Episode 7 - Mt Barff

The nitty gritty...

A right bloody slog up the West Matukituki Valley in the Aspiring National Park, to ski Mt Barff.

New Zealand Ski Touring access. Blood, sweat and tears. Well in this case, thankfully no blood, maybe a few tears but certainly a fuck load of sweat.

We set out from Raspberry Creek on the Wednesday for a casual 15km trot to the bottom of the Liverpool track, followed by a 500m rooty scramble to the Liverpool Hut. However, barely a hair’s breadth from the carpark, the almighty weather gods thought bugger that and unleashed, what felt like gale force winds and a torrent of watery hell. Unfortunately no footage of this torrid termoil exists, as I was having way too shit of a time and my bin bag camera cover would have likely done a rather pathetic job.

Anyway, I digress. Upon reaching the Aspiring Hut, soaked to the bone and positively gagging for a spot of tea. The 3 males of our group (including yours truly) sniffiled that we were just simply too wet and elected to light the fire, dry the garb and hop into our sleeping bags. Worth noting here, that it was the lone female (Bella - who’s clearly made of sterner stuff) that was dead set on carrying on into the rain. 

Day 2 dawned with a perky 3am wake up and due to our previous pathetic male whimpering, we had quite a ball buster of a day on our hands. 5km and 3 awkward swing bridge crossings later we were at the bottom of the Liverpool track. Here an hour or so of rooty fun prevailed to get above the tree line and on to the snow line.

A wrong turn up the wrong access couloir saw us gain a fair bit of height, before losing it all again to get back on course. Probably wasted about 2 hours here, bollocks. 

At this point Bella decided to save her legs for the ascent up to French Ridge later in the day and went for a chill at the Liverpool Hut.

Us lads continued crampon’ing up that particularly heinous type of breakable crust. Too firm and slippy for your skis to break through and grip too, but breakable enough for you to crunch through with every step when on crampons.  

200 vertical meters from the top the crust seemed to worsen considerably and we decided to cut our losses and ski from there.

The hard crust actually ended up skiing a hell of a lot better than we imagined. Initially scratchy, but the sun had softened the middle and lower slopes to a semi corn consistency, that was ripe for mini slashin’ n carving’.

A stumble back down the liverpool track and it was time to part ways. Manu, Gerry and Bella were off up to the French Ridge Hut (1000m of rooty fun) and I had my 15km walk back to Raspberry Creek.

Pretty knackered by this point, the solo slog back to the car was, ahem, a delight. A riveting audiobook kept spirits high however and I was soon back in Wanaka for a mountain of food and a comfy bed.