Trip Reports, August-September 2014

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  1. Angelus Hut > Nelson Lakes NP
  2. Cobb Valley excursions > Kahurangi NP
  3. Maitai-Brook Valley walks > Nelson
  4. Mounts Sunday & Riley > Mt Richmond FP
  5. Red Hills–Beebys Knob > Mt Richmond FP
  6. Snow Skills Day > Nelson Lakes NP
  7. Wooded Peak > Nelson

9–10 August 2014 Angelus Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader: Simon Garton

On a very cold Saturday morning I picked up three trampers, being sure to leave them waiting by the side of the road for a few minutes so they would appreciate the car ride.  Having all met up at Mt Robert carpark we spread out across the ridge track with Chris L possibly leading the race. A group of teenage toboggan sliders suffering on the uphill were quickly passed en route to the shelter. There we met a mountaineer breaking in his near $2k boots for his upcoming trip to the 8200m Cho Oyu two weeks hence. I wished him good luck with the Himalayas and once more we set off at our own paces agreeing to meet at Angelus Hut sometime later. I was happy down the back somewhere, Chris and could others hopefully make the steps.

Actually, the Glovers were already out front breaking the trail. As usual, I was changing my layers fairly regularly while talking to Leigh about how office work can get in the way of monitoring Blue Duck numbers in the Wangapeka catchment. Once past the skifield I could see perhaps 20 walkers ahead. At one point, Andrea decided to lead our rear group of three straight over the ridge rock obstacle, instead of the cattle track sidle. This was a great diversion with Chris leading the layback-climbing move and being there to assist Andrea whose chest pack prevented her from swinging around the rock. Once above the hut the popular option was straight down the snow slope onto the lake. The snow was too soft for a glissade or bum slide.

Plenty of bunk room in the hut but no firewood. Oh well, we should get warm from the 20 something bodies. We spent many hours being entertained by John’s match tricks, stretching competitions from the ladies, and sit-down dancing demonstrations from the ladies. Shame my cramp prevented me from joining in.

The next day the mountaineers knocked off Angelus – see Andrea’s account below – and some of us did some tobogganing with the mattresses. Mostly group efforts including 3-up backwards and over the perfectly made jump. Thanks to the  master mattress driver for his steering prowess.

The first  call to rise came at 4.30am with the promise of a pretty moon pic! By the time the moon set a hour later, seven hardy souls were wrapping up in anticipation of  a summit bid.  The eighth kindred and free spirit, Gina, planned her adventure  over Sunset Saddle and down to Hopeless Hut. At 6:15am we were off.

 Traversing across a frozen tarn in the dark heightens the senses until it has been prodded and tested to hold. The edges were slushy and indeed further along the Hinapouri Tarn lived up to its name ‘dark waters’, its partly frozen waters made more outstanding against the chalk white of the snow.

Angelus was named after a devotional prayer and our wishful thoughts of good weather were heard, or maybe we just got lucky. Beautiful dawn, hardly a puff of wind. Just past Hinapouri Tarn, we donned our crampons, taking turns to wind our way up, the sun painting the rocks hues of pinks and oranges.

We all reached her glistening crown and indulged in the vista and achievement, the hut now a mere spec to the north. The descent was initially slow, not throwing caution to the wind. The lower slopes brought some hilarity and emergence of the inner child through jovial participation in body sledging and snow kayaking. Cryptic messages were spotted in the snow from Chris, who greeted our arrival back at the hut at 11am, just in time for a well-earned cuppa.

Having watched the climbing party return safely down Angelus ridge, we returned to the cars while watching the weather close in, exactly as forecast. Sweet as, let’s do it again sometime.

23–24 August 2014 Cobb Valley excursions – Kahurangi NP
Leader: Ray Salisbury

The infamous five filled up Kelvin’s CRV as we negotiated the gravelled Graham Valley Road. Being our carefu selves, Marie and I had checked in with DOC Nelson AND DOC Motueka to ensure we would have access. (There was a warning on the website indicating that the 1080 bait drop was starting in Kahurangi that morning.)

Much to our surprise, a council contractor and his henchman were blocking the road with their vehicle. We were promptly turned around. So, we decided to reach the Tableland via the Cobb Valley instead, and txted our change of intentions.

After a nauseous climb over the Takaka Hill, we found comfort in a coffee at the Woolshed on Canaan Downs Road. Eventually, past Upper Takaka, we meandered over Cobb Ridge, and were soon lunching in sunshine at Myttons Hut.

