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Trip Report – The Footstool

Source: CW Section Newsletter

Trip Leader: Matt Buckley Scribe: Sharon Brophy

Photos: Ben Gibbins / Sharon Brophy


A relatively large group of 15 keen folk joined the final list for The Footstool trip. 14 male engineers called Chris and me. Ok, slight exaggeration but not that far off.

Chris1 & Chris2 travelled separately from outside Chch and were to meet us at the Sefton Biv. The rest left Chch at around 8am on a grey morning, enjoying interesting conversation and the mandatory pie/coffee stop at Fairlie. On the road to Mt Cook village, we emerged from the greyness into sunshine “yay” and the mountains were looking truly spectacular! Excited bunnies we were. We made a stop at the visitor centre to complete our intentions & check the forecast then headed to the White Horse Hill carpark. The forecast wasn’t perfect but looked like it might hold out until the Sunday afternoon.

Matthew had organised the group into teams, each with climbers of varying experience, led by one of three Assistant Leaders: Adam, Jovan and Chris3. 5 on each rope. Final team gear arrangements were made and we left the car park at about 1.30pm to start the hot & sweaty climb. Once we started climbing steeply, there was a track similar to that up through the Warnock Bluffs on Philistine with the odd cairn, but it was occasionally hidden by patches of snow which may have thrown us off course. The route had some exposed sections up snow grass/loose rock and scrambling over outcrops. With heavy packs this made for some “interesting” moments for those with little legs. I discovered how handy an ice axe can be in the dirt.

We continued climbing, entering low cloud and shortly after reached the Biv at about 5.15pm (we also spotted a couple of large chamois on the snow). Chris1 & Chris2 were already at the Biv but didn’t greet us with hot chocolates and muffins, it was noted. They had chosen to come up the snow slopes/gullies which sounded a much easier route (mental note was made for the descent).FootstoolTR2

The biv is set in a breathtaking location on an outcrop with Tewaewae Glacier close behind and views in every direction. Several chose to sleep in the biv and the rest got to work forming tent foundations in the snow and getting dinner on. Sunset was briefly enjoyed before we were enveloped by cloud & darkness. It was a peaceful, calm evening and dinner was a feast: chicken curry, beef chilli, sausages and more! Topped off by Andy’s dessert of chocolate rice crispies.

As Daylight Savings was kicking in at 3am the next morning, there was much discussion and proposals shared for alarm strategies. Alarms were set for 01:59, 02:01, 02:59…. and so on. Unfortunately, at 2am the visibility was about 10m and it was snowing. The call was made to abandon the attempt on Footstool and to slumber until first light. At daybreak, the weather hadn’t changed. We grabbed breakfast, packed up and started our descent.

A few discussions were had about our route choice, with the alternative route via the snow-filled gullies raising concerns about stability with soft, wet snow. We chose to use the snow gullies in the end and made quick work of the descent, despite some deep soft patches, and were back at the cars in no time. It was a great trip especially if, like me, you hadn’t been to the biv before. As for Footstool… time 🙂

Thanks to Matthew Buckley for kindly organising the trip and to the assistant leaders & drivers. (BTW for those interested: in Flight Mode your cell phone will still adjust for Daylight Savings)


Posted: 28/10/16

Posted By: Narina Sutherland