AIC 2006 - Post-graduate climbing trip
After work on Friday, seven enthusiastic club members drove to the North Egmont road end and crawled into their sleeping bags for six hours. After a quick breakfast they headed up the transmitter access road to Taranaki Alpine Club’s Tahurangi Hut where they sheltered from the gale force winds in the unlocked porch. While snacks and drinks were consumed there was debate as to the wisdom of continuing in the increasing winds. Apparently some of the group did not originate from Wellington.
Once crampons were attached all seven continued upwards, stopping briefl y at about 1850m for more food and water and a look at the thermometer. Windchill was assessed at minus 17 Celsius. As they continued upward again it became harder to see through the thickening mist.
A short time later Marc decided that looking at the inside of a ping-pong ball while being blasted with snow was not a lot of fun and turned for “home”. About 500m short of the summit commonsense prevailed and the remaining six turned and made their way back down, veering north at Tahurangi Hut along the “round-the-mountain” track for a while before turning again to head down the feature known as the razor-back, to the road end.
The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing. Some of the group visited New Plymouth in search of an Internet Cafe (for a weather forecast) and further supplies; some stayed at the road end to read or sleep. Later, two delicious dinners were produced (there was a choice of vegetarian or dead animal) followed by an early night and the hope of better weather in the morning. Unfortunately it was not to be. Getting up at 5.30am to check the weather was somewhat unnecessary as the sound of wind screaming across the roof was a bit of a giveaway. Back to bed for a while then another relaxing day culminating in a drive to Wellington for three and a drive to Whakapapa in search of better conditions for the remaining four.
Monday morning dawned clear with the promise of winds dying out as the day went on. At 7.30am conditions underfoot were hard and fast as the remaining four headed across from Tararua Lodge to Broken Leg Gully. Two roped pairs then headed upward on separate routes to regroup at the base of a steeper gully further up that provides an access route to the Great Pinnacle. The weather forecast could not have been so wrong. Instead of winds dying out as the day went on they increased as the day went on. By now, even the skiers below were in danger of being blown from the chairs on the ski lifts. Reluctantly the four down-climbed the upper gully then combined ropes for a 50m abseil off Marc’s old and battered snow stake before continuing back down to Broken Leg Gully where they found the over-mitt Stuart had dropped from near their high point.
A brief stop to collect gear stashed at Tararua Lodge, then down to the road end and off to Wellington after a relaxing weekend in the hills with good company and good food.
- Party members
- The magnificent seven were: Liz Paton, Murray Sutherland, Stacey Gasson, Marc
Heatley, Ron Stutter (L), Steve Hutchison, and Stuart Hutson. The latter four stayed on for the Monday climb.
15-18 September 2006