Due to an absolutely perfect weather forecast for last Sunday, my friend Stepan and I spontaneously left Christchurch and traversed Mt. Rolleston via the Rome Ridge route.
We left Christchurch around midnight on Saturday and arrived at Arthur’s pass at 3am. After a warm cup of tea in the “Tiki-van”, we boosted up Coral track and got out of the bush line at 4:30am. At dawn, we were navigating through the first buttress (6:30am). After a short breakfast watching a beautiful sunrise, we reached the second buttress at 8:30am. Here, we dropped down into a couloir towards the Crow Valley on climber’s left, where we found ideal ice-climbing conditions – only a few crevasses delayed our ascent back up onto the ridge (9:30am). We followed the Rome Ridge, where re-frozen meltwater caused exciting mixed-climbing conditions towards the summit (grade II). We were pretty glad to have our 20m rope “confidence” and some snow stakes with us to pitch up some of the more exposed sections. The summit welcomed Stepan and I with a stunning 360° view of the surrounding mountains in the Arthur’s Pass National Park. A very short lunch, and we were on our way back down. The sun had softened the snow considerably and an increasing risk of avalanches and rockfall caused us to almost sprint down the Otira Slide in less than 1 hour. Out of the snow and on the bottom of “Avalanche Gully”, we then enjoyed the sunshine and had a well deserved break for afternoon tea until 13:45pm. We walked out the Otira Valley in 2 hours and where back at the “Tiki-van” at 16:30pm. All in all 13 hours round-trip.