Finally, I was done with my avalanche two. I’d been doing alot of research on a beautiful peak I’d spotted in the Rakia headwaters two springs ago, from the Garden of Eden neve, and Shane Orchard was as usual, very interested. However, on the last few days of course I’d watched the forecast models mutate from 20cm of fresh to 300mm of rain; which is exactly what happened. I got a day or two at BR, having a blast riding again nonetheless, and headed back south for work. Taqlk with Shane continued though, and finally, we headed for The North Huxley river. We’d both been wondering about the Hopkins area for years…classic tramping country, appealing after a diet of Canterbury Alps river-bed bashing… and , not for the first time, based out final objective off another of thoise spectacular FMC bulletin cover photos. Mt Cook lillys, ranunculus lyalli, waved before a sea of tussock, which abruptly reared into steep, straightforward snow, cresting amongst jagged teeth.
What we found was exactly that. The classic NZ ski trip of course, begins with a walk in during the rain, and a cup of tea at every hut encountered. After setting the fire at Brodrick Hut that evening, I startkled six red deer in the gully below the hut. Next morning, we discovered a ‘superbowl’ of perfect spines, almost unheard of in NZ, however with the freezing level riding and early sun on cold new snow, the only window for us would have been about the moment we saw it. earmarked for a return! Bill McCleod’s peak ‘clink’ looked rinsed by the rain, and Mt Trent proved slow going later, and none to safe, so that plan was scrapped. However, Mt Fraser was looking BOSS. So, up we went, and down we came. A first descent of a classic, classic ski line; it also seems to be the first ascent of the route, an obvious ramp rearing up gradually from 40 degrees at the schrund to maybe 50 at top. Geoff Gabites and Bill did a more involved climb aroundf the corner though, back in the day. spotted a beaut ice line too. We would be back! In fact, shane sat out two days of old man Nor-Wester in the hut; to score a nice descent of Mt Strauchon; I instead allowed the gathering NW to blow me back down the valley, with clouds of dust from the riverbed, and back to work. huxley forks hut.Broderick Hut.
shane-o. all photos copyright Ruari Macfarlane I feeljustified in calling this 600m line ‘classic’. well worth a wee walk. alot of potential very close too. Go take a look… a good mid-late winter destination I reckon, although the avy paths into the valleys ARE big…there’s alot of verticle relief, though the peaks be moderate.