Barker Hut

12-13 November 2015

The weather forecast again wasn’t good for the planned Show Weekend trip—Gloriana, Faerie Queene. We really needed a fine Saturday to climb and it was forecast to be anything but. In fact the mountain weather anywhere seemed to be bad for later in the weekend. People were dropping out with a variety of excuses, so plan B was invoked to go to Arthurs Pass a day early and only Yvette and Gary had the flexibility to head up on the Thursday.

We did the trudge up the Waimakariri towards Carrington Hut with only the consolation of a southerly tail-wind to distract us. Snow showers interspersed with sunshine led to a parka-on, parka-off existence. The river flow was low but not warm. The turn into the White River gave relief from the wind but Yvette was not impressed with her first view of Barker Hut, sitting high up on its rocky pinnacle. The last 400m climb up to the hut is never fun and made exasperating by the climb down to cross the White River, necessitated by DoC’s removal of a bridge.

The forecast southerly abatement had not occurred and the evening mountain forecast of the north-west arrival on Friday night rather than Saturday noon had narrowed our weather window. We really wanted to drop down to Carrington Hut by Friday night in case the river came up.

Friday morning dawned with cloud that looked to be retreating but still high winds. The snow looked good for access to the White Glacier but the abrupt horizontal termination of avalanche debris showed significant crevasse country. Decision time for a climbing start on Mt Murchison passed and by the time the cloud had cleared and wind dropped at 9am it was too late to try for the top. We considered a trip up to one of the passes but the forecast persuaded us that we might as well just head out.

The scenery on the trip down the White River was superb, and additionally we were impressed by antics of a large chamois just below White Col. The trip down the Waimakariri River does not change and neither does the scenery for that long last hour. We were grateful for another tail-wind with the gathering nor-west cloud behind us.

While we did not achieve an ascent of Mt Murchison, we still had great days in the mountains. The setting of Barker Hut is unequalled in Canterbury, thanks to the CMC. With three glaciers terminating at the same height in close proximity, it is well worth the visit. Trampers were: Yvette So and Gary Huish. (GH)