Several hours of snow-ploughing later, we didn’t quite reach Lake Peel – a stretch of frozen snow saw us turn on our heels. Not fully equipped with enough gear for this alternative ramble, we retreated – again.

The girls got the fire raging inside Trilobite Hut, while I shot star trails outside. At breakfast we were entertained by the resident weka family.

Our third excursion was up the old hydro road to Sylvester Hut, a new destination for some of the party. We had a leisurely perambulation around the outlet of Lake Sylvester, with a scheduled rendevous back at the hut, after much snow-plugging.

Trampers were: Lou Kolff & Chrissie Millington, Kelvin Drew, Marie Lenting and Ray Salisbury (scribe).

23 August 2014 Maitai & Brook Valleys, Nelson
Leader: Elisabeth Dooley

As I was short of time, four of us met at 8am in Hanby Park and walked along the Maitai on a clear, chilly morning, turning up toward Dun Mountain after about an hour. Post logging, it’s all rather messy and hard to locate some of the tracks.  As we came away from Tantragee, we decided to head for Jack’s Track and avoid walking along Brook Street.

We had a little difficulty finding the track, but eventually found ourselves heading along Jacks Track, where the views were magnificent on such a clear, sunny day. Tim was happily snapping away at the snowy mountaintops and the unusual sight of the Cook Strait ferry docked in Port Nelson.

The birdsong in this section of our walk was loud and lovely. We dropped down Atmore Terrace and back to the cars in Mill Street at 11:00 am.

Elizabeth Dooley (scribe) accompanied by Alice Robinson, Dan McGuire and Tim Tyler.

6–7 September 2014 – Wakamarina–Mt.Sunday–Mt.Riley circuit, Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Kate Krawczyk

It was a beautiful Saturday morning to be setting off from Nelson into the unexplored eastern reaches of the Richmond Ranges – unexplored for us anyway.

Nine of us drove out to the Wakamarina Valley and walked 7km into Devils Creek Hut and then walked another 45 minutes past the hut to the remains of two stone huts thought to have been built during the 1880s by gold miners. The history in this area is very rich and the efforts the miner’s went to are amazing! Devils Creek is a beautiful area to explore.

From here, Simon decided to walk on through to Onamalutu Reserve where we were camping that night so we gave him the PLB and wished him well while the rest of us walked back to the cars and continued onto Northbank Road and the campsite – with a quick but necessary chocolate stop at the Four Square in Havelock.

Onamalutu Reserve is a beautiful place to camp! I had no idea what to expect other than the brief description on the DOC website, so we were pleasantly surprised to find a lovely Kahikatea grove to camp under, nice and clean flushing toilets, and heaps of birdlife to enjoy. Simon’s timing was amazing with him arriving at the campground only fifteen minutes after we’d gotten there! The tuis and bellbirds gave us a tea-time serenade as the sun set and the moreporks sang us to sleep. I haven’t experienced many dawn choruses but I must say that it was a good one for me! And then, all of a sudden, at 6:15am, there was the call of the rare ‘Andrea Cockerton’ bird calling “Would someone put on the kettle?”

Just past 8am the rest of the party arrived. Barry James, Pat Holland, Lou Kolff and David Blunt had left Nelson in the early hours of Sunday morning, all keen to tackle the Mt.Sunday–Mt.Riley Circuit.

We drove to the road-end and started up, and up, and up, and up some more! It was a 1200m climb from the car park to the top of Mt. Sunday – pretty much straight up. The track has been rerouted, possibly because the access road has been moved so, instead of going up the main ridge from the car park, it now starts farther up the valley and climbs a steep spur to join up with the main ridge and the old track. This caused some confusion on the access roads. Chris and I used our GPS’s to lead us to the old road-end, but in the end it makes for a much simpler round trip. Now the track begins and ends at the car park. There are DOC signs en route to help folks find the way. But the topographic maps and GPS have not been updated yet so beware and just trust the road signs.

The track itself is well marked but is steep, slippery and quite technical in some places – not for the faint of heart. The climb leads to the beautiful narrow ridge tops of Mounts Sunday and Riley. While I hear the views are stunning, panning from Blenheim to the Marlborough Sounds... unfortunately we were engulfed in mist so there was no wind to blow it away and give us a view.

We re-grouped for lunch at Mt. Sunday Bivvy, a cute little two-bunker that would have an incredible outlook on a good day. Ian Morris ticked this one off of his hut-bagging list and happily signed the visitor book.

We carried on through to Mount Riley via the saddle which only drops about 100 metres between the two peaks. From there, it was much the same as the other side – steeply downhill for another three hours. At the end of the track, only 500m from the car park there’s a gorgeous little river gorge and waterfall. From there, it was on home for a welcome shower and fish ‘n’ chips.

