Cheeseman & Crackers – Mt Cheeseman(2031m)

“A Mish a Day” #58 Mt Cheeseman(2031m). Craigieburn Forest Park. 31.8.2016. It is amazing what you can achieve in 24 hours. It is incredible how many mountains there are in the South Island that can be ascended in a short amount of time, but still gives you the rewards of a stunning view. Mt Cheeseman(2031m) in the Craigieburn Range is a large lump connected to other mountains that are similar, and can be climbed in several ways . Mt Cheeseman Ski field is one of my favorites and the most common way people choose to climb Mt Cheeseman(2031m). I have looked up towards Mt Cheeseman from Texas Flat many times while visiting the area, and dreamt of standing on it’s snowy summit. The mountain is located just over 2km south of the ski field and my approach was going to be from a campsite at the base of the south east ridge. This reasonably short ridge rises over 1100m from the road at Texas Flat, and just screams “CLIMB ME”…

I arrived at the car park in the late afternoon sun, and it took around one hour to find a suitable spot to pitch my tent. To get there I followed the Hogs Back Track to where it is close to the ridge and by this time the sun had disappeared behind the Craigieburn Range. The night was cold and clear with a sky full of stars, and I could see cars and trucks zooming along Highway-73 from my chilly camping spot.

Up Early-ish

An early-ish start was needed to cover the distance, and I was off at first light (after another epic mountain sunrise!). Starting on tussock and rock, the route steepens the higher I got, and it wasn’t long before I reached the snowline. The peak has two summits and the low peak needed to be climbed before a traverse to the high peak. I topped out on the low peak, and then started towards the true summit. As I traversed the airy ridge I spotted a very surprised skier staring at me, and probably wondering where the hell I had come from. We waved to each other and then I carried on to the summit and the skier turned back to the ski field. I finally got to the summit and the sight was incredible, with views of the other peaks in the Craigieburn Range, as well as a view over to Mt Olympus(2094m) and the mountains that surround it. I could even see as far as the flats of the Rakaia River, and the area around Lake Coleridge. I descended the south east ridge and in some parts I could glissade (slide down) slopes in minutes which took hours to climb. I finally got back on to the rock section of the climb which gave my knees a good run for their money. After getting back to my camp I packed up quickly and was back in Christchurch in no time with my mountain cravings taken care of….for now…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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