SNOW GRASS AND SCREE
NOVEMBER- DECEMBER 2018
PRESIDENT Mary Ph (03) 5728762
SECRETARY: Jane Ph (03) 5787441
CLUB CAPTAIN: Murray Ph (03) 5724812
TREASURER: Helen Ph (03) 5728530
E-mail address [email protected]
The Committee wish you and your families a very happy Xmas and safe and healthy Year ahead.
Club BBQ. We have decided to change our Club BBQ from pre Xmas until the end of January. Everyone has so much on in the weeks before Xmas we thought it would be a good idea to wait until we have more time to enjoy a relaxing afternoon. The weather is often better then and this also gives us a bit of leeway to change the date if the sun doesn’t shine on the 27th January. We are hoping this will make it easier for members and their families to attend.
Pizzas in the Park. Wednesday 12th Dec.
I thought everyone would be sick of this but No, it’s back by popular demand as they say. If you can’t make the walk or bike ride please just come along for the lunch gathering. Cost $7. No need to book for the walk or ride but phone Mary 5728762 or txt 0272785633 to book for lunch. (Vegetarians catered for) Bring along your own drinks.
Itinerary. Your new itinerary is attached and as you will see there are lots of exciting trips over the next three months. Thanks to everyone who put their names forward, we really appreciate that new members have stepped up and offered to lead tramps. We are participating in the DOC Summer program again this year and at their suggestion we will be doing a Wednesday and a Sunday trip to Cape Campbell. These trips can be a bit of a headache but we have gained new members from them.
Our new Hodder Huts Access number system is working well and we can thank Helen for implementing this and for recouping almost $700 in unpaid fees from “the forgetters” as she calls them. So far all who have used the huts since the system was introduced have paid almost straight away. FMC has been very supportive and have passed it on to Back Country and Wilderness Magazines. Of course, there will always be those that get around the system but at least we can now contact the majority.
We are looking at upgrading our website to make it mobile friendly as so many people use their smart phones as their computers now. A professionally built site is a huge cost but Helmut and I are doing some investigating to see if we can come up with an affordable solution. Anyone got an IT expert in the family?
This month we say welcome to Petrice Gledhill from Para and Sue Johnstone who has returned to Blenheim and renewed her MTC membership.
As well as our new members, we also have some recently refurbished members! New hips and knees etc. Wairau Hospital spare parts dept has taken a hit. Jane has just had her first walk up to the Wither Hills Lookout and Murray is wondering if he might be able to do Andy’s January trip. Murray has put his recovery time to good use chasing up the Wilding Pine issues. He is starting to get some response but it will be a long slow slog. Anyone for a free Xmas tree!
Our best wishes to Bev Pitts and Alan Oliver who have also received some new joints. Peter Buttle is still a long way from tramping trips but I’m sure we will see him out again and Sue McK is champing at the bit to get her tramping gear on again.
Out Door Rescue/ First Aid Course One of our new members, Romina, is keen to do an outdoor first aid course and is hoping that other club members might be interested as well. Romina found a 2 day course in Nelson but if there were sufficient numbers we could arrange a course here in Blenheim. We have made a few preliminary enquiries locally and there are some good options but this would have to be in the New Year. It would be good to expressions of interest now to see if this is viable. The link to the course Romina looked at is https://www.tripleonecare.co.nz/courses/outdoor-first-aid-2-days
Let us know what you would expect a course to cover. (St John’s provide a Level 1 NZQA unit standards 6401, 6402 and this could be done over two evenings)
Eperb/First Aid Kits If you want to borrow a Club kit for a private trip you need to contact Kerry Millard at least a week before to book it. We only have one available for private trips so please don’t just collect one from Mayflower. Kerry also needs to know details of your trip and group for SAR in the unlikely event of the Eperb being activated.
OLD PHOTOS/SLIDES ETC
Thanks to those of
you who responded to our request for old club photos. Sides are the best for copying but any photos
can be done. If you have any old club
photo, slides etc that you would like to pass on we would love to have
them. They would be recorded digitally
for club members to access and either returned to you or recorded and indexed
and placed with our records in the archives. By doing this they would be available for years to come. Photos with people, huts etc would be great.
