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Mt. Franklin via South Face/Ridge

Trip Report by Tomas Torak


With several aborted attempts due to weather including one the previous weekend, things looked pretty good for the weekend of 12/13 September 2015 and with a good crew of Roger, Andy, James, Chris, Eduardo and Tom we were keen to climb a mountain!

We met at Klondyke corner at a reasonable time on Saturday morning and soon after began the long approach up Mingha River. This was a pleasant walk, crossing the Mingha regularly and some faster lads setting a good pace. Nice views and weather and 3 or so hours later we reached Goat Pass hut. Quick lunch and we descended the Deception river until just before Upper Deception hut and directly below a steep, loose scree slope that showed our way up. This was not going to be pleasant. We ditched our approach shoes, filled up water and started up. With big loose boulders and even looser scree we would look at each other to see if someone had found a “nicer track”. No one had.

Two steps up/ one down we carried on until it was finally time to traverse what turned out to be a quite unpleasant scree/scrub slope to gain Good Luck creek. Here, finally, Mt.Franklin (SW flank) showed itself to us and it looked good! Once in Good Luck creek, travel was easy and soon we hit snow, this was soft in the afternoon sun. A bit longer and the final push up the ramp/easy snow slope just below Lake Anna was all that was separating us from our camp. Camp was reached just after 5pm and a dodgy cloud came over but dispersed quickly leaving a clear, calm night, perfect. Set up tents/bivvys, melt water, dinner, sleep.

An early and slow start at 230am made me glad when we were finally moving so I could warm up. We sidled Lake Anna and headed up snow slopes toward “the notch” which is a bit left of the obvious col (beta from Chris’ previous attempt) on the ridge. Near the notch the easy snow slope was replaced by ice/neve and walking pole by another tool. It was fun climbing on superb conditions. From here it was another 100-200m to gain the ridge proper on a moderate 50+/- degree slope in good condition until the final few meters short of ridge where the snow was soft and the confidence in your tools diminished.

We gathered on the ridge and it was about 5am, sky was getting lighter to the east, silhouettes of the Franklin ridge obstacles were in front of us. We started off, each little step turned out to be easier than it first looked, the climbing was very enjoyable and we made progress. The ridge was longer than I had thought but we made the top around 6am for an awesome sunrise. Mt. Franklin being the prominent peak east of Arthur’s Pass, we were above all other close by peaks and low valley cloud added to the ambience as dawn colours bounced around. Short but sweet we headed down, quite contently retracing our steps, snapping a few more pics at the notch. Camp was reached pretty quickly and we had a satisfying breakfast and packed up our gear.

Waiting for sunrise on the summit

Waiting for sunrise on the summit

With the experience of having just climbed Franklin and then hindsight, I thought it is tougher than a grade one climb (as the guide has it). While we had two short ropes and some protection we didn’t use, I was happy to have two tools and I am pretty sure others felt the same!

While Lake Anna remained in the shadow of Franklin, the sun did little to warm us up so we didn’t hang around too long and started our long and somewhat satisfying descent. First part travelled well as the soft snow from day before had frozen so we quickly reached the dreaded sidle to and finally down the long scree slope.

Back at Deception, approach shoes went on and things got a bit more comfortable but not too much as my pack felt heavier and heavier (even though it was lighter) as we walked back up to Goat Pass. Quick lunch at the comfy hut and stiff legs made it hard to get going but the long walk out of the Mingha was awaiting, so one by one we headed off. Pleasant afternoon, nice views, sore legs, we trucked on.

We were happy as when we reached the car and took our packs off. I scoffed down whatever little food was left in the car and we set off on SH73 back toward Christchurch. A suggestion came up to have a pint in Springfield which was happily accepted by everyone, and propositions of future trips were exchanged over the table, however no one had energy enough to make a concrete commitment, or was that just me?

Posted: 25/01/16

Posted By: Sefton Priestley