Trip Reports, May-August 2018


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  1. Conical Hill | Hope Range, Tapawera
  2. Mt Fell Hut Working Bee | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  3. Ben Nevis | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  4. Cloustons Mine | Kahurangi National Park
  5. Mt Richmond | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  6. Dun Mountain | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  7. Saddle Hill (The Doubles) | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  8. Lower Goulter Hut  | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  9. Snowcraft Training | Nelson Lakes National Park
  10. Paske Hut | Nelson Lakes National Park
  11. Winter Peak, Mt Arthur | Kahurangi National Park
  12. Ben Nevis | Mt Richmond Forest Park

 20 May 2018 | Conical Hill | Hope Range, Tapawera
Leader: Kath Ballantine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six trampers gathered, armed with the most optimistic weather forecast for a day trip to Conical Hill. Several members of the group had noticed on maps a shorter road route to the start of the track and a consensus decision was made to take this route. It involved going a further 2km along the Tadmor–Hope Road leading to a road that went direct to the start of the track. We eventually found this road, marked with a sign (actually the advised route on DOC website), but found that it was not a vehicle road. We set off to walk it (an extra 1.5km) but retreated when we soon discovered a river to cross and certain wet feet, and headed back to go on the Hodgkinson Road access. Pine logging operations on the start of this road have made muddy slippery conditions, but this, and a “road closed“ sign did not deter us from reaching the start of the track albeit latter than we had planned.

We set off at 10.10am, the track beginning gently in pine plantation, but we were quickly in native bush and climbing steeply. The walk is characterised by a mix of reasonable slope and several very steep parts. A late morning tea at 11.15am pushing up a steep section, and we emerged into an area with some interesting-shaped rocks and good views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The track then does not climb much further to the peak, but there were some gentle ups and downs. Halfway along this ridge, a shower passed through. So we decided, because of this and our late start, to turn back. We found a sheltered spot for lunch in the light rain. We descended quickly in two hours, taking a more direct route back out.

The track sign indicates it is three hours to the summit; we had turned around at two hours, 45 minutes. (So, three hours’ track time is reasonable for a good-paced walk.)

It might be interesting to take the route that we discovered, but on a summer tramp. If logging operations continue on Hodgkinson Road, it may be the only route available.                          

Trampers were: Chris Louth, Grant Derecourt, Sue Henley & Kath Ballantine (leader and scribe) with visitors Kerry Jones and Tom Carr.


26–27 May 2018 | Mount Fell Hut | Woodshed Working Bee
Builder: Bob Janssen

The final part of our efforts in the Mt Fell Hut restoration was to have a woodshed built.

After working out a plan, pre-cutting and bundling up all of the required materials, we then dropped these off for the helicopter to collect and fly in. After a wait for this drop-off to occur, and a ‘walk-in’, ‘walk-out’ working bee cancellation because of storm damage to the road access in the area, the trip was postponed.

On the fine, frosty morning of May 26th, Ian Morris, Patrick Holland, Barry James and Bob Janssen travelled by car from Nelson to the beginning of Timms Creek track, inland from Blenheim, arriving about 9am.

As the temperature was cold, we kept moving, with very few stops. Arriving at the top of the bush-line, we walked through snow until we reached the hut, arriving about 4pm.

That night, we shared the hut with a young Estonian couple who were enjoying the hut and the stunning surroundings. The next morning our team got to work on the woodshed construction. Progress was steady and productive as we managed to finish the job by 3pm.

Then it was to time to tidy-up and put the woodshed to its intended use. We stocked it full of wood. Pat and Barry found time to head up onto the ridge-line. Barry made it to the very top of Mount Fell. After a cold night, we had breakfast, then packed up and headed to the car and drove home to Nelson, arriving at 4.30pm.

It was a successful trip all round.


10 June 2018 | Ben Nevis | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Andrea Smithe

With the hint of a good day and no organised trip, a spontaneous call went out to muster keen participants for a blast ‘somewhere grunty.’ This turned out to be a gander up Ben Nevis. Seven made their way up the well-signposted road from Wairoa Gorge Road, the old access remaining well and truly closed. In her two-wheel drive, Astrid coped well. We parked just below the usual car park.

