Solstice weekenders find climbing gem on Ruapehu
by Jes Michealson.
It is 7am on Sunday, the wind eased over night and there is not a single cloud in the sky. It is cold, and even though it is early in the season, conditions are next to perfect.
The Ruapehu hut is full of winter warriors keen to get out and play with sharp pieces of metal. We sort our gear and head west to the ice at Barium Enema. For a moment I forget about the great Christmas food and the strong glögg from yesterday. My focus is on what lies ahead. Hopefully there will be lots of ice.
We are certainly not disappointed when we find the gully after 1.5 hours walking. Barium Enema is a gem at Ruapehu. There are many routes to do of all levels; steep ice, mixed, alpine snow, it is all there.
We are rusty (early in the season, the ice is not fat enough and all that) and none of us are too eager to lead any of the bigger routes at this stage. (Bad excuses are a big part of alpine climbing). We set up a top rope and this way slowly recover our lost skills and dormant confidence on a series of short climbs well within our comfort zone. A fantastic day.
Looking back generally good weather, great company and food, and some fine climbing were the key words for the weekend. Barium Enema encompasses a lot of potential routes. The one page in the guidebook does not do it justice. If the cold spell goes on we will soon be back for more enjoyment at this gem. It could very well become a great season.
To get there it’s a 3/4 hour walk west from the bottom of the Far West T-bar on Whakapapa Ski Field.
Grid Ref: 293129
Ascending Colon, WI3 20-25m
Rectum Direct, WI4 20-25m
Pig Face, WI3 15m