Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mt Bruce

Despite waking up to another day of wind and rain, Jane and I really wanted to get out for a ski today. The strong southerly meant that our best bet for some OK weather would be to head west and we figured that Bealey Spur or Mt Bruce could be a good bet. The Kelly Range is also worth a look during a southerly storm for fine weather, but they only get up to the 1300m range, so we figured the snow line would be to high still for that mission.
Mt Bruce's North Face, with line up and down.
Welcome! Jane at the start of the track.
We started out at the Cora Lynn end of the Cass/Lagoon Track and made it out of the bush in around 45mins. We were able to start skinning here, albeit on a thin covering of wet snow.
Jane skinning up.
The snow was very wet and pretty thin at first, before getting more supportive around 1350m. It was the first time we had been up Mt Bruce and were pretty impressed with the nice rolling terrain of the North Face, as well as the steep, couloir ridden South Face.
Jane on the "summit" (west) ridge.
We made it to Mt Bruce's 1630m high summit amid rain and wind. We had a quick look around, scouting out lines for a return when weather and snow conditions would be more favorable.
Jane and I on the top of Mt Bruce
Jane skiing down, with Bealey Spur and the Waimakariri River in the background.
Our first few turns off the top were pretty good, but we soon found ourselves doing survival turns down heavy, wet snow and tussock.
The skiing was a bit of a disappointment after skiing some nice powder mid week, but I am certainly not complaining- ITS STILL MAY! We are pretty lucky really to be skiing at all and at the end of the day I was just stoked to get out and ski somewhere that I have never been before. Exploring a new area and standing on a peak that I have looked at many times.


  1. Looks like you've some good early season turns. I'm looking to get out into the snow soon as well, and I'm wondering if you can suggest a couple of areas to check out for a bit of light ski mountaineering.

    Ryan G

  2. Hey Ryan,

    if your in the Canterbury area then Cheeseman is the obvious choice.
    There is a heap of snow for the first week of June, but it is still early season. I'd play its safe over the weekend. There has been some solid melt/freeze crusts in the pack, with the new snow last weekend from the south. I haven't been in the hills over the week, but have seen some activity on solar aspects. Also really cold temps -6 in Castle Hill! I would guess that there has been some crystal growth (weakening of crystal bonds) on southern aspects above and/or below these crusts.
    I'd keep it low angle/ridge travel until you have a feel for whats happening.
    If your down in Q'town I have heard the Remarks area is skiing well, and that there was good corn skiing from the Mueller Hut, in Mt Cook today!
    Let you know how you get on Ryan,


"The skier who forsakes the lifts to climb under his own power to a mountain summit is a very different person from the downhill only piste basher and is often regarded by the latter as something of a curiosity.
But he was the creator of the sport; and possibly with him lies the future"
-Robin Fedden, The book of Europen Skiing, 1966
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