Mt Ferguson, Queenstown ski touring…

Skiing NW Ferguson basin, just below summit

Mt Ferguson is a day trip ski tour out from Queenstown. Its a valley/basin ski, with some really good views out to Mt Earnslaw, as well as Centaur Peaks, (which incidentally look like they would be a stellar ski). The route up Mt. Ferguson is not difficult and suitable for intermediate skiers with some tramping/hiking background.

The access is via the Rees Valley. Any car can make it as far as Muddy Creek; a little clearance is required to make it further.

Ascend via Arthurs Creek which has easy access on the true right of the creek. The first 15 to 20 minutes are not so flash, with some scrub bashing with skis for about ten minutes.  Fortunately the terrain quickly opens up allowing easy hiking, following sheep trails, up to around the 1100m mark where the Ferguson Valley starts. From here it should be possible to start skiing. Allow about an hour and a half from the valley floor until it is possible to put skis on.

The Valley starts off open and  wide with easy skinning, but it chokes down and becomes narrow and steep sided between the 1300 – 1400m mark approx. One option is to keep low in the stream bed, another is to traverse the sides. This section is a little slow and novices should be aware, if traversing above a creek on icy slopes, that there are consequences of sliding at speed into a rocky stream bed. Generally it is best here to keep to the true left.

The valley quickly opens up again and travel is best on the true left, with easy sunny slopes slowly leading up the valley, eventually to the summit ridge of Mt Ferguson. There are many options to get to this point; the col between pts 2420 and 2480 offer easy access.  Allow about 5 hours to here from the valley floor.

The ski down is on sunny easy to moderate slopes in a large basin. Quite good snow is held on these west facing slopes, and can form some very nice corn snow. The slopes are moderate and perfect for newcomers to adventure touring.

Another option is to fly up there from Glenorchy (www.heliglenorchy.co.nz 0800 435 449) but the terrain is somewhat limited and not overly spectacular, and so might not be worth the $$$ . Generally I would suggest it is more interesting as a tour .

Note that this route is on private land and so permissions should be sought from the landowner Rees Valley Station. The Ferguson basin and valley is also used for heli skiing, during which time access may not be granted.