Ski touring along Ball Ridge
Previous backcountry experience is essential
The slopes around Caroline Hut are steep and unforgiving
A skier on Ball Ridge in front of the Caroline Face of Aoraki / Mt. Cook
Enthusiastic guides will take good care of you
A warm and cosy mountain retreat
Ski Mountaineering - Mount Cook Range
Challenging terrain, steep skiing and stunning views.
Spectacular views of Mt. Cook, steep descents and exposed terrain make this is an excellent adventure for expert skiers. No aircraft access needed.
Warm and cosy, Caroline Hut provides a spectacular location to admire stunning mountain panoramas - Mount Cook, Mount Tasman, Minarets, Elie de Beaumont, Malte Brun Range... and many more!
Option of climbing Kaitiaki Peak (2222m/7290ft) near Ball Pass on the middle day.
"I felt that Gottlieb rated my abilities and pushed me to a new level. Everything very professional and safe." - M. Lui, USA.
|returning client discount (on individual bookings), if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
|Group Booking Discounts (NZ$ per person)|
|Group booking of 3|
|Group booking of 4|
|A per person surcharge of NZ will apply to all prices on.|
- IFMGA/NZMGA certified mountain and ski guide
- National Park fees
- Heated PRIVATE hut accommodation
- Local accommodation for any nights required during the trip
- Free transport (Tekapo - Mt. Cook return)
- ALL meals (including snacks & energy bars) for the duration of the trip
- ALL avalanche safety and ski mountaineering equipment (with the exception of ski boots)
Meals and accommodation before/after the trip are NOT included.
+Minimum & Maximum Numbers
A minimum number of 2 participants is required to run this trip. If you end up being the only person booked on the trip, you will be offered the choice of:
- paying an additional fee of NZ
- rescheduling to another trip/date
- a full refund
The maximum number of participants per guide is 4. The maximum group size is 8, with 2 guides.
Take advantage of our group booking discounts and get a group of family and friends together. The amount of discount you will be eligible for will depend on the group size - the more people you book, the more your discount will be! If our scheduled dates don't suit your group's travel plans, please contact us as we can reschedule a trip to suit (subject to guide availability).
Please note that group bookings are not private bookings - if you wish to keep your group closed (ie. you have a private guide just for your group), a surcharge will apply. Alterntatively you can book a group of 4 or 8 (which will ensure there are no others in your group).
Caroline Hut Ski Expedition dates are scheduled on a case by case basis - please contact us with the dates you would like. We recommend that you settle guiding dates well in advance as guide availability during peak season is limited. Please allow extra time in case you are held up in the mountains due to weather.
Venue: Caroline Hut
↑ Caroline Hut is warm and cosy and a great base for backcountry ski touring adventures.
Caroline Hut is the only guide/operator-owned mountain hut in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and is available for the exclusive use of Alpine Recreation parties. As we are not using public huts there is no risk of overcrowding, facilities are clean and you have a guaranteed bunk.
Located at 1820m on Ball Ridge, directly opposite the Caroline Face of Aoraki Mount Cook, Caroline Hut is a great location to experience the mountain views in comfort.
The hut is equipped with firewood, gas, solar lighting, satellite phone, Department of Conservation radio, sleeping bags and nonperishable food. A wood-fired stove means there are good heating and drying facilities.
The hut consists of two rooms, sleeping up to 10 participants and 2 guides in total. There are no showers, but warm water and a basin can be provided for washing. The two traditional longdrop toilets have one of the most spectacular views in the country!
Endurance, Agility & Technical Difficulty
↑ Steep, unforgiving terrain requires expert ski ability and confidence in variable snow conditions.
Endurance: Grade 4 - "Very challenging"
A high level of fitness is expected. Fit people will still need to train prior to undertaking this adventure. Ascents of 1200+ vertical metres are likely. Expect 10-12 hour days or longer, carrying a 10-12kg backpack. Early alpine starts may be required. Expect some discomfort due to long days and exposure to elements. Must be dedicated and used to long days in rough, untracked terrain.
Agility: Grade 3.5 - "Moderate scrambling agility"
Scrambling over rough ground with hand placement needed (eg. pulling yourself up on vegetation, clambering over boulders). Good foot placement required across a variety of terrain, including steep grass, alpine scrub, scree, boulder-fields and snow. Must be competent and efficient at moving over uneven and untracked terrain carrying a moderate backpack. Sections of steep and/or exposed terrain at times. May involve crossing snow slopes and/or glaciers, requiring the use of crampons and ice axe if conditions are firm.
