Philstine-Rolleston Traverse

A trip that has been on my bucket list for some time, a good one day weather window opened up on a Saturday so two of us decided to give it a crack.  We left at 4.30am, as I was expecting this trip to take at least 13 hours, and lucky for us it had stopped raining an hour before so we had a nice dry walk up the Otira - that is until the sweat inducing slog up towards Warnocks Bluff.  This was unfortunately covered is soft snow, which persisted for most of the trip and made for relatively slow progress.  Warnocks Bluff was passed without any difficulty and we proceeded towards Mt Philistine, in which we sumitted 5 hours after starting - not bad time considering the conditions I thought.

The ridge immediately following the Mt Philistine summit was more technical than I was expecting, and we had to drop off the ridge a couple of times to bypass gendarmes surrounded by large overhanging cornices on one side.  Travel was otherwise mostly straight forward to Pt 2000, with one or two spots that were not difficult but required slow and careful movement.

Pt 2000

Pt 2000

Descending from Pt 2000 was slow progress, the ridge was narrow, steep, and exposed in places, and required care to negotiate safely.  From the notch between Pt2000 and Rolleston our route took us onto the large patch of snow on the NE side of the mountain and up a long couloir all the way to the summit.  The snow here was also soft and made for very slow progress, and by this stage we were tiring.  The ridge travel had been slower than expected so we were now quite late in the day, and we were getting pelted with small ice fragments falling from above as it melted off in the afternoon sun.  We moved as quickly as our tired legs would allow, and we arrived on high peak at about 3.40pm.

High Peak

High Peak

The wind was bitter and the summit ridge exposed so we didn't linger, and descended to the crow glacier via some precarious down climbing and a short abseil.

Descending from high peak

Descending from high peak

We zoomed over to Low Peak and after a couple of token shots on the pointy rock we proceeded down the Otira which was surprisingly firm, until we got to the debris chute near the bottom where it turned to knee-thigh deep slush.  I had forgotten to eat for a few hours and suffered a sudden lack of energy and was struggling to think straight, and so I sat down and gobbled the remainder of the pizza bread I had brought along.  I perked up instantly, but by this stage it was dark and we made slow progress though the slush to the bottom of the valley where things improved as we had some footprints to follow.  We arrived at car almost 17 hours after leaving, possibly the longest day trip I have ever done.

| October 30th, 2016 | Posted in Storytime |

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