Even better if you can give names of people. If you would like some help cataloguing them I’m sure we could help out.
If you would like them collected ring one of the committee or email the club and we can arrange to pick them up and return them to you.
Sari in PNG.
Not a trip report as such but some of you were enquiring about Sari so I emailed her and received this reply. She is probably home by now or maybe off on another adventure. No doubt she will have lots of exciting stories to tell when she is back out tramping with us
“Hi Mary and the gang!
I had to laugh receiving your email last weekend because I had just landed at this very delightful, and rather flash, Nusa island resort off New Ireland island with an Australian friend after a wonderful week of cycling 230 km along New Ireland Bulumski highway with my sister and two friends!
I describe it as 'a week and a world away' from Daru.
I see Daru as penance for all the wonderful physical adventures I have had throughout the world! The work has been interesting and meaningful. It just breaks my heart that I have been unable to access more of PNG's unique and beautiful places!
So I am looking forward to departing Daru after 4 more weekends, and joining some MTC adventures in 2019!
Please pass my regards
The Avon Saddle Report. 14/11/18
A seven o’clock start at Horton Park. Two vehicles and six of us. A pleasant drive on a beautiful morning up to the Malvern Hills, and on getting there we see a ball of smoke against the front of a cottage to discover that a pack horse is getting hot shoed. The farm worker says we can park in the yard outside the old earthquake damaged cottage. The Smithy carries on with his work while we make it over to yard where we all don boots while watching a dual wheel 4x4 tractor of some size make its way up a freshly tilled steep hill behind the main house.
After the obligatory photo of the group we set off at 8:30 in a southerly direction up the farm track up alongside the dwindling Avon River and after covering about 5ks. of grassy well fenced paddocks with manuka and secondary growth on the hills, we come across an old weather board hut which has seen better days.
The track turns into a single file track as we enter the beech forest, and after crossing the top end of Avon a couple of times we stop for smoko at 10am.in the dappled light reaching through the beeches. From here on the track meanders upwards at a pretty constant gradient until we reach the Avon Saddle 923. where we have a leisurely lunch and admire the views of the wooded Avon Valley to the North. and the massive of which is Tapi., Alarm, Mitre and Mt. Gladstone to the SE. On the eastern side of the saddle is Mt. Boltoff and on the western side Pudding Hill 1460.
This was an old bridle track which was used for moving stock in and out of the Awatere Valley. The track leads down through scrubby country to the headwaters of the West branch of Grey River where it continues closely following the course of the river for 16ks until it reaches the Awatere River at Upcot Station. Some of the track on the northern side of the saddle is beginning to become overgrown with beech and wineberry. A leisurely return to Malvern Hills was covered in about 3hours.
Many thanks to the more recent land owner for letting the MTC. access it. A very pleasant walk.
Those on the walk were: Gordon Stone, Graham McKay, Rebecca Teonea, Stephanie Blackmore, Alison Scobie and leader and scribe, Bill Woollcombe.
Silverstream Hut 17-18/11/18
Silverstream Hut, I’ve had this on the itinerary twice before but the weather didn’t play its part. So this time the weather looked not bad early on in the week but as the weekend came the skies looked a bit darker. So a quick ring around my three tramping partners to advise them that we will get a bit wet but I was still going. They were all still keen. So 7am Saturday four bikes and trampers fitted in the van and we were off to the Branch. We parked at MBC lodge- Nally had borrowed Helmut’s bike so a quick seat adjustment and we were on our way with packs on our backs off over the swing bridge. We had about a 10km ride to the Silverstream turn off meeting one 4x4 on the way. 1.15hrs later we were at the turn off, we carried the bikes across the Branch River and soon found a wilding pine to hide the bikes under and lock up. Had morning tea there with a light shower of rain and sandflies. We set off up the valley with wilding pines on the river flats and literally hundreds of small ones on the track. Passed two hunters who were resting up in the river bed. The track follows the river for a few kms then heads up a ridge way above the river on the map- this didn’t look too bad but it just keeps going- a good work out. We had seen a helicopter R44 early on hanging around the tops and thought he may be dropping off hunters but as we walked way above the river another copter came in lower than us going flat out towards the hut, we think it landed and it soon came roaring back this time thinking shit its drop a group at OUR hut. We carried on sidling our way slowly down to the hut thinking it won’t be much fun sleeping on the floor tonight. ( Making the hut in 3.40min the DOC sign saying 5 hrs). Standing on the heli pad overlooking the hut a good sign- no smoke coming from the chimney so made it down to the hut- great no one there just a nice clean hut with dry firewood cut and stacked on the hearth left from the last tenant Barry Hope & Patch on the 5/10/18 Thank you Barry. The rain just started and Bid was feeling the cold so the fire was lit and we it had just slowly ticking over to take the chill off. I was keen on walking further up the valley onto the tops but as the rain kept coming down I wasn’t keen anymore (must be made of sugar) The afternoon soon passed with plenty of cups tea and stories, a great way of hearing about other people’s lives and what they have been up to. All in the sack by 8.30 with not a lot of decibels over the night. My bunk was a little short so had to hang my legs out the side.