Technical: Grade 1.5 - "Beginner Mountaineer"
No prior rope skills or experience with crampons/ice axe required. Basic 10-point crampon, ice axe, self-arresting and glacier travel skills will be introduced by the guide if applicable.
+Trip Difficulty Ratings explained
< scroll for more >
The route to Caroline Hut crosses rough, untracked alpine terrain and traverses snow, scree and boulder fields. The surrounding terrain is steep and unforgiving. For the Ski Expedition to Caroline Hut you must have:
- multi-day backcountry ski touring experience
- multi-day hiking, backpacking or tramping experience
Previous experience using crampons and ice axe is an advantage, but is not essential.
Regular ski tours and hikes of at least 6 hours' duration involving significant vertical ascent are recommended as preparation for this trip. The access to Caroline Hut requires a solid level of fitness to cope with the mountain terrain. Winter conditions can be very tough and changeable - a high level of fitness is required.
Participants for a Ski Expedition to Caroline Hut need to:
- be expert skiers and be able to ski competently in all terrain and snow conditions with a moderate weight pack
- have high a level of fitness (able to climb 300 vertical metres per hour with a 12kg pack plus skis and hike/climb 8+ hours a day without difficulty)
- have extensive hiking, tramping or trekking experience
- be able to walk/scramble over steep, rugged, untracked and exposed terrain
- be sure-footed, well-coordinated and have good balance
- have no fear of heights or problems with vertigo
↑ Aerial photo of routes to/from Caroline Hut.
BALL HUT & CAROLINE HUT ROUTE CHANGES
The intense and prolonged rainfall of 1-8 December 2019 caused significant damage to the traditional route to Ball Hut and Caroline Hut across Husky Flat. Alternative foot access routes to Ball Ridge have been successfully established, and Alpine Recreation guides are familiar with ongoing changes to the routes. The current foot access to Caroline Hut takes approximately 2 hours longer than traditional route up Ball Ridge and is through rough and challenging terrain (some sections involve pulling on steep vegetation, clambering across loose scree and negotiating large boulder fields). Please see this photo gallery for examples of terrain. If you are unsure whether your fitness and agility are sufficient, please contact us before booking your trip.
6-8 hours trekking/ski-touring, ascent 1200m.
8:30am gear check at Alpine Recreation's Edelweiss Lodge, 8 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo.
You'll meet your guide and once everyone in the group has arrived, your equipment will be checked. Any items of equipment that you have been unable to provide yourself will be provided free-of-charge. Alpine Recreation can provide ski touring skis, skins, poles, avalanche transcievers, shovels and probes (you must however bring your own boots). All technical mountaineering equipment is provided (ice axe, crampons, helmet, harness, slings, carabiners etc.) but you are welcome to bring your own if you have them.
Drive to Mount Cook (about 1 hour), transfer to 4WD vehicle and drive as far as possible up the old Ball Hut Road, parallel to the Tasman Glacier. The effects of glacial recession are very evident as we hike beside the lateral moraine. Climb 850m steeply up onto Ball Ridge and to Caroline Hut at 1800m, perched right opposite New Zealand's highest ice face, the Caroline Face of Mount Cook.
Your guide will choose one of two routes (Waterfall direct or Cove Stream) depending on conditions and weather. If snow conditions are firm below Caroline Hut, you are likely to be introduced to crampons and ice axe.
In addition to our personal clothing, ski touring and mountaineering equipment, we will be carrying some fresh items of food (e.g. bread, fruit, vegetables, meat). The hut is stocked with nonperishable food, mattresses, pillows, sleeping bags, cooking and eating utensils, gas and firewood.
6-8 hours return from Caroline Hut.
Ascend to Ball Pass and climb Kaitiaki Peak (2222m/7290ft) to take in the dramatic views of the South Ridge of Aoraki and across the Hooker Valley to Mount Sefton. In the right conditions an ascent of Turner Peak may also be an option. Ice axe and crampons may be required.
Return to Caroline Hut via Ball Ridge, with multiple ski descent options above and below the hut. Take time to watch the sun set on Mt Tasman and the ice avalanches thunder down the Caroline Face.
Please see the Photo Gallery of Ski Touring at Caroline Hut.
Return via the Ball Ridge and Tasman Valley, finishing at 5-6pm back in Tekapo.
Ball Hut Road → Caroline Hut: Elevation profile
Alpine Recreation provides alpine touring skis, poles, skins, avalanche transceivers, shovels and crampons. You need to bring your own alpine ski touring boots. Outdoor clothing and packs can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary.