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New Zealand Volcanos 3 Ruapehu

New Zealand Volcanos 3 Ruapehu


Postby past my sell by date » Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:13 pm

Date walked: 21/02/2003

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Ruapehu , the highest point in North Island is probably the most exciting, dramatic, spooky and perhaps scary place I have ever been. It sits towards the Southern end of the Tongariro National park, and the main peaks are named after Maori Chiefs
01.jpg
Area around Tongariro National Park
I am quoting Wikipedia verbatim as I can't improve upon it
"Ruapehu, the largest active volcano in New Zealand, is the highest point on the North Island and has three major peaks: Tahurangi (2,797 m), Te Heu Heu (2,755 m) and Paretetaitonga (2,751 m). The deep, active crater is between the peaks and fills with water between major eruptions, being known as Crater Lake
Volcanic activity
Ruapehu is largely composed of andesite and began erupting at least 250,000 years ago. In recorded history, major eruptions have been about 50 years apart,[3] in 1895, 1945 and 1995–1996. Minor eruptions are frequent, with at least 60 since 1945. Some of the minor eruptions in the 1970s generated small ash falls and lahars (mudflows) that damaged skifields.[4]

Between major eruptions, warm acidic Crater Lake forms, fed by melting snow. Major eruptions may completely expel the lake water. Where a major eruption has deposited a tephra dam across the lake's outlet, the dam may collapse after the lake has refilled and risen above the level of its normal outlet, the outrush of water causing a large lahar. In 2000, the ERLAWS system was installed on the mountain to detect such a collapse and alert the relevant authorities.

1945 eruption and aftermath
The 1945 eruption emptied Crater Lake and dammed the outlet with tephra. The crater slowly refilled with water, until on 24 December 1953 the tephra dam collapsed causing a lahar in the Whangaehu River. The lahar caused the Tangiwai disaster, with the loss of 151 lives, when the Tangiwai railway bridge across the Whangaehu River collapsed while the lahar was in full flood, just before an express train crossed it.

It was already known that the river had partially undermined one of the bridge piers and the lahar finished the job, causing the bridge to collapse. Although warned of the collapsed bridge, the train driver was unable to stop the train in time and six of the carriages fell into the river."
02.jpg
Aftermath - The full dramatic account of the Tangiwai disaster is well worth reading on Wiki. 134 people in the three rear carriages survived unscathed.
03.jpg
Ruapehu and my route
04.jpg
Aerial photo in winter showing the complicated layout of the many peaks
There are roads all around the park and I took pictures of the mountain from them. They start from the park entrance at Whakapapa and go anticlockwise.
05.jpg
From Whakapapa. The Whakapapa glacier - Paretetaitonga on the R
06.jpg
From the North West
07.jpg
.Above - from the West on Highway 4: Below - From farmland near Horopito
08.jpg
Above - From near Okahune on highway 49: Below - From further East on Highway 49
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From the Tangiwai memorial due South - Mitre Peak on the R with Girdlestone peak in front of Tahurangi
10.jpg
From South East on the Desert Road
10a.jpg
From the East - further up the Desert Road
11.jpg
From the near the Tama Lakes
12.jpg
From the road to the skifield - Pinnacle Ridge on the far L - Paretetaitonga R

Ascent 2003
From the road end you can take the Knoll ridge chairlift and then climb easily up Restful Ridge. There is no real path, but compared to the over-popular Tongariro Crossing the whole place was blissfully deserted :D :D
13.jpg
The cross jointing in the solidified lava flow beneath the chairlift is very clear
15.jpg
Pinnacle Ridge from Restful Ridge with Ngauruhoe behind
16.jpg
getting on to the snow: Te Heu Heu Ridge
17.jpg
Zoomed view of Te Heu Heu and Cathedral Rocks on the R
At the top of Restful Ridge I headed Right - across the top of the Whakapapa glacier and climbed the North ridge of Paretetaitonga. The snow was a lovely crisp neve all day
18.jpg
At the top of the glacier: The summit plateau comes into view
19.jpg
Climbing Paretetaitonga - looking on to Te Ata Ahua and Tahurangi
20.jpg
Looking across Crater Lake from Paretetaitonga: The lake can vary in colour from brown to grey and in temperature from freezing to steaming. On this occasion it was steel grey and I felt the whole place had a rather macabre menacing atmosphere :( Just across the lake is Pyramid peak with Mitre peak behind -Tahurangi on the far R
I pushed on from Paretetaitonga and over Te Ata Ahua to the col below Tahurangi
21.jpg
On the first top of Te Ata Ahua
22.jpg
Looking across Crater Lake from Te Ata Ahua: Pyramid Peak on the R : Te Heu Heu behind
23.jpg
Looking back to Paretetaitonga
24.jpg
A pinnacle on Te Ata Ahua
25.jpg
On to Tahurangi
I descended to the col and considered :wink: I would have loved to have continued round the whole circumference of Crater Lake but (a) I was totally on my own and no-one knew where I was; (b) I had an axe but no crampons and the top of Tahurangi looked steeper than anything I had done so far: and (c) I had no idea what to expect above the outlet from the lake. so reluctantly I decided enough was enough :(
26.jpg
Looking back to Te Ata Ahua from the col
I retraced my steps over Te Ata Ahua , cut round inside Paretetaitonga to the top of the glacier and descended easy snow slopes to the top of the lift.
27.jpg
Looking across the lake to Pyramid Peak
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Pinnacle Ridge in the afternoon sunshine from the top of the ski area -on the way down - Remember the sun is to the North :lol: :lol:
29.jpg
Easy snow slopes led down :)

