Ngā Tohu Pinnacle Traverse
3 September 2019
Bad 70s music and the skier deliberation on tomorrow’s bacon and eggs make Tararua Lodge one of the worst places to contemplate an alpine start.
Still, the 4 am wake up was worth it. We were on top of Grand Pinnacle for sunrise in clear, windless conditions. Way below us, the snowgroomers were applying the final touches as our skiers snoozed on. Extra thick snow cover meant we couldn’t uncover the bollard rock with its handy collection of slings. Instead, Alric dug a trench into which I reluctantly sacrificed a shiny new snow stake to Ruapehu, the mountain god.
It’s a full 50 metre abseil with an overhanging lip of ice. How did Margaret Fyfe climb it with just one axe and no front pointing crampons? I wondered on the way down.
Attacking Second Pinnacle, there was no problem getting to its dramatic spiked apex. Its twin bump was another matter; gnarly-looking ice buttresses made it a most unappealing prospect. Instead we dropped down for a decidedly sketchy sidle.
Alric then navigated a strait-forward route through the ice maze onto the final pinnacle. As the adrenaline subsided, he declared, ‘Bugger, I’ve forgotten to place the vegetable order at the restaurant!’ A quick phone call and the culinary world of Cuba Street was restored to order.
Down below us, long queues had already formed at the Knoll Ridge T. There was nothing for it but to head off, dodging mad snow boarders on our return to the lodge. Five hours, door to door.
- Party members
- Alric Hansen and Paul McCredie (scribe)