Pinnacles's Secret Slopes
26th June 2019
Unusually, this trip achieved all its objectives; however a late navigational blunder more or less restored normality.
From the Holdsworth road end we proceeded up the Atiwhakatu true left into the valley of a small side stream which, although insignificant, still presented one unscalable waterfall and a surprising number of fallen tree trunks to clamber around. From the low saddle (490m) we went north, crossing a stream to gain the watershed ridge joining Pinnacle 877 to Winzenberg Hill. Ascending this, we noticed a few old tape markers but certainly no sign of any pad. The ridge loses definition as it nears the track to Pinnacle and it may be that the cairn fairly recently built on that track is as good a place as any to strike off towards Winzenberg Hill1, 2.
At Pinnacle 877 we dropped packs and sashayed right. Google Earth shows the north east flanks of Pinnacle to be treeless, something I had never been aware of on my many previous trips along the track. And so they were. With the gentle slopes dotted with shin-high dracophyllum, fire was a more likely cause than slips, Bill thought.
We lunched on top of Pinnacle. A perfect winter’s day, bright and windless. Our final objective was to travel the new track from Pinnacle Ridge down to Atiwhakatu Hut, its signpost having been spotted on a recent trip south along the ridge track. The turnoff, about twenty minutes north of Bump 846 was missed and after some forty minutes' travel the leader, who had been secretly hoping for a screen-free trip, sheepishly fished for his GPS and confirmed we had overshot by some 700m. Perhaps the signposting, two small green slats, is more evident to southbound travellers. The track itself is excellent, well marked with thin vertical Permolat-like strips and a very clear ground trail. It reaches the valley floor opposite the first significant true right side stream above the hut. Thank you Wayne!
About eight hours to go around including 40 minutes lost to the navigation blunder.
- Tararua Footprints 1996 edition chapter six states ‘The descent from Pinnacle towards Winzenberg Hill is a little confused.’ The cairn may help.
- The more common off track route to Pinnacle 877 sets out as we did but climbs onto the ridge near .535, passes through the saddle and continues northwest to strike the track at about 740 m altitude. Certainly easier going than the way we took.
- Party members
- Bill Allcock, Colin Cook (leader), Peggy Munn.