Crossing Dart River above Chinamans Bluff?

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Thinking about a solo Five Passes a week into December. Anti-clockwise, getting dropped of at Chinamans Bluff in the afternoon by Glenorchy Journeys, crossing the Dart somewhere above there and heading up the Beansburn. Catching same transport back to Queenstown from Routeburn Shelter at the end. Feasible to cross the Dart somewhere about there in reasonably ideal conditions? Obviously very dependent on good weather in the days before, will have to have a Plan B in case river is high at that time. Could take a packraft? (Also, how does one post a new topic? I can't see a way to do so other than branching an existing one?) Ian
There's a "Start a new thread" button in the right sidebar. But crossing there? I really don't know what low water conditions are there, but I doubt this is ever feasible. Maybe someone who visits that more frequently has a better idea. I suggest you take a jet boat to drop you off.
Hi @Ian_H The Dart would normally be flush with snow melt in December, the normal route to the Beans Burn is from the Lake Sylvan track, no crossing of the Dart required. That's an easy approach, which should see you easily up to the rock bivvy in the first flat of the Beans Burn on day 1. Moirs guide North is the best reference for that trip.
Berend: Thanks, The sidebar and button appear when I switch to Chrome and sign in, sidebar doesn't appear at all when I use Safari. Thought I was going silly not being able to locate the 'Start New Thread' button when everyone else was obviously managing. Morris: Yes, I'm aware of the Lake Sylvan-Dart-Beans Burn route, have a copy of Moirs North. Thanks for the pointer to snow melt in the Dart being an issue even in fine weather in December. I have some memories of looking at the Dart at Chinamans Bluff or thereabouts, deciding it was feasible, perhaps that was late summer or end of a dry autumn. I spoke to the Dart River jetboat people, they won't do drop-offs for trampers any more, don't like wasting a seat on a part way journey and have issues with packs/iceaxes/crampons and so on in their boats. They said perhaps they'd look at it with a party big enough to charter a jetboat to themselves. Was looking for a way to cut out the extra slog/time up or down the Dart, will probably just go to the Routeburn and flip a coin on the way as to whether to go clockwise or anticlockwise. Probably not leaving Queenstown till 1130 on a Sunday, as you say it would probably still be possible to get to the Beansburn or upper Rockburn that day before it gets really dark.
Hi @Ian, No, you won't get across the Dart in early December without swimming. Go up from Lake Sylvan. You could take a raft... and then carry it around, not using it, for the rest of the trip? The Rock Burn and Hidden Falls aren't suitable for rafting. I did the 5 Passes 30/11-6/12/2015. At that time of the year, definitely go anticlockwise and take an ice axe. Fiery Col will have snow (and quite a bit of it following this winter) on it's south side. Going anticlockwise it will be a simple glacade down. If you go clockwise it will be quite the slog up, probably requiring crampons. Pick your weather window so that it's been at least a day since the last rain, otherwise you wont get across the Beans Burn. From Lake Sylvan camp ground it takes about 6-7 hours to reach the first flat in the Beans. I didn't find that bivvy there, but there's several clumps of trees where you can pitch your tent down wind of. Tracknet has a 8am departure from Queenstown that'll get you there by 10am (ask the driver to drop you off at Lake Sylvan, and remind them when they have their coffee stop in Glenorchry. They'll drop you off on the road at the turn off.) If you want to stay with your 1130 from Q-town then you'll still get to the first flats before dark unless something major goes wrong (can't get across the Beans Burn for example). And consider skipping the Rock Burn and instead swinging by Lake Nerine and the North Routeburn. Way better trip for only 1 days extra travel!
Thanks, Yarmoss, that's all hugely useful. Getting away 1130 from Queenstown is dictated by work early that morning, should still be possible to get a fair way up the Beansburn if the weather is cooperative. Yes, I have my eye on continuing from Park Pass south to Lake Nerine and North Routeburn if I make fast enough progress up to that point and conditions are good. That steep sidle on the eastern side of the ridge south of Park Pass could be a bit dodgy if there is still snow on it? Will definitely have the lightweight iceaxe and trail crampons with me, but don't want to push my luck on my own. I guess going in that direction it's an easy spot to back off from and head back and down the Rockburn if conditions are less than ideal. Ian
Yes, the sidle south from Park Pass would be quite dangerous under snow so don't attempt it if that's the case. However, the ridge is all north facing so by early December *should* be snow free until the top of the creek at 1500m, which is past the sidle part. Just expect there to be snow on all the south faces (descent into the Lake Nerine basin and North Col), which as you'll be travelling north to south you'll be going down them, and it should be fine. There's a sweet little camp spot on the Hidden Falls side of Park Pass where the stream is shown flowing into Hidden Falls from north of Park Pass (about CA09 1907 5083). From there it would be comfortable 6-7 hours to Lake Nerine. Some guides you read talk about camping higher up in Hidden Falls, and there are some nice flats up at about CA09 1945 5368, but this little site is just before where you swing east to climb to Park Pass and is much more convenient, being about 8 hours from the Olivine Ledge rock bivvy. Its up to you though!
If there is enough snow on the ground that you can't see the ground or no snow but wet grass, I think the sidle/climb from Park Pass to the ridge above Lake Nerine would be 'challenging' - certainly very slow. In good conditions, it's steep but not dangerous. However, I'd be at least as worried, depending on weather around that time, on the descent from North Col. It's on the south and quite a steep chute. All that said, the Lake Nerine extension is a highlight on a really good tramp (weather permitting). Consider a side trips up to Park Pass Glacier if conditions permit.
Thanks for all the info. Plans all very weather dependant of course, I'll try and wangle an extra day if the weather looks particularly cooperative. I spoke to one of the Milford Flight companies bosses the other day, he was quite gloomy about the prospects for any settled weather before Christmas :( Plan B if the weather isn't particularly good through that time? I guess something in the Hector Mountains starting from the Remarks ski field or Wye Creek could be an option.
I was up the Dart looking at Slip Lake last week. For what its worth I saw one place only from Chinamans Bluff up as far as the Lake that looked a suitable ford. There is a long narrow shingle fan angling steeply downstream from the TL to the TR starting just below the confluence with Bedford Stream where there is a swingbridge with a two plank wide wooden deck. That would be approx 5km up from the carpark. No doubt river bed conditions change quickly and heavy rain started the night I walked out (last friday) so it may have changed? However that spot looked a good ford when I was there!

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Forum Tracks, routes, and huts
Started by Ian_H
On 30 October 2018
Replies 9
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