The Crater Lake

The Crater Lake – 2,672m above sea level

Sometimes there is no option but to accept that you cannot do something. So it was with me a few weeks ago. A neighbour had arranged a hike to the crater lake – almost the summit – on Mt Ruapehu, offering to act as lead for those who wanted to see the lake but weren’t confident enough to find their own way there. As anyone who has climbed a mountain will tell you, it’s not simply a case of ‘keep walking uphill’.

The walk isn’t long, less than ten km, but it is very challenging, a constant scramble with no paths, over boulders, across scree fields and possibly even areas of snow. It’s not advisable in winter without skis and ideally crampons. There is no shelter from the elements and it’s a good partner to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. A gondola runs from the ski base, which knocks off a few kms climbing but you only have five hours to get to the lake and back before the last car leaves. Miss that and you face an additional couple of hours walk down.

Mt Ngauruhoe, with Mt Tongariro behind

I was unsure if my abilities were up to it and I wasn’t well for the few days before, so decided to give it a miss. As a result this post is slightly different to usual as I hand over to my trusty assistant and chief photographer. I’m sure many of you won’t even miss my words as the pictures tell the story without help.

Knoll Ridge. Looking down from above the gondola station – 2,020m above sea level
Let the climbing begin
A rare path towards Restful Ridge
The Pinnacles
The Crater Lake is the other side of Dome Ridge
Whangaehu Glacier
Dome Ridge
Tahurangi, the highest of Mt Ruapehu’s three peaks – 2,797m

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