Monday, November 15, 2010

Southward Bound

With the general public punter ski season come and gone on the North Island I headed south to see what the snow was like in the Southern Alps. With memories of a ski attempt on Mt Cook two years prior it was safe to say that redemption was on the mind. Getting the right weather and crew to do it was another story. It had snowed and then gotten and stayed warm so my first day on the Tasman I just wanted to go for a look on foot to see where the snow line was and try to get a view of the conditions up high. I departed at 10pm well knowing that the slopes down low had not had a freeze in several days. The solo recon mission turned into a 16 hour glacial moraine death march, that involved a lot of effort for little reward and the bonus of a strained knee.

It was quite comical actually, at one point I found myself putting my crampons on in the dark to descend down the steep, loose dirt jumble of glacial moraine wall. I couldn't find the easiest way down it due to the darkness so the easiest solution was to down climb what appeared to be the best way. On return later in the day it was evident that my route finding was a bit off the mark.

After a heli lift up the Grand Plateau and a couple of days on skis it became evident that the big lines in the area would have to wait. One thing was for sure though, anytime hanging out above the Tasman Glacier is good time. It is just a phenomenally beautiful place!