South Island Gallery / Skiing / 2015-09 Symphony on Skis and Mt Tasman  

Jack, Paul, Ryan and I went ski touring and climbing in Mt Cook national park. The plan was to do the 2-3 day "Symphony on Skis" route, which crosses the Alps from the East to the West, but the weather and climbing conditions were so amazingly good that we ended up staying for seven days, crossing back to the East via Pioneer pass and the Grand Plateau, and climbing Hochstetter dome, De La Beche (not as epic as on First Crossings!), the Minarettes, Ledenfeld and Glacier Dome. For an added bonus, Jack and I climbed the North ridge of Mt Tasman, NZ's second highest mountain!! It was the most exposed route I've ever done, and even more exciting with an ice axe borrowed from the hut. Thanks guys for an awesome trip, and thanks to all the people who fly-in and leave food in the huts, and all the people who gave us a hitch or a shuttle :)

Day 1: Bivi at the Rutherford, and an early start to climb the pass right of Armadillo saddle. I thought the steep and avalanche-prone Murchison headwall might end our trip, but it turned out to be an easy skin to the top, with 20 other ski-tourers following. Stayed at Kelman hut.

Day 2: Made an early start with the intention of climbing Ellie de Beaumont, but poor vis kept us in the hut playing Monopoly until the afternoon, when we climbed Hochstetter dome.

Day 3: Another early start to cross to Centennial hut in the West, via a long descent down the Tasman and a long climb up the Rudolf (which again was in condition--we could skin almost the entire way to the top). We were following/being followed by a Salomon-sponsored team of skiiers who were filming a re-enactment of the first Symphony on Skis trip 30 years ago.

Day 4: Yet another early start to go climbing! We climbed the NW face of the Minarettes (3040), then crossed to De La Beche (2950, with a bit of mixed climbing to the summit). We skied a few laps near Graeme saddle, then back to Centennial hut for dinner, before an epic long descent to Chancellor hut while the sun set over the Tasman sea.

Day 5: We had a morning off enjoying the sun and warmth at Chancellor hut, before climbing back up to Pioneer hut.

Day 6: Mt Tasman! (3497m). Started at 2am and got back at 2.30pm. Climbed Ledenfeld 2x on the way. 1 pitch of WI2+ through the obvious schrund on the lower ridge, then lots of soloing WI2 (mixture of frozen snow, ice, and cruddy snow). Conditions were great for us, but the Linda route and the Silberhorn route on Tasman were both blocked by crevasses apparently.

Day 7: Longest day so far: crossing back to Mt Cook Village via Pioneer Pass. Ryan and Paul had cut a route through the cornice, and we rapped down over the schrund and onto the Haast glacier. More schrund-jumping, 2 more abseils, some awesome route-finding by Jack, and a fast ski through a rockfall got us through the seracs and eventually to Glacier Dome (2424), Plateau hut, and the Grand Plateau. We skiied down the Boys glacier, then dropped into the gully for an easy crampon down avo debris to the Tasman glacier. A short stroll accross the morraine took us to Garbage Gully, Ball hut, and eventually the road at 10.30pm. Pippa and some climbers from Unwin hut were waiting with cold beers, which was exactly what we needed, cheers!!!

Day 8: Not finished yet! Some more hitching (cheers!), then I biked back to the start to collect the bivi gear.

Total climb was 10km, with 8 named passes and 8 summits. An awesome trip, I doubt any of us will see a weather window that good again.

 P1070025 Day 1, Extra lap of Harper Glacier
 P1070026 Jack on the Harper Glacier, against Mt Chudleigh backdrop
 P1070030 Ryan and Jack
 P1070033 Descent through the seracs 1000m down to the Murchison glacier
 P1070038 Glacier travel to Hochstetter dome
 P1070044 Paul climbs Hochstetter dome, Ellie de Beaumont in the background
 P1070045 Jack, Ryan and Dave climbing Hochstetter dome
 P1070060 Climbing the Rudolf glacier
 P1070068 Ridge near Graham saddle
 P1070085 After climbing De la Beche we dropped back into the Rudolf
 P1070093 Where's the route Ryan!
 P1070095 Relaxing morning at Chancellor hut, with instant noodles and salad greens!
 P1070101 Leaving Chancellor hut--time to cross back to the East
 P1070103 Mt Tasman, 2nd highest mountain in NZ, Jack and I climbed the N ridge (Left)
 P1070107 On the subsidiary top
 P1070109 Exposed climb and traverse to the summit
 P1070112 Summit ridge
 P1070126 Jack on the summit, Mt Cook in the background
 P1070130 Rare for me to make the summit, with the hut axe and a ski pole as a snowstake substitute
 P1070138 Jack descending the summit ridge
 P1070144 Rap down from Pioneer Pass
 P1070145 Crossing the schrund
 P1070149 Ryan and Jack
 P1070151 Paul crossing the next schrund in style
 P1070153 Jack
 P1070154 Ryan could have shown us how to jump the schrund
 P1070157 Preparing to descend Haast glacier seracs
 P1070160 2 raps, ski through the rockfall, jump the schrund, and out to safety
 P1070166 Final climb to Glacier Dome, the end is in sight
 P1070168 Jack approaching Plateau hut, Mt Cook in the background
 P1070169 Paul against the Tasman glacier and Mt Chudleigh
 P1070171 Glacier dome
 P1070173 Mt Cook from Glacier Dome
 P1070175 Jack descends to Plateau hut, Hockstetter icefall in the background
 P1070181 Not over yet for me, I biked up the public road to go and fetch our bivi kit
 P1070183 Almost back, E bank road is good except for deep fords on the Macaulay (not the Godley, which was easy to cross)

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