The Auckland Section of the New Zealand Alpine Club organised a girls only trip to Mt Ruapehu, and last weekend found 10 ladies ensconced at the NZAC Ruapehu Hut at Delta Corner near Knoll Ridge Café. The objective was to walk up to the top of Pyramid (2,645m), one of Ruapehu's 12 peaks, but mainly to simply enjoy being on the mountain.
Three of us took the Friday off work to travel down and so managed to catch the last chair lift up the ski field - the others didn't arrive until about 2am! The afternoon was ridiculously warm with blue skies and a touch of lightly falling snow. Having skipped the walk up to the hut, I made myself useful and got some exercise digging out the fire exit.
Saturday morning was clear but a little breezy so I got up at 6am to watch the sunrise. The sky was clear all the way out to Mt Taranaki in the west, and the rosy light gradually crept over its slopes as it emerged from the shadow of Ruapehu. The late arrivals didn't emerge from bed until a while later, so it was just after 8am when we began wandering upwards. We opted to go up the gut and through the notch onto the Summit Plateau, where we were sheltered from the worst of the wind. There was blue sky all the way until we reached the southern corner of the plateau where we paused to regroup before heading over to Pyramid. I could see the peak with cloud billowing in front, but by the time everyone had caught up we were encased in cloud with almost zero visibility. Occasional clearances allowed us to find our way over to the north ridge of Pyramid, which we followed to the top. Despite being directly above the crater lake we didn't see it at all! It was cool and breezy on top so we only stayed long enough to take a few summit shots before retreating to a sheltered spot for lunch. Then it was simply a matter of retracing our foot prints back to Whakapapa. Some of us had hoped to traverse the ridge along to Te Heuheu, but decided it wasn't worth it in the wind and limited visibility. As we went through the notch and headed down toward the ski field we dropped below the cloud and once again had a view. Back at the hut in time for afternoon tea after a leisurely 6 hour stroll.
I poked my head out of the door at first light on Sunday to be greeted by a wet shroud of white and a blustery breeze. Oh well, back to bed. It wasn't worth trying to climb anywhere in the rain and wind so we simply packed up and walked down to the cars.