The weather did us justice, with a little chilly wind up top but fantastic views and well-wrapped up hardy souls. At a lovely lunch spot, some honed their self-arresting skills down a small snow slope on the east side of the ridge, where the snow was surprisingly quite firm.

After lunch we wandered further along the ridge to the next 1642-metre high point, rock scrambling  and gleeful, romping through the snow. It was an uneventful jaunt down Gibbs Spur, passing a largish group heading up late in the day to BBQ above the bushline, still at that time, in the sunshine, though the ridge was closing in with clouds chasing us down.

Hurrah for spontaneity! It proved to be a lovely day, bringing like-minded souls together. Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful company.

Eager beavers were: Kath Ballantine, Simon Garton, Peter Waworis, Debbie Hogan, Grant Derecourt, Astrid, & Andrea Smithe (scribe).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 June 2018 | Cloustons Mine | Gordons Pyramid loop, Kahurangi NP
Leader: Pat Holland

A large group of 14 registered for this trip, but by some miracle we managed to assemble at Richmond just after the scheduled time of 7:30am. We proceeded in convoy to Flora Saddle, picking up new chum Polina en-route. The Graham Valley road was in good order and without snow. In fact there was none visible anywhere from the carpark so most decided not to carry ice-axes. The weather was cool and overcast with mist on the tops.

Off we stomped, over the saddle and down the main track to Flora Hut. We were pleased to find the hut still in good order after our renovation efforts three years ago. The party continued, spreading out along the track with extensive gossiping at the front. (I had instituted a buddy system rather than trying to keep track of the unruly mob). The turnoff to Cloustons is just after the wire bridge across Horseshoe Creek. The track up to the mine site is well graded but goes on for a while with an elevation gain of 500m.

A stop for lunch at the mine turnoff saw us all togging up for the open tops which begin shortly beyond this point.

Andrea won the prize for the most personal items left at home.

On we slogged, up another 200m through tussock onto Gordons Pyramid (1490m). There we found a young Malaysian who was very pleased to see us, as she had just come from Salisbury Lodge.  Although she appeared adequately equipped, we admonished her that this route was not one to do alone in winter. Unfortunately, it was misty with a stiff breeze, so we did not tarry but pressed on with the Malaysian lass accompanying. It is a poled route with clear track and there was very little snow. However, the undulating ridge tended to suddenly appear out of the mist. Eventually, we reached Horseshoe Basin where the karst formations were rather gloomy in poor light.

Once on the main Mt Arthur track, some snowy tops to the west were visible, but not Mount Arthur. Everybody arrived at the hut for refreshments. We walked through fading light through magnificent forest to the carpark. The 20km circuit took us about eight hours, including stops, to complete.

We were: Pat Holland (scribe), Ian Morris, Dion Pont, Rod & Carole-Anne Lewis, Chris Louth, Kath Ballantine, Andrea Cockerton, Barry James, Sue Lurch & Kate Krawcyzk. Visitors were: Astrid Brauksiepe, Peter Wawarris & Polina Stucke.


 

14 July 2018 | Mt Richmond climb | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Debbie Hogan

In June I climbed to Richmond Saddle Hut for the first time. The cloud was down, and while we enjoyed the climb, we had no views. The hut was cute, warm and the company was great for the night. The weather was worse the next day, so we headed down without me even seeing the peak we had come to climb. I was determined to return.

I put my name down for the tramp when it came up in July, only to find the leader was injured and the tramp was missing a leader, so I became ‘it.’ The scheduled weekend had a horrid weather forecast, heavy rain even for Nelson. We had to cross a river at the bottom of the valley before the climb up the ridge, so that weekend was definitely not an option for a tramp.

The following weekend, a merry six set off; the weather forecast a bit better, with the best weather window being Saturday afternoon.

Arriving at the river crossing was sobering. The usual river crossing route had been completely washed away from the floods the previous weekend. We were forced to leave the vehicles on the other side of the river and walk up the road for an hour before starting the climb.

The route follows a steep ridgeline through lovely native bush; a grunt of a climb which soon had us wishing for a break in the gradient. As we climbed, I was amazed to see how close by the mountain peak was. I felt I could just reach out and touch the peak through the trees; it made my heart sing.

