The route starts up the Otira valley but soon leaves it to start climbing a ramp through the valley sides. I'd been going an hour and a half here and it was nice to be gaining height on easy ground.
The screes lead to a hundred vertical metres of cliffs with damp mossy rocks and grassy ledges. This was the crux of the route and I spent a while considering if it was sensible to do as a solo effort.
I contemplated turning back because of the poor visibility but there was always yet another handy ledge beckoning, so took a few GPS points and kept going.
After the cliff band there is easy ground... And at 8am the clouds started to clear!
The Otira face of Mt Rolleston and the 'Otira slide'
With a warm norwester and high freezing level, the snow was not firm at all. Most steps were in to my ankles but for a while I was plugging snow up to my knees. Crampons were useful for flotation only.
The summit of Mt Philistine at 1967m comes into view at last with tracks leading up the face.
9am and I'm feeling like the climb is definitely 'on' and getting up at 4.30am was worth it. Even though it felt like a very dark hour at the time...
A reminder of what can happen to unstable melted snow on warm days
Almost at the top, looking back
Looking from the summit across Arthurs Pass to Phipps Pk and Temple Basin (the snowfield in half shadow)
Mt Rolleston from Mt Philistine
Saw some large cornices on the ridge between Philistine and Rolleston.
Peaks of Barron Ridge seen to the west from summit of Mt Philistine