Franz Josef Glacier Ski Touring, Southern Alps

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Connections of connections had landed me with some very friendly ski touring partners who were eager to do some skiing with me on a rare spring weather window on the Franz Josef glacier. The team assembled in the town of Franz Josef and elected (despite my meek protest) that it would be best to take a helicopter up to a hut on the glacier, then ski tour around the glacier for 3 days, and then take the heli back down (this service was provided with no reservation by Fox and Franz Heli Services fr about $200 USD round trip). Apparently due to short weather windows and horrendous glacial recession, this is a common method of climbing in New Zealand. I am generally opposed to this type of approach, but not so opposed that I will sit on my thumbs while people ski or attempt to scale the glacier by myself.

Overall, the weather was warm, and the skiing was excellent beyond excellent. The snow stayed unbreakable corn all day and we spent 3 days sleeping in, skiing perfect corn on moderate terrain, and jumping small bergschrunds all with sweeping views of the Franz Josef glacier, the southern alps, and the tasman sea. One older couple said that it had been 12 years since a weather window this long and this good had happened, I felt pretty lucky. Below are photos:

map of the Franz Josef glacier, heli pickup and drop off in red, and some of our ski descents in green
helicopters are bad for the earth and fitness and noise, but they are not unfun


looking up the glacier from the heli
get back!
below graham saddle
top of Graham Saddle
mount cook from Graham Saddle
skiing graham saddle
another run
scary cracks
mount tasman behind
skiing on the franz
more good skiing
looking over to the tasman glacier
hut lyfe
glacier sunset looking out to sea
summit of Drommen
more glacier views
looking down the glacier and out onto the tasman sea
nice outhouse