SkiTramping Comes to Life!
|SkiTramping down the White Glacier to Barker Hut!|
Which turned into not much. However, on Friday night we witnessed a large high settling itself over New Zealand. This was good. But Chris needed to do a not very overdue tax return, sigh. So Saturday saw Chris taxing and both of us scheming. After several hours of intensive excitment the tax was done, a mammmoth winter mission in Arthurs Pass planned out and a huge amount of gear loaded into the car.
We planned to carry: 5 days food Skis and ski boots Glacier gear - rope and harness + prussicks Avalanche trancievers, shovel and spade each Crampons, ice axes Tramping boots Sleeping bags + mats Tent Cooker Hmmmm...this sounded like a lot! Was it possible? Would our new found sport the "SkiTramp" actually be viable? Well, we were about to find out.
|The yellow is extra part we never quite managed, the red is what we did in the end!|
|Camp in the Waimak River|
|Chris in the icey upper White by the Clough Cableway|
|Slippery slopes up towards Harman Pass|
|Setting off from Harman with a new plan in mind...|
|Heading up to Whitehorn Pass|
The veiws were awesome even if the skiing was not, and the reality that we were sliding down the hill with all our gear on our backs. After a while the skis were replaced by crampons, and as it got dark we changed back into tramping boots. The rocks were icey down lower and you had to be careful of footing in the big bouldery riverbed. We picked up the little Doc marker that leads you out of the bush and down the scrubby ridge towards Park Morpeth.
|Arriving at Park Morpeth - I was of course carrying both sets of skis|
|Nice grassy meadows in the Wilberforce|
Our new plan meant we now had a nice day wandering down the Wilberforce River Valley, admiring the ice clad summits from the Valley floor. After a late start we headed away. The Wilberforce is a lovely remote valley with nice meadows to walk on. We passed the Urquharts Hut, then on down we had to ford the Unknown and Griffiths Rivers as they joined the Wilberforce (Brrr!)
|Sometimes the valleys aren't so bad...|
|This peak (Mt Findlay) tickled our fancy too!|
We had been debating all day whether to head up the Burnett Stream and over the easier White Col, or to go up Weka and over the more unknown and challenging route of crossing the Kahutea Glacier and up to Kahutea Col. We had ended up deciding that the Kahutea sounded like a good adventure. Now we looked on the steep route up through Bluffs onto the crevassed Kahutea Glacier and in the fading light it looked a bit daunting!
|Camping in Weka Stream|
We slept in a bit late - it was hard to get out of the warm tent! But we finally emerged and got going, sidling up through the ice to the base of the bluffs. It looked icey and steep and I was having cold feet (literally!). We decided to leave the packs and scout for a route. Chris climbed an icey gully which I didn't like the look of, so I sidled out to the left to find a very nice snow ramp that led me to the same place as Chris.
|Approaching the bluffs (left) to which lead onto the Kahutea Glacier|
From there we found a nice route heading to the right, which involved a steep wee descent into the icey gully and then back out into some gentler slopes that led directly to the glacier. Woopee! There is something very satisfying about finding nice ways through tricky terrain. We down climbed, and laden with packs reclimbed the route. How much harder it is with a heavy pack! But we were soon over the rise and into the broad basin which runs all the way up alongside the glacier to Kahutea Col.
|Reclimbing the scouted route|
|On the lower Kahutea Glacier|
|Looking back down the Kahutea Glacier|
|Chris on the Kahutea Col|
|Well earned lines on the White Glacier|
|Barker Hut in the setting sun|
|Leaving Barker Hut in the morning|
|Skis stowed, crampons on again..|
|The Kea's farewelled us descending from Barker Hut|