Mt Cheeseman

(2 routes)


-43.169254000000, 171.643524000000
K34 997 811
BW20 897 195
Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
Grade 2 640 metres The skifield of “Mount Cheeseman” is actually on the south-east slopes of Mount Cockayne – a mountain named after Leonard Cockayne (1855-1934), a well-known Canterbury botanist and conservationist. Cheeseman is a friendly little skifield, with 2 T-bar lifts, snow groomers and an on-snow accommodation lodge, and it’s a good alternative to Mount Hutt when skiing from Christchurch. Cheeseman sell single T-bar ride tickets to the top of the skifield for a modest $5, giving good access to backcountry basins. There’s a backcountry avalanche risk advisory board at the top of the lifts. The large basin to the south of the ski area, in the headwaters of Tim’s Stream, is known as “Tarn Basin”, and is popular with skiers and boarders going out from the ski area. There are good turns to be had from the top of the lifts (1840m) all the way down to the 1500 metre level, or lower. Many people ski only as far as the frozen tarn at 1620 metre elevation, before returning to the ski area via a small col on the intervening ridge at 1760m. To head towards Olympus and the Ryton Valley, tour south-west 2½ km along the ridge to the peak of Mount Cheeseman itself (2030m) in 75 to 90 minutes. Beware of cornices that often form on the eastern side of this ridge. There’s a good run off point 1950 east down into Tarn Basin, and also a nice basin to the west (the headwaters of Hut Creek), which sees a lot less traffic than Tarn Basin. From the top of Mount Cheeseman itself, you look south-west into the undulating slopes of the upper Ryton Valley. Ski off the peak into the Ryton for 150 vertical metres, and then traverse to the skier’s right (west) to reach the central gully of the Ryton, which often holds lovely powder snow. This gully is a nice consistent 20º gradient down to flats at the 1420m level, i.e. a 600 vertical metre run from the top of Mt Cheeseman. 75-90 minutes skinning back to the top for another run down. You can spend a whole day here cutting fresh tracks and return to the Cheeseman ski area, or go on to the Mount Olympus ski area. To Mt Olympus ski area from the peak of Mount Cheeseman, it is easy travel west on the ridge towards spot elevation 1836, and then across a broad saddle and then a gradual 200 metre climb SW onto the north shoulder of Mount Olympus at about 2000m. Depending upon snow cover, it’s a ski traverse or it may be a walk on rocky slopes to get around to the west ridge of Mt Olympus, where snow slopes lead down to the upper basins of Mt Olympus ski area. (Windwhistle Winter Sports Club). 7½km or around 3 hours from skifield to skifield direct.
Grade 2/3 900 metres The ridgeline immediately south of Mt Cheeseman has a few rocky outcrops which interrupt progress, so drop into the upper Ryton for 150 vertical metres or so and regain the ridge near point 1959. Continue south along the ridge crest to Mt Izard (2019m), and Mt Cloudsley (2107). From here to the summit of Mount Enys (2194m) the ridge is broader with easier travel. 8½km or around 3 to 4 hours from the peak of Mt Cheeseman to Mt Enys. Skiing off Mt Cheeseman to the south-east takes you into the headwaters of Waterfall Creek for a ski descent of 500 metres or more. Similar basins exist to the south-east of Mt Izard (Long Creek) and Mt Cloudsley (Whitewater Stream). The climb back to the ridge should be straightforward. The slopes on the western side of the range, facing into the lower Ryton Valley, are often wind-blasted free of snow, or melted by the heat of the sun, and are usually only worth skiing in good mid winter conditions. Best travel is along the ridgeline, and if necessary sidling on the eastern side.