Monday, November 26, 2012

Fun on Mt Ruapehu

In preparation for our planned trip to the South Island next month we headed up to Ruapehu to try a few things out - top of the list was to practise crevasse extraction. If the conditions are right to climb Mt Aspiring at Christmas time that will involve crossing the Bonar glacier. From what I've read the glacier can be quite heavily crevassed so there is a risk of falling down one. All well and good if you know the techniques of extraction so it was time to go do some practise.

We headed up to the Alpine Club lodge on Tukino on Saturday afternoon with the plan to spend Sunday on the snow. There had been some warnings about the volcanic status of the mountain over the past couple of weeks so we checked the latest news before heading up there. Apparently they've discovered that the crater lake is quite cool (20 - 25 degrees celsius) while the mountain underneath a few hundred metres down is extremely hot (800 degrees celsius). That is a sign that it could blow at some stage. Anyway, we checked out where the lahar paths are on the mountain and knew that the lodge itself is in a relatively safe location - of course if the mountain really blew big-time then the whole mountain could blow apart. From what I understand, the crater lake is behind and a little to the right of the snowy peak (Pyramid Peak) on the right side of the photo below.

As we are heading into summer I wondered what the snow cover would be on the mountain. Here's a photo I took when we got there on Saturday afternoon. Looks pretty good to me.

Here's a wider photo of the mountain. Pyramid Peak is just to the left of the middle of the photo.

We went for a bit of a walk when we got there to figure out where we could do our practise the following day. On returning to the lodge it was time for dinner and a good sleep. We had the lodge to ourselves - in fact it seemed we had that side of the mountain to ourselves.

In the morning we woke to a fine, calm day. In the distance we had a great view of Mt Ngauruhoe and to the right you can see a column of white. We're pretty sure that is steam coming from Mt Tongariro which erupted last week.

Here's a photo of the pulley system we setup. I was the lucky one who got to jump into the schrund (a bit like a crevasse) that was just below these rocks to test out the system.

And that's a picture of me at the bottom of the slope we were working on. The photo was taken about two thirds of the way down the slope.

After a fantastic day on the snow and in the sun we packed up and headed for home. The last photo is taken from the Desert Road looking back at Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe.