Mt Richmond blog | December 2014

Mt Richmond isn’t apparent from Nelson, you need some distance, like over near Abel Tasman, to see the distinctive, if not memorable, shape. After more than half a lifetime it’s now proved time to climb the peak.

I was 16 at my first attempt, it was Easter and I was in my last year at school. We were an adventurous lot, a tougher crew than I normally hung out with, but the weather turned bleak and the Mount Fell ridge is just not the place to be with inclement conditions, and poorer prospects ahead. I had dredged up memories of some chain attached to a mountain somewhere and shortly thereafter feeling distinctly uncomfortable with the route, not much to hang onto, then having problems finding the hut at the end of the strenuous day, it’s wasn’t quite where we imagined. Then we retreated back down to the Pelorus River, along in steep ridge directly to the door of Roebuck Hut.

I could have been zipping along the Queen Charlotte Track but the thing with Mt Richmond, from Nelson you can just walk out your back door, and with an eye on the weather, when a period of stable conditions was imminent, well, what’s the excuse.

Maybe it would all come together this time . . .

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Day 1 | Rocks Hut, Mt Richmond Forest Park

Just about the full 5 days tramping in view, Mt Fell, Richmond and ridges up and down, Mt Richmond Forest Park

There’s a tendency as you age to believe you can do more or less what you once did, or even more. That might be possible if you are more organised, or you think smarter, but physically, I guess you aren’t as resilient.

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Day 2 | Middy Hut, Mt Richmond Forest Park

Swingbridge over the Prelorus River at Middy Creek, Mt Richmond Forest Park

I’m in no particular hurry today, this will be the easiest day of this trip, just a quick drop down to Middy Hut and it ain’t such a long way.

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Day 3 | Mt Fell Hut, Mt Richmond Forest Park

Up around Mt Fell on a cloudy day, Mt Richmond Forest Park

The Chain is a comforting factor when the path sidles on rock above a major bluff, there’s no problem. The path is actually a couple of metres wide. Well, as long as you don’t concern yourself with looking down. I can see some old pitons drilled into the rock, but there’s now a relatively new chain, that extends much further than the original.

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Day 4 | Richmond Saddle Hut, Mt Richmond Forest Park

Grass Knob is around a bit with the start of my ridge off to the right, Mt Richmond Forest Park

The news, nothing much, politics and accidents. The weather, good today, not so good tomorrow, gale force winds predicted.

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Day 5 | Roebuck Hut, Mt Richmond Forest Park

Typical crunchiness underfoot on the trackless ridge down to the Pelorus, Mt Richmond Forest Park

And why not appreciate the surroundings, you know the hut isn’t so far away, the river is unbelievably clear, pristine, and at an extremely low level due to the general lack of rainfall in the last two months. The river junctions are just entirely gorgeous, the rivers of similar size, there’s a bluff separating them with sheer rock, broken up with some vegetation. There’s the sound of rushing water but the world here is not one to be described as grandeur.

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Day 6 | Back to Nelson

Pretty typical of the crown fern, red beech forest in the Pelorus Valley, Mt Richmond Forest Park

It might have taken decades to finally complete the circuit but somehow I get the feeling this won’t be the last time I do variation on this route.