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A climb perfect for Somer

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September 2019 Issue

Mount Somers via western face, Hakatere Conservation Park

To Cantabrians, it’s part of their backyard. To trampers more generally, it’s a nice excursion in summer and a great training climb for novices in winter. The main routes on Mount Somers are certainly not technical, but the landscape offers more than you might expect. For one, it’s big. From the Sharplin Falls car park to the summit involves a 1200m height gain. The standard route can be done in a day, but there are good reasons to take less direct routes – like the western face – so you can enjoy some fine Canterbury high country scenery.

From Sharplin Falls car park, the track heads west, climbing steadily to Staveley Hill (1085m). This is where the standard route to the summit branches right, becoming the Mount Somers Summit Track. From here, another 700m of relentless slog, through rocky terrain, will see you on the summit. This is the way we descended.

At the branch in the track, we continued along the Mt Somers Track (South Face), skirting beneath steep craggy pinnacles that ring the southern and eastern edges of the mountain. When out of the beech forest, there are expansive views of the Canterbury Plains. At Acland Shelter, unmarked on the map but near Stony Creek, the trail dips through beech forest to around 800m, before steadily ascending again to 1100m.

As the track starts to veer north, there is a saddle at Pt967 and an old 4WD track that diverts from the Mt Somers Walkway and climbs north and then east, leading to a large tussock and wetland shelf at around 1200m. There, the landscape mellows with a softly-curving eastern skyline and many thirst-quenching tarns – the perfect place to camp. Next morning, we resumed our now gradual climb through tussock slopes and rocky outcrops to the summit.

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Distance
18.8km
Total Ascent
1714m
Grade
Moderate
Time
Car park to tarn campsite, 6hr; To car park via Mt Somers, 5hr
Access
From the Sharplin Falls carpark at the end of Flynns Road
Map
BX19, BX20

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Mt Somers via western face (gpx, )

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