By the time we arrived at Richmond Saddle Hut, the weather angels had done their stuff. The peak was surrounded by a bluebird sky. There wasn’t a puff of wind. The peak beckoned, even although it was already 3.30pm when we started the final ascent. Graeme stayed in the hut, attending the fire and warming the mulled wine he had so kindly carried up the ridge.

The peak was cloaked in snow, but not enough to allow us to use our crampons. The route was through a jumble of large, loose boulders infilled by snow. We passed a twinkling, frozen waterfall, slowly starting to melt in the afternoon sunshine.

We arrived on the summit after 5pm, watching the sun set in soft mauve colours with views of snowy mountains in all directions. We were thrilled to be there at that special moment – it made me glad to be alive.

The descent was slow but controlled, as it was the first time Ashley had walked on snow. We could feel how the soft snow started to freeze once the sun had set. We soon had our torches on as we picked our way down through the snow-rock jumbles. Graeme could watch our progress up and down the mountain from his spot at the hut, so he knew we were safe. We knew he had the home fires warmed for us. The air was still calm and the stars glistened brightly. I felt like part of a team descending from Mount Everest after a long climb with the welcome party at the bottom charting our progress in a small pool of torchlight. The mulled wine, two bottles of red wine (a treat, definitely no longer on my usual list of things to carry) and a game of card monopoly rounded off an exciting day.

Sadly, the weather had closed in again the next morning and we descended in slight drizzle without another view of the magical mountain. It was truly a great weekend enjoyed by all.

Climbers were: Debbie Hogan (leader and scribe), Graeme Ferrier, Kate Krawczyk, Sue  Henley, Peter, & Ashley Chin.


22 July 2018 | Dun Mountain, Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader & Scribe: Kate Krawczyk

We climbed up from the car park at the gate, past the dam onto the Maitai Valley track, then climbed to the turn off to Dun Saddle.

We arrived at Dun Mountain Shelter for lunch. It was a bit cold so most of us huddled inside the hut. I sat outside in a patch of sunshine to enjoy the view. It always amazes me how otherworldly Dun Mountain feels with its moonscape, devoid of vegetation, with the reddish glow of the mineral belt rocks setting the scene.

From there it was about an hour-and-a-half to Dew Lakes, through cloudy goblin forest with gnarly ratas contrasting the scenery. We had a quick break at the mud puddles that somehow gained the name ‘Dew Lakes.’ (How many people have trundled up there with great expectations, I can only imagine).

Grant rushed off to catch the rugby game that was starting at 4pm, obviously a dedicated fan! The rest of us descended slowly down the slippery track through the Rush Pools and back to the cars, heading home around 5pm.  

Participants: David Cook, Grant Derecourt, Ashley Chin, Michele Cunningham, David and Beth Loe, Kelvin Drew, Kath Ballantine & Kate Krawczyk.


28 July 2018 | Saddle Hill (The Doubles) | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Silvano Lorandi

The original plan was to climb Mt Royal in the Richmond Ranges, but there had been a recent dump of snow on the tops which would have meant an even longer day. So, with the amount of daylight available, Silvano decided to go for Plan B, something closer to home: Saddle Hill. In the end only three of us opted for this: Silvano, Grant Derecourt and myself. Silvano took us in his 4WD through Rai Valley, turning off at Pelorous up the Maungatapu Road, right to the saddle. It was fine, but a bitter, cold sou’wester was blowing so we put on boots and extra layers fast. The walk is certainly straight forward; just keep your eyes out for orange markers and don’t put too much weight on rotting beech tree branches. With forest all the way, with no views.

We climbed to the top of the rocky outcrop but had to use our imagination for what lay below.                     

On the return journey, we slowed a little to notice our surroundings. Some discussion ensued about the lack of undergrowth, (apart from horopito, something the deer don’t like). On the drive back we stopped and  took photos at the infamous Murderers Rock, which was so much smaller than we were expecting. As we looked back from the road, we could see that Saddle Hill was clear once again.

Participants: Silvano Lorandi (leader), Scott Stocker (Scribe) & Grant Derecourt.


