When I lived in NZ, Ruapehu was my mountain of choice. As often as I could I'd drive the three and a half hour drive down to the snow and snowboard to my hearts content. I know a fair chunk of it's runs, which are good when it's fresh (MacKenzies Mistake is by far my favourite) and what it's like when it's not fresh (either ice, or mash potatoes).
However one thing I'd never done before was visit in the summer. It's a completely different place in the summer. Inhospitable. The runs are still recognisable, just. It's more recognisable as Mordor. Some of the scenes on the slopes of Mount Doom were filmed on the slopes of Ruapehu. True story.
It's all rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. So we climbed to the crater, something I've only done once before (and the whole point of climbing was so that I could snowboard down).
So, Lyth, Zee and I got up early one morning, drove up the Bruce and met two guides who walked us up the side of an active volcano. It wasn't so bad, four hours up, two down. It reminded me a bit of climbing kili, actually. In that there was a segment with lots of up, and was mostly barren.
It wasn't so bad. We walked below, above and through the clouds. We had lunch at the top. There were a few ridges that were RIDICULOUS. A metre wide path maybe, with big massive drops either side. For a while I walked with my hands covering my peripheral vision because it was too off putting. I enjoyed it, though. Good walk.
It was weird coming back down, because we took a pretty similar route to one I knew well, how to get back to top of the waterfall express (a chairlift). It's the standard route back to the carpark at the end of the day. However, I'd always done it on a snowboard instead of on foot. What took ten seconds on a snowboard took about twenty minutes to half an hour, and it was really off putting to check your surroundings and instinctively go, whoop! Only a minute or two to go! And then realise actually, it was probably more like an hour or two. Womp.
Still the VIEWS. I've seen this view over and over and over it and just doesn't get old.
View from the chairlift going up.
Far West T in the back.
Just over the crater rim. Small glacier at the top of the caldera.
That awesome ridge I was talking about the insane drop on either side.
And then back down again.
Descending into the clouds.
All in all, a pretty incredible trip.