by Jordan Tiernan http://jordantiernan.com
Both me and Holly managed to get a good look at the south face of Mt Ross from the Roundhill access road and both instantly knew that we wanted to ski it. After taking a quick walk up the Macaulay Valley, we saw that conditions were pretty good, with a snowline of 1200m on southerly aspects. (for access information up the Macaulay Valley read the post titled Mt Sibbald).
We packed our van and left it just before the first Macaulay Ford – this 4×4 is 18km & said to take 5 hours. We had heavy packs with skis, ski boots & food for 2 nights & we completed it in 5 hours so I’m sure if you have less kit, you could do it in a much quicker time.
After stashing our skis and ski boots at the base of the access valley to Mt Ross, we headed to the Macaulay Hut, just a 4.5km walk away on flat ground.
The Macaulay Hut is an amazing hut with solar-powered lights, gas stoves, a wood fire oven and a fire itself – 5* accommodation in terms of New Zealand back country huts and at $10 per night, an absolute steal!
Mt Ross can be both accessed easily by the Stoney Stream Hut & the Macaulay Hut but with the luxuries at the Macaulay, the choice was obvious . With a 1 hour 15 min walk we reached the base of the valley that leads to Mt Ross and got our ski boots on and skis on our packs for the quick romp up to the snowline. Once at the snowline, we started to gain height pretty fast and found that the sun was absolutely baking the snow in what felt like full-on summer conditions – time to get shifting.
After climbing to the summit, we decided to down climb the steep initial 100m of the south face to avoid and wet slides as the sun was cooking all the snow & we were beginning to see the old roller-balls falling on the east facing aspects. The snow was pretty wet and heavy on the initial 300m of descent and then actually began to get a lot better as we began to find the more sheltered aspects & we enjoyed 1000m of descent – not bad for this time of year!