Round The Mountain in late September
Hey all, Some friends and I are planning on doing the RTM late September/early October during the school holidays. We are all at least moderately experienced, but very little alpine experience between us (ergo, very little Alpine gear). I'm unfamiliar with North Island tramping and weather, and just want to make sure we're not biting off more than we can chew, so a few questions: - Any idea of how full the huts will be given it's school holidays? I'm guessing there will be plenty of room for us given it's the shoulder season, but do I need to bring my full tent? (I'll bring the fly regardless, as an emergency shelter, but hoping not to sleep in it) - Any idea what the snow is like up there currently and what we can expect? Do you think we'll be alright with basically standard tramping gear, maybe adding micro spikes for grip at most? I'm not currently interested in investing the money and time into acquiring alpine gear and skills. - And lastly, if the answer to the previous question is negative, or if the weather forecast is sketchy, we're prepared to bail out and do an alternative trip. Any suggestions on a good backup in the lower half of the North Island? Ideally 4-5 days, can be a bit harder/more technical than RTM (weather dependant), but our main goal is to enjoy ourselves, so 5-7 hours a day is ideal for us. Thanks! Edit: Formatting
My 2 cents: You should have room at the huts, but always take emergency shelter regardless. Don't know what current conditions are but expect snow and ice. Perhaps the most challenging bit is the Wahianoa Gorge with steep descent and ascent. All should have spikes/crampons and there should be at least 1 person with an ice axe and some experience in using it to cut steps. I recommend taking full winter kit as RTM is very exposed in most sections. If weather turns pear-shaped, there's nowhere to hide. It's a fantastic tramp but the track, terrain, and weather are not to be underestimated. If weather is crap there's always the Tararuas, although the same bad weather will likely be affecting the tops there. Ruahines offer excellent tramping that is not as death-defying as the Tarrys. The Kawekas are perfect for longer, more relaxed tramps: gentler topography, excellent track and hut network, few people in September/October.
We did it in winter, and probably microspikes would have been better, as we may have used that more easily on over-iced paths. I had crampons and ice axe, but I probably did not need that. I used them a bit, but although my wife had them too she didn't really use them, and was just smart about where to go. But an ice axe gives great peace of mind. If it's snowy, it's very handy to have someone who cuts steps as Gregor mentioned. Else sections might be hard going. You have not much daylight, we did it in middle of winter and basically needed all daylight we had.
BTW, you can rent crampons/ice-axe from Bivouac, very affordable. Possibly microspikes too.
Thanks for the feedback guys, that's exactly what I needed. I'll keep an eye on the forecast and look into the Ruahines and Kawekas as a backup.
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