Touch Down

14th August 2021

WI3 60m (we did 30m)

South Face of Single Cone,

The Remarkables

 

The view from the snow cave.

 

From The Remarkables ski area, Ed and I made use of a season pass and rode the Curvey Basin chairlift to the ski area boundary. Visibility came and went, and we cautiously skied into the head of Wye Creek towards the frozen lakes just below 1700m. After transitioning we skinned northwest up a gentle ridge towards the South Face of Single Cone and had a quick lunch and gear faff in the lee of a large boulder. Finally reaching the foot of the ice, we dug a large belay ledge in the snow and Ed tied in to lead.

30m up, Ed created a top-rope anchor with a V-thread and a screw, and abseiled back to the base. By this time Sarah, Chris, and Vince had arrived on foot and took their turns at top-roping the climb. Despite the surprising lack of wind, spindrift was flowing down the face, so we dug a rudimentary snow cave for some shelter and to wait our turn for climbing. Occasional breaks in the cloud revealed the full Wye Creek valley stretching away into the distance.

The three on foot set off back to the ski area, and then it was my turn to climb. For the first time in my life I would be doing so in ski boots. The ice was generally solid, though an awkward step halfway and my axe popping out made me glad I was on a top-rope. Above the step the ice improved, with single swings required to gain secure placements. Soon I reached the anchor and set about retrieving the ice screw, trusting all my weight to the V-thread. It was my first time abseiling off a V-thread without a backup, and my nerves were high. Arriving safely at the bottom of the climb again, Ed and I donned our skis and retraced our steps, and skied down the ridge, avoiding the large cornice to the east.

Skinning back up towards the ski area, we passed a couple of other tourers who were heading out to camp for the night. With the wind picking up we thought they were mad, and pushed on. We arrived at the boundary as the sun was peaking out from below the cloud, spilling golden light across the Wakatipu Basin. The ski area had already been closed for about an hour, so we skied down empty, icy pistes back to the car, arriving at the same time as the others.

Ski tour route to Touch Down. Red shows skinning/chairlift and blue shows skiing.

Ed skins up the ridge towards the South Face of Single Cone.

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