South Ashburton Glacier

3-5 January 2020

It is 0615 Friday morning and 2 car loads of eager trampers (6 of us in total) arrived from different directions at the agreed meeting point in Templeton spot on time. A quick trip through Mount Somers and beyond Lake Heron to the Cameron River carpark soon saw us heading up the Cameron River valley. Eventually, we turned and headed up the hill towards the saddle, stopping for lunch still looking up the Cameron valley. Once at the saddle we could look down into the much wider Ashburton river valley, before heading off towards Top Hut to find a perfect camping spot before having to cross the river.

Finding a spot out of the wind to eat dinner. Photo courtesy of Darcy Mawson.

It was a reasonably sheltered camping area that offered a number of tent places. Rocks were gathered to make a sheltered area for the cookers and dinner was soon underway. Once the sun disappeared behind the hills, it got quite cold quite quickly so it was an early night for all.

Saturday was spent walking up the river valley towards the Ashburton Glacier. We stopped in at Top Hut for a look. The walk up the valley was partly up the river’s edge or along the banks. We all wanted to go a bit further to see what ‘around’ the next corner’ -could we see the glacier, could we get that bit closer so we ended up on the lateral moraine looking up towards the glacier.

Looking up the Ashburton River towards the Ashburton Glacier. Photo courtesy of Sue Piercey

We went to bed on Saturday night, thinking it could well be raining by the morning. Well, it did rain over night, several of us were woken by the patter of rain on our tents, however, by the time it was light and time to get up, the rain had stopped and sun and wind dried out our tents before we packed them away.

We set off back the way we had come two days earlier, with the strong gusty norwest wind at our backs, up and over the saddle and down into the Cameron River valley. We started straight down from the saddle.

Once down on the valley floor we were able to cruise back to the car park, with a stop for lunch in a sheltered little clearing along the way. The trip home included a stop in Mt Somers for coffee, ice cream, pies and other snacks plus a top up of the water bottles

The highlights (for me that were hopefully shared by the others)

  • camping out on a little terrace just above the Ashburton river.
  • waking up to ice on our tents on the first morning – those who had got up in the night viewed a fabulous clear starry sky.
  • being able to get up onto the lateral moraine beside the Ashburton Glacier and look straight up the glacier towards Mt Arrowsmith and the other tops in the range.
  • lunch spots beside beautiful clear streams.
  • great company, great leadership and great food
  • good collaboration that meant everyone looked out for each other and shared the load.

We were: Di Mellish (leader), Sue Piercey, Linda Gardiner, Norman Burden, Darcy Mawson and Alison Maccoll (AM)