Trip Reports

Basic Snowcraft - 27 June 2004 Cancelled due to poor weather

Mt Cupola - 28-30 July (rescheduled from 26-27 June)
Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn

Six enthusiasts arrived at Lake Rotoiti just as Bill the boatman was easing his water taxi into the Lake. A quick flurry of activity and by 8.30am we were huddled in the cabin for the twenty minute journey to Coldwater Hut. Then it was packs on and four hours later we were lunching in the chilly atmosphere of John Tait Hut.

Once the track leaves the main valley, about fifteen minutes from John Tait, it climbs steadily for most of the two hours (at a leisurely pace) to Cupola Hut. Ice was encountered about halfway up and soon people were skidding in all directions. We eventually succumbed to the security of crampons and continued on in better style. The evening was occupied with demonstrations on how to keep the fire burning, (the wood having been gathered from amongst the snow drifts). Methods used were as diverse as ‘lungs for bellows’ or the old ‘hold the paper in front of the fire trick’, till it burns! I think Ian had pondered over this during the night, as not long after ascertaining that the climb wasn’t planned for that day (it had snowed all night!) he shot out the door saying he was going to collect a bag of coal from John Tait. Such dedication, or did he just want to escape the company?

Anyway, desperate times lead to desperate activities. The first task was to make a pack of cards, so while Carole chopped up the blank sections of the latest Press, I drew the symbols. Most were recognisable, though my Spades were referred to as Lollipops! That finished, we headed up the hill to plod steps for an early start the following morning (the forecast being for fine and frosty weather). We were knee deep in snow from the start, then after an hour or so we noticed a few fresh and still active avalanches crossing our proposed route. Not conducive to further travel, we found a protected spot and practised some rope work. We tried different anchors, the ice axe performing much better than our failed bollards. Then, with waist harness and prusik, we tried moving up and falling from a fixed rope and I’m pleased to report that it worked well! Satisfied with this, we returned to the hut where Shirley and I proceeded to beat Carole and Mike at Euchre. Mark was chief fire stoker and Ian arrived looking well ladened. As a reward for his services, Ian received the largest slice of the cheesecake that had been prepared for dessert, beautifully topped with whipped cream. By late afternoon it had started snowing again and was still doing so when I checked conditions at 5am. So much for the weather forecast! It continued to snow as we made a hasty retreat down the valley. Carole’s cell phone came in handy to rebook the boat for an earlier departure, though the male members of the group still had plenty of time to cleanse themselves by plunging into the lake. Hmm! They finally stopped shivering while supping coffees in St Arnaud. My thanks to the following for a fun trip: Shirley Arnst, Carole Crocker, Mike Drake, Ian Pavitt and Mark Stevens.

Torrent Bay - 4 July 2004
Organiser: David Nielsen

Twelve people left Millers Acre car park with one more to join us at Marahau. We all climbed aboard the boat at the Aqua Taxi base, donned life jackets, and stowed packs up the bow (that’s the pointy end of the boat). All set to go, but hold on, don’t boats need water? Oh, that’s why the tractor is in the front! After a short drive along the road, we were launched into the sea. The skipper took us around to Split Apple Rock for a look and a bit of info on the two different shags that live there. Then off down the Park to Watering Cove. We stopped here for a little spiel on Durville and his ship. Did you know that Adele Island is named after his wife? We continued the lovely boat trip down the Park to Torrent Bay and it was high tide. The skipper took us in around the corner to the jetty where we got off and had morning tea on the beach. We then walked around Torrent Bay lagoon where there was plenty of comments on how lovely the day was and weren’t we in such a beautiful part of the world. We headed up to Cleopatra’s Pool which took about 5 minutes from the turnoff point. Then on to Anchorage for lunch on the beach with the amazing views down the Park – we may never leave….. After lunch we headed to Appletree Bay and a good steady pace was set. From here, five of us decided to walk back around the rocks and the other eight took the track. A good day was had by all. My thanks to everyone who came: Karen Wardell, Rosemary Weir, Barry Pont, Norm Lovelock, Christine Hoy, Marianne Hermsen, Ross Price, Jim Maxwell, and Dan McGuire.

