A great ski tour requiring a good level of fitness and glacier skills. We skied this late season in mid November in a low snow year.
The Murchison is a good staging point for several good ski tours. The Murchison hut is good and tidy with fuel and blankets and sleeps about 8. It sits high on the shoulder of Mt Cooper and is quite a slog up from the glacier, and the access is subject to potential rock fall and avalanche activity. Hence another good alternative is to camp on the glacier if your access in is via helicopter. However many tourers access this area after hitching a flight to Tasman Saddle which can be cheaper and more frequent; then ski the Murchison Headwall down to the Hut and base out of there in order to not have to carry too much gear. The Headwall to the hut is a straightforward ski after negotiating the bergshrund at the start. The route down tends to the true left of the glacier.
The Joie de Vivre loop starts by ascending the Aida Glacier (named after an Australian girl staying at he hermitage to whom Mannering, the pioneer climber took a shine to). Ascend gentle slopes until under Mt Acland then up to Mt Sydney King, which make a nice vantage point and good short ski down. From here it is a straight forward ski through the col to the SW, which leads in to the Joie de Vivre Gl which has good fall line skiing and spectacular views of Mt Broderick and the Classen Glacier.
To come back out of the Classen Gl take the next valley immediately west (the Phyllis glacier?) which leads to the NW slopes of Mt Phyllis, which makes a straightforward ascent and ski.
To return to the Murchison Gl. follow the spur that leads from Mt Phyllis to the W the SW and directly toward the Murchison Hut. This spur is long fall line skiing, great pitch and can corn up beautifully offering skiing of top calibre. Enjoy!
Allow approx 8 hours round trip to/from the hut for this tour.
This is ski touring/ski mountaineering and so requires equipment to suit – crampons, rope, etc. And definitely a helmet! Oh and definitely fly out from this area, walking out would take days of bashing and destroy your gear which probably costs more than a flight.