Rail Incline – Virgin Spur – Bump 792m – Tunnel Peak – Goat Track
Saturday 1 April 2006
For some years Michael Bartlett, Gordon McKenzie and I have searched out unusual routes for Saturday medium grade trips.
The severe storm of late March 2005, pounding the Rimutaka Range, damaged many creek beds and deposited much debris as obstacles. From the Rail Incline we had previously had a good route beginning beyond the first tunnel up an un-named creek to its forks, then a short spur to bump 792m. Because of 2005 storm damage, Michael and I thought that a more direct route up a spur north of our previous route, but still reaching bump 792m, may be feasible. However, on viewing this spur from the Incline, gorse and scrub appeared prominent. There was only one way to find out.
Michael and I did several recces to ensure such a spur did reach bump 792m. There was no evidence that people had traversed it. The dense supplejack and kie-kie belts were enough to put anyone off! Also, an unlisted saddle, a scrub belt on most of the spur’s crest and a strange high-level creek all added to a challenge to sort out.
On our final recce Rhonda Billington came along. The three of us enjoyed the unusual spur and once on the top ridge continued north to bump 614m, Tunnel Peak and Goat Rock. Then it was mostly east via the road back to the Incline. At the car park Michael’s car had been broken into and all our civvy gear stolen.
On 1 April I lead a club medium trip so that the group would be the first to traverse this virginal spur. We left the Incline car park about 8.30am on a fine, cool morning. Past the first major creek draining from the west, we used the obscure route start before finding the base on the spur proper. After recent rain there was a bit of slipping, up through the supplejack belt. Above that we could now stand upright to enjoy the beginning of mostly open forest. At bump 520m we turned west down into the unlisted saddle for refreshments.
Next, mainly south-west into the mid-section of forest, keeping below the scrub line to our right which had a gap here and there to give us a view north. Some steep climbing through good forest not without a few very old windfalls. Then came the tiny creek within a narrow gully, seemingly out of place. Three steep pitches and minor direction changes. We joined our old route from the other access for the spur to become narrow. As we neared bump 792m the main ridge was in a thin wet mist, so parkas were needed. The usual mountain weather, as Syd said.
Then north for about 35 minutes to a sheltered lunch spot at an upturned beech tree. As we continued north a few recent windfalls made us careful to follow the old foot route. Near bump 614m we were below the mist and into warmer air. Towards Tunnel Peak and Goat Rock some vegetation is overgrown so our progress was a shade slower than usual. Into regrowing gorse before reaching the road, there were clear views of the Upper Quoin Ridge and Alpha Peak. We had a brief refreshment stop at the road. Then Lynne and Masaki set a cracking pace back to the car park, to arrive at 4.15pm. The predicted rain kept away. Masaki helped in general routefinding - thank you.
- The party was
- Masaki Kojima, Syd Moore, Lynne Pomare, Jeanette Skinner, Tim Stone, Jude Willis and Peter Jagger (leader and scribe)