milford,kepler,routeburn out of season
I would like to do at least 1 of these tracks before the season begins in late october is it unadvisable to do these out of season even as late as early october? i have no alpine experience nor desire to do a tramp that requires crampons etc am i right in thinking it is more dangerous to do it in spring rather than in autumn due to snow melt?
with no alpine experience in spring. DON'T GO!
All depends on the snow pack and the weather. Spring can mean avalanches and weather that changes every few minutes. Bridges on major streams will have been removed, and that is a major consideration with the capricious weather. Deaths have occurred in the off-season: the 2 fellas were taken out by a small avalanche on the Kepler; a woman drowned crossing a flooded stream on the Milford; and that other fella fell to his death on the Routeburn, then the woman ended up staying at MacKenzie hut for several weeks. If you start at the Divide on the Routeburn, you can turn around if necessary (watch the bluffs above Harris Saddle) and go down the Greenstone or Caples as an alternative.
Great Walk season begins 24th October this year which I find interesting as it's AFTER Labour Weekend, it used to start AT Labour Weekend. Thats when the rangers will be in the huts and the bridges definitely back in place. I don't bother tramping at Labour Weekend these days as the weather has always been crap. When I did do the Routeburn at Labour Weekend, there was a little bit of snow on the track between Earland Falls and Lake Mackenzie but it was fine to get up to Mackenzie. The track north out of the Mackenzie basin was under snow. The OTMC was just up at Lake Harris last weekend and there was no ice (on the lake), and plenty of exposed tussock. Theres usually 1m drifts at the outlet. Give it another month and a half, and assuming there's no more significant dumps then most of what is around at track level should be gone. Make of that as you will.
avalanche risk can go up and down like a yo yo, depends on how the weather patterns pan out, often they can be bad... its a lottery. dont go expecting to get through...
The Rangers are in huts pre-season too. With no booking pre-season, the overflow get to sleep in the dining area. Between those that stay up late and those that start early, sleeping can be rough.
thanks for the many responses everyone @pro-active i didnt realize that huts would get full even in the off-season tbh im put off of doing any of these now i think i will look at walks in less high country
It IS true. Kepler was over full in all 3 main huts. Maybe a quarter of Mount Luxmore Hut populace turned back the next day, including the group that helicoptered in?. Maybe not ?. Iris Burn was over full the next night, as was Moturau, although some of that was family groups that had come in from the bottom. 31 cars in the Control Gates car park when I started. Around 84'ish, which is overflow, when I got back. Or maybe you were there at a different time ?. I know it was after your 'snow event ' at the Routeburn.
long weekends and school holidays can be chronic for overful huts
Snowing heavily up there at the moment: http://www.metservice.com/mountain/fiordland-national-park Considerable avalanche danger building as we talk, maybe a couple of meters of new snow on top of hard crusty surfaces up high, so danger will remain quite high for some time. I'll be waiting for a good couple of warm rain events and a week or more of clear stable weather before I venture up there. http://www.avalanche.net.nz/forecasts/detail.asp?m=13 Milford Road is closed due to avalanche danger as well. https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh94-milford-road/road-status/ A couple of days ago you could have been up there in a t-shirt sunbathing. Probably will be warm and sunny up there sometime in the next week or two as well, then another period of blizzard conditions in October. Certain for the next month or two is there will be periods of t-shirt and sunglasses weather, also periods of full on winter blizzard conditions. Length , sequence and timing of the above - who knows. Avalanche danger will remain in the week between storms coming through. My profile picture is from Conical Hill (Routeburn) in winter, certainly with experience and good judgement you can get up there and through the Routeburn in winter, but you have to pick your window of opportunity carefully and be prepared to turn back. No one has died on the Routeburn, Milford or Kepler this winter as far as I know (touch wood). People died on those tracks out of season the winter before and the winter before that... Really keeping fingers crossed that no one gets in trouble up there in the next week or two.
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