The Torres-Tasman Traverse • New Zealand • January 2003

While on Mount Cook, in the Empress Hut, local guide and icon Nick Craddock suggested we do the Torres-Tasman Traverse. Trusting the Kiwi friendliness we has seen so far, and hoping Nick was not simply trying to do in a couple visiting American guides, we were off at the first good forecast opportunity. Nick was indeed steering us right, as the traverse is absolutely a fantastic ride over wild ridges in the heart of the range. Not for the weak of heart!

Other Recent Trips

Here is a view of Tasman, left, and Torres on the right. The traverse starts at just out of view on the right, following the skyline, and ends out on the left. Actually the descent off Tasman also involves climbing over another mountain, Lendenfeld, not visible here.


Looking out our tent "window" at sunset. Fine camping in Fox. The heliport from which we flew into the Fox Neve to start our adventure is just out of view to the right.


Kathy and the amazing little Hughes flying machine that whisked us up onto the glacier for a scant $310 New Zealand dollars.


7:30 in the morning, a fine time to start a big alpine climb. Actually the cool temperatures and horrendous winds all day kept the snow firm, so too hot was decidedly not a problem.


A quick climb up to Katie's Col (appropriately enough) and we were met with steep snow on the back side of Torres.


Heading up Torres. The Balfour Glacier down below to the left. No tracks at all!


Looking up toward Tasman from the initial part of the Traverse. We still have to climb over all the rock and snow between.


There was lots and lots of this stuff. In fact, on the sharper sections of ridge, we would climb one on each side of the ridge, just a few feet apart. It was comforting to know that a fall was well belayed by the climber on the opposite side. You can see the lenticulars in the sky, indicating wind.


A steep section to downclimb coming off Torres and heading to the col between the peaks. The rock tower further along the ridge offered the hardest rock climbing on the route.


Kathy near the summit of Torres. Mount Cook and the Linda Glacier behind.


We have climbed over Tasman and are on our way down. We still have to traverse the entire ridge all the way to the rock on the far side of the Marcel Col way back in the photo.


It had been our hope to camp somewhere along the traverse. But the winds were simply too strong for a reasonable night out. So we kept going and going and going. Here, Kathy has to crab-crawl across slopes we normally would have walked across, were it not for the wind.


Looking north, over the peaks of Halcombe and Christie, and out to the Tasman Sea. The sun is getting low in the sky.


Lenticulars, late in the day.


Descending just below Marcel Col. We finally got out of the wind and camped about a hundred meters from where this photo was taken. So at about 9:30 we brewed up and slept the sleep of the dead, after having come all the way from Fox townsite some 14 hours before.


Following one excess after another, we decided to hike all the way out the next day. Here, we are getting down to the firn line of the Fox glacier.


Walking down toward the Chancellor Hut on our second day out, with the Fox Glacier below.


The amazing icefall of the Fox Glacier. This is the view from the Chancellor Hut.


Kathy at the hut, trying to decide if we should stay the night here, or make a real epic journey out of it and keep going. In the end we went for the epic (which really was not so bad as all that).


Below the hut we enter the jungle, briefly, before popping out onto the glacier for more ice climbing and rubble hopping.


Some of the "finer" climbing on the lower glacier. We later learned that a helicopter flight out from the Chancellor Hut is the normal, and not too expensive, choice for descending alpinists. But, as Kathy said, its nice to "get the measure of the mountain" at least once.


Replenishing lost (fish and chip) calories at the Bay Take Away at Bruce Bay.


On the drive back to Wanaka, looking down the Makarora River toward Mount Hooker, another fine peak.


We stopped to enjoy a short walk to the Blue Pools, another New Zealand roadside attraction.

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