Visiting Mt. Ruapehu on the North Island

I had an itching to ride some sweet volcano corn and decided late spring was the time to head to the North Island and check out Mount Ruapehu, so after a few much needed days of R and R staying with my friend Ryan in Christchurch I was on a plane heading to Wellington.

If I fly with my fitwells on I can pack 2kg more of gear

I was super lucky that Simon Edwards was kind enough to pick me up at teh Wellington Airport and carpool with me up to Ohakune where I met up with my friend Shannon and we waited for a storm to push through. I had the intentions of riding corn but once I arrived the volcano got blasted with snow for 2 days straight. It was our intent to stay at the NZAC hut on the North side of the volcano and found that we could take a shuttle for 40$ or we could carpool to the southside and ride Turoa for 50$ in 30cms of new snow then climb up and over in the afternoon, we decided to do the latter.

Turoa with 30cms of new

From around 9 a.m. to a little after noon we had a blast riding Maritime style pow and though I had never been to the resort it was easy to traverse and find the goods. We kept going further and further until that got tracked out as well then decided it was time to climb up and over the volcano and find our shelter.

Conditions were a total whiteout the whole climb and I carefully navigated off of slope angle and elevation making it all the way to the summit with almost zero visibility, I don’t recommend doing this but I felt confident in my abilities. I knew I was on the summit the moment the terrain flatened and I could smell sulfur and it was at this moment that the clouds cleared up for a second revealing the crater lake.

I think we made it to the top

Once on the summit we found a low col that dropped off the North side and carefully navigated our way down until we got under the clouds. It was a sigh of relief when we got within the Whakapapa ski field and found the hut just as the sunset alpenglow was starting to arrive.

Sunset over Mt. Ngauruhoe

Sunset over the West Coast and Taranaki

3,000 vert of summit above you and accessed in 90 minutes

It was a full moon and there was powder to be had so Shannon and I decided to start moving at 3:30 a.m. and ride the southern powder slopes through the glow of the moon. It was a surreal experience.

Enjoy the show

Shannon skinning across the summit

Powder, Full moon and sunrise= perfection

The Shadow of the volcano appearing

That day I went from a NE to west circle going counter clockwise and hitting all the glaciers along the way.

Hello sun

I expected nice protected pow on the glaciers but all the Eastern aspects were pretty hammered by the wind.

About to descend the Mangatoetoenui Glacier

After riding the Mangaturuturu Mangatoetoenui and Whangaehu glaciers I decided to head for the true summit of Tahurangi via a direct route inside the crater. I expected it to be mellow climbing but near the top turned into solid Ice climbing. By that time it was about 10:30 A.M. and I was sure everyone from Turoa had hiked the 2,000 vert to the top and was tracking it out but when I got there I realized I was about 20 minutes ahead of the crowd bootpacking up for first tracks, so I transitioned and made my way down as a hundred people hooted and hollered.

Thanks for the bootpack guys

Once I rode down to the top of the chair I followed the bootpack to the summit ridge then put on some crampons for the spicy sidehill to the true summt. Here there was a hundred people but I shared the true summit with only one other guy.

Looking at the crater from the True summit

I rode both the Wahianoa and Mangaehuehu glacier before heading down to the Turoa resort to grab some much needed water for my final climb of the day then set my way back up to climb the volcano for the 6th and final time that day. I was really exhausted and not stoked to find that snowshoers had destroyed my skin track.

Not snow shoes on the skin track

For my final run of the day I traversed a little bit further north so I could ride fall line back to the hut. The clouds had built up down low but I felt confident in my skills to navigate back to the hut.

It should go?

That night we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and I was physically exhausted from a 14,000 vert day and one of the worst sunburns I have ever received.

Not a bad place to be

Goodnight Pinnacles

The next day I slept in to about 9 and was back on the summit by 11:00

The view from Pyramid Peak

and riding off Pyramid Peak by 11:30

Lonely Tracks

I was super fortunate to meet up with Nick Voltaren who is a local and we made our way to the summit of Paretetaitonga.

SO radagascar

Such a rad guy

Pretty Unreal

He showed me a gem of a line riding down the South face.

Lets do this

It was sick and amazing powder all the way from the top. Nick decided he would start traversing towards the resort after the first thousand feet as I decided to drop the full 3,000 feet all the way to snowline.

Such a sick line

When I got to the bottom I realized the terrain was going to be a challenge heading back up safely so I carefully chose a route.

How am I safely going to do this?

I decided I would put in a steep skin track and stay on the firm snow on the edge of the slope compared to the wind loaded gut. If it did slide my hope it that it wouldn’t accumulate nearly as much.

Good times

As I climbed the clouds came in once again and I was going on Braille. I would pass other peoples skin tracks but decided not to take them as I had no clue where they were going. Once again the clouds only cleared out once I made my way to the summit.

I think I am on the summit?

Pretty quiet up here

After that I rode back to the hut and called it a day.

Alpenglow!!

The next day was a weather day with it being a 100% white out until the afternoon arrived. I could tell that the NW corner of the volcano was in a rain shadow and the only clear spot on the mountain so around 6:30 p.m. I made my way to the summit and took in the views for the next 3 hours.

The Summit Crater

Alpenglow

Before making my way down the one break in the clouds.

Time for a 3000 vert descent

It will be a memory that I will carry for my life time.

What a light show

The next two days the storm raged and I rested my beaten body waiting for a clearing. Luckily rain had turned to snow.

It could be good riding when this clears

I was stoked when I woke up one morning to find bluebird powder conditions.

Pow Pow

Here I was at a ski resort with 30cms of new snow and not a soul around.

I like what I see

I skinned up to the summit crater and had an amazing run back down to the resort.

Stoked!!

This is going to be so good

And it was awesome!!

I was hoping for corn but I will take this

The rest of the day I ran around the ski resort and attempted to track out as much runs as I could.

Wild area

Bluebird Pow

Ngauruhoe looking awesome

Such awesome terrain

It turned out to be such a rad final day on the volcano. I had hoped for corn but got something much better.

Whakapapa ski resort

After that I hitched 4 times and finally made my way down to Wellington and off on an airplane heading towards Queenstown.

Looking towards Lake Tekapo and the Mckenzie country

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