THE PRELUDE: Starting from Bush Stream Bridge at Mesopotamia in the Rangitata Valley, to the eastern summit of the Brabazon Ridge. West along the Brabazon Ridge, sidling north of Mt Brabazon and south of Points 1785 and 1797, then following the ridge via Point 1852 along to Brabazon Saddle. A little care initially, descending to Brabazon Saddle. To Ajax Stream Confluence with North-East Gorge Stream by climbing steeply to “Oedipus Col”, the col 1km east-north-east of the Thumbs. Through the Odyssey Col, about 700m north-west of The Thumbs, (cell phone coverage just past the col) then descend the Odyssey Basin to the Ajax Stream Confluence. Up the Ajax Stream Valley, initially climbing up the steep tussock and matagouri slope about 300m north of the Ajax Stream, then up the broad Ajax Valley and over the Ross / Ajax Saddle. Then down to the Macaulay Hut, keeping well north of the stream gorge as you descend through the 500m contour. From the Macaulay Hut up through the Tindill Basin, turning the initial waterfall by the slope to the north. From the Tindill tarn cross the col to the north. Travel beneath the south face of Mt Sibbald. Climb up the broad, open, dog-leg gully leading to the saddle between Pt 2296 and Pt 2394. A short descent to about 2200m altitude before turning north and climbing over the west ridge of Point 2392 (cell phone coverage along this climb) in order to finally descend to Lucifer Flat 500m east of Spot Height 907, trending south at the 1200m contour to pick up, with luck, a tahr track descending to the valley floor. So to Red Stag Hut by the 4X4 track. *
THE SKI RHAPSODY:
Over the south-west ridge of Acland via “Jane’s Col” at about 2365m altitude, then down the Aida Glacier to its confluence with the Murchison Glacier. Up the Murchison Glacier to Tasman Saddle and so to the Tasman Saddle Hut.
An early start from Tasman Saddle Hut, over the Mt Walter-Mt Elie De Beaumont Col and down (steepest angle 45 degrees) to the Times Glacier then the Spencer Glacier.
From the Spencer Glacier up the “Anglo-Irish Couloir” to the Geikie Snowfield and Chamberlin Snowfield and so to Centennial Hut.
From Centennial Hut across
the Davis Snowfield and over the Penck and Sollas Ridges, through the
Zurbriggen Col and out along the Fritz Range to the Baumann Glacier.
…and so to Franz Josef
Township by lucky chance of a back-flight from the Baumann, (otherwise via Mt
Moltke then Castle Rocks Hut and past Cape Defiance, or alternatively, north
along the probably appallingly bush-clad ridge to the walking track from Alex
TOTAL 80 km 8,500 m (50 miles 28,000+ ft)
I might say another few thoughts:
Prelude, of course, would be more condition dependent re snowfall/snow cover, being so much further east. Ski Rhapsody is more ticklish re avo and weather conditions, being higher and further west.
Taken as a whole, Prelude and Ski Rhapsody, it would be an exceptional and
classic adventure. I do hope someone is tempted to try and get the whole thing
Finally, if it needs to be said and if I didn’t say it already, this is ski mountaineering and not ski touring. I am, sadly, a very poor skier. Anyone can manage this route who is not a great skier, but you do need to have competent mountaineering skills. Nowhere is it excessively difficult but there are a few places that might challenge a ski tourer! I hope that makes sense; I don’t see much about this distinction.
A footnote: There is a very short section of the Prelude route described, about 500 meters, that I did not personally follow although it is a straight-forward snow slope, the descent off Brabazon Saddle to the stream-bed directly north of the Brabazon Saddle. On our first trip we descended north off the Brabazon Ridge from the saddle at Point 1705, That was a wonderful and inviting slope 1,600ft but we ended up regretting it as it involved a long skin over difficult terrain back up towards The Thumbs! I came back on a later occasion and traversed the whole Brabazon Ridge, including all the high points, direct to Brabazon Saddle and I thought following the ridge from Point 1705 direct to the Brabazon Saddle was a much better and actually very enjoyable option. However from Brabazon Saddle I descended off south the Crocked Spur Hut. The descent north appeared straightforward but I did want to be clear I had not gone that way! I know I am being very pedantic but you can’t say you have done something that you have not!!
Richard O’Neill-Dean, with Dr Hamish Neil and Assoc Prof Hamish Wilson on Prelude, and Richard O’Neill-Dean with Dr David Hamilton on Ski Rhapsody