Please don’t be put off by the name!. This is a good AT ski tour with some reasonable access, and is quite feasible as a 2 day ski trip. Best time of the year is late season and is especially good after a southerly storm has laid down some fresh powder. The main south basin of Mt Barff is glaciated and crevassed, but by late season the crevasses generally are mostly filled in. Mt Barff catches a of of its snow from the West, and expect pockets of wind loading especially along the SW ridge.
The access is along the Matukituki valley. From the car park to Aspiring hut is 2 hours on farm tracks, mainly flat with the exception of one short steep hill. Aspiring hut to Liverpool Hut at the base of Mt Barff is 3 hours ( 1 hour of flat trail walking & two hours steep uphill trail). So all in all its a solid five hours from car park to the Liverpool Hut on Mt Barff, which can be a grunt with the skis on the pack. So the best way to do this is to either:
a) drive to Mt Aspiring hut. You will need a 4wd with high clearance (more than on a Subaru Outback). Request permission from Mt Aspiring Station for a key for the locked gate. They charge about 20$ per vehicle for road maintenance. Call the Aspinalls, (03)443-7155
b) Strap your skis onto your pack or the cross beam of your mountain bike and ride in to Mt Aspiring hut (possibly further?). The extra hour and a half saved in time and energy makes all the difference.
The 2 hour trail up from the valley floor to the hut is steep and unrelenting and quite tiring. When you do see the hut do not be tempted to head directly to it. Instead follow the trail that annoyingly heads up further and away from the hut before descending back down to the hut. If you head straight across you will become bluffed.
The ski tour is relatively straight forward, initially heading up the mountain more or less directly from the hut, before crossing the basin heading for the SW shoulder, and on to the summit. It is easier to cross the main basin up high, closer to the summit pyramid. There are many variations however, but the SE ridge doesn’t go to the summit (as a ski tourer that is, though it can be climbed with a belay). Enjoy and please post some photos if you ski this!