All of us at Gritt were proud and satisfied of the camps this year and we can't wait to see where these talented kids end up in the next few years. We would like to thank everyone who attended and all the people who made it possible!

Big Aroha, 

Charles Murray. 

Charlie Murray
A skier, mountain biker, mountain man and proud South Islander. Read all about Charlie here.
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