Ascent 2006

When Donna and I took the same route up Restful Ridge three years later there was far less snow - global warming or just chance? - but there had been no serious eruption in the intervening period. The volcano erupted the following October and Crater Lake emptied violently again in March 2007. Once more we had the place almost to ourselves :D :D I can't remember our exact route, but I think we ascended the Dome and headed L towards Cathedral Rocks. and these photos would have been taken from those areas.
30.jpg
Near the top of Restful Ridge - looking up towards Paretetaitonga
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From further on: Paretetaitonga on the R - Tahurangi at the back
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The summit Plateau - Te Heu Heu and Cathedral Rocks
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Crater Lake, Tahurangi and Te Ata Ahua
34.jpg
Summit plateau again from higher
35.jpg
On the ridge L of The Dome
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Tahurangi, Te Ata Ahua and Paretetaitonga
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A wider view - the big expanse of snow is the top of the Whakapapa glacier and Crater Lake is down to the L
38.jpg
Looking back up our descent path
Last edited by past my sell by date on Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
past my sell by date
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Re: New Zealand Volcanos 3 Ruapehu

Postby Clach Liath » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:43 pm

Beautiful photos. I was wondering what it looked like!

I climbed Ruapehu in February last year in between storms. So I missed the views you had, especially down into the crater.

I made the approach from Turoa to the south west where there is a large car park at the end of the ski road up from Okahune (the centre of New Zealand's carrot growing area!). This approach is a more direct one to the summit than yours would have been. But it can still be fairly serious if there is a lot of snow. The day I did it I could probably have reached the top without stepping on much snow. But as I was suitably equipped I gained most of my height in the upper reaches on the wonderfully named Gliding Gladys glacier.

When that started to get too steep I made my way to my right over loose volcanic terrain to the Skyline Ridge with the occasional scramble and no longer on snow. This ridge led to the summit from where I had no views and was battered by wind and rain, hoping to no avail that the clouds might briefly lift.

I returned roughly the same way so experienced none of the wonderful ridges you went over. Look forward to reading your Taranaki report :wink:
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Clach Liath
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Re: New Zealand Volcanos 3 Ruapehu

Postby past my sell by date » Tue May 07, 2019 3:47 pm

Clach Liath wrote:Beautiful photos. I was wondering what it looked like!

I climbed Ruapehu in February last year in between storms. So I missed the views you had, especially down into the crater.

I made the approach from Turoa to the south west where there is a large car park at the end of the ski road up from Okahune (the centre of New Zealand's carrot growing area!). This approach is a more direct one to the summit than yours would have been. But it can still be fairly serious if there is a lot of snow. The day I did it I could probably have reached the top without stepping on much snow. But as I was suitably equipped I gained most of my height in the upper reaches on the wonderfully named Gliding Gladys glacier.

When that started to get too steep I made my way to my right over loose volcanic terrain to the Skyline Ridge with the occasional scramble and no longer on snow. This ridge led to the summit from where I had no views and was battered by wind and rain, hoping to no avail that the clouds might briefly lift.

I returned roughly the same way so experienced none of the wonderful ridges you went over. Look forward to reading your Taranaki report :wink:

Hi Clach Liach
Thanks for the reply. the first time i went up it was totally calm and Crater Lake had a brooding almost malevolent feel about it, as though it was relishing the thought of causing more havoc - a bit like the creature in Alien :lol:
past my sell by date
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