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3 Day Ball Pass Summit Trek

Days
3

Pricing From
$1240

Difficulty

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Overview

One of the most popular and spectacular treks in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, the Ball Pass Summit Walk is for experienced hikers.

Climb 850m up to the superbly located Caroline Hut, on the Ball Ridge, straight opposite the mighty Caroline Face of Aoraki Mount Cook and overlooking the Tasman Glacier. Spend two nights here watching the sun rise and set on Mt Tasman and observing ice avalanches thunder down the Caroline Face, New Zealand’s highest ice face. On Day Two you’ll climb Kaitiaki Peak (2222m) and summit Ball Pass (2121m) to look deep down into the Hooker Valley on the other side. Your return to Mt Cook Village on Day Three is via the Tasman Valley.

The views of Aoraki Mount Cook and surrounding mountains, the highest in New Zealand, are breathtaking. The unique alpine flora and bird life are impressive.

Tour Grading: E

This trip is beginner mountaineering, and there is not an established trail to follow.

Bad Weather Policy

Caroline Hut is located on the Ball Ridge, in the lee of Mt. Cook (for the prevailing westerlies and nor'westerlies), so it is seldom that we cannot walk in to the hut, even if the weather is marginal. There is a wood-fired pot belly stove in the hut and a good drying rack. However, this is a high alpine environment and it could happen that the walk in to the hut may have to be deferred by a day. If all participants in the group have the flexibility to postpone the trip by a day and if guide(s) and hut are available, then we postpone the entire trip by one day. Otherwise the trip is reduced to a two day crossing and the group is being accommodated in Lake Tekapo for the first day. During the last few seasons we only had to take up this option once per season. Alternatively we can offer the "Tekapo High Country Trek", a 2 to 3-day mountain walk in the Two Thumb Range to the east of Lake Tekapo, based at the Rex Simpson Hut. This would only be an option if the weather looked as though it was going to be bad for all 3 days or if a climb to Caroline Hut is still not possible on day two. Since the Ball Pass operation started in 1991 this contingency plan has only been carried out once.

If the group is at Caroline Hut and the weather or snow conditions do not permit a crossing of the Pass then the group will descend to the Tasman Valley.

When you book a trip you book the guide and all the organisation that goes with it, you cannot book the weather. Our guides are trained and instructed to always make the best possible decision for all the participants. On rare occasions this could mean having to return or not to go to Caroline Hut on day one for reasons of safety. On such occasions we do not give a refund.

Climbing up the Ball Ridge

Dawn and early morning cloud in Tasman Valley

Caroline Hut, Mt Cook

Keas are playful and sociable

Mt Tasman from Caroline Hut

View from Kaitiaki Peak

Descending from Kaitiaki Peak to Caroline Hut

New Zealand Falcon

First light on Mt Cook from Caroline Hut

Descending from Ball Pass to Hooker Valley, Mt Cook behind

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Tekapo to Caroline Hut (1200m)6-8 hours trekking

6-8 hours trekking, 5.5km distance, 1200m ascent.

8am gear check at Edelweiss Lodge, 8 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo.

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 up onto Ball Ridge and along to Caroline Hut at 1800m/6000ft, perched right opposite the awe-inspiring Caroline Face of Aoraki Mount Cook. The panorama includes Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, all the mountains adjoining the Tasman Glacier, and Lake Pukaki.

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, the crampons, ice-axe, helmet and harness, 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.

Day 2Climb Kaitiaki Peak (2222m)6-8 hours hiking

6-8 hours return from Caroline Hut.

Practice basic mountaineering techniques, using crampons and ice-axe. Climb Kaitiaki Peak (2222m/7290ft) south of Ball Pass and take in the dramatic views of the South Ridge of Aoraki. Maybe explore a crevasse on the Ball Glacier. Back at Caroline Hut take time to watch the sun set on Mt Tasman and the ice avalanches thunder down the Caroline Face.

Day 3Caroline Hut to Tekapo (300m)5-7 hours trekking

5-7 hours trekking, 5.5km distance, 300m ascent.

Return to Mount Cook Village via the Tasman Valley (Cove Stream, Waterfall direct or Ball Ridge routes). Depending on conditions and group ability, the guide may opt to take you back via a different route to your ascent. The descent routes allow good views out over the ever-expanding terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier. Finish back in lake Tekapo at about 5pm.

Access to Caroline Hut on Day 1 is subject to safe snow and weather conditions. The professional judgement of your guide will take into account all factors, including client fitness for the conditions. 

Cost per person

November 2021 - April 2022

  • Single: NZ$1,460*
  • Group of 3: NZ$1,330
  • Group of 4-6: NZ$1,290
  • Group of 7-8: NZ$1,240

* On public holidays a surcharge of NZ$100 per person per day applies

NZ$300 per person deposit on booking, balance 60 days before travel.

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Tekapo to Caroline Hut (1200m)6-8 hours trekking

6-8 hours trekking, 5.5km distance, 1200m ascent.

8am gear check at Edelweiss Lodge, 8 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo.

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 up onto Ball Ridge and along to Caroline Hut at 1800m/6000ft, perched right opposite the awe-inspiring Caroline Face of Aoraki Mount Cook. The panorama includes Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, all the mountains adjoining the Tasman Glacier, and Lake Pukaki.

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, the crampons, ice-axe, helmet and harness, 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.

Day 2Climb Kaitiaki Peak (2222m)6-8 hours hiking

6-8 hours return from Caroline Hut.

Practice basic mountaineering techniques, using crampons and ice-axe. Climb Kaitiaki Peak (2222m/7290ft) south of Ball Pass and take in the dramatic views of the South Ridge of Aoraki. Maybe explore a crevasse on the Ball Glacier. Back at Caroline Hut take time to watch the sun set on Mt Tasman and the ice avalanches thunder down the Caroline Face.

Day 3Caroline Hut to Tekapo (300m)5-7 hours trekking

5-7 hours trekking, 5.5km distance, 300m ascent.

Return to Mount Cook Village via the Tasman Valley (Cove Stream, Waterfall direct or Ball Ridge routes). Depending on conditions and group ability, the guide may opt to take you back via a different route to your ascent. The descent routes allow good views out over the ever-expanding terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier. Finish back in lake Tekapo at about 5pm.

Access to Caroline Hut on Day 1 is subject to safe snow and weather conditions. The professional judgement of your guide will take into account all factors, including client fitness for the conditions. 

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