Ascent of Mount Ruapehu on 2018-02-02

Climber: James Stone

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, February 2, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Ruapehu
    Location:New Zealand
    Elevation:2797 m / 9177 ft

Ascent Trip Report

An early start from the southern approach at Turoa against an unpromising weather forecast. Predicted 60kph winds and dry giving way to lower wind speeds and showers.

I followed the service road beyond the lower ski buildings and passed a substantial lagoon used, presumably, for snow making purposes. There were certainly a lot of snow making machines looking like forlorn daffodils.

By the time I reached the Winter Garden I was in cloud. With map and GPS I navigated using the ski lifts as handrails. The service "road" continuing beyond where shown on the map and winding its way upwards.

I had originally intended to find the lower end of the Skyline Ridge and work my way up from there. However I changed my mind when I reached the bottom of the Gliding Gladys glacier.

By now it was distinctly unpleasant in wetting heavy drizzle and strong wind. I strapped on crampons and made good time up the snow of the glacier.

At a steepening of the glacier at around 2450m I decided that the snow was becoming too firm for comfort so I resorted to the rocks to my right to decrampon and have a quick bite to eat.

From there I made a rising traverse towards the skyline to my right, just visible through the clouds. This was over a mixture of loose rock and very grippy volcanic slabs. At a couple of places there were some short sections of easy scrambling.

I edged my way up the Skyline Ridge. To my right I could see the top of the Mangaehuehue glacier. I eventually reached the narrowing of the ridge. Fortunately, the wind did not try to blow me off as the wind speeds seemed to be dropping. The summit was soon reached.

There was no view to be had. At least the rain had eased and the wind was bearable. The cloud threatened to peel away from time to time with the occasional blue patch appearing above. But it never lifted.

The wind was still fairly lively. After 15/20 minutes I started to get cold so I left abandoning my hopes of a view. My return route was much the same though I aimed for access to the glacier higher up. The rain had softened the surface. Again I made quick time once on the snow. The only slightly disconcerting element was the number of small stones on the surface of the snow - so rockfall may be a risk to be aware of with this route/approach.

As luck would have it the summit cleared about an hour after I had left it. But the clearance was brief and the summit was soon enveloped again. It was now also dry. By the time I reached the bottom I was also dry. The wind speeds had not dropped as much as promised. I was able to take shelter by one of the locked ski buildings just before a torrential downpour whilst waiting for my lift back to Ohakune.

Total round trip time was just under 6 hours.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles

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