01.13.19

Temple Col Canyon

I had been itching to get out to the mountains for weeks, so after a few failed attempts to recruit some other goats to join various missions I eventually cobbled together a group to go canyoning. I was quite keen on Twin Creek, but we settled on Temple Col in the end.

It was still fairly chilly when we arrived, but by the time we got up to the head of the canyon big yellow was out and it was fair toasty.  Wetsuits and harnesses were donned, then it was off down R1.  After the first three rappels, the bulk of the canyon is descended (vertically), but there is still plenty of shorter raps, the odd jump, and lots of pleasant boulder hopping before you get out.  In high flows some of the down climbs would be somewhat challenging, and some of the raps would be pretty full on so think carefully before you commit.  Sadly there is a lot of rubbish in the canyon from the ski field above - lots of wire, steel tube, crushed diesel tanks, and even a carriage from the goods lift.

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09.29.18

Blizzard Pot

Group trips to Nettlebed don't happen that often, so I was keen to get in on the action when a Blizzard Pot trip came up on the agenda recently. Plans were made and five of us headed up to Murchison to meet a sixth at the pub where some of us ordered dinners much too large for our stomachs. For future reference the battered blue cod is really four fillets of cod with a generous portion of fries and salad so make sure you are really hungry before ordering... after eventually finishing most of the food we went up the road and camped beside the Motueka River.

After some faffing the next morning, we headed up to the Pearse to drop a car then the six of us squeezed into M's car for the trip up to Flora saddle.  Because there was no loo at our campsite, the one at the Flora carpark got a hiding as everyone was attempting to avoid having to go in the cave.  Once everyone was sufficiently evacuated we wandered up to Arthur Hut, said hi to the Hut Weka, continued up the mountain, slid down the snow covered tussock back to the bushline, and started looking for the entrance. 

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04.2.18

D'Urville Island

This years Easter trip was to be a circumnavigation of Durville Island by kayak - something I was woefully under prepared for given my lack of kayaking experience.  Nevertheless on a sunny morning six of us congregated at French Pass, unfortunately to discover that we had misinterpreted the tides and the tidal flow was going at a fair rate in the wrong direction.  After a brief discussion we headed for a friends private property west of French Pass to launch there instead of waiting several hours for the tide to change.

D'Urville Map

D'Urville Map

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09.25.17

An adventure into Xanadu

The forecast looked like it was going to be acceptable, so our plan to do the Cairns Catacoombs - Kubla Khan - Xanadu round trip was a go. There was just one problem: we couldn't find the entrance to Cairns.

I had been taken there a few months earlier, but I obviously wasn't paying much attention because when we went to where it should have been nothing looked familiar at all. We poked our noses down a couple of holes, but they all seemed too tight or didn't go anywhere. After an hour we gave up and decided that no problem, we would just do it backwards instead!

So off into Xanadu we went, noting that it had obviously flooded quite recently as there was debris everywhere. After removing a few logs from the entrance we were in! After wasting time looking for Cairns we didn't spend any time mucking around in Xanadu and headed straight for the great wall and down to the bottom of Cairns. We spent a few hours exploring the bottom of the cave, had a chat with an eel swimming around in the sump and took a quick stroll down the great crack. After a brief lunch stop we decided to head for the surface. Unfortunately the cave had other plans for us. Having only done the trip in the reverse direction, I recognised nothing in the entrance maze of Cairns, and we rummaged around in the small crawlways and rock fall for over an hour trying to find a way out. At one point we even found daylight, but it was up a dodgy 5m climb and though a 5m slightly uphill squeeze. I got stuck half way into the squeeze, and even though I might have managed to get through with more perseverance there was no guarantee that rest of the team would have, or the bag.

At this point we were only two hours away from our due out time, so the decision was made to bail back out the way we came. We put our skates on, and made it back around to the Kubla Khan