Mt Somers – The Fingers via Manuka hut

The Fingers trip report

On Monday 3 July Jamie Paterson and I set off for an explore, with the intention of getting to Manuka Hut. Due to a number of factors, namely work and not having a 4 wheel drive we ended having to walk about 45 mins further and arriving at 2:00am. The walk in is very straightforward, except for the muddy bogs and a little hill.

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On Tuesday 4 July Jamie Paterson and I set off to have a look at The Fingers and surrounds. We started at 8:27 am which was a little too late in retrospect. We had to neg a little hill and then walk to the snowline which was around 1300m or so. Jamie was fitter than me having 2nd quickest in the 400m in Scotland for his age group and was also an accomplished trail runner. Some slow transitions by me, a patch of steep skin track and also nearly losing my water bottle didn’t help my cause. I had a great time though, there were stunning views. We thought an axe and crampons might be needed but it was deceptively not that steep.

Somewhat scarily, there was a the remnants of huge 200m x 20m x 30cm avy from the last big snow fall. Jamie dug a good pit and a compression test and it wasn’t going to slide. There was a thin lawyer of soft snow followed by a hard rain crust followed by soft snow. I had rung Methven heli ski and he basically said the same thing and was exceedingly helpful.

Stupidly using my under-gloves and forgetting my touring gloves my hands froze near the top. Jamie gave me a hand and we set off down around 5pm with head torches on. Having not carried a heavy pack in a while my quads were absolutely shot and I found myself snowplowing to parallel while Jamie cranked turn after turn for 700m vertical.

The cover was thin everywhere, even at 2100m yours skis broke through the crust into bits of rock which knocked you off balance. We went down without incident to 1300m, took off skis and then walked in ski boots . I found MTN labs brilliant for the walk to the boot change over. I slept well after 13 hours of walking including a bit of type 3 fun where we climbed up 5 feet and walked in some thorn trees.

Met a cool guy the next day who was a guide in Mt Cook in the 70’s. Notable quotes were ‘My longest day was 25 hours’ and ‘we used to test people by putting them into a whiteout’. He had a really cool Surly fat-bike.

I got a lot from the experience, including the need to practice my kick turns , better gloves and a new set of lungs.

All in all a cracking day. 11/10