6.30 Sunday all were up and tucking into brekkie with no set time on leaving as we had plenty of time. 8am all cleaned up wood re stacked and we on our way with clear skies. This is a very good track and by the looks of the track I think a lot more people go in there than the hut book shows. A lot go or come from Bull Paddock Creek Biv. We made it back to the bikes in 3hrs had lunch there, it was very hot by now. Then had a bit of fun re crossing the river. Back on the bikes and off down the track. Unfortunately Nally had an off and got a big fat lip out of it and decided to push the bike out about 8 kms. We got back to Blenheim about 3.30pm not am. It was a good trip not too long, enough to get a sweat up with a good hut at the end. Worth going back to and doing a loop along the tops. My companions were Bid Kenny / Bill Woollcombe/ Nally Lee/ me, Kerry Millard.
Trip Report: Kiwi Saddle Hut - Mount Patriarch – Gibbs
Track (Kahurangi National Park)
27th – 28th October
The trip started in Blenheim at 6:00 on cloudy Saturday morning. Andy, Luke and I made our way up SH63 and picked Bill up and started our journey to Kahurangi National Park. Estimated travel time from Blenheim to Siberia Flats Camp site, our starting point, was 2.5 hours according to Google Maps. We kept to this time frame and were ready to head off down the Wangapeka and make our way to Kiwi Saddle hut at 8:30.The first section along the Wangapeka was nice and gentle with a few swing bridges thrown in. Bill spotted many trout and a Whio along the way. Smoko was held next to the river in the company of what felt like every sand fly within a 5km radius. Needless to say smoko was a brief affair. At the second of the swing bridges we made our way along a track next to Kiwi stream. The weather started to change and drizzle set in although it was not hard enough to make us break out our rain gear. Lunch was had under the biggest tree we could find. A long and steady climb up the track brought us to a clearing and Kiwi Saddle hut. We reached the hut mid afternoon and settled in. A debate was held as to whether a fire was necessary and the pyromaniacs won out. A brief stint of firewood collecting was followed by Bill starting a fire in the open fire place.
The afternoon siesta was interrupted at 5.00pm by a visitor in the form of a very fit young lady. She stated that she was just stopping off for a quick bite to eat and would be carrying on through onto the tops that afternoon and back down to her car along Chummies track.
This brought a frown to our faces as this was a very long way which would in all probability be in the dark. The weather was poor but this did not seem to dampen her mood. She had run from her car to the hut plus an extra 3km in 2hrs. Something that had taken us 6.75hrs. We quizzed her and she did have a PLB and Garmin GPS that she could text her husband with. There was no stopping her. Her enthusiasm was infectious. She went on her way after half an hour. Later that night Bill and I heard aircraft flying overhead??
Having found some old cards in the hut Luke started a game of Last Card. Bill and Andy were drawn into the card game like moths to a flame. I was an innocent observer. As the game progressed Luke seemed to remember more and more rules generally to the detriment of Bill. As Bill was about to slap down his last card Luke would remind him of a certain rule which would invariably lead to him losing the hand. The frown in Bill forehead deepened with every hand.
