A Spare Rib S/F
Wednesday 26 January 2022
In January 2021 a TTC party climbed the central rib of Matthews’ west face1. Our January 2022 party aimed to scale the rib which attaches to the northeast ridge roughly one kilometre from the summit.
As is usual for trips in the Matthews area and beyond, getting in and getting out used up most of the day: three hours to South Saddle, then four hours out2 once we re-emerged on a track. The remaining three hours were devoted to what we wanted to do!
The DoC track down the Mukamuka is rough, steep and often poorly defined. We descended about a kilometre then turned up the small tributary creek defining the rib’s northern limit3. As the banks steepened, we moved out of the creek into taller scrub and ponga. Easy going, but not for long. At about 450 m asl the scrub became lower in height and interlaced with lawyer, and it began to rain, not heavily, but with low cloud, ending any hopes of looking out onto the shingle slides on either side of the rib, or a view of ‘Table Mountain’4 to the east. Parkas were donned and we struggled on, finally stopping at about the 600 m contour for a cool quick lunch in mist and light rain. Experience on the adjacent rib suggested we might almost be into mature forest, and so we were – but it remained steep! Forty-five minutes after lunch we hit the ridge-top track and, thoughts of an off-track descent of the northeast face long since abandoned, we began the long trudge out.
1 Tramper, Vol. 93, 2021, March p. 13. The term rib is sometimes used in place of spur or ridge when there is a repeat pattern of ridges or spurs. 2 Several lengthy pauses to chat with club members met along the way contributed to this exit time. 3 Study of the west face photo suggests a better route might have been up the southern lip of the rib, directly above the shingle slide. The vegetation looks significantly more forest-like along this edge. 4 Unofficial name for an eroded bump on the Mukamuka/Tapokopoko streams’ watershed ridge.
- Party members
- Karen Baker, Colin Cook (leader and scribe), David McNabb, Janette Roberts, Mike Wespel-Rose.