Ascent of Mount Ruapehu on 2019-03-15

Climber: Duncan Lennon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, March 15, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Ruapehu
    Location:New Zealand
    Elevation:9177 ft / 2797 m

Ascent Trip Report

Classic! I was really excited for this climb, so I resolved to wait for perfect weather before heading up. I had two down days in Ohakune, resting and doing life stuff while thousands of people were undertaking the Tongariro crossing in the rain. The 15th had a great forecast and in the morning I had my first view of the mountain. I was psyched!

I left the Turoa base lodge at 8, following Woodall's track through the ski area. At the top of the highest lift, I broke right and cramponed up the permanent snow until it steepened, at which point I continued slightly right across basalt slabs to Skyline Ridge. This whole section was in the shade. Eventually the rock quality diminished and the final scramble was like low-angle choss Jenga.

The summit was incredible. The Land of the Long White Cloud lay curled up around the massif, while closer at hand was a complexly beautiful scene that words and even photos can't describe. I happily sunbathed for a while, joined by some iridescent purple insects. It was early; the ascent had only taken 2:07. I eyed up Paretetaitonga, the island's second tallest peak, squatting benignly halfway around the crater rim.

Just north of the Tahurangi summit is a cliff, so I skirted down towards the west and tried to take on the rest of the crater rim. There are several cliffs here that I would be more excited to climb (traveling southward) than descend. I was stymied. I reversed and dropped into the crater, thankful for my crampons as I crossed snow, scree, and small ledge bands. The walk was spectacular and perfumed with sulphur, and soon I was at the 2620 meter col.

My view of this subsummit had somehow been distorted, because it wasn't that straightforward. Steep snowfields led up to the top from either side, but I didn't have an axe. The direct ridge looked like more choss malarkey. I'd already had an amazing day, so wasn't disappointed to turn back and contour the west slope back to the ski area. This went okay, but I was certainly glad of my crampons which kept facilitating short 50° downclimbs into snowy gulleys. It took me over four hours to reach my car from the main summit, but I was grateful for the great weather that enabled my random walkabout. This climb was, if anything, more special than I expected. Years ago I walked around the peak on the amazing Round-the-Mountain Track, so this was a cool annular fulfilment.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)

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