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…
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.
Above: We had a nice view of the Caroline Glacier.
Above left: We trekked upwards. Above right: We had a bit of a view over to the Caroline Face while we climbed.
Above left: Barry the kea came out to play. Above right: While sunshine would have been nicer, the clouds did provide a certain something.
Above: Heading up from Caroline Hut along the ridge.
Above left: Gina and Jeremy reach the top of the ridge leading to Caroline Hut. Above right: There was ample opportunity for posy photos.
Above left: Hazel looked at the Tasman Terminal Lake. Above right: I posed some more. Notice the ice axe at the ready poised to help me self-arrest in case I slip out on this terrifying patch of snow.
Above left: We had a tantalising view of the pass with a bit of blue sky. Above right: But the blue sky soon vanished again as we traversed the last section from the main ridge to the pass.
Above left: The view from the top wasn’t brilliant but we were happy enough. Above right: Then began the descent. Actually the descent began before this photo. We had a snow section to begin with followed by rocks later on.
Above left: We had nice views out to the Hooker Glacier. Above middle: Jeremy and I did some scouting for potential routes which turned into a bit of rock scrambling. Fun fun. Above right: We descended on a tongue of snow into the valley that I could see a week later with Simon and William as we ascended to Mueller Hut.
Above: A Lovell-Smith pan across the Hooker Glacier.
Above left: Mikey descends on a tricky patch of snow. Above middle: Hazel does some front pointing. Above right: Jeremy and Gina walking out with the Hooker Terminal Lake behind.
And here’s a link to a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure: More photos