Winter and Somers (Part One) – Mt Somers Camp

“On a Mish” #103 Winter & Mount Somers – Part One. Mt Somers Camp. Hakatere Conservation Park.10.7.2017. When flying into Christchurch from the west it is always fascinating seeing the abrupt stoppage of mountains at the western reaches of the Canterbury Plains. A couple of small villages sit at the base of the mountains, each having their own peak / giant castle. One of these mountain castles is the pyramid-shaped peak of Mt Somers(1688m), which oversees the activities in the little village at its base…

I have had many adventures up and around the tiny town and its mountain and as time rolls on, whether it be winter or summer, I will (hopefully) have many more. Needing a mid winter outing in 2017, I decided to go camping on the Southface of Mt Somers(1688m). The Southface hides from the sun during the winter and this makes it the coldest part of the mountain.

So why go camping there?

The Southface looks over the plains with an unblocked view all the way to the East Coast and Banks Peninsula, plus the endless blue of the Pacific Ocean. Just thinking about the potential view had me excited, so after gathering my gear I crossed the plains enroute to my adventure on Mt Somers.

The forest and aspect of the Sharplin Falls car park mean the area is in a state of permafrost during the dark months of winter, and a chill came over the car as I drove into the winter shadow and parked up. With my breath thick in the air I warmed up quickly with my climb on the frosty ground up and over Hookey Knob(731m). Once above the knob, finding the motivation to climb higher with the added weight of my camping gear was easy as views across the Canterbury Plains increased in epicness with each step higher in altitude.

The track started as a mixture of dirt and frost, then once up and over Staveley Hill(1085m) I was in the Southface shadow and crushing my way through snow. Just beyond Staveley Hill(1085m) I turned off the South Face Track and onto the Mt Somers Summit Track and the snow became thicker and much more solid. I had some interesting moments climbing up a frozen section of creek, which still had water running underneath the ice. The ice was very thick, but also clear enough to see the rush water under my feet as I carefully crept my way uphill.

Just before the steep climb up the southeast ridge I found what was probably the only small flat area you could squeeze a tent on. I had to clear away some snow and ice to make the spot just right, and the effort was worth it as not long after setting up my campsite I enjoyed a warming meal, and took in the epic surroundings. I really enjoy the moment when what was an idea becomes a reality, and this reality had an epic view!

Winter Camp on Mt Somers

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter