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 Post subject: Whangaehu Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:42 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:49 am
Posts: 107
Location: mt ruapehu new zealand
finding partners to go BC can be difficult as most pple are working mon-fri and can only make it to the mtn for the weekends and the weather doesnt always comply let alone the snow conditions for those weekend days..so it was good news to link up with a good friend one busy saturday in October this season, the weather forecast was good, the snow ..well ...we had had no fresh for 10 days and the mtn was a cold hard blue ice block, freezing levels were low and our usual spring corn conditions had yet to kick in...fortunately a 3cm dusting on the friday night gave us hope we could find some good turns somewhere..

the plan was simple, ice axe and crampons for the 500m of vertical "hardpack" to the summit of Mt Ruapehu, then a nice descent down the crater wall for lunch at the lake (which faces north and should be released by the time we arrive at the top) and a quick skin for 2 km to access the Whangaehu Glacier ( a nice 500m descent) and hopefully some fresh turns . the forecast was for a fine day with light winds..to return we had the 500m vert skin back up the glacier and then a 1500m descent back down the Mangaturuturu Glacier to reach the carpark..usually this part of the trip is a bountiful corn harvest ,with the slopes catching the afternoon sun from the west.......

early morning conditions ice and windblown dust..crampons essential

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view from the top of the climb Mt Ruapehu crater lake

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our goal the Whangaehu Glacier just beyond" Pyramid Peak "in the foreground

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skinning back up after our first descent down the crater wall on the lhs background..conditions were good , the basin really traps the heat and the snow had released nicely

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spring turns in the crater basin

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not a cloud in the sky as we skin past the crater for lunch on the far side

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dwarfed by the crater wall cliffs, wary of rock and ice fall

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view of the Crater outlet and Paretetaitonga Peak in the distance

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just a beautiful day....

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our lunch spot on the other side of the lake, our first descent in the background between the peaks.....

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Matihao Peak at the entrance to the Whangaehu Glacier..know locally as the Cathedral Rocks

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our goal reveals itself to be in top condition, 5-7cm of fresh dry snow. ..the rock column on the far right skyline known as the clock tower overlooks the eastern side of Mt Ruapehu

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stoked after some more fresh turns..time to turn around and head home..aargh but is that high cloud in the distance

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10 minutes later our last glimpse of the sun and the beginning of a 3 hr nightmare return trip home

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whiteout conditions..less than a metre most of the time had us pulling out the compass to confirm where we were going..we finally arrive at our descent spot hoping for spring corn conditions, not to be the snow had frozen up hard and the windrift was not deep enough to hold a turn, I started down slowly hoping as we dropped that the snow would soften, should soften as it usually did, but lost an edge and slid for 30m or so before getting back on top of the board..nasty..it was now getting late and the desire to just ride home was strong, i placed my ice axe in my hand , strap on the wrist and continued..all fine ish until rounding a convex rollover in zero visibility i hit blue ice..losing my heel edge i started to slide fast, i could see my axe lying flat against the ice as i slid, i knew there was not much between me and several cliffbands and the possibility of a 1000m slide for life....i dont know how (survival instinct..shitting myself) but i turned the pick down on to the ice and climbed on top of it. slowly (all in slo mo) the pick started to scratch the surface and i finally arrested the fall..there i was in a complete whiteout no idea what was below me or how far i had slid held on to the slope by a few cm of steel.anchoring my heel edge....oh so slowly i began to chip out a ledge on the ice ..30 mins later i had enough of a ledge to take my pack off and get my crampons on..meanwhile my partner had slid as well spinning past me backwards..he managed to stop below me and we were both happy to be alive..crampons on we started to walk back but with no vis and cliffs about, another 2 hrs was spent covering a distance normally ridden in 10 minutes....made it home safely and didnt tell the wife..

i see there is some debate about riding with an axe in hand on the forum ..next time if i need an axe i will go one further and crampon to safety..its just not worth the risk

merry xmas all and hope your winter rules!


