Matthews’ Northeast Face
23 February 2021
The aim of this trip was to explore the northeast face of Matthews, seeking viable ways to the top. The outcome was a pretty solid fail.
The area of interest, some 10 km in from the Catchpool, lies above the upper forks true left branch of Matthews Stream. An earlier visit to this branch, a trip descending the Shingle Slide1, had left a false impression of easy travel. Far from it, the stream bed was choked with dense scrub, including tauhinu (also known as tawhini); higher up it became a steep causeway of stones and gravel with only a tinkling sound under foot to tell us we were in a watercourse. (Luckily, higher again we found water - a waterfall of sorts as well - so water bottles could be replenished.)
We climbed out on the true right of the stream bed just below the waterfall, struggling up steep, partly open terrain before finally gaining what could reasonably be called a spur crest. Moving higher we had on occasion to dodge leatherwood clumps and scale steep rocky steps. Too late we consulted the navigation oracle to find our mini spur merged with the northeast ridge at about the 800 m contour. Attempts to traverse right and back to untracked country were invariably foiled by either groves of leatherwood or rugged terrain. At about the 880 m contour we gave up and moved onto the northeast ridge2. Game over!
- Party members
- Colin Cook (leader and scribe), Paul McCredie.