Surmounting Mt Somers

Mt Somers Loop from Sharplins Falls Carpark – Day 151-152 (26km)

What we learnt from this tramp, was that our expectations can make a massive difference to how well (or badly) a tramp goes. Touted as a great “first overnight tramp” for families, and often done as a trail run or day walk – we expected a cake walk, with top class scenery.

So we set out for an easy 6hr, family friendly walk in to a large, new hut, overnight there, and then an 8 hour, more moderate tramp out the next day. Around a mountain, with some fascinating rock formations and views over both the alps and the plains.

We got the scenery in spades. It was incredible! We left the Canterbury Plains, walked up through some beech forest, and alongside a crystal clear river before climbing through more beech to reach the first hut – our lunch stop, called Pinnacles Hut. Here, hot sticky lava hundreds of thousands of years ago had formed the odd shaped said pinnacles. Then we climbed some more and were transported into a world where I felt Lilliputian – the immensity of the Alps in front and to both sides of us was breath-taking. Sub-alpine tussock, angel hair waterfalls, immense scenery – I really did wonder how in 5km we were going to end up somewhere you could put a hut. We continued up, up and along and then joined an old 4WD track to take us down. Past more impressive rock-faces, and then suddenly the hut was in a valley below us.

The second day on the South Face was longer (8hrs), and supposedly less interesting. Well – the first 2 hrs were thrilling! Alongside, then over a gorge, down a canyon, and up again the other side. And peeking out in front of us, the orderly lines of the Canterbury Plains. As we circled the mountain, the plains were our companion on the right, with the towering summit on our left. Down and up across gullies we slowly made our way forward towards a saddle. Another 1000m peak to add to our list of climbs, then down the most incredible ridge. Along and down we went – views either side of the plains. With 2.5hrs to complete 2.7km, we knew is was going to be a tough descent. Thankfully – while mega-steep in places, it didn’t compare in anxiety or steepness to the Travers descent. Plus it was “only” 600m vertical descent. Still, our knees were humming by the time we reached the carpark.

What an amazing tramp. A couple of hours from Chch CBD – we can see why it is popular. If only we hadn’t thought it was going to be easy – we would have enjoyed it much more. But there were examples of those for who it was a cake-walk – a trail-runner on the first day – doing the carpark to carpark run in an afternoon, a mum piggy-backing a 4yr old down a muddy descent, and a group of college kids who were trail-running the South Face in an afternoon. Sigh – we’ve now walked 1600km of this country, and are still very much beginners when it comes to South Island tramping.


One thought on “Surmounting Mt Somers

  1. “We’ve now walked 1600km of this country”
    Such a throw away line for an amazing achievement!
    Love reading about your adventures!


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