The Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse starts on the Cons Track and finishes on the Temple Basin Track and Arthur’s Pass Walking Track. But in between it is one of the more adventurous of the very accessible walks starting on the highway at Arthur’s Pass. I’ve got used to these walks being spectacular but I think this one probably took the views to a new level.
You get to bag two peaks, Mt Cassidy (1850m) and Blimit (1922m, apparently short for “Bloody Limit”), the latter being a longish scramble to probably the best views of the day. Returning via Temple Basin makes it a quite varied circuit. Apart from epic alpine vistas, there is very attractive beech forest on the way up the Cons Track, amongst the nicest I’ve seen in New Zealand. So for views and adventure in a medium to long day this route is hard to beat.
The Cons Track is steep and potentially slippery, there’s some navigation required once above the bushline, and the scramble to Blimit is quite long on the notoriously loose “weetbix” rock of the area. (More substantial snow cover could make this a bit easier). Nevertheless, we are not mountaineers and found it all pretty straightforward, although this was in ideal conditions. More info in my track notes at the end.
(And as an aside, the constructed and mostly flat Arthur’s Pass Walking Track looks to be very nice, but it was already dark when we got there so no pictures I’m afraid. We might return to do this as a ‘leg-stretcher’ one day.)
Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse: The Scenery
To Mt Cassidy and Blimit
Start at the Devil’s Punchbowl Car Park. It’s firstly a steep ascent through beech forest on the Cons Track, which starts after the first bridge on the way to Devils Punchbowl Falls. From above the bushline you make your way to the left around bluffs following orange tipped poles, then steeply up a chute, and along the ridge to Mt Cassidy.
Keep to the highway side of the ridge especially in snowy/ icy conditions, as you don’t want to slip hundreds of vertical metres into Devils Punchbowl Creek. From Mt Cassidy it’s then a sometimes tricky scramble up to Blimit on loose rock.
Return from Blimit
From Blimit, back track until you feel comfortable descending to the basin on scree or snow. Walk past the big tarn, head to the left a bit and drop down from the ridge to meet a track before Page Shelter. Take this track (left) down to the main ski buildings, and from there descend to the highway on the constructed Temple Basin Track. Cross the highway and just a little way towards Arthur’s Pass Village you can drop down through a few metres of forest to meet the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track, which takes you back to your car.
Note that you could turn back at Mt Cassidy to make it a shorter walk, (but expect a steep descent), or do the circuit missing out Blimit.
Allocate a full day for this walk, especially with all of the photos you’ll take 😉