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Foggy Peak, Korowai-Torlesse Tussockland Park

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June 2021 Issue

Foggy Peak rises sharply above Porters Pass on SH73 and, with its extensive views of coast, plains and Alps, is a magnet for day-trippers. Cast a winter coat of snow over the slopes and you have the ultimate day hike.

Foggy Peak, 1741m, has long been a must-do summit in Canterbury. Its steep slopes, though not at all technical, provide a moderate challenge and a serious fitness test as they ascend via several false summits and a long summit ridge to finally top-out on the broad almost flat summit.

In winter, the peak takes on a different shade and can present more serious challenges, such as deep snow, icy crusts requiring crampons and ice axe, avalanche conditions, especially windslab on the upper slopes, and extreme cold.

The climb starts easily enough from the summit of Porters Pass as it winds through lumpy tussock outcroppings and loose scree. However, the gradient soon steepens and the broad exposure of the ridge increases. It is important to try to stay on the rather ill-defined ridge crest as much steeper terrain awaits those who drift farther to the west, particularly if it is icy.

At 1480m, a distinct shoulder and flat ridge is reached. Rest here and consider your options before continuing. Above this point is an underrated slope that is much steeper than it appears and is often icy in winter.

Once over this, the summit ridge is gained which then leads over a series of minor bumps for approximately 250m to the summit. It is very exposed here, and the wind can be a problem.

The summit view is magnificent and encompasses a huge bite of Canterbury and the Alps, as well as a great view of the nearby ski fields, Lake Lyndon and the Lake Coleridge Basin. Fit and experienced trampers may continue north to Castle Hill, but this is a further 3km of open ridge travel ending in a very steep ascent to the summit.

When descending from Foggy Peak, take special care. There are a few poles but it is easy to get off route and onto some seriously steep slopes. If it is icy, go slowly and make sure all in your party can self-arrest.

There are some rocky sections near the shoulder at 1480m that can be particularly icy in some seasons.

Total Ascent
2-3hr to summit, 2hr down
At the summit on Porters Pass on SH73

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