Lake Wilson / North Col / Route Burn North Branch

Hi there. I'm doing the above trip in February and was wondering if an ice axe was needed going from North Col to the Route Burn North Branch. Plus, how exposed / tricky is the the walk ie does it need a great head for heights. I know this is a matter of personal fear factor......but any insight as to how dicey it is would be welcome. Thanks.
I did from the North Col - Lake Nerine - Park Pass in December 2020, did need an ice axe on the last bit up to the North Col. When I did it, it needed careful step kicking and the ice axe to cross that snow slope, it was steep enough that you wouldn't stop a fall and a fall would take you off a cliff/down into a narrow canyon. February there will still be some snow in there, probably reduced enough such that you can get around above it on the scree. This winter had more snow than the previous couple of winters, but summer could be quite warm and melt it faster. I take a 200 g alu ice axe in that sort of country, light enough to save having to worry about whether to take it or not, still useful on the uphill side when crossing a steepish snow or scree slope. After looking at the above link (Jan 2020) I’d be planning to take an ice axe if it was me. Having said that, many years ago I did go over north col in late Feb (from lake nerine) and the snow on the col was easily avoided and an ice axe wasn’t needed. I think Ian_H’s suggestion is a good one.
@Moh_Oz, thanks for the link to Entranced by Wilderness, it's good to visualise almost all of that route. Interesting how much (what appears to be old) snow is in [his picture from January 2020 looking towards pt 1807]( When I look at the [LINZ aerial pictures of this area just north of Lake Wilson](,168.1897505,z14.0202), there is almost no snow around, you'd get right through without stepping on snow at all. That blog is a good reminder/illustration of how changeable conditions can be at that height on the main divide. Mid-summer, you could be sitting in the sun, enjoying a pleasant swim in a tarn or be in a tent buried in snow.
Thanks Ian H and Moh Oz......much appreciated.

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Forum Tracks, routes, and huts
Started by Ararimu12
On 13 November 2022
Replies 4
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