Ski Touring The Fox Neve
The west coast neve’s are a magical ski touring destination. Whilst there’s plenty of scope for very intense lines, there’s also plenty of mellow terrain for when the snow isn’t quite in condition. Regardless of the skiing, it is an incredible place to visit.
During our 5 day trip we experienced 100kmh South easterly winds, and hot windless afternoons, we skied breakable rain crust at 2700m, but enjoyed a few turns of corn when the gales abated. We sat drinking pilseners on the front porch as the sun kissed the Tasman Sea, and the next day peered over the main divide to the Tasman Glacier. Epic amounts of chocolate were consumed, apart from the day where we made a Cheesecake from the leftover hut food. The ice axe, crampons and ski crampons all got a work out, and rusty rope skills got a good review. And in the end, after waking up at 2400m on a Glacier, we swam at Bruce Bay on the way home.
Many thanks to Mark, Pete, Em and Ian for a memorable trip.
Safety first: All geared up and heading to the Fox Heliport
The flight up the valley was spectacular, but reminded us of just how quickly these glaciers are receeding.
Safely at Pioneer Hut; with Mt Tasman dominating the vista to the south east.
Now that we're settled in, its time to start exploring the glacier
Pausing for a break under Mt Alack and Douglas Peak
Mark ropes up to investigate the schrund at the start of our ski route.
Snow conditions were testing; recent warm storms saw rain to at least 2700m. And we were all finding it tough to ski the horrible breakable crust.
Heading out to explore the Explorer Glacier
One of the great joys of the west coast neve's is the evening light show as you ski back to the hut.
Time for a well earned beer at Pioneer Hut.
The sun dips low over the Tasman sea.
The neve huts get a lot of occupants by helicopter, so there's often "hut food" left in boxes. On this occaision, we crushed some biscuits and added some oil to make a base, then combined coconut milk powder and yoghurt from our stash to make the filling. An old jam tub provided the topping. Alpine delicacy!
As we climb up towards Pioneer Pass, crevasses block the way, and force a little head scratching as we look for a route through.
Time to go investigate a few crevasses and practice rescue techniques.
Skinning up beneath Glacier Peak, at the head of the Explorer glacier
A new day, a new sunrise. Mt Tasman catches the alpenglow.
Roped up for the last crevassed section of skinning on our way to Mt Grey
After 2 days of gale force winds, we finally get a calm day and get to peer over the main divide towards the Tasman Valley
Clicking back into our skis, we get ready to ski back the way we came, threading the crevasses through the steeper section.
Finally, the sun allows the rain crust to soften and we get some good turns in.
After lunch, we head over to the Victoria glacier for some afternoon corn.
The sun has done its work; what a place to ski!
We stay on the Victoria glacier until the sun drifts low in the horizon. We've timed our skin home as the sun dips low, and are rewarded with a magical light show.
The long skin home to Pioneer Hut
Tasman, yet again.. Everywhere you look, it seems like Tasman dominates the scenery.
Last rays of light as we reach the hut, satisfied after a great day of touring.
After waking up early (for skiers) we zoom down the ice of the Fox, on our way to Chancellor Hut for our pick up.
The snow is extremely icy, but at least ice is predictable (unlike the breakable rain crust we've been enduring much of the trip)
One short pitch off the glacier, and we're up on the benches above Chancellor hut
A final glimpse back at the lower Fox icefall, before moving into the world of Tussock and Kea's
The final furlong. Just a few more steps to Chancellor, where we await our mid morning helicopter. Mission complete!
This article is part of FMC’s Outdoor Community campaign to promote Ski Touring. You can read our ideas to support the sport on our webpage, and through following FMC on Facebook. If you have stories to share, ski touring club trips to promote or ideas to float, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line!