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 Post subject: Re: Waihinoa Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:24 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:02 pm
Posts: 249
Location: OR
It's amazing how quickly weather can change from blue to white. The clouds in the last few sunlit photos are ominous though. I'm happy that you and you're partner stuck the self-arrests and made it out unscathed.

The geography and photos are beautiful. Thanks for sharing this most excellent TR!

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 Post subject: Re: Waihinoa Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:27 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:24 pm
Posts: 262
Location: Salzburg / Austria
New Zealand is soo beautiful, what your amazing pictures prove again!

I've visited it from Mid-Oct - Nov. for three weeks with my girlfriend. Saw a lot of couloirs filled with snow, would have loved to ride them, but didn't have my gear available of course. (and mountainbiking, surfing, SUP, kajaking, jetboating, fergburgering!, glacier travel, hiking was fine as well. ;) )

Awesome pictures, and scary wheater change / sliding!


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 Post subject: Re: Waihinoa Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:59 am 
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Joined: Fri May 13, 2005 8:05 am
Posts: 1495
Location: 395
Unreal setting!


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 Post subject: Re: Waihinoa Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:49 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:44 pm
Posts: 29
Location: DTLA
Nice TR !

MMMM FERGBURGER!!! :drool:


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 Post subject: Re: Waihinoa Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:16 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:55 pm
Posts: 290
Location: Whistler, Coast Mtns
Love this photo......
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Waihinoa Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:57 am
Posts: 137
Location: Above the clouds
:thumpsup: I've made steep whiteout descents.
I've had to self arrest on a board.
I've never done both at the same time.

Holy Shit! That'll get the ol' ticker goin'!

Safe Travels :guinness:


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 Post subject: Re: Whangaehu Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:40 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:49 am
Posts: 107
Location: mt ruapehu new zealand
indeed i did have to re evaluate my approach to the mtn and what i do up there..took a week off before i got the appetite up again to hit the slopes..all good now and lessons learnt!..thanks for the comments :thumpsup: after 22yrs on this mtn i am always stoked on the terrain we have and the fact we ride a live volcano! ( that sliding feeling is not one i want to experience again)


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 Post subject: Re: Whangaehu Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:01 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:44 pm
Posts: 695
Location: The Magic City
Awesome juxtaposition to see your sunny spring photos during our race to the shortest day of the year here in MT! Beautiful work.

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 Post subject: Re: Whangaehu Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:04 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:29 pm
Posts: 297
Location: Tacoma,WA
Great Report! Glad you were able to arrest and live to ride another day! Just goes to show how the mountains can be so unpredictable and go from paradise to a nightmare in no time

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 Post subject: Re: Whangaehu Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:01 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 9:31 am
Posts: 269
Location: a vanagon somewhere in WA
hey nick,

thanks for the stunning photos of my favorite crater. i really wanted to go down to the "lake" when i was there but don't regret heading over to girdlestone instead. glad to see that you survived your slide to ride another day!

i think this spring i will make a habit of just wearing a harness & carrying some ice and snow anchors in easy reach. it's always right after things get too steep that i think about switching from skins (or a board!) to crampons and at that point it really is nice to have an anchor to clip in to.

keep up the great TRs!


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 Post subject: Re: Whangaehu Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:29 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:22 am
Posts: 83
Location: Bratislava, Slovakia, Europe
WHAT :shock:
are those pictures computer animated :mrgreen:
The light conditions on these photos are SICK!

Great pictures :thumpsup:

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One day it will be a Jones or Venture and a set of Karakorams :thumpsup:
Now it's Burton S-Series 165, old Nidecker bindings and Gecko skins
... Times change so now the stoke is on Tesla system and Afterburner bindings and K2 Ultrasplit...


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 Post subject: Re: Whangaehu Glacier Mt Ruapehu
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 7:46 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 25, 2008 7:44 pm
Posts: 127
Location: Japan
beau-ti-ful ! NZ - to do list!
glad the self arrest worked out and you did not become a statistic. Once safe and the adrenaline stopped pumpin' you must have had one of those "f' can't believe I'm still alive!" moments. Am sure you appreciated the comfort of your home when you made it back. :-). Thanks for the TR.


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