Trampers go climbing - Ruapehu Summit Plateau
5 August 2023
I was scared, really scared.
I’m not talking about steep icy slopes, possible avalanche danger or predicted 40 km winds. No, I was more terrified of running a Lodge weekend for a bunch of ungrateful ski bums! How do you dig the door out of the ice? Which water pipe to turn on first? Where's the milk powder? Are there any baked beans left? Who gets the luxury suites?
Luckily, Jo got up to the lodge early and by the time we staggered in, late at night, everything was toasty and functional. She’d even reserved Double-Trouble for Sarah and me.
After a week of storms, Saturday dawned fine with just a 20 km breeze up on the summit. Donning unfamiliar crampons and helmets and armed with ice axes we were off on the climb to Delta Corner. Conditions were a dream - just enough crust to give purchase and views stretching from Ngāuruhoe to Taranaki Maunga.
By the time we got to the corner, the mountain was waking up. RAL crews were de-icing chair lifts and climbers, with similar ambitions to ours, were dotted across the slopes.
We were a mixed bag of ambitions, so split into two teams. Kobus and Mike tackling Te Heu Heu while the rest of us headed to the top of the Far West T Bar and from there, onto the easy ascent of the Whakapapa Glacier.
As we passed through spectacular geometrically shaped sastrugi, Paretetaitonga towered over us. On any other day it would have been a must-bag peak but we were in cruise mode - popping over the rim to take in the Crater Lake, before nailing our very own summit - a rime-covered Dome. Down-climbing into the plateau, we stopped for a late lunch, before trekking across the wide polar-like expanse to find an exit point beyond Glacier Peak.
It didn’t look the most promising of routes, but down we went anyway. A steep 300m of unrelenting concentration. We took our time and despite a theatrically impressive bout of cramp by Bharat, made it into the easy gully above Delta Corner in under an hour.
Back at the lodge, Jo already had the nibbles laid out whilst Sarah got preparations underway for the honey-glazed drumsticks. Meanwhile the Irish mob were happy enough with toasties, the students with hash browns and Arran’s team was cooking up an unprepossessing vegan stir-fry (nothing our leftover chicken jus didn’t improve!).
By the time Ted and his climbing buddy cruised in at 7.30 p.m., we were a full house, the drumsticks long gone and the left-over crumble hoovered up by the pseudo vegans. All that was left to do was to lay on the bean bags and watch surprisingly appreciative ski bums slave over the dishes. Who says Ruapehu doesn’t go off?
- Party members
- (leader and scribe).Paul McCredie (leader and scribe), Kobus Boshoff, Mike Buchanan, Bharat Pancha, Jo Poole (honorary climber), Nina Sawicki, Hannele Tulkki Williams, Sarah White, Folkers Williams, Cathy Wylie.