The Tramper’s Mountain – Avalanche Peak(1833m)

“A Mish a Day” #48 Avalanche Peak(1833m). Arthurs Pass National Park. 10.5.2011. Avalanche Peak is a classic trampers’ mountain – easy access from Arthurs Pass Village, and it can be climbed comfortably in a day. With that said the mountain is far from a hill and should be treated with caution. At 1833m it is exposed to the elements and during the months of winter it will live up to its name. However, if done right a climb up Avalanche Peak(1833m) can be one of the best day climbs in all of New Zealand.

On this trip I stayed in my van / home at the time, at the Klondyke Corner campsite and had a nice night on the banks of the Waimakariri watching the local Kea play with the many toys the other tourist had unknowingly brought them. An early-ish start with a short drive back into the village had me on the track at first light. Kea provide the best entertainment with their inquisitive nature, as long as they aren’t destroying anything you own. There are two tracks that lead to the summit, and I chose to climb up beside Avalanche Creek (steepest track) then descend via Scotts Creek Track. The first part is steep scrambling, but luckily with many points for breaks with views of the numerous waterfalls that plummet their way down Avalanche Creek. Once up above the treeline there are views in every direction, and the hard work climbing up is rewarded. There is also a basin to cross before the last scramble through the scree near the top. This is the area that gives the mountain its name. Throughout the winter the little basin is bombed by avalanches from the slopes above – not a place to linger during the cold months. Although there were clouds covering the high peaks, I still had awesome views down the Bealey Valley to the Waimakariri River, and also of the Crow Glacier on Mt Rolleston(2275m). What goes up must come down, and luckily the hike back down the Scotts Creek Track isn’t as steep as the way up via the Avalanche Creek Track. The Scotts Creek Track is definitely an easier way down for the knees, and also the views across to Devils Punchbowl Falls are epic.

Unfortunately the track sees its fair share of rescues due to people underestimating the size and time needed to climb the mountain. On my way down I passed the classic tourist with a plastic bag and T-shirt/shorts combo asking how far to the top about 1/4 of the way up… I think he survived. As the road over Arthurs Pass gets closer the sense of accomplishment grows, and then all of a sudden the track spits you out onto the road about five minutes’ walk from the little village. I got back to my car in no time and even had time to watch the train station Kea destroy a back wheel cover on a car in the car park. Avalanche Peak(1833m) is one of the best day hikes from Arthurs Pass, and for those prepared and with a day to spare, I highly recommend a wander up it.

The Crow Glacier

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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