Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ

An ascent of Mt Alaska (1965m) in winter. This walk was an instant favourite when I first did it in summer 2018/2019, and winter added a whole new dimension.

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ

I did this walk for the first time in the summer of 2018/19 and it became an instant favourite. When Sophia and I came back to Queenstown the following winter it was first choice to kick off the holiday, and it did not disappoint. Much of the scenery was unsurprisingly enhanced by snow, although I just went back to see my photos from summer and realised the colours were very nice then, so you can’t lose really.

Accessing the summit presented no particular problems, but still felt like an achievement. If walking in winter then best to take your crampons and ice axe just in case, as there are one or two steep sections that might be a bit tricky depending on the conditions.

I found ascending harder then the descent, not just because it is a hard slog up, but also because I repeated a mistake I made on my first time up the mountain, going around some rocks on a steep slope when it is easier to go over them. The better route is more obvious on the way down. 

Click here for more details on the walk from the original blog post published in January 2019, or view on for the winter scenery. As you will see, a substantial cloud inversion added to the great views. Enjoy!

Mt Alaska ascent (winter): The Scenery

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Walking up through cloud. I didn’t know for sure that this was a cloud inversion, but I quietly hoped it would be.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Mt Alaska top right, our target for the day.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Sophia trudging up towards Heather Jock Hut, with a very pleasing cloud inversion behind.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
The Humboldt Mountains on the other side of the Wakatipu Basin, which was covered in cloud.

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
I couldn’t help but take lots of photos of this cloud inversion.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Resting at Heather Jock Hut.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Not sure what mountains these are in the distance.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Looking towards the final ascent to Mt Alaska. Not all that much snow on top.

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
We should have put on our crampons in this section, which we avoided on the way down. I’ve chosen this wrong route twice now, when the easier way is more directly up the rocks on the right (to Sophia’s left).
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
My wife Sophia looking intrepid in this photo.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
One of my favourite shots from the day. A good sense of scale.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Snowy slopes viewed from the summit.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Me on the summit.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Mt Larkins (2300m) at the back.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
The view from the summit.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
A panorama of Mt Larkins, point 2232m, and Stone Peak.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
I liked the textures, shapes and colours in this shot.

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
A steep descent.

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ

Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Black Peak (1989) looming large. This can be climbed as a side trip off the McIntosh Loop Track (which I’ve not yet done). You could do it as an epic day walk, but there are huts up there to make it a an overnight walk.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Mt Earnslaw at the back.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Goats!
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
The sun going down on Bonnie Jean Hut. Still a ways to go from here.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Something a little abstract.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Mt McIntosh and Black Peak in twilight.
Mt Alaska ascent (winter), near Glenorchy NZ
Dying sunset.

 

 

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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