South Ohau – North Ohau – Bump 773
Saturday 14 October 2006
‘Wet’ was the key word for the day. Not rain wet – we barely got more than a light shower. But, heading up to the site of the old Ohau shelter, we were very soon saturated by dripping vegetation. The track was also full of puddles. It must have absolutely thundered down the night before and the river was up – not the ideal for my intended river trip. We took Ozzie’s Track up to the South/North Ohau forks and then had a look at the river. Linked arms were needed to cross over to the mouth of the North Ohau. Neil knew that it opened out later, so we carried on up a fairly swift river, but within 15 minutes we reached a chest-high pool and a raging waterfall. Some would like to have given it a go, but I deemed it wise to turn around. The new hut would have to wait for our visit yet again. The next thought was to try and find a way out on the true right of the river; not easy as the walls had been sheer all the way. There was one possibility, which Neil decided to have a go at. We eventually all made it, but it was a hairy ascent with few handholds in places and we had to zig- zag carefully to avoid rock falls.
Once on a narrow spur, we continued to ascend to about 600m, which was the beginning of the ridge proper. I had often looked at that ridge on the map and thought I’d like to give it a go from its toe, but there were no signs that anyone ever had. Closer to 730, there was a bit of a trail, but it was probably animal. Just above 730 there was a hint of a route down to the South Ohau on a westerly bearing, but there was no mark or tape, so perhaps that was an animal trail too. I’d like to try that another day.
Closer to 773 we began to spot old orange plastic tags. This semi-track started to head down, which was confusing as my map had wet blobs at this stage and the contours did not clearly suggest a drop-off of about 40 meters. Anyway, the direction was north, as required, so we continued and were pleased to find the trail rose again to 800; here was the white marker I was looking for that marked a good descent point to the South Ohau.
An old blaze and a hint of a trail leads off this spur, but it needs careful navigation. It is long and steep with a number of tempting spurlets leading off. My confession of a navigation error on a previous foray down this spur attracted considerable banter from male members of the party. Nevertheless, they were good lads, and, thanks to a team effort led by Neil, we kept to the intended route with a bit of scouting. There are quite a few white markers on this spur but there are also many, many windfalls; it is a good idea to stick doggedly to a westerly (later south westerly) bearing and make an effort to locate those markers to avoid having to sidle cliffs much further down. The next challenge was to cross the South Ohau; linking up was necessary and we were glad to get back to the old shelter site. (It was at this point, I found that the back-up map copy that was presumed dry in Tim’s pack was actually swimming in a pool in his jacket pocket – a reminder that I should laminate map sections as a matter of habit.)
We were back at the cars around 5 p.m. after a 91⁄4 hr trip.
- Party members were
- Neil Challands, Robin Chesterfield, Marg Conal (leader and
scribe), Colin Cook, Mike Wespel-Rose and Tim Stone.