V Notch Pass

Day 2 of our tramp over V Notch Pass.

We left South Temple Hut in the morning and continued up the river. The track/route had been washed away in parts so there were some premium bush bashing moments to be had with some spiky spaniard goodness. After a while the track split in two with one branch heading up to Gun Sight Pass and the other branch heading up to V Notch pass. Craig was feeling ill so we stopped for lunch just after the junction and munched on things in the sunshine.

We decided to split up. Craig, Regan, and Jeremy were to attempt Gun Sight Pass or walk back to South Temple Hut and possibly back to the road end to meet Kenith who had already walked out with a bung knee. Gina, Francis, Beth, and I were to attempt V Notch Pass.

We headed off up the river and it wasn’t so long before we reached the scree slopes at the head of the valley. We did some scree clambering until we reached a long thin patch of snow that ascended towards the summit. We stuck on our crampons and kicked steps up the snow. It turned out to be quite steep – I reckoned between 35 and 40 degrees – but the snow was good and Gina and I became step kicking factories.

We jumped back on to the rock at some point and plodded up in the wind and spindrift that was being blown into our faces. We had a great view of the snowy mountains at the top as we traversed around to V Notch Pass with some snow plodding again at the end. We descended backwards on a tongue of snow from the pass, front pointing into the snow and using our ice axes as hand holds. It was then a little more steep rock and then snow grass and we reached the scrub which continued into the valley.

The scrub proved to be quite entertaining. We wallowed and swam our way down the steep slopes. At times we fell down little banks but were always caught by various branches. We managed to avoid falling off any of the larger bluffs and found our way to the grass below where Beth informed us that she had been raped by hundreds of trees.

It was looking decidedly like evening as we headed down the river. Around about 9 pm we spotted some orange Minarets on the true right of the river next to the South Huxely Biv. It was Keren, Achim, Mikey, and Hazel and we found them cozied up in the biv. Francis and Beth cooked dinner while we hung about in the biv and ate truffels. We ate and briefly celebrated the Samoan new year which happily allowed us to go to bed an hour earlier than if we’d celebrated the NZ new year.

View along the riverbed (Tramping V Notch Pass)Bush bashing fun (Tramping V Notch Pass)Gina and Beth walking (Tramping V Notch Pass)

Above left: Arthurs Pass April 2009. Above middle: We had some trouble following the route as it had been washed away in parts so we had some bush bashing fun along the side of the river at times. Above right: Gina, Beth, Francis, and I headed up over V Notch Pass while the others headed over Gun Sight Pass.

Gina walking (Tramping V Notch Pass)Some steep snow to ascend (Tramping V Notch Pass)Traversing to the pass (Tramping V Notch Pass)

Above left: The route to V Notch Pass involved ascending to a ridge and then traversing around to the pass. The route became more alpine as we ascended. Above middle: We had a steep section of snow to navigate. I reckoned between 35 and 40 degrees. Gina and I kicked steps to the top. Above right: And a nice traverse over to V Notch Pass. That’s the flat section of snow at the low point on the ridge.

Gina below the pass (Tramping V Notch Pass)Gina and Beth talking (Tramping V Notch Pass)

Above left: Gina waits during the last ascent to the pass. You can see footprints from the other half of our party that walked up the Ahuriri valley. Above right: Beth and Gina do some nattering at the pass.

Gina down climbing (Tramping V Notch Pass)Cris and Gina descending on the tongue of snow at V Notch Pass (Tramping V Notch Pass)Gina kicking in (Tramping V Notch Pass)

Above left: Then it was time to down climb. The snow was quite happy and soft. Above middle: Gina and I lead the way front pointing and using our ice axes. Above right: Gina shows off her kicking skills.

Gina on a bluffy bit (Tramping V Notch Pass)Heading down the river (Tramping V Notch Pass)

Above left: After descending from the pass we eventually reached the bush line and had some gnarly scrub to navigate. We went for the approach of tumbling through the scrub trying to avoid the bigger bluffs. It worked well. Above right: It was getting later by the time we neared the Biv.

South Huxley Biv (Tramping V Notch Pass)

Above: We stayed the night in and around the South Huxley Biv. The rest of our party that had gone up the Ahuriri were in the Biv so we celebrated New Years Eve with them.

Above: We slogged up to V Notch pass while the weather couldn’t make up its mind.


Above: Our descent from V Notch pass was a bush bashing game.

Above: There was some trudging involved. But it was good trudging.

View Larger Topographic Map
Above: And a dinky map of our route courtesy of topomap.co.nz.

South Temple Hut

Day 1 of our tramp over V Notch Pass near Mt Huxley.

We headed off from Mt Cook Village at a very leisurely hour and drove to Lake Ohau and onwards to the Temple Valley. The rain cleared while Gina, Jeremy, and Regan did a car shuttle to the bottom of the Huxley Valley, and we had a chance to dry tents in the sunshine. We set off up the South branch of the Temple walking either in the riverbed or on the track next to it. It was a nice short 3-ish hour walk into the South Temple Hut which turned out to be a nice 8 person hut rather than the 2 person biv we had been expecting.

Tramping up the South Temple 2 (Tramping V Notch Pass)Tramping through the bush (Tramping V Notch Pass)

Above left: We set off up the South Temple Valley to the South Temple Hut. Above right: We had a mix of walking in the river bed and walking on a track next to the river. It was sunny and rainy and sunny and rainy.

South Temple Hut (Tramping V Notch Pass)

Above: The South Temple Hut was a nice little 6-ish person hut which made us happy.

Ball Pass Dec 2013

The plan was to do a day trip over Ball Pass. So at 5 am we jumped into the cars at the Mt Cook campsite and drove up the road towards the Tasman Glacier. Gina and I bumped along in Kieran’s poor 2wd car trying to keep up with Jeremy’s 4wd with somewhat better clearance. The road was definitely suited for 4wds but I only had to get out, clear rocks, sit on the bonnet, give up, and push once as both Gina and Jeremy did a good job of driving along the heaped stones on either side of the wheel ruts.

We set off in crappy misty rubbish and walked to a hut which seems to have replaced the old Ball Shelter. Not long afterwards we turned and headed up the ridge to Caroline Hut. The cloud cleared a little and we could see parts of the Ball and Tasman Glaciers as we climbed. Later we had views onto the bottom of the Caroline Face, and every now-and-then we’d hear and see snow and ice breaking off and crashing down the face.

We had an early lunch at Caroline Hut and then continued up to the pass alternating between walking across snow slopes with our crampons and clambering over rocks on the ridge. We reached the pass, took a couple of happy snaps, and descended down the other side. We eventually came across the rest of our group coming the other way. Then it was some more rock scrambling and descending down some snow and we were in the Hooker valley. We trekked out arriving back at the camp site around 7 pm. Thirteen hours on our feet. Not bad…

And now for the pictures and whatnot…

View Larger Topographic Map
Above: A cunning map of our route with help from www.topomap.co.nz. Let’s hope their website sticks around as long as this one…


Jeremy and Hazel examine the ridge (Ball Pass Dec 2013)Jeremy and Hazel in the mist (Ball Pass Dec 2013)View of the Tasman Glacier (Ball Pass Dec 2013)

Above left: It was pretty misty when we set off in the morning. We drove to the car park up the road next to the Tasman Glacier and set off from the cars at 6 am. Above middle: The ridge up towards Caroline hut was funky. Above right: It began to clear at some point and we could see the glaciers below.


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