Second time lucky on Mt Crichton?

I attempted to activate Mt Crichton and neighbouring Lake Isobel in April 2023. However, at 1000m I was greeted by 45-65kph winds, and by 1400m could only scuttle between gusts. So the plan got changed to the nearby lower Jessie Peak, I learned (again) to check the mountain forecast, and not rely on the local one (it was dead calm in Queenstown), and Mt Crichton remained on my list.


Map data sourced from LINZ (cc - attribution)

Jan 2024, and time for a return trip. An unofficial track runs from Twelve Mile Creek to the busedge, providing good travel, and continues as a well worn foot pad to around 1400m where it peters out. The razorback ridgeline beyond here is not an option, and maps hint at 2 options: sidle into the basin of Lake Isobel and climb steep faces to the summit from there; or sidle the gentler western faces to the summit.

The dog was looking a bit stuffed by this point, so I opted to cut across to the lake and find her some water - reasonable sidling on steep scree and snow-tussock faces.

Lake Isobel [ZLL/0368] - an inviting campspot. Mt Crichton beyond

Above the lake an obvious scree chute leads to a saddle just east of the SOTA highpoint. Sadly though, on arrival (at 12 noon) the ‘gentle’ rear faces of the peak proved to consist of a series of rock ribs dropping some 300m from the ridgeline, and standing between me and the summit - just 100m above.

The next hour and a half were spent dropping down steep scree faces on the rear of the summit, cutting below stone ribs, and climbing back to the ridgeline - only to find it again impassable with the need to drop further, sidle further and climb again. The third time this happened I promised myself it would be the last - summit or quit, but no more 300m scree descents / ascents. Thankfully the third try did indeed gain the summit ridge, with a tricky but manageable scramble back east to reach the SOTA highpoint. An additional 600m of (unnecessary) climbing added to the trip!

ZL3/OT-212 - Mt Crichton (highpoint). Scree chute to it’s right providing no realistic access!

Dropping 15m or so back to flat ground, the activation was straight forward. Marginal cell coverage allowed a spot and 8 contacts followed. 40m was not working well for the short intra-island contacts, and netted nothing further afield. ZL1 came in well on 20m - indicating shorter-than-usual skip distances, and 20m also netted contacts to VK1 and VK3.

Needless to say, we took the other route back down!

Lake Wakatipu [ZLL/0829], Pig [ZLI/OT-030] and Pigeon [ZLI/OT-028] Islands

Lake Isobel [ZLL/0368], Lake Wakatipu [ZLL/0829] beyond. Route up spur on right


Is scuttling between gusts an approved mountaineering technique? :rofl:

Great report and beautiful images Matt. :ok_hand:

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