Waingaro Forks Hut - 3 & 4 July 2004
Organiser: Dion Pont

With a forecast of patchy showers for the day, six trampers left Richmond at 5.45am, driving to Upper Takaka, starting on the track at 7.30am. The old pack track up the Kill Devil ridge zig zags 800m up the ridge, a nice and gradual climb, with rain and fine periods all the way up. On the ridgeline the track was flattish sidling with some up and down, where we encountered cold winds, rain and snow, then took a side track to Riordens Hut arrriving at the hut just after 12 o’clock. Here we got the fire going to warm up and dry out, and admired the work done in restoring the hut. After about 2 hours we carried on back to the main track. On the main track we started dropping straight away down gradually to the Waingaro River. Now in nice bush and sunshine, with some good viewpoints on the way. We then passed through bushy river flats, now in rain, arriving at Waingaro Forks Hut at 4pm. Some of the group said the hut looked a bit different, having been fixed up a bit and with a new coat of paint on in the last year. After tea, 4 trampers arrived cold and wet at 7pm after a failed trip back to the Cobb. After warming up they spent a cold night in their tent, along with Andy in his tent. The five other members of the group stayed in the hut, with the trip leader sleeping on the floor.

The next day we woke to a cold, frosty morning. Andy left an hour earlier than the rest with one of the group of four following a bit later - Andy was going to take him up to the Cobb carpark to their vehicle. The rest of the group leaving at 9am, a few minutes from the hut we crossed a spectacular, narrow rocky gorge. In the bush of the river flats, evidence of old gold workings were seen. Over halfway up the track we were able to get a great view of Mt Snowden and surrounding peaks, covered in snow, with not a cloud to be seen. On the range we had a good coating of snow on the track. Had lunch in the snow on the highest point of the track, but not much of a view. Setting off again, another old hut was seen by some members of the group below the track, with the leader and Ian having a look. Soon we were descending and down the zig zag track of the ridge, and in less than 2 hours we were at the bottom at 4pm. Then two trips with the leader’s vehicle to Upper Takaka Hall to wait for Andy. Andy arrived at 5pm with a good story for the day. We then headed home.

The party: Organiser - Dion Pont, Andy Clark, Uta Purcell, Ruth Hesselyn, Carole Crocker, and Ian Pavitt.

Editor:Andy Clark wins the bouquet of the month for generosity. His “good story” is: The four “cold and wet trampers” were Otago University students who were unable to return to the Cobb (and their car) because of avalanche conditions and were considering calling in a helicopter. Andy was having none of this and volunteered to leave early with one of the students and drive him up the Cobb. Snow on the Cobb road meant a slow drive with chains. And of course the student’s car had a flat battery and their chains didn’t fit the tyres….so Andy once more to the rescue by adjusting the chains and out with his jumper leads. Then the slow drive back down the snow-covered Cobb road. Anxious that all this had taken some time, Andy apologised for his delay to the others who had a wee wait, warm and snug in their cars at the Takaka Hall.

Mt Arthur Traverse - 11 July 2004
Organiser: Grahame Harris

Summit Party: We left the Flora car park in fine, cool, sunny conditions for our Mt Arthur snow climb, expecting an easy walk up to the Mt Arthur Hut. But as we got nearer to the hut we started doing a Torvill and Dean routine on a very icy track. A snack break at the hut saw some of the group don crampons but once past the hut the snow was still quite soft and the trail well used, making the going easy. Soon our group was well spaced out, everyone setting their own pace in perfect weather conditions. About half an hour from the summit, harder snow conditions were encountered and the odd bit of step-cutting helped progress. The final steep face was soft knee-deep snow. As we came up over the steep face we were hit by a cold southerly wind, chilling us to the core. A sheltered spot in the lee of the summit gave some a tolerable spot to have lunch. Others opted to return to the lower altitudes for their lunch. Three of the group decided to return by the Horseshoe Gully and enjoy some trail blazing and snow slides on the return journey. We were all back by the hut by 3pm after a very enjoyable day on the mountain.

Summit members: Andy Clark, Uta Purcell, Christine Hoy, Tony Haddon, Mike Marren, Dion Pont, Ian Pavitt (scribe), and visitor Garry Russell.

Snow Craft Group : The previously cancelled snow craft group joined in with the Mt. Arthur tramp and diverted into a snowy basin to practice safe use of crampons and arresting a fall or slide on icy snow using an ice axe.

I enjoyed this stunning trip, as always, on the Mt Arthur track especially in winter. A bonus with the snow and ice adding to the scenery and some slippery challenges! The wonderful Dracophyllums looking ethereal draped in snow and many carrying seed pods which were shedding their load onto the snow. I felt very privileged to go with this group to such a great location and to have the added bonus of learning some new skills at the same time. I was surprised by the number of cars and families there for the day, most trekking up to the top to enjoy the snow.