Participants were Kate Krawczyk (scribe), Simon Garton, Sue Henley, Chris Louth, Rod and Carole Lewis, Ian Morris, Andrea Cockerton, John Whibley, David Blunt, Barry James, Lou Kolff & Pat Holland.

17 August 2014 – Red Hills–Beeby’s  Knob circuit – Mt Richmond FP
Leader: Sue Henley

Two days before our scheduled Red hills to Beeby’s walk I received a message on my answer phone  from a fellow club member confirming his participation and stating that he intended to ski part of the new track that we were about to explore.  Somewhat skeptical and slightly bemused, I decided to go with the flow and see what came of it.

It was a cold, grey morning when eleven of us set off on a pleasant walk through rolling beech forest before beginning the gentle incline up the 4X4 track that leads to Red Hills Hut. 

After a leisurely morning tea break insdie the hut, we took a wide track to the left. After a few minutes and a little back tracking, we found another rough track marked by flagging tape. It seemed to head in the direction of Beeby’s Knob. We all agreed that it would take some very skilled mountain bikers to nail this one.

We continued following a sporadically-marked track with plenty of  gradient to get the heart  pumping and patches of snow which quickly became somewhat larger and deeper.

We stopped in a clearing to for refreshments and entertainment as our fellow ski bunny actually managed to ski up and down  the little clearing in which we sat, although I use the term ‘ski’ loosely! After lots more huffing and puffing, photo shoots and track finding, (the track completely disappeared at one point), we finally reached the spot where our  track intersected with another  track to Beeby’s Knob. It was here that our ski bunny was in his element as he whizzed off down the 4X4 track leaving us all in his wake. The rest of us continued somewhat more sedately down to Top House.

Thank you to everyone who attended for a very enjoyable, interesting and entertaining day, and a big thank you to our navigators, Chris and Kate. 

Attendees were: Marcelle Luxon, Kelvin Drew, Dan McGuire, Phillip Palmer, Chris Louth, Kate Krawczyk, Andrea Cockerton, Barry James, Annette Le Cren, Mark Stevens and Sue Henley.

14 September 2014 – Snowcraft Day Robert Ridge Nelson Lakes
Organiser: Pat Holland

20 registered for the annual trip to Rainbow and almost all of us turned out on Sunday, rearing to go. Unfortunately the Rainbow ski field and road were closed, despite the favourable forecast. Rain the day before must have ruined the tow base. So, after a quick confirmation at DOC St Arnaud, we drove to Mt  Robert car park for the obvious alternate.

A mild morning and furious pace up Pinchgut Track resulted in some red faces at Relax Shelter. No snow about there so on and up to the former skiifield basin where there were only some tiny patches. So, on up the ridge to the basin under Julius, where there were some patches of snow below the ridge. However, it was all rather soft. Therefore, the snowcraft training was very modest but some squishy attempts at self-arrest were made to applause from on-lookers and crampons were tried.

It was very mild and enervating in the midday sun so everyone collapsed for lunch. Entertainment was provided by Andrea doing an icebucket challenge clad in bikini. After lunch, Mike demonstrated the technique of using a snow shovel to assess slope stability and avalanche risk (zero chance that day!)

Before returning from whence we came, about 2/3 of the party went out on the Christie Ridge for the fine view down into Lake Rotoiti.

An excellent day out as always but proper snowcraft training must await more favourable snow conditions. Leaders: Pat Holland, Brian Renwick & Mike Glover. Members: Andrea Cockerton, Annette LeCren, Barry James, Chris Louth, Debbie Hogan, Gina Andrews, Ian Morris, Kate Krawcyzk, Kelvin Drew, Ken Ridley, Sue Henley & Wade Glover. Visitors: Birgit Kling, Chris Tilley, Kathy Smith & Monique Hovers.

21 September 2014 – Wooded Peak – Nelson
Leader: Dan McGuire

Four stalwart persons met at 8:00 a.m. for an assault on Wooded Peak from the Maitai via an untracked ridge. There was a leisurely brunch stop midway up Wooded Peak on a limestone outcrop to enjoy the fabulous view.

Then we pushed onto the cold windy summit and down to the Dun Line. Ken Ridley took that route home to the Brook and the others went over Sunrise Ridge, with delays over many fallen beech trees. It was 5:30 before we arrived back at the car.

Participants: Dan McGuire (leader), Ken Ridley, Calvin, and Linda Phillips (guest).














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