The first couple of pitches were nice and easy allowing us to get our systems sorted and practice rope handling. This was my first time leading and I relished the opportunity to put into practice the skills which I have slowly been absorbing over the years. The route steepened but at no time was I outside, or even on the edge of, my comfort zone.
6 pitches brought us to the summit ridge and then another two pitches, including a rock step, led to the top - 11 hours after setting out. We basked on the summit for an hour before descending down the Mangahuehu Glacier on the north east side. By this time the snow was soft so it was easy trudging down the slope. Once off the snow it was a long plod back down the flank of Ruapehu towards Blyth Hut.
Five minutes before the hut we watched as the vividly orange sun sank below the horizon. A glorious end to a glorious day. 15 1/2 hours on the go, 1,300m ascent, 8 pitches, lots of learning and loads of fun!