We were lucky with a sunny and clear day for the trip and to have some snow on the tops to practice in. The snow craft was capably instructed by Grahame. There was a medium amount of snow and it was melting, however we did strike very slippery ice on the track causing a few slips and slides and some falls on the return. Where the track was steeper, Grahame showed us how to cut steps on the ice using our ice axes in the most energy-conserving way. We did make it to the Mt Arthur hut without donning the crampons but kept them on for a good part of the return trip. Beyond the hut Grahame found places to practice our snow skills. We all had great faith in our leader and trustingly launched ourselves onto an almost vertical slope traversing some distance using the crampons as instructed. He then had us return to the centre of this Tomo and proceed to scale the almost vertical wall by kicking our toes into the icy wall. We did all come out on top! Further on we descended into a large basin and practiced with our ice axes on the shady side of the mountain. Graham would have liked a more crisp ice crust on the snow slope to practice the arrest, but we did find that we could slide and still able to use our ice axes correctly to stop that slide. Altogether a good and safe lesson. We were joined by 4 cheeky keas at a rest stop on the way out – a bonus after a good day! Back at the hut we met up with the summit group and tramped and slid our way out together. Thank you, Grahame. Party: Grahame Harris (organiser), Gretchen Williams, Marianne Hermsen, Anita Robertson, Alison Nicoll (scribe), Margaret Page, Clive and Eric Richards (visitors).

Separation Point - 11 July 2004
Organiser: Mark Stevens

Four steely souls set sail for Separation Point in the Abel Tasman, for a walk in the park. And a walk in the park it turned out to be. The leader, with a group consensus, decided to drive over to Takaka and stay the Saturday night at Pohara motor camp to avoid the ice on the roads and to get an early start. As I picked up the souls in my car, a comment was passed that we could take someone else’s car. My 22 year old classic Mitsubishi Sigma station wagon did not seem to instill any faith that we would make it over the Takaka hill! The cabin at the motor camp was of a suitable standard and we all partook of the fare at one of the three cafés at Pohara and settled down to watch the rugby. Early to bed was thought to be a good idea as the trip had an unknown entity to it of Gibbs Hill. So alarms were set and earplugs were placed but, as it turned out, the alarm was not needed for Ruth woke with a start to the sound of an alarm that no one else heard. We set off at 7.30am on a beautiful winter morning from Wainui inlet up a four wheel drive track to the saddle, then down the hill to the DOC hut where we took a wee look around this old converted farm house. We headed down the track to the beach and up through the bush to a side track to Separation Point for morning tea, a few photos and yes we saw seals, then along golden deserted sandy beaches and through bush covered track to Totaranui. Then on up to Gibbs hill with views over Abel Tasman Park and back down the four wheel drive track to Wainui inlet at 2.30pm, just in time for lattes at another café at Pohara. We even had time for a visit to the grove which has nikau palms and interesting rock formations. And me old car made it all the way there and back, no problem. The steely souls on this trip were Ruth Hesselyn, David Blunt, Brian McLean, and Mark Stevens.