We all awoke the next morning with the hut shrouded in mist. Not sure if it would clear we had breakfast and tidied up the hut. The clouds started to lift and we started our assault on Mount Patriarch. The track meandered through the beech forest and after an hour we were out of the bushline. Once on the ridge line we were met with beautiful views. After dropping our packs and having a quick nibble we made our way up the ridge line and with a bit of scrambling up sections we made it to the top. With not much wind and little cloud to speak of at the top of Patriarch we had views all the way round. Mt Owen, Mt Luna, Mt Kendall, The Twins and even Mt Richmond and Fishtail in the Richmond Ranges were clearly visible. It was grand.
We took the customary photos and made good time down back to our packs. We surveyed the ridge to be followed, made some mental calculations as to how long we thought were going to take and set off. The ridge was a mixture of steep sections and flat ridge sections which made it enjoyable. We saw some very agile goats on the side of some steep drop-offs. On spying us they beat a hasty retreat down to the lower reaches. We reached Pt 1566 just on lunchtime and decided to drop down near to the bushline and have lunch there. We found a grassy spot between all the tussock and settled down.
The rest of the tramp down Gibbs track was uneventful except to say that Luke wanted to follow in the footsteps of the mountain runner lady and “BOMB” it. This is a term she used to describe how she would tackle the ridge the previous evening. This he did and I did not see much of Luke for the rest of the afternoon or anybody else for that matter. We met down near Gibbs Creek and made our way to the confluence of Gibbs Creek and the Wangapeka. We crossed the Wangapekawith no incident. We walked back down the track, crossed the swinging bridge, and reached Siberia Camp site by 4pm. We stopped inTapawera and had suitable refreshments and the special of the night. Bill was particularly disappointed when we had to leave as he was going to miss the Country and Western evening at the hotel!
As it turns out the mountain runner was airlifted at about 1am after activating her PLB. The aircraft we heard was a search and rescue helicopter out looking for her.
The Team: Luke, Andy, Bill and Helmut
Mt Hopeless from Cupola Hut.
The mountain that inspired the two very different stories about the same trip.
A bit of nostalgia here but very entertaining reading
The Cat who lost eight of his nine lives.
Wow and the thirty year anniversary had just passed, and with time it was now just a distant memory from a past life.
It was 5-30 Saturday afternoon, the weather was turning for the worse as I clung to the upper slope above the South east couloir in full storm gear with things turning to custard..
The day had begun reasonably well with Robert, the manger of Alp Sports Nelson and Myself departing from the DOC shelter on the lake foreshore just before eight am for our destination, the south east couloir of Mt Hopeless in Cupola basin, while my good friend Malcolm and the rest of the Wellington Alpine Club were having a more leisurely start as they were heading to Hopeless hut on the northern side of the mountain. It was fair to say no one got a lot of sleep as being labour weekend every man and his dog had crammed into the shelter and as we were a tad late getting there last evening we were relegated to the concrete floor.
The trip up the valley was uneventful with us making good time, probably due to the fact we were carrying only the bare essentials, Having palmed off a bit of the gear to our fellow members of the team as we were to reunite with them that evening after having raced up the south east couloir and over the ridge dropping back down to them at Hopeless Hut for hopefully, two saved bunks???
After a final scramble up through thinning alpine beech above Cupola Stream we were in the alpine scrub and tussock leading up into the circ bluffs just under the couloir. It was with a little apprehension that we studied our proposed route which looked reasonably steep to say the least and there was now some doubt as to the stability of the snow even though the last fall was three days ago and in theory it should have settled. Well we were here so after a bit of discussion we decided to head up the true right of the bluffs and suss things out close up. After the odd anxious moment on loose broken rock we were above the bluffs and in the couloir to find the snow stable enough down here and the decision was made to go for it sticking fairly close to the rock face on the true right of the couloir.