28–29 July 2018 | Lower Goulter Hut | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Ray Salisbury

With a promising weather window, we made our rendezvous at the Havelock Bakery. Warm coffees and hugs were enjoyed. We continued on, driving the full length of Northbank Road as the sealed surface became a gravel 4WD track, dipping into several fords. One of these stopped the Toyota, but I persisted for another 4km in the Honda, which had better clearance.

Rod reminded me that if we drove any further, then there would be nothing left to tramp. So I parked up, and we donned our packs. Half an hour through the regenerating ti-tree, we reached the official carpark, where a vehicle proudly shouted out “F*#@ 1080” from the rear window. Thus, we were prepared to share the hut with some outspoken hunters.

In less than two hours we reached the large riverside clearing, where Lower Goulter Hut was vacant; thankfully, the pair of hunters had scooted up to Mid-Goulter Hut. With a free afternoon, my party wandered up-valley, enjoying the sunshine and pristine river. I used the handsaw to cut firewood. The evening was spent huddled around the woodstove, sharing stories.

Marie woke me with a cuppa, and we made an alpine start at 10am. A detour down to the river proved a worthwhile place to eat lunch. The return journey was uneventful, and we reconvened at a small, vintage café in Havelock.

In summary, this remote 8-berth valley hut was surprisingly well-used, and in excellent condition. It’s popular with anglers, hunters and sandflies. We were lucky that we only had to share the hut with sandflies. In its current condition, the entire road could be navigated by two-wheel vehicles with good ground clearance. From the 4WD carpark, the hut is only an easy 45-minute walk; it’s a great destination for a weekend away in the Hills.

Trampers were: Rod & Carole-Anne Lewis, Uta Purcell, Marie Lenting, Madeleine Rohrer & Ray Salisbury (scribe).


 

SNOWCRAFT TRAINING

4 August 2018 | Rainbow Ski Area | Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader: Debbie Hogan

18 eager souls set out from Nelson to have fun in the snow and learn some new skills as well. The weather forecast was initially very poor for the weekend, especially Sunday, so the scheduled Sunday trip became a Saturday trip, and the weather came to the party too.

Four experienced trampers set off to attempt the elusive trip to Peanter Peak, elusive because, for the past four years, we haven’t managed to make that trip part of the snowcraft day. More on that later.

Trainers Debbie and Peter ensured everyone’s crampons fitted properly, then we set off up the little valley next to the groomed west bowl ski run. Here, there was lots of fresh powder snow. Yippee, but then again, not. (The powder snow was too soft and sticky to slide down). After practicing the self-arrest movements on the edge of the groomed ski run, we headed off to find a steeper slope that was still in the shade, and hopefully more slippery.

We found the ideal steep slope above the lake. Here we learnt how to zig-zag walk up a steep ridge, kicking our feet into the soft snow, and creating a track for others in the party to follow. We also learnt how to walk straight up the slope by plugging our feet firmly into the snow and using our ice axes to pull up on. Then it was time to slide down the slope. The more we slid in the same groove the faster the ride became. We all had the chance to slide and self-arrest, some more impressively than others.

After lunch on the frozen lake, we cramponed up the ridge to Mount McRae. We had lovely views over Robert Ridge, the Travers Range and Lake Rotoiti. Although the snow was really too soft for crampons, people got the idea.

From the peak, we slid down the front face, some faster than others, with many squeals of delight. Some folks came flying down in a spray of snow.

A traverse over the flank of the mountain took us to yet another slope to practice our sliding. Here, bodies came hurtling down the slope in spectacular manner to set the record for the longest slide. This was narrowly won by Miranda (15) followed by Eve and Freya – both 12 years old.

Then it was time to head back to the cars at Rainbow ski field where we located the delicious cakes baked by Leah, Ashley and others. There we met up with the experienced quartet, and heard their story from Kate, as detailed below:

“Meanwhile, back on the ridge, the two Chris’s, Michele and I decided to take the groomed track up to the ridgeline ... we were struggling through knee deep snow, breaking through and getting bogged down – so tiring. (Snowshoes would have been appropriate.)

