Driving straight from Mt Cook village to Te Anau with a plan to fly up and camp on the Ngapunatoru plateau below Mount Tutoko one of the big mountains in the southern end of the divide. Unfortunately, the weather gods weren’t with us and we were ‘strongly recommended by the helicopter operator to not go up to the plateau as we may not be able to be collected on Sunday evening.
So plan-B, Dillon Hall, Hans Anderson and myself drove from Milford Sound back up the road and through the tunnel to Homer Hut with a plan of ascending the Gertrude valley and either Barrier Knob/Peak or up to Traverse Pass on Mt Talbot. As we didn’t start hiking on Saturday until 11:30am, we only ascended to Gertrude Saddle (the saddle between Barrier Knob and Mt Talbot), so that we could spy the options for the next day.
The next day we started at a more reasonable time from Homer Hut and ascended Gertrude Saddle and made our way up the firm (but not icy) southern face of Barrier Knob/Peak. Even though the face is not overly steep, it is unnerving knowing that any un-caught fall or slip would result in an unsurvivable slide off giant cliffs down to the Gertrude river. Making the ridgeline we decided to not continue to Barrier Peak and skied back to the saddle. Hans and I then proceeded late in the day to also climb to Traverse Pass which provided great, albeit, quite wet and heavy, turns.
One thing I’ve learnt from skiing around the Darren mountains is – get comfortable skiing and climbing above giant exposure. The glacial gouged valleys are deep and steep…