Princess Bath – Mount Princess

14 – 15 October 2022

We tried to run this two-day trip last year but weather, preferred routes and who was coming from where were eventually too difficult so we canned it. Also, we had tried scheduling before without success. This time was a different story. There was no doubt about the weather and the route all fell into place nicely. We moved it to Friday-Saturday but as it turned out, Sunday would have been ok, too.

Geoff arrived at my place at 6.30am, we picked up Raymond and then Peter on our way north. The long drive up the hydro road took us to the Maling Pass car park. I tried driving up the road but gave up after a few hundred metres and parked; walking after 10.30am, almost to the pass and turned off on a well-used trail on the spur to point 1572m.

A few weeks back my battered hip had decided to throw a wobbly, so climbing was a struggle, as was keeping up with the other three, but I wouldn’t have missed being there in weather like that. As planned, our route sidled in moderately soft snow, circling around below point 1906m and eventually dropping to the snow-covered lake at the western end. At 3.30 we scouted around toward the eastern end and found two good tent sites, free of snow and near the lake outlet—couldn’t have been better. We set up, had a brew and then at 5pm Raymond, Geoff and Peter set out up the western ridge, headed for Mt Princess.

Often, staying put at a base can be a very cold experience, but not this time, even when the sun dropped below the top ridge. I had plenty of time to explore while watching the other three progressing up the steep slope. They were on the first saddle at 6.05pm when I last saw them and as Peter said, were in no hurry to return once on top of 2126m Mt Princess with a view all around that would be hard to beat. They returned at 7.30pm for a late dinner, still in pleasant, calm conditions.

Saturday was just as nice. The tussock around the tent-site had stayed dry overnight. How often does that happen? Away at 9am, we exited as for our inward route, this time with crampons on, around to a snow slope descending north of 1906m. We had noted it on the way up and it proved cruisy. Part way down, we sat in a good spot for ages, taking in the view and chatting, eventually moving again by 10am. Below the snow slope there was still a long way down to the valley floor.

Down-valley we stopped at 11.25am for our first lunch, with another at 12.20, beside a small stream. It was such a nice spot that we put the billy on. Continuing across the flats and Maling Stream, we climbed up to the road by 1.40 and trudged back to our vehicle at 2.40. We had plenty of time to drive out, with the usual coffee stop in Hanmer in lovely weather, and still be back in Christchurch by early evening. We were Raymond Ford, Merv Meredith (leader), Geoff Spearpoint and Peter Umbers. [MM]

Our site near the rim of Princess Bath

Geoff and Peter nearing the summit