I’d been keen to climb Mt Somers soon after moving Christchurch, but for a few weeks Covid-19 restrictions got in the way. After they lifted we set off to summit this mountain before winter set in. I’d seen some photos online and thought it would be just okay, but it exceeded my expectations. Despite the northern aspect being completely obscured by cloud, the views in all other directions were excellent, and the mountain tall and rugged enough to make the climb very satisfying. And the lower slopes are forested with beech and later manuka trees, which makes for a nice change from the more open walks in the area.
On a clear day you can see all the way to Aoraki/Mt Cook (as you’ll see in one of my shots), and there are views over the Canterbury Plains, west over the Clent Hills and many other more distant ranges, and no doubt north, although we missed out on those. We couldn’t see a great deal from the summit due to cloud, but a less than five minute walk to the west across the summit plateau there is a knoll from where you get excellent views to the west and south. I highly recommend this very short side trip.
It was fairly busy on a Saturday after Covid restrictions lifted, but not enough to diminish the experience too much. Track notes at the end.
Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls Reserve: The Scenery
No views to the north unfortunately due to cloud, but I’ll probably climb this mountain again in the not too distant future, so I’ll add them in then (if I can see them!).
Descending again from here…
The route starts on the southern section of the Mt Somers multi-day track (although we met a guy who ran the whole circuit in 3.5 hours). It climbs to Staverley Hill, leaves the track to follow a poled route steeply up the south face of Mt Somers, then onto a flattish ridge to the summit.
I’d read that this south facing route is icy in winter, and requires ice axe and crampons, and it was already quite slippery in a long-lasting morning frost when we did it in mid May. It may also be hard to follow towards the top in poor visibility. Nevertheless, in good weather it was a fairly straightforward climb, and the DOC estimate of 5 hours up is a fairly wild over-estimate. I think three hours or so would be enough for most regular hikers travelling with only day packs. Descending isn’t all that much quicker, especially if slippery. I’d say the whole walk is at the hard end of moderate depending on the conditions.
There’s a car park at Sharplin Falls Reserve but it seems to fill up quickly (or at least it did in the days post-Covid restrictions, perhaps full of desperate trampers getting their first fix in ages). There’s more information on this walk on the DOC website.