MTMTHW NTH SDL or Matthews The Hard Way
Wednesday 21st April
The forecast for Wednesday 21st was wet and windy, so a last-minute cancellation was on the cards, but we ignored the forecast, and had to put up with blue skies and sun for most of the long day.
Eight turned up in the morning and left Catchpool just before eight, wandering over to Turere and up Matthews Stream. The second side-stream on the true right has a sign at the bottom, half hidden, that says, in the local abbreviated lingo ‘MTMTHW NTH SDL’, adorned with little orange triangles (baby DoC route markers) that kept us company right to the top of MTMTHW. Clearly the work of the same time-constrained scribe who made the ‘SHNGL SLD’ sign at the top of the shingle slide.
The route up to the north saddle is clearly marked, with one sidle on the true left to avoid climbing a waterfall, and we arrived at the saddle at 11.20, in nice lunchy weather, and with good lunchy views of the Wairarapa on one side, and everyone else working hard in Wellington on the other. But lunch was not an option until the Knife Edge (KNFEG) had been passed. The ridge between the north saddle and the summit was very pleasant, with occasional delvings into lovely bush on the east side, all well marked, and unimpeded progress.
The Knife Edge was interesting. It can be bypassed easily by dropping down a little on the west side, but still requires a bit of calcited-Weetbix balancing to get to the reassuring coach screw with the little orange arrow. Franz took the high road, wearing his best Keen sandals, followed by Paul, hanging on to the Weetbix ridge, and sitting astride the mountain in the best alpine style. The rest of us took the easier sidle.
As we climbed up the last steep bit to the top of MTHW the southerly drifted in, and we had a short, coldish lunch in the cloud at the summit, shortly after 1 p.m.
Then the party tried splitting up at the top of the SHNGL SLD, so we paused to sort out car-keys, but then that idea was shelved, and we all set off down the wee blue trail to the rope at the top of the slide. The rope isn't essential, but is comforting. The slide was great fun, except that Sarah caught a rogue (and, I have to say, unintentional) rock that took a last-second lunge towards her. It takes about seven minutes to drop about 250 m, and is still mostly quite runnable. At the base of the slide we continued straight down through the patchy bush into the streambed, and avoided almost all of the Ongaonga before thankfully getting to terra firma and the relative motorway of Matthews Stream. An afternoon tea stop in the welcome sun around 3 p.m., and then a pleasant wander back to the cars in gorgeous evening light, getting to the carpark about 5.45, so just under 10 hours of pleasant hill time.
Thank you to Sarah for organising, to the weather for being kind, and the anonymous track-marker-and-sgn-crvr.
[Ed: See the March and April editions for four more flavours of Mt Matthews.]
- Party members
- Tricia French, Franz Hubmann, Jennifer Mason, Paul McCredie, Jonathan Ravens (scribe), Janette Roberts, Lynne White, Sarah White (leader)