Tantragee/Maitai River/Centre of NZ - 18 July 2004
Organiser: Carl Horn

This tramp (it actually felt more like a walk, but for the sake of form, since we’re a tramping club, we’ll call it a tramp), well, this tramp did not have a good press during the days leading up to that Sunday. The weather forecasts were pessimistic. The weather itself was bleak. The heavy Saturday rain resulted in extensive flooding. On Saturday evening one unenthusiastic person who had earlier registered phoned and eagerly de-registered. The weather forecast at midnight on the Saturday night was for rain and blustery winds. Not good. I went to bed expecting to be doing household chores the next day. Dutifully I checked the weather forecast at 7am. Fine and dry it said. Huh? I looked outside. The sky was cloudy, but seemed to be clearing. So I gulped and decided it was a GO. As it turned out, I have once again been reassured that such decisions should be left to the very last minute. Since the start of the walk, uh, tramp was on Brook St, in the town, we bypassed the usual meet at the Cathedral steps and went directly there. Soon after 9:30am, under a clear sky, we headed up the road which leads through a municipal yard, where discarded and unsightly equipment is stored, to a track which winds up the side of a hill to the north of the new water treatment plant. The track was slightly muddy in places, but nothing to cause any concern. The air was still cool, with a hint of the morning frost, being in the shade, but as soon as we turned into the sun, the increase in heat was immediate and the layers started peeling. Soon we were on the Tantragee Saddle with a fine view of the water treatment plant below us to the west and the Maitai Valley and the hills beyond to the east. We stopped there for some refreshment and lazing in the sun. From the Saddle it was a pleasant amble down a road through open country past the settling ponds and the arboretum to the Maitai River. We followed the well-worn track on the left side of the Maitai downstream until we were opposite one of the swimming holes, where we stopped for lunch. It was an idyllic setting bright sun, a babbling brook, light reflecting through the trees, a view to forested mountains in the distance, and quiet interested conversation. After lunch we carried on down the Maitai until we faced the east side of Botanical Hill, the so-called Centre of NZ. Since we’d had such an easy time of it until then, some bright spark suggested we climb up and over the Hill. Most of us agreed, but four didn’t and carried on down along the river back to their cars. The rest of us headed uphill. That effort did make us feel we were tramping, not walking, especially when passed by an orienteering enthusiast. Eventually, after some confusion among a profusion of mountain-biking tracks, we found our way to the saddle just below the top. A democratic vote determined that we weren’t interested in actually ascending to the top itself (it had already been conquered a number of times), so we ambled on down the other side along the well-worn footpath to the park at the bottom. From there it was a walk back along city streets until at about 2pm we were again at our starting point on Brook St. We still had much of the afternoon left to enjoy. It wasn’t the most physically demanding tramp the Club has provided, but it was pleasantly enjoyable. I believe it fair to use that cliché to say that a good day was had by all. It proved how richly Nelson is endowed with walking and tramping opportunities within minutes of our town. We are indeed lucky. Trampers (Walkers): Carl Horn (scribe), David Blunt, Graeme Harris, Jack Frost, John Olykan, Ken Holmes, Ken Ridley, Robyn Walsh, Rosemary Weir, Shirley Gabrielson, Susan Ledingham, Trish Bennett,

Miners Circuit - 18 July 2004 Cancelled due to (hopelessly inaccurate) forecast

Angelus Hut & Mountain - 24 & 25 July 2004
Organiser: Roger Bruce

Well, here the all-male party were enjoying a short snack break in glorious sunshine at the Relax Shelter on Mt Robert Ridge. The weather gurus had predicted perfect conditions for the weekend and so far so good. There was not much snow initially on the Pinchgut Track but increased as we headed for lunch below Julius Summit. From here to Angelus Hut the snow was patchy with some icy sections but most of us reached the hut without crampons. The afternoon had some people exploring the peaks that surround the lake, practising their snow and ice techniques whilst others chose the warmth and comfort of the hut plus the company of other groups. An early start on Sunday saw some of us kitted up and away into the darkness (except those illuminated by Andy who had his triple quartz hallogen 6 million candle power searchlight, powered by a portable car battery). We encountered some soft snow on our way down to and across the frozen tarn but as we climbed higher the snow became harder and icy. The first light of dawn was upon us at about the halfway stage, colouring all the peaks in an indigo hue, with the stars slowly dissolving into the oncoming light. Clear skies and no wind, except for us panting hard as we climbed higher and higher. Thanks to Mike Drake for showing the mere mortals among us, the finer points of alpine techniques. The Angelus summit was reached after about 2 hours from leaving the hut. Photos, snacks, congratulations, and view admiration completed it was back to the hut for more refreshments before packing up and heading back along Robert Ridge in glorious sunshine to the carpark. What a great trip, one out of the box. Many thanks to Roger Bruce for suggesting and organising this trip. Those who enjoyed this trip with Roger were: Mike Drake, Andy Clark, Dion Pont, Mark Stevens, Ian Pavitt, Grahame Harris, and visitors Garry Russell and Alan Dalzell.

