‘And as the captains gazed south to the Land of Mordor,
it seemed to them that, black against the pall of cloud,
there rose a huge shape of shadow, impenetrable,
lightning-crowned, filling all the sky’ – J.R.R. Tolkein
An optional ascent on the Tongariro Crossing, Mt Ngauruhoe really is the pinnacle of this little excursion. Snow at the peak all year round, an incline that leaves you scrambling on all fours, ground that breaks away at every step, an active volcano, and the chance of death – quite literally. What’s not to love?
It’s not even that big. An additional 600m climb, allegedly. But it takes between 2-3hrs and is not recommended for those who struggled with the Devil’s Staircase or are physically unfit. Several of us from the Kiwi Experience group set off up the mountain together and we all made it to the top at varying times, although we did get slightly *very* separated on the way down.
To be honest, the descent was the fun part. Ask anyone who has climbed this volcano and they’ll likely say that it is 2hrs up and 30mins back down. They aren’t kidding either. You pick the right path down and it’s almost like some sort of strange skiing session. Except the snow is volcanic ash. And your ski’s are your boots.
Like I said, strange. Strange and a ridiculous amount of fun, even if I did end up slicing the backs of my calves.
Saying that, sliding down the side of the volcano wasn’t even the most fun to be had on the descent. That would be saved for the journey down the summit until the snow gives way. There are a couple of different options for this, but the most common is to slide your way down – a ridiculous amount of fun as long as you don’t lose your gear along the way!
One thing I’ll definitely take away from this is not the feeling of relief when stepping out onto the summit, nor the views from the top, but my fellow traveller Steph being able to join me up there. It wasn’t the easiest climb for her, but she persevered and made it in the end. And that will be the key element I take away from this. Her pure, unbridled joy.
It was something truly special.
To see my complete bucket list, click here