By Terra Dumont, 02 November 2010
Mt. Xinecus, October 2010
Brian Thorne, Janine Diehl and Terra Dumont
I had been enjoying being a climbing and skiing bum in Queenstown for around a week when the lovely Brian and Janine came to join me. With a fantastic window of warm, sunny spring weather we started scheming what we should do with our 2.5 days. Options included: Mt. Aspiring, Mt. Earnslaw, Sharks Tooth, a random mission up some unnamed peaks near the Routeburn and Emily Peak. We soon cut out Aspiring and Earnslaw as we decided we were not keen enough to make that in 2 days. We decided on the random mission, and started driving. On the way I started studying the map more intently and discovered that on the new map the hut we where planning on going to had been removed. As we had not packed tenting gear, we needed a new plan! So Emily Peak it was. That evening we walked into Routeburn Flats hut in the dark, enjoying the full moon. Over dinner I again began studying the map. Then I saw an amazing traverse - Mt. Xinecus -> Mt. Eribus -> Conical hill. Brian and Janine looked a bit worried when I started jumping up and down to show them. In proper German style, Janine was getting a bit annoyed at the way Brian and I kept changing our plans every 5 min! But they took to my idea; especially given Emily Peak would have required wet boots (from the stream bash) + snow. So at around 10 pm we at last had a plan we were going for! So to bed it was, to awaken at the civil hour of 4:30 am (I had recommended 3 am but was shot down...).
With the full moon again lighting our way we started up the track. At the next hut Janine was not feeling well due to coming down with the flu, so sadly had to turn back. We soon reached a fantastic DOC sign which read: "Track Closed: Avalanche Danger" with "closed to everyone - that includes you!" scribbled across it. Fair enough - avalanche debris was covering the trail. At this point we cut across the stream at the base of Lake Haris and headed up onto Xinecus’s shoulder. We were at this point not sure if we were going to take the west or east ridge to the summit (both looked straightforward from the map). As we got further along the W\west ridge looked like it would go, while we could not see the east one. The snow was softening very quickly, so we stuck to ridge lines with extreme care. When we got the base of the steep section to the top we found that both of the ramps we thought would give straightforward access to the summit where extremely loaded, so we began to check out options for getting up the rocks. After some scrambling up a mixture of rock, tussock and snow we got a section where I think Brian’s response to “how are you doing?” of “well I am ok if I don’t look up or down” summed things up well! So I did a bit of route prospecting and found a steep, small snow gully through a band of rock that looked like it would go. So we roped up and I started out on my 1st winter lead of the season (better starting late than never!). The route went easily, and was only about 5 m until I hit easy snow slopes to the summit. Thank goodness we brought the rope and rack! J
The views the whole day, and especially from the summit where extraordinary!! Mt. Christina, Mt. Adelaide, Mt. Tutoku, Ocean Peak, Emily Peak, Earnslaw... We summated at noon, and decided to head home. The ridge to Eribus looked rope worthy, and even though from then on the traverse looked straightforward, it would have taken a long time in thigh deep slush, and the avo danger would have been very high when skirting any bluffs. Definitely a trip to do some time with a good freeze or in summer! J
We had a lovely romp home (after an abseil) and managed to get some 5 foot diameter snow balls rolling down the slopes! We made it home to the hut by 5pm, and enjoyed laying in the sun and doing handstands for a while before cooking dinner and heading out J.
There is an amazing amount of climbing potential in the area – there was still a little bit of ice clinging to the South Face of Xinecus as well as to the cliffs facing the lake. The streams coming off of Ocean Peak also look like they would be fantastic if they had a good freeze... The north east face of Ocean Peak also looked like it would have some worth wile winter alpine routes, as well as the east ridge of Xinecus.