Hi everyone, I know there are some old threads on this topic but wanted some up-to-date advice..... Me and a mate are planning on doing the Routeburn late September. Planning on starting at Glenorchy end, and making the final call at Routeburn Falls whether or not we cross the Harris Saddle depending on snow levels, ice, avalanche risk and weather. We don't have a heap of alpine experience, will be packing PLB, crampons and ice axe. If anyone one has been up there recently could tell me if we are crazy or have a good plan that is relatively safe? After everyone i have spoken to i am struggling to discern between overly pessimistic/cautious warnings and sound valid advice.
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I was working in Te Anau last week. Monday there was snow on the ground in the town and Someone I spoke to said half a meter at Te Anau Downs which isnt much higher up. Forecast said another snow dump today. The hills around there have a lot of snow on them for the time of year. I wouldnt run away from a winter Routburn. That might set off an avalanche. Instead walk away very quietly
Avalanche danger at "4 High Risk Very dangerous avalanche conditions" at the moment. Milford road has also been closed the last two days due to high avalanche danger. https://www.avalanche.net.nz/region/12 Quite typical conditions for this time of year. Some comments here about it being more possible to go through the Routeburn in early winter, say in June. It needs to be said that this is still a serious undertaking requiring an ideal combination of circumstances, the judgement to make this call and the skills/experience to travel quickly on steep hard snow and ice above big bluffs. I was looking at conditions early this winter, I think there was possibly a week in early June where weather and conditions may have stabilised enough and it may have been possible to go through. (Emphasis on 'may') A week earlier or later would have been lethal. (I didn't go and have a look, time didn't coincide with my being free to get up there). Even if the snow pack is stable enough at this time, it remains a serious undertaking, by definition stable snow that time of year will be frozen solid, you'll be on crampons on steep hard snow and ice between bluffs and trying to move fast without a rope in places where a slip will take you over a cliff. Two people died last weekend falling on steep snow/ice on Mts Ruapehu and Aspiring.
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