We started the day with a chairlift ride over the barren lower slopes, and then a shot of espresso and a slathering of sunscreen at the ski patrol HQ. At 9 we started skinning on firm snow up the slopes to the saddle between Tukino Peak and Glacier Knob. A quick skate across the summit plateau brought us to the top of the Mangatoetoenui Gl. and its easterly aspect was already slightly softened by the morning sun and offered up some brilliant first turns for the day.
|Mike hiking the last section to the saddle.|
|turns down the upper Mangatoetoenui|
From here a short skin back up to Cathedral Rock was followed by descent of the Whangaehu Gl. on firm snow before wrapping around a ridge into the Crater Lake drainage. As we skinned up the drainage a barrage of rocks from the rapidly warming northern slopes of Mitre Peak reminded us that spring was well and truly upon us. Our route up the large basin was well protected though and had a perfect firm surface for crampons.
|Mike skiing below Cathedral Rocks|
|Skinning up the Crater Lk. drainage|
|And booting up towards Mitre Peak.|
|Mike starting down the Wahianoa Glacier with Girdlestone in the centre of the picture|
|Mike above the Mangaehuehu glacier with Girdlestone peak in the background|
|Skiing the Mangaturuturu glacier|
|Another view of Crater Lake|
|Mike on the last descent of the day back down to Whakapapa.|
This traverse confirmed my long held suspicions that ski touring on Ruapehu is all about the spring corn: just when the crowds are thinning out, the skiing is at its absolute best. Looking forward to the final few weeks on the mountain and some more great spring skiing!