Matthews: West Rib, South Ridge
25 January 2021
Viewed from Table Mountain, the west or Mukamuka face of Mt Matthews appears inaccessible and uninviting; two massive shingle slides bounded by three narrow spurs. Our aim on this trip was to ascend the central spur or rib which reaches Matthews’ northwest ridge about 0.25 km from the summit.
From the DOC campsite at Ocean Beach we walked along the coast road and up the Mukamuka, encountering a brisk headwind as we trudged four kilometres up valley to the toe of the spur. A first attempt to mount it met an impenetrable wall of kiekie. Climbing out of the side creek at about the 300 m contour was more successful but, although the kiekie had thinned, other nasties were in abundance including nettle, lawyer as ground cover and a particularly spikey shrub, perhaps of the mountain pepper tree variety. After almost two hours and a height gain of less than 350 m, we took a meditative lunch in the shelter of a for once almost respectable grove of small trees. But above the 600 m contour it was all change, reasonable to excellent going including skirting around the inactive slipped edge of the shingle slide on our left. Open country for a while – and good views, of Table Mountain opposite, of the main Ōrongorongo Ridge from the South Saddle to Tapokopoko and down the Mukamuka to the sea.
Resting at Matthews’ summit we decide to stay with Plan A: return down the South Ridge, the upper 0.3 km having been traversed on an earlier trip when a strong ground trail had been noted.
Unfortunately, the trail became patchy as we approached Bump 704 and windfall began repeatedly to force us off the ridge crest. At about the 380 m contour, where Google Earth shows a sharp veer to the west, we ‘fell’ right off the crest into a kiekie forest. Luckily the kiekie was so big that we could usually find a ‘tunnel’ amongst the stalks to slide through, continuing our downward progress. Towards the bottom of the slope, a view out showed us our error and we sidled west to regain some halfway decent going.
Back on the valley floor, the northerly, now much stronger, was welcome as it hurried and harried us out to the coast. About nine hours 20 minutes for the complete circuit.
- Party members
- Colin Cook (scribe), Tricia French, Paul McCredie, David McNabb