Ball Pass is an alpine tramp (or ‘trek’ if you are not from New Zealand!). Having said that, you will definitely need crampons and an axe, and know how to use them. The pass itself is always snow covered and people have died here from slipping off during the crossing.
It is a nice walk that traverses from the West Coast of New Zealand (on the Hooker glacier), over the main divide to the east coast (Tasman glacier). Or vice-versa, depending what way you attempt the route. There are some nice views of Mt Cook, the Tasman and Hooker glaciers and Copland pass etc.
There is one hut on the route named “Caroline Hut’. But this is a private hut and is locked so don’t count on staying here. It does have a foyer area you could get into in an emergency if you got caught in bad weather.
The best times to attempt the route are in the kiwi summer, from December through to about March. Guided trips do the trip generally in two nights and three days.
In January 2012, there was a large rockfall here due to heavy rain. read about that here.
In December 2007 I walked over Ball Pass with a partner. We started at the White Horse campground, walked up the East side of the Hooker glacier and bivvied at the base of the ridge on a large flat grassy patch. I did not have a bivvy bag and slept wrapped in a plastic sheet. Hopefully this was the last time I will do that. It could not breath, so condensation built up inside it. And very annoying Kea’s kept wandering around and over my bag all night.
The next day we climbed up the couilor, traversed around the slopes and popped over Ball pass. We had lunch on the top and then descended the ridge down to the Ball track on the Tasman glacier. This requires a bush and rock scramble when you get close to the bottom to get down to the track. From here its the boring plod out to the end of the Tasman valley road. A walk I have done too many times over the years.
We arrived at the road end quote late and could not hitch a ride back into Mt Cook Village as there was no people/cars there. So we slept in the day shelter that night. It was a crap sleep again as rabbits were running through the shelter all night and scaring the crap out of me!
Attached is a few photo’s.