So here I was 5-30 in the afternoon , a vicious wind building, the summit now playing hide and seek as low cloud swirled and the fear was beginning to well up as I had dug myself into a bit of a hole. Our intended exit out of the couloir onto the easy terrain of the northern side was guarded by an alarmingly big and very unstable looking cornice coupled with loose wind driven spindle drift leaving me worrying on how much had built up in the lee.. I couldn’t risk cutting the slope and nervously scanned the face leading to the Hopeless summit and settled on a steep gulley leading onto the ridge and ultimate safety just below the summit, it was so damn close and yet so far as I worked my way into the gulley and carefully worked my way up stopping to cast a glance down in Roberts direction. I could make him out a hundred meters below through the light swirling mist as he had appeared to have cut out a stance and was sitting looking out over Cupola Basin while catching his breath. I found myself muttering “Shit, come on Robert we’ve got to get off this” as I tormented over whether it was safer to carry on or turn back. I was so worried about cutting the slope more if I retreated that I turned and carried on up burying the axe and hammer shafts to brace myself against the waves of spindle drift starting to flow down. The panic was really starting to build in me now as I kept looking up, thinking I’m so damn close now but am I going to make it as I braced for yet another mini spindle drift avalanche as it piled up against me.
It all happened so suddenly as my feet suddenly felt weightless and sank, the weight of the spindle drift piling up around me had been enough to release the slope under my feet.
All the pent up fear was suddenly released as what I had been dreading had happened and now I was descending in a few seconds what had taken hours to climb, being seemingly somersaulted end over end, all the while being surprisingly calm and thinking my only chance of surviving this was if it stopped on the bit of laid back ground just before the circ bluff. I knew surviving a one hundred and fifty meter free-fall wasn’t going to happen. The theory of swimming on the surface to stay atop is very much a theory as I was being somersaulted with no control until I was knocked unconscious, probably by the ice axe or hammer flailing around on each wrist loop. Well I always presumed I was unconscious before I was launched off the edge of the circ bluffs as I have no memory of the free-fall or the ensuing impact as I cratered out.
The light had long faded as I found myself staring up at a black mass and above that the twinkling of a few stars. How could this be as I just lay there trying to comprehend how I had survived a five hundred meter fall from just under the summit to now be in this huge pile of kayos out from the foot of the circ bluffs. At least the wind that was so prevalent on the upper slopes was next to nonexistent down here.
The twinkling stars disappeared which jolted me into action for there had obviously been a small weather window which was disappearing and the long term outlook had been for snow and rain later in the night leaving me in no illusion that even though I had survived I was still right where all avalanches coming off the slopes above the south east couloir were going to settle and it would be just the absolute pits to have survived this only to have another one come down and completely bury me
By some miracle I had landed feet first and was now cast on my back with the pack still attached at the shoulders but riding well up while just to the side a meter away was my trusty bash hat that had somehow parted company with my head. The snow had set like concrete below my chest but I was able to wriggled my arms around with all bits seeming to work OK as I began to scrape with my fingers to free the pack, luckily for me the waste belt clip had broken which was why the pack had ridden up so high on my shoulders and I was eventually able to pull it off and around for inside was my plastic bowl which I desperately needed to dig myself out.
During the fall I had lost the flailing ice axe and hammer and with them my gloves with the resulting now numb fingers making releasing the clips on my pack extremely difficult as they had lost their gripping strength. It seemed a frustrating eternity before I could release them and retrieve the big red bowl. Rather stupidly on retrieving the bowl I let the pack slip from my reach and despondently watched it settle about a meter away and with it my spare set of gloves.
It was going to be a long cold night as I gripped the bowl and started scrapping millimetre by millimetre as the darkness engulfed me.
The night floated by in a bit of a haze as every now and then I would drift off to sleep to awake shivering away and being so annoyed with myself for every minute spent not scrapping was another minute stuck here in this avalanche zone just waiting for another one to come down.
Dawn was near as features began to reveal themselves as I was now down to scraping around the plastic Koflachs, frustration setting in as I tried to prize out each boot by pulling with all my might, to no avail I might add. It was hard to comprehend just how tight the snow had packed around me as I again resumed scrapping with the bowl. When the snow finally gave up its relentless grip I was able to crawl from my hole and retrieve the pack and my much welcomed gloves although probably due to the fact it had been threatening to rain on the lower slopes for most of the night the air temperature never got that cold and the hands were not in to bad a shape considering.
