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Contest takes Grand Finalist to new heights

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

Calvin Ball, Season 53 FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Finalist representing the NZYF Northern region, has recently completed one of his prizes, a personal development course thanks to Contest sponsors WorkSafe.

He gives us a rundown on his experience:

Where to begin?! Well, it was based in Arthurs Pass and we kicked off Thursday 11th August so there was plenty of ice and snow about.

We utilised the Mount Cheeseman and Broken River Ski Fields to access the mountain and we spent the first couple of days learning to use specific mountaineering gear: using an ice axe, using crampons, learning various walking techniques, and route planning.

With waist-deep snow it made for some difficult walking conditions, but the and bluebird conditions provided some incredible views!


Days three and four were focused on Avalanche Awareness. We learnt how to pack and carry avalanche and alpine equipment, use avalanche transceivers, assembling and using a probe and avalanche transceiver search practice.

We reinforced this all with several avalanche scenarios (where we bury transceivers and then someone else finds and digs these up). We also learnt how to continually assess terrain for potential avalanche risk (angle, aspect, altitude, trigger points, traps, weather and snowpack, recent activity, cracking/whooping, rapid loading, wind, temperature)

I know, there are a lot of safety elements to assess when embarking on a snow-covered mountain!

Day five saw us move to Temple Basin Ski Lodge (further into Arthurs Pass) where would stay for the remainder of the course. Heavy rain was forecast so we made the most of the good weather and summited a 2000m peak.

Then the rain came, and it stayed for three days straight! We learnt some more advanced skills namely using ropes, ice and rock anchors, knots, belay techniques, crevasse travel and rescue (the list continues), all required to climb steep and more dangerous terrain safely. We utilised the classroom to learn the skills in the morning and then put them to the test in real life on the mountain for the afternoon (in the rain!).


On the last day, the weather eased, so we made the most of it and departed at sunrise for our final climb of the course. We put all our newly acquired equipment and gear into practice and summited another 2000m peak.

Safety underpinned every aspect of the course and the instructors demonstrated and lead this always.

Words can’t describe the amazing experience I had, the skills I learnt, the views I enjoyed and the incredible people I met.

Thank you, WorkSafe for sponsoring the FMG Young Farmer of the Year and for enabling me to learn, grow and develop via this course – I am truly grateful.

Calvin Ball
Season 53 Grand Finalist
FMG Young Farmer of the Year

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

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