The general terrain of Arthur's Pass National Park tends to put it's own limitations on it's potential as a ski touring / mountaineering area.  Most "possible" routes are either quite short or avalanche prone.  Ridgelines can be razor backed or heavily fortified, while snow basins as well as the park's glaciers tend to be very small in area.  However this doesn't seem to prevent a hardy few from trying...

Note : It is foolish to ski-tour or ski-mountaineer alone.  All party members should be carrying functional avalanche transceivers, avalanche probes and shovels.  They should know how to use them, and be coherent in avalanche assessment skills.

OTIRA SLIDE (Mt Rolleston Low Peak 2212m)

In a reasonable ski season it is possible to skin your way up the Otira Valley (from the foot-bridge at least) to the base of the Otira Slide, that huge snow slope that descends from the summit of Low Peak on Mt Rolleston.  Most climbers prefer to kick their way up the route, this also providing time to access the  "avalanche problem" inherent in this route.  Be also aware that ice and snow shedding off the adjacent Otira Face can trigger quite large slope failures on the slide.  The upper slope is a fast descent, and no matter how tempted you may be, stay away from the Goldney Ridge and Glacier (true-right) as the cornice here can be less than accommodating. 

CROW GLACIER (Mt Rolleston)

Ascend the Otira Slide route as above. The Crow Glacier is that large expanse of snow to the southwest of Low Peak's summit.  Its touring potential is very limited, but the slopes under Middle and High Peak are usually powder, and provide telemarkers with suitable distraction.  Be very aware that slab avalanches have been known to drop off the steep access slope between Low and Middle Peaks.  There is a crevasse zone directly under High Peak, and the terminal of the glacier is an active icefall area.


Avalanche Peak obtained its name for a damned good reason; every season large wet sluffs and slab avalanches wash the Avalanche Creek Basin area.  With this in mind, the basin does provide experienced skiers with a good variety of terrain, however short the runs may be.  The safest way to access the basin is via the Scott's Ridge walking track. This ridge can be corniced in narrow exposed places.  The party must do its own avalanche assessment before venturing off the ridge, not have simultaneous skiers on the same slope, and keep someone always in an "observer" position.  Be aware that there is no ski access below the tree-line, this includes McGrath Creek.

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