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Robert Ridge Route: Alpine Tramping (Hiking) Series | New Zealand

Robert Ridge Route: Alpine Tramping (Hiking) Series | New Zealand

Nelson Lakes National Park was once a
land of giant glaciers dominating the northern South Island. They have slowly retreated over time carving out a spectacular landscape made up of alpine lakes that lead up into the rugged mountain peaks of the Southern Alps. The park offers exploration opportunities for people of all fitness levels. At the northern end of the park lies the main entrance and the start of one of the most popular overnight tramps Robert Ridge Route This track traverses alpine terrain
which can make it potentially hazardous. This video will help you identify these
high-risk areas and give you some tips to navigate them correctly ensuring that
you make it home safely. The best time of year to attempt this tramp is from
December through to April, it isn’t recommended to tramp outside of this
period as snow covers the track making avalanche skills and equipment essential. The average daily summer temperature normally sits around 3 – 10 degrees and you can expect approximately 179 days of rain per year.
It’s important to remember that you will be in an alpine environment,
which means there is a good chance you will experience heavy rain, strong winds,
snow and freezing temperatures even in the height of summer. So you’ll need warm and waterproof clothing as well as a good pair of tramping boots much of the
park is very remote so a personal locator beacon is recommended as an
emergency communication device. As with all walks and tramps in New Zealand make sure you leave your intentions with a trusted contact and inform them when
you’ve finished your tramp. You can find out more about leaving your intentions
at the Mountain Safety Council website. The tack to Angelus Hut starts in the
car park at the end of Mount Robert Road. there are three different ways to get to
the hut from here which one you take will depend both on the weather and your
fitness. The first and preferred option is to head straight up pinch gut track
across the ridgeline and then down into Angelus Hut however, if the weather
forecast is looking bad then this can be the most difficult and exposed option. If
that’s the case then it’s best to take the less exposed track and head into the
bush and combine Speargrass Track with Speargrass Creek Route, it’s far more
sheltered under here and you won’t climb into the alpine until the very end. Just
be aware that track turns into an advanced route from Speargrass Hut and
watch out for rising rivers. Seek refuge in Speargrass Hut for the night if
climbing up to Angelus becomes too dangerous. The third option is for those
who are seeking a more challenging and longer tramp combining Lakeside Track,
Travers Valley Track and Cascade Route takes you along the lake edge and up
Travers Valley where you start climbing the Hukere Stream to Angeles Hut. This
route is far more difficult and exposed than Speargrass Creek Route
so a high level of experience is needed to navigate it safely. Ice, snow and
avalanche risks are also present well into the summer due to its southeast
positioning. Now let’s take a closer look at the most popular route, Robert Ridge Route. The summit of Mount Robert can be reached in two different ways, the first is to head straight up Pinch Gut Track. This track is steep and zigzags directly
up to the summit, it’s a good test of fitness so it will allow you to see how
your group’s going to handle the rest of the day. Paddy’s Track is the alternative
route with a more gradual climb to the summit it wraps around the mountain which can take slightly longer to complete halfway up you’ll encounter Bushline
Hut which is a great spot to take a break or stay the night if conditions
are poor. Upon reaching the summit of Mount Robert you’ll be left exposed to
any incoming weather, Relax Shelter is located here and this is the last
shelter until you reach Angelus Hut so use this spot as a decision-making point.
Assess the weather and make a decision to either keep going or turn back. Keep in
mind that Angelus Hut is still 5-7 hrs challenging tramping away, if you decide to turn back you can still enjoy a small overnight trip by spending
the night in Bushline Hut while remaining safe in the bad weather.
Finally with 5-7 hrs of tramping still to go, ensure you have
enough daylight hours left to complete the tramp by making sure you’re at
Relax Hut no later than 11:00 a.m. if you decide to push on to Angelus, then
you’ll be met with the first section of the ridge. This first part is a
relatively easy route that takes you along a gentle rolling ridge, you just need to follow the orange poles to keep on the right track. You’ll be highly
exposed to the prevailing westerly winds and rain from this point forward so turn
back if you have to. High wind on the ridge have been known to literally blow
people off their feet. The track doesn’t stay easy the whole way though just
before you reach your halfway point for the day Julius Summit, the track changes
to rocky outcrops that require a lot of scrambling to get past, you will need
correct foot placement and good balance to navigate these outcrops safely. This
section can become very icy during spring and autumn so it may be slippery. This terrain is pretty consistent throughout the rest of the tramp but as
you progress on to the last section of the ridge it changes again into a much
sharper ridgeline with a steep drop-off on both sides. This is one of the hardest
parts of the climb as you’ll need to use your hands and feet to climb up and over
the ridge. Take your time and make sure your hand and foot placements are stable as you take each step. The final section of the track has you cut down off the
ridge and down onto the western side. It is quite exposed here and the entire
western face drops off dramatically. Snow on this section of the track can make it
difficult to navigate during the colder months and if snow is present then
crampons and ice axes will be essential along with the skills to use them. Just a
little bit further and you will arrive at the beautiful Angelus Hut which sits
next to Rotomaninitua Lake Angelus. Have a well-deserved rest
and enjoy the amazing alpine view. Robert Ridge is an easily accessible
route that offers stunning views along the way but there are still many hazards
associated with it. Aim to give it a go from December through to April as snow
cover will be minimal during this time talk to the DOC staff at the Nelson
Lakes Visitor Centre in St Arnaud to get the latest information on track
conditions make sure you check the official Nelson Lakes mountain weather
forecast at finally ensure you start your tramp before 9 a.m.
to leave yourself enough daylight hours to complete it safely. Now get out there
and enjoy the alpine entrance to Nelson Lakes National Park.

5 thoughts on “Robert Ridge Route: Alpine Tramping (Hiking) Series | New Zealand”

  1. Please, never stop doing these videos. I know they're a lot of effort and currently the views aren't necessarily coming in but they are WONDERFUL resources.

    On the other hand, is roberts ridge intermediate in any part of the track?

  2. Great video, been up there many, many times. But you should have included footage of winter conditions too.

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