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Trip Report: Ocean Peak

The team on Ocean Peak
The team on Ocean Peak (photo Keith Moffat)

After a postponement due to bad weather, the OSONZAC Ocean Peak trip got underway on 11 September, led by Sarah Tiong and well attended by Otago Section committee members.

It was a clear frosty night for a torch light walk into the Routeburn Flats Hut.  It was 1.20 am before we were all tucked up in our sleeping bags.  By 8.30 am on Saturday we were heading up the hill to the Falls Hut in brilliant sunshine.

After staking out our bunks and testing out our avalanche transceivers, we headed towards Ocean Peak for a reconnaissance.  We turned off the main track and headed up to the true right of a stream that drains the basins below Ocean Peak.  After a short scramble through sub alpine scrub we were into the snow and as we gained height the views expanded.  By lunch time the route was visible and we could make out the radio repeater on the summit.  As the snow was still reasonable we decided to push on.

At about 3pm we reached the ridgeline and got a brief glimpse toward Lake McKenzie before the mist obscured the view.  The route now got a little more serious and it was time to fit crampons.  We had a bit of groveling to get up a small vertical step and once past this were in a white out.  After a couple of attempts to pick a route and finding ourselves on very steep ground with minimal visibility the decision to turn back was made.  It was lucky it was not snowing, as we were dependent on following our footprints to find our way down.

It started to rain just as we got back to the Falls Hut and it was very pleasant to have comfortable dry accommodation for the night.  Sarah had the additional luxury of a hot water bottle!

The rain stopped during the night and we were greeted with another sunny day.  After some rapid packing, by those of us tempted to sleep in, we were on our way to scale Conical Hill by 7.30 am.  The snow was a lot softer and from time to time we would drop into the hole.  Polly seemed to be very adept at finding all the holes and looked like we would need to dig her out at one stage.

Lake Harris was frozen so we were able to do our walking on water trick.  A quick snow plod from the lake got us to the Harris Saddle shelter. We soaked up the views and decided the Conical Hill slopes were a bit dodgy as there were signs of recent avalanche activity.  It was a relaxed stroll back across Lake Harris to the Falls Hut and from there to the Flats Hut where we had lunch before our walk back to the cars via the nature trail.

Thanks to Sarah for organizing this great trip.

Trip members; Sarah Tiong, Polly Camber, Danilo Hegg, Ross Mathews, Jack Williams and Keith Moffat.

Posted: 14/10/15

Posted By: Narina Sutherland