Once we attained the ridge, travel was relatively easy. We reached the top of Mount McRae (1878m) in time for lunch.

Further along the ridge we floundered in the snow, so retreated back over Mount McRae, down the ridge to catch the rest of the training group. On the descent, we found a slope ideal for some self-arresting practice thin snow glazed over an icy layer – where we got some more momentum.

We proceeded to walk past the lifts and down to the car park to meet the rest of the group. Overall: a good day was had by all.” 

Participants were: Debbie Hogan (venerable leader & scribe), Peter Wawarris (co-trainer), Peter Phipps, Diane, Sally, Kate S, Kathleen, Miranda, Eve, Andy, Ali, Freya, Jonathan, Ashley Chin, Kate Krawczyk (co-scribe), Michele Cunningham, Chris Louth & Chris Tilly.


10–12 August 2018 | Rainbow-Paske Valleys | Nelson Lakes Nat. Park
Leader: Mike Drake

Our aim was to make an attempt on Mount Dora based from Paske Hut. The route starts near the bridge across the Rainbow River. In winter a key is required to open the locked gate just after Six-Mile Creek on the Rainbow Road.

There have been some issues with access to the road since the sale of the lease to Nelson Honey Ltd., two years ago The fee has been increased to $40 per vehicle. However, the new farm manager Gene (03 521 1838) seems more amenable than the last. Mike had pre-arranged everything, so we were able to pick up a key that Gene had left at the farmhouse.

There were eleven punters. On Friday we met Mike at Belgrove at 8am. We then proceeded in three 4WDs to St Arnaud for a caffeine top-up. Past the ski-field turnoff, the Rainbow Road is in only fair condition, with many potholes. There are good-sized boulders in the fords. So, travel was slow but steady.

At the parking area under a power pylon, we packed up rapidly as the sandflies were not sleepy and time was marching. We headed up the Rainbow Valley on a still, mild morning with the clouds clearing.

We took the standard route up, crossing the river after about 1km and proceeding up the tussock and matagouri flats on a 4WD track. The braided river was in low flow and some managed the crossing with socks nearly dry.

After about two hours we re-crossed to the true left bank, stopping for lunch before the track headed up a small bluff above the gorge. We sent Ian off to the opposite bank with inaccurate guidance to find and bag Rainbow Hut (now owned by the station).

Then  we trapsed over the bluff  to a marvellous spot with the Paske Valley across broad flats on the left, and the Begley Valley on the right. Although there was no snow in the valleys, the snow-clad tops rose to 2200-metre peaks, gleaming in the sun as the remaining cloud burnt off.

Crossing the Rainbow meant wet feet, as the river ran in a single stream; not particularly deep or swift, we crossed the Paske to the true left bank where a rough cattle track led to the upper valley. The travel was easy across tussock terraces.

Paske Hut squats at 1130m in a delightful upper basin of mixed tussock and bush. The party became spread out so Mike began muttering that he was ‘herding cats.’ This became a refrain for the weekend. The final few arrived at the hut at dusk, after seven hours.

A cold clear night saw six in the hut bunks, one on the floor and four hardy souls camping. Their

tents were white with frost within the hour, while Mars and Venus were outstandingly bright on a moonless night. We were cosy inside during dinner and socialising before an early night.

Saturday dawned calm and clear. At dawn, we  set off for Paske Saddle, (1900m). After a short bush section followed by scrub above the small gorge, we fitted crampons to ascend firm snow slopes.

The saddle seemed a long way off but we reached it about two hours from the hut. Kelvin decided enough was enough, whilet the other ten proceeded up the ridge to Pt. 1991. The views across the valley to Mounts Belvedere and Paske were outstanding. However, Mt Dora was a long way off and part of the ridge did not look straightforward. Thus, half the party decided to lounge in the sun, before heading back down.

Mike and his team of four hardy women (Kate, Andrea, Madeleine and Michele) proceeded to do an interesting sidle to the next saddle. It wasn’t too bad as long as long as one didn’t look down!  The snow was getting softer in the warm sun though, and they sank in. Before too long, they reached the saddle before the final tricky ascent to Mount Dora. Although they could see their target tantalisingly close, the ridge between them and the peak was steep with mixed snow and daunting rocky outcrops. Mike continued on his own reconassance for a while. 

