Thursday, January 12, 2012

Final part of the South Island trip report

After our climb of the Nun's Veil we successfully caught a boat back across the lake the following morning. We returned to Unwin Lodge and had a good brunch before sorting out our gear so we would be ready for the next day. We went up to Mt Cook village and checked a few things out with DOC and decided we would climb Ball Pass the following day (Friday), stay overnight somewhere and walk out the following day (Saturday). We had some time constraints to work within as we needed to be in Picton by 7am on Sunday morning. Also the weather forecast was not looking wonderful - talk of high winds and rain! We hooked up with two others who were keen to do the trip - Matt (the Australian) and Jenny (a teacher from Wellington).

After a good sleep we woke to the sound of rain. On looking out the window the cloud was low but didn't seem to be too thick. We had a good breakfast and then decided we would do Ball Pass anyway with the option of turning back if the weather was too rough. At this stage Matt pulled out of the trip but Jenny was keen so we headed off for the drive up the side of the Tasman glacier. The road is about as rough as it gets so it was a slow trip trying to avoid damaging the van.

We managed to get almost to the end of the road before parking up and starting to walk. It took us about an hour to reach Ball Shelter - a very tame walk to get there.

After checking out the hut we started the climb up Ball Ridge.

The route was a little tricky to follow and we ended up in a few challenging situations at times but nothing that forced us to retrace our steps. There are wonderful views of the Caroline face of Mt Cook from the track. Lots of rumbling from there as ice cliffs were falling throughout the day.

We had a lunch break along the way and arrived at Caroline Hut mid-afternoon.

After a cup of tea it was time for the last part of the climb up to Ball Pass. We'd decided by now that we wouldn't go over the pass and down the other side. Instead we would go to the top of the pass then head back down and find somewhere to camp for the night. Jenny decided she would continue on over the top by herself. Here's a photo of Jenny and I at the top of the pass.

These photos are looking back up at the pass on our way back down to Caroline Hut.

We bumped into some keas on the way back down Ball Ridge. They allowed us to get very close to them before they would squawk and step away.

Here's where we spent the night - a little bivvy spot right beside the track. Sadly it rained and the new fly we had bought leaked - it was promptly returned when we got back to Wellington.

Next day the weather cleared so here is one last photo taken as we got to the car the following morning.

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