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Saturday, 20 July 2013

Ruapehu Rock & Ice

Winter is on, with a vengeance. Ruapehu has seen plenty of climbing over the past week, despite some vicious weather throwing down severe gales and puking snow. All great experience in preparation for the big mountains!

First up was an Avalanche Awareness Course attended by 10 AUTC and AURACians, including some budding instructors. Over the course of the week, the mountain went from bare to blasted, loading up lee slopes but providing plenty of sweet powder for the skiers. Avalanche conditions were suspect after the big dumps so all trips to the plateau were ruled out.

However, weather cleared for amazing climbing on the Pinnacles and crags near Whakapapa, putting pitched climbing into practice and developing techniques for mixed, rock & ice climbing. A token snow cave was dug during a blizzard, accompanying the previous group's classy igloo, highlighting the need for adequate shelter in the mountains. 

The plush Ruapehu hut hosted the annual Prussik Traverse event with a new best time set at 7m42s, and plenty of traverses of the table were pulled through. A great week to recap easily forgotten alpine skills like crevasse rescue pulley systems, escaping a belay to rescue injured climbers, and setting snow anchors for belay or abseil.

Our group took full advantage of every gap in the weather, and watching the Knoll Ridge waterfall form during the week's storms, our patience culminated in a searing ice climb of the frozen cascade late on the last night.

Owen skiing fantastic powder over to the Pinnacles
Jason belaying up Ian on Pink Floyd Buttress

Jason mixed climbing at Delta Corner

Dynamic moves on the table traverse

Rachael preparing the igloo for the night

Sylvie hooking icy rock at the crux

An eerie abseil into the abyss

A view from the col

Mixed climbing at Knoll Ridge

Ian and Jason in close quarters on the prussik traverse

Will gearing up with Ngauruhoe behind

Will connecting entrances for the snow cave, built in blizzard conditions

Heading out for an evening ice climb from Ruapehu Hut
Jason wading through waist deep spindrift on the return journey
Ice climbing on dusk at Knoll Ridge

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