Conical Hill - 1 August 2004
Organiser: David Blunt

Following an earlier cancellation of this trip it was a case of second time lucky as nine hardy club members set out in a chilly minus 2 degrees on the track to the Lookout Range east of Mt Owen. After fording the Tadmor River and traversing some farm and cleared forestry land, it was into the native bush and then uphill on a marked DOC track. A stop for morning tea was made in a small sunlit clearing and with everyone nicely warmed up, the uphill climb continued to the top which was reached just before midday. With hard crusty snow on the ground and a clear blue sky, conditions were ideal for enjoying the all round vista with a view down the Dart River Valley to the Twins and Mt Arthur on one side and across to the heavily snow coated Nelson Lakes peaks on the other. Then it was back a short distance to the prominent granite rock outcrops for lunch and a Rosy Glow reward. Despite an earlier declaration by Alice that her current diet excluded such decadent delights, the words of Oscar Wilde "I can resist anything but temptation", turned out to be prophetic. After some classic poses for the camera by the big boy on the rock outcrops, the return trip was made back the same way to the cars which had been left about 6 hours earlier. A most enjoyable day was capped off by stopping at Valerie's Tapawera farmlet where afternoon tea was served on a lovely sunny verandah. Many thanks Val. Those present were: Kath Ballantine, Mary Honey, Christine Hoy, Valerie Neal, Margaret Page, Alice Patterson, Lindsay Twiname, & Ian Pavitt whose welcome presence ensured that the trip organiser was not the odd man out.

Penzance, Elaine Bay 1 August 2004
Organiser: Jim Maxwell

Sixteen turned out for this easy trip round the coast to Elaine Bay. We had lunch on the grass beside the jetty at Elaine Bay. John and Robyn turned back to return via the coast and the rest of us continued on over the hill back to Penzance. A relaxing day out. Participants: Marianne Hermsen, Grahame Harris, Robyn Walsh, Gillian and Hec Arbuthnott, Dan McGuire, Dave Nielsen, Barry Pont, John Olykan, Rosemary McCallum, Trish Bennett, Chris Rabey, Andy Clark and daughter Nicola and her friend Hannah.

Cotterell Peak - 7 & 8 August 2004
Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn

“I think we should go to DOC and check their weather forecast and maybe have a coffee” was the statement from our trip organiser as she peered into our steamed up car on State Highway 63, just before St Arnaud. Due to changeable weather, this was to be the first of many alterations to this weekend’s planned activities. Over coffee at the warm Alpine Lodge, it was agreed that Cotterell Peak was off the agenda and a valley walk up Lees Creek was on. So, back to the cars and we travelled to the farm manager’s house at Rainbow Valley for the gate key. Near the farm house we encountered the farmer who advised against driving the cars across the creeks as there had been a lot of rain overnight. So once again, our organiser was peering into our steamed up car suggesting that perhaps we would like to travel to Lake Chalice and climb Mt Patriarch tomorrow. It was agreed and the convoy headed to Renwick for more refreshments before setting forth to Lake Chalice. After the long drive into Lake Chalice car park, we finally got to shoulder our packs for the quick 30 minute downhill trot to the hut. After even more refreshments, we were encouraged to circumnavigate the lake “for a bit of exercise” (well after all we were on a Grade 4 trip). Back at the hut in no time at all, the fire was lit, dinners consumed, and the professional gamblers in our ranks soon had the cards on the table challenging all-comers. A very enjoyable and boisterous evening ensued. Sunday morning saw an improvement in the weather so we returned to the cars for the 7km trip to Mt Patriarch car park. From here we did not have a big climb and 1.5 hours later saw us at the top with a strong, cold southwesterly wind blowing. After a short stay it was back down to a sheltered lunch stop and then back to the cars, just beating a snow shower. Then the long drive home, which of course required another refreshment stop. Many thanks to Ruth for her determination to “do something” for the weekend and to the drivers Shirley and Mark for their time spent behind the wheel, often on difficult roads. Participants on this “moveable” weekend trip were: Carole Crocker, Shirley Arnst, Mark Stevens, Dion Pont, Mike Drake, Bob Janssen, Ian Pavitt (scribe), and organiser Ruth Hesselyn.

Map & Compass Tuition – Beebys Knob - 8 August 2004
Organiser: Jim Maxwell

Before setting off from Nelson we had a planning session to measure and record the bearings and distances for our route off track. The day was overcast and reasonably cold. From the carpark we climbed up the track to the first saddle where we left the track to start navigating. We stopped at each waypoint and discussed the logic of these points and how the compass is used to indicate position on a spur. The off track section is only 1.5 km long and drops 300 m. We were back at the road and heading back to the cars by 2pm. Participants:- Hec & Gillian Arbuthnott, Mary Honey, Jocelyn Winn and Berys Vincenci.

Travers Valley Swingbridge - 14 August 2004
Organiser: David Nielsen
– Cancelled due to weather

Mt Arthur & Flora Huts - 15 August 2004
Organiser: Ted Brooks
- Cancelled due to lack of support and unsuitable weather