We came, we saw, we mitred (climb)
22-24 October 2011
A climb of Mitre Peak (Inland Kaikoura Range) In the beginning there was bacon; at the last the bacon was gone (and a lemon for the tea...)
In-between times, four TTC members successfully summitted Mitre Peak in the Kaikouras. After a Friday night ferry and camp at Gladstone Downs, we began the ascent of the Hodder, accompanied by the eight members of the TTC Tappy party.
The two groups separated at the Hodder Huts when the Mitre party continued up river, passing the Staircase Stream fork to camp at around 1550m.
The following day we had a reasonably relaxed alpine start (naturally involving bacon) and headed up to the Hodder headwaters in the basin under Mitre. Initially within the cloud the snow was still firm and made for easy cramponing up the north east couloir. While the climb may have been simple enough, once we were above the cloud and out of the wind things became almost unbearably hot. I was stuffing snow through the vent holes in my helmet, while Fiona would take occasional breaks to push her face into the snow.
The top of the couloir took us to a narrow col at about 2500m. Crossing this, we sidled a steep gully. The sun hadn’t taken long to soften the snow conditions which required us to actually use the rope (for which I was very glad, having carried it all the way there).
If the rope was 70m in length we might have reached the summit in one pitch, but unfortunately Paul’s brave lead was halted just shy of the top. A short second pitch had the party on the summit just before 2pm, enjoying spectacular views of the neighbours – Tappy and Alarm – peeking out above the cloud.
After reversing the route back to the col, we descended the couloir in rapid, non-texbook fashion! Returning to a misty camp at 4.30pm, we eventually decided to pack up and descend to the Hodder huts for the night and find out how the Tappy group did.
The next day, after hot drinks in our bunks followed by a fine bacon butty, we exited the Hodder in hot sun, cool water and strong winds. We managed to get the rugby score from the farmer while repacking the cars (it was the World Cup final weekend), I don’t think any of us regretted we’d missed the game.
- Party members
- Patrick Arnold (scribe), Fiona Girdwood, David Grainger, Paul Maxim (leader).