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Cassidy-Blimit-Temple Basin Traverse, Arthur’s Pass National Park

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July 2019 Issue

Perfect for winter

Arthur’s Pass National Park is a wonderful playground in winter. There is plenty of variety from short walks through snow-laden beech trees to hard ice climbing routes in gullies that never see the sun. There’s also lots in between, including some great routes for trampers with ice-axe and crampon skills where technical mountaineering experience isn’t necessary.

The Cassidy-Blimit-Temple Basin traverse is one such route.

A real highlight of winter at Arthur’s Pass is the way snow transforms crumbling, weet bix-like greywacke ridges into a firm, enjoyable traverse. Snow conditions will, of course, vary – ridges can become corniced and icy, basins may be prone to avalanches, deep snow might mean lots of snow plugging and a too-thin layer of snow and ice over rock can be treacherous. However, in the right conditions, this is the perfect winter day trip.

The track to Mt Cassidy climbs steeply from the Punchbowl Falls Track to the bushline at about Pt1287m. Orange marker poles extend a short way further around the slope, and then it’s a steep climb straight up the ridge. The route follows the broad, undulating ridge to Pt1819 and then traverses a small plateau below Mt Cassidy (1850m), with a short steep section just before reaching the top.

Snow transforms crumbly rock ridges into enjoyable travel. Photo: Jo Stilwell

On our late winter trip, snow conditions were excellent. We donned crampons not far from the last marker pole, and crunched up frozen scree and then an obvious snow gully to the ridge, with a mix of plugging steps and firmer snow beyond that. From Cassidy, the ridge dropped down to a small saddle before climbing to Blimit (1921m). This last section, although along a narrower ridge, is still easy travel.

After summiting Blimit, we returned to the saddle and dropped north-west off the ridge into a beautiful snowy basin under the peak. Easy travel took us to a ridge above Pages Shelter at Temple Basin Ski Area before we followed the main track down to the ski-field lodges. We returned to our car via the Temple Basin Track and the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track. Walking through the cool, dark beech forest in the fading light provided a nice contrast to the bright snowy tops earlier in the day.

This is a trip that never gets old – on checking our tramping dairies upon returning home we were reminded that I had first completed this loop 23 years ago and David (my husband) 43 years ago. It was great to return all these years later with our daughter Alice.

Total Ascent
Devil’s Punchbowl Falls car park

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