Evans River & Bracken Snowfield

(3 routes)

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Type: 
Valley
Access: 

From Smyth Hut, a roughly marked track leads up the true left of the Wanganui to the Evans Vane junction, sometimes on the riverbed, sometimes in scrubby forest nearby. Vane has a dodgy crossing between big boulders a short way up from the river, and a safer crossing about 20mins further up on a gravel bottom. To continue up the Evans, follow the true left, sidling in open scrub along the banks as necessary. Travel is generally straight forward, leading to extensive gravel flats and campsites in the upper valley. Moraine boulders lead more steeply up the Evans Glacier.

In low flow Vane Stream can be crossed fairly easily near the junction
with the Evans River, but there is a safer crossing with a gravel bottom
between boulders, about 30mins upstream. Travel is reasonably okay on
the true left of the Evans River, with little scrub-bashing.
Bracken Snowfield
The Bracken offers good glacier travel from the Ramsay Glacier to Full Moon Saddle and, in spring
and summer, good access down to the Evans and Wanganui Rivers. Alternative routes on and off the
snowfield include the Katzenbach Ridge, giving access to McKenzie Col, Seddon Stream and the
Waitaha ; and the Barron Glacier and nearby Sale Glacier leading towards Whitcombe Pass.

Lat/Lon: 
-43.209305000000, 170.870876000000
NZMS260: 
J34 370 754
Topo50: 
BW18 270 137
Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Edit link
Katzenbach Ridge
0
Katzenbach Ridge has been used since the 1930s to access the upper Wilkinson River from the Bracken Snowfield. Sidle onto the northern flank of the ridge from the edge of the Bracken, passing through a bluffline at the 2020 metre contour and continue across to the snowfield north of Pt 2068 metres. This is the easiest route. Alternatively, on a calm day the rotten rock and gravel of the upper Katzenbach Ridge itself can be followed, before dropping 20 metres off it to the north down steep gravel onto easier travel. The ridge crest further towards Pt 2068 metres becomes gnarly and impractical. Both routes then converge to descend scree and snowfield, curving down to the right over a rib to the major gravel gully that drains from Pt 1853 metres. Travel in the lower part of this has deteriorated with erosion, but routes can be found down to the lake edge. Watch for rock fall. The lake can be sidled at water level on both sides, but the true right is less subject to falling debris. On the true right, cross the outlet then the low open ground west of Agfa Knob to Seddon Creek. The rock shelters marked here (Bevernage Biv) are hardly worth the effort unless it’s raining and your tent leaks. They are small and a scrub bash to get to. Seddon Creek leads to the Waitaha. It’s worth noting that traversing the Wilkinson River down to the Whitcombe is difficult, slow and not a good route. If used, stay on the true left. River boulders are huge and travel arduous, and an alternative is to sidle back in the bush on deer trails, which are numerous, particularly around Walcott Creek. At the 800-metre contour in Walcott Creek there is a very good bivvy under a huge rock. Continue along the true left of the Whitcombe, with a couple of scrubby sidles, to the Wilkinson Hut and bridge.
BG Barron Glacier
0
Used as access to the Bracken Snowfield from Whitcombe Pass. Despite glacial recession this route remains direct and efficient, but it follows a steep and narrow glacier and parties should be prepared for crevasses. In a lean snow year or from about February, schrunds may make the route impractical. David Barron, Chief Surveyor of Westland, advocated for a stockroad over Whitcombe Pass in 1895. The col at the head of the Barron Glacier has been referred to as Kitchinghams Col.
SG Sale Glacier
0
The Sale Glacier is used similarly for access to the upper Ramsay Glacier and Erewhon Col, and is probably more reliable and easier than the Barron. Don’t be tempted to sidle up onto the moraine wall from Lauper Stream or Whitcombe Pass as eroding gravels cut access into the valley. Follow up the stream and then moraine onto the white ice. Higher, at an ice bulge, the best route is usually on the true right, then easy snow leads to Pt 2051 metres and the upper Ramsay Glacier. Some prefer the Sale or Barron routes to sidling steep collapsing moraine along the fringes of Ramsay Lake. George Sale was appointed commissioner of the West Canterbury Goldfields in 1865.
Attribution: 
Yvonne Cook and Geoff Spearpoint, in association with the Canterbury Mountaineering Club

Places

Type Title Edit link
Mountain Mt Whitcombe (9 routes)
Mountain Mt Evans (8 routes)
Pass Full Moon Saddle (0 routes)
Pass Red Lion Col (0 routes)
Pass Erewhon Col (0 routes)
Mountain Erewhon Peak (3 routes)