I could immediately tell it was foggy. As thick a stew as it’s been up here.
But also more rain showers and hail.
I gave myself 9 am as a cut-off time, but it seemed sensible to eat my full breakfast, heated muesli, and a few cups of coffee, while packing up.
Putting on my wet socks and boots.
Not the best of days, but the mornings had tended to improve while I been around in the mountains.
Eventually, just before 11 am, despite the bleak conditions, I made a dash. I thought, well, if it’s too bad I can always just come back.
I could sense it was much colder, and the wind was still blowing, so I left my two long-sleeved woollen tops on, and my windproof soft cell jacket, before applying my pathetic raincoat over the top. Leather gloves. Woollen beanie. Full height gaiters. The only thing missing from my attire was my overtrou that I had left in the car. For some reason I didn’t think I would need them in a New Zealand summer.
Tough day in the office.
A mighty rollercoaster along a razorback ridge, with plenty of ups and downs.
The weather had everything from fog, drizzle, sleet, hail, around lunchtime some huge snowflakes, and, towards nightfall, some patches of blue sky and a magnificent fiery sunset.
Two major pieces of luck.
All those clothes. Man, it was cold once I got wet, ie, immediately. Overtrou probably would have helped although they may have been ripped to shreds.
Secondly, my leather gloves. A lot of the time I was yanking on the flax, cutty grass, woody vegetation, thin air, hauling myself and near food-less pack up and down significant slopes.
There is no actual track. You just follow the top of the ridge, and when you get to a bluff, backtrack until you can make out a stray Dracophyllum branch having been cut, meaning that is the spot to plunge through the vegetation, on an at-times 70° slope.
Yeah, not even an odd bit of pink tape.
Well, to be honest, much of the way through the scrub has been quite lightly pruned by some hardy Permolat soul, for which I am truly grateful. Prior to that recent exercise, finding a route down the cliffs would not have been obvious, particularly in the often fully foggy conditions.
The Permolat website describes the route as “rough”, and I would concur.
If you’re asking, no, I wouldn’t try it again, even in good weather.
Even when I reached the highest point, 1410 m, and it was all downhill from there, it wasn’t.
More razorback ups and downs, climbing around a massive slip to the south.
Clue: if you want to find the trail, it is always on the ridge and mountaintop.
No easy yards, except for 100 m near the hut, just before the last climb.
No one else in this popular four-bunk hut. Yahoo!!
I was dripping, and it was almost dark, on almost a year’s longest day.
It had taken around 10 hours, but I did waste time taking 50 splendid photos in inclement conditions.
Tomorrow, just a 1000 m drop down to Lake Kaniere, and an 18 km or so road walk back to my car.
Speaking of dropping, I dropped like a stone into my cold bunk.