Meanwhile, his companions decided they had gone far enough.  The views were amazing; no-one was particularly disappointed that they didn’t summit.

We decided to go back to the hut via a different route.  Initially, the snow was dry which made for an easy descent at the head of the valley. However, once the slope eased into the valley we found ourselves in deep snow, constantly sinking to our knees and more.

At one point, Kate disappeared into a hole so deep you could only see the top of her head. She had found the stream.

With a bit of assistance and scrambling, Kate eventually extracted herself. 

At the hut, we were very happy to find the fire lit and the billy on. Camping nearby were an NZAC party of five intending to climb Mt Paske.

After a fine, cold night, we departed down valley at 8:15am for a leisurely exit back to the vehicles (seven hours). Cat-herding was still an issue. A compulsory stop in St Arnaud for coffee and chips saw us back in Belgrove at 6pm after a fantastic threedays in one of the most beautiful valleys in the region. Bagging Mt Dora can wait!

Team: Mike Drake (leader), Andrea Cockerton, Michele Cunningham (2nd scribe), Kelvin Drew, Sue Henley, Pat Holland (scribe), Barry James, Kate Krawczyk, Ian Morris, Madeleine Roher & Peter Warworis.


18 August 20-18 | Winter Peak, Mt Arthur | Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Steve McGlone

Although Chris cancelled this climb, a trio of us were eager to test our fitness after minor injuries had us house-bound for weeks.

And the weather was too good to stay inside. Steve put his hand up, and became the default leader and driver.

At 9am, we made an ‘alpine start’ from Flora Saddle, up the familiar track to the hut. A handful of day-trippers were about, mostly keeping below the snowline in their sneakers. Steve and Chris were faster than I, patiently waiting for me to huff and puff my way up each summit. So, as we made our slow ascent up each hillock, younger and fitter folks leap-frogged us.

It was great to put our ice-axes to use, however, the snow was soft and slushy, impeding our progress. My trekking pole was arguably more useful.

After about three hours, out came the crampons, to negotiate the narrow sidle below Winter Peak, into a snow bowl that joins with the upper slopes of Mt Arthur. My legs were threatening to cramp, so by the time we reached the sign-posted junction, I decided to rest.

Steve made a quick directissimo to the top of Winter Peak, with young Chris gingerly following his footprints. This was a good test for his cramponing technique, on this steeper face. Meanwhile, I texted my wife to notify her of our progress.

Our descent went without incident, through snow-showers and sunlight, down, down, down to the carpark. All in all, we were happy with eight hours of taxing exercise. Any day in the mountains is a good day.        

Climbers were: Steve McGlone, Chris Tilley & Ray Salisbury (scribe).


25 August 2018 | Ben Nevis | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Kate Krawczyk

We set out from the badminton club at 8am, then picked up Fran from her gate up Pig Valley Road, then proceeded to wind our way up through the maze of forestry roads to the bottom of the last steep climb to the Ben Nevis car park.

I’ve never had the nerve to go that last 100 or so metres and it was a good call as the road was deeply rutted and washed out. There was a piece of some poor vehicle’s bumper on the side of the road! Someone has put up track markers on waratahs on the forestry roads to help guide the way.

Just after 9am, we huffed and puffed our way up the first couple of kilometres. Penny and Donna dropped back a bit as Donna wasn’t  feeling too good after being sick the week before. We left them with a PLB and went ahead.

We reached the summit  around lunchtime – it was spectacular. There was a lovely layer of crusty snow on the top. As far as the eye could see snowy mountains etched into a blue sky. The usual photo opportunities ensued, then we continued along the ridge for a few hundred meters to the next high point. 

Not long into our descent, Donna and Penny arrived on the top. It was fantastic that everyone got to summit. We descended to the vehicles, said our goodbyes, and were home just after 5pm.

Participants: Ian Morris, Graeme Ferrier, Penny and Donnalee Parker, Renee, Scott Phillips, Julie Jar, Frances Dick, Ashley Chin, Chris Tilley & Debbie Hogan.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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