After stuffing a bit of loose gear lying around me into the pack and depositing the bash hat back on my head I attempted to stand without much luck as the right leg seemed very weak. Ok not a lot of point waiting around here I thought as I half crawled ,half walked around the avo debris checking for any sign of Robert. It was very much a case of looking after number one now as there wasn’t much I could do for him if he was under there and light sleet was beginning to fall.
Self preservation took over as I crawled and slithered my way down the snow slope to then begin the energy sapping grovel through the alpine scrub. By now the sleet had turned to rain and it was pelting down and with the beech close at hand I propped myself up on a rock for a breather and take one last look up towards the circ.
I caught an object with my eye and the harder I tried to focus the less certain I was as to whether it was anything but it seemed to be moving. I sat there desperately trying to focus on the indistinguishable form as now it was definitely moving.
A great sense of relief flooded through me when I was finally able to distinguish the bearded and grinning form of Robert plodding towards me. It was a joyous reunion as each of us had more or less written the other off.
Robert hadn’t seen or heard the avo which was not surprising due to the low visibility and noise of the wind, his first inkling that all was not well was my steps ending at a trench and guessed what had happened and with darkness almost upon him did a quick scout of the slope above the circ before digging himself in for the night. His apprehension was alleviated a little when a light appeared way down and across the valley where Cupola hut was indicating I may have survived the fall and struggled to the hut.
We decided not to linger as it was bucketing down so with a little difficulty at first I was able to weight the leg and stagger in a drunken style from tree to tree, the tangle of roots and trash constantly unbalancing me and causing me to topple over backwards every now and then to lie cushioned against the pack puffing away while the rain streamed off my face to then repeat it all over again.
After what seemed like an absolute eternity to me we hit the easy ground of the Travers valley and Robert raced off to John Tait Hut to get the fire and a brew going.
Ten minutes later I was climbing the steps, pushing the door to enter the dimly lit hut. Water was dripping off me pooling on the wooden floor as I stared rather bemusedly at the occupants of the hut before falling into their hands as they helped me remove saturated clothing and helping me into the pit, Robert filling my hands with a steaming mug of tea.
I almost instantly fell asleep, the rigours of the last thirty hours finally catching up, time having lost all meaning.
I finally awoke to looks of grave concern from Malcolm and Mike as they hunched over me which was probably not too surprising as my face looked as though it had done 12 rounds with Mike Tyson! There grave looks of concern were too much for me to take as I then couldn’t hold back an ear to ear grin while thinking to myself “F###k it’s great to be alive!”
Well that was my version of events but my good friend Malcolm saw things a little differently
That really was a Hopeless weekend.
Have you ever come across the sort of person who, you know at a glance, should never EVER be let loose near a mountain? I guess you have and I suppose I don’t have to tell you that the person who springs immediately to my mind is my good friend Chapman. Don’t get me wrong. Murray’s a first rate bloke. Set him to organise a block-booking to a Mozart Piano Concerto (K.467 in c major, for instance) or take him to an evening of German Expressionist Theatre at the Goethe Institute and he’s happy as a sand boy. Same on the farm. If there’s Lucerne to cut or sheep to drench he’s rational in his mind and collected in his wits. Put him near a mountain though and his brain comprehensively drops right out.
You’ll probably guess that I’m leading up to the weekend of Chappers 2000 foot avo at Nelson Lakes but the story really begins quite a bit earlier that winter. It started one weekend on Ruapehu where I’d been staggering around for hours in a storm looking for Whangaehu Hut. I found it completely by luck (since I never bother with maps or compass) and collapsed inside. There to my great surprise was an NZAC snow-craft course on the go.
“Funny place for snow-craft one,” I thought, “and, hullo, they’ve built a new hut.”
No; they hadn’t. Somehow Id got over the top of Te Heu Heu and accidentally blundered down to Knoll Ridge Hut where you would expect to find snow-craft one. To cover my confusion I pretended to be a late arrival and focused a great show of strenuous attention on Alan Knowles as he lectured on snow caves. I don’t mind admitting that Alan or AJ as we know him here in Wellington is a superb mountain man-just the opposite to my friend Chapman. A personality, a raconteur, a born teacher, AJ also climbs like the son of a gun. Normally then, I’d be all ears but this time I suppose I was a bit Whacked and just starting to nod off when I was struck a massive blow between the shoulder blades. I THINK I heard “How the hell are y.....” just as my head hit the wall and when I came to an hour later there was the friendly grin and powerful physique of Annette Richards gazing down at me.
“Gee Mal. Sorry about that. Are yer OK? Guess what? I’ve put you down to lead the Hopeless trip at Labour weekend.”
“Wow Annette. Gee I dunoo. D’ya think I can handle that,” I said, trying to squirm out of it.
“Course y’can. I’ll make a man outa ya,” and she fetched me a playful clip around the ears that stunned me a second time.
Though dazed I was starting to get the point and next thing I knew I was down in print on that damn trip list with people ringing up in droves.
One of the first to phone was of course Chapman and that’s where the rot started to set in I suppose.
“Hey Geard. What’s this I hear about you being down on the Alpine Club trip list to lead a climb,” he asked incredulously.
“Well yeah but only in principle,” I replied, “cause you’re coming too. I lead to the hut then you take over. Fair enough?”
Looking back on it I’m still not sure why but things went haywire from the outset on that weekend. Certainly a party of between 20 and 60 because every time I counted them I got a different answer. It was horribly confusing and completely through me off the leadership role for which Annette had chosen me. It was only months later I found out that Chappers had schooled the Marlborough contingent to run back to the end of the queue and be counted several times. To add insult to injury Chappers entirely failed to turn up at all so I was left with up to 60 climbers to cart up the mountain. After a sleepless night I mustered the party at 0553 hours and counted them again. There were about 80 by now.
“Now hear this, men,” I said commandingly (I meant women too); “we start our climb at 0600 hours. We are a large party, that much is certain. None of us know which way to go or why. I suggest we meet up at say 0827 hours on that bump on the skyline for another briefing. Are we agreed? Go to it men. And good luck.”
Well. They all took off like robber’s dogs and in ten minutes had all vanished completely. At 0827 hours the only sign of life at the bump on the skyline was one derisive kea and myself.. the weather had turned atrocious and the troops were scattered all over the mountain. I spent a wretchedly miserable day rounding them all up. I say all.
Unfortunately, I could only find 23 of the total party of 80. I suppose the rest must have just got fed up with waiting and went on home.
It was infact a totally hopeless schmozzle really. I might have got quite depressed if I hadn’t met and fallen passionately in love with young Linda Wensley, a physiotherapist of Blenheim a few weeks later when she fixed my back on Mt Owen. But that’s another story.
Oh. I almost forgot the avo. Well, it was like this. As we waited in Hopeless Hut, Chaps had climbed the OTHER side of Hopeless and then perversely freight trained an avalanche back down the same south east couloir just to avoid joining us. Now, I ask you. What kind of a bloke would drop his mates in the poo like that? Quite frankly, I think he needs about three months’ compulsory climbing with AJ to smarten up his ideas a bit. Yep. That might be the trick, I reckon.
Trip report for Mt. Fyffe
Depart Horton Park at 7am. for an uneventful ride to Mt. Fyffe through the impressive new road works around Ohau bay – still lots to do!
Parked the vehicles and set off shortly after 9am. with the top of Mt. Fyffe in the clouds.
We were in the clouds for smoko with no view when out of the mist came a cheerful group of lady trampers who had spent the night camping on the summit.
A brief stop at the hut to regroup before setting off on what seemed to be a much longer climb than I remembered.
Summit reached (for a by now spread-out group) for lunch and an occasional break in the clouds for a glimpse of Kaikoura and the coast. The descent found us passing a number of people heading up the mountain – most of whom we thought unlikely to make the summit.
We emerged back into the sunshine around the 350m. mark, and at the vehicles for 4pm.
Walked: 18.5 km.
The troops were; Paul, John, Hartley, Yea, Jill, Alison, Paulette, Bill. Thanks for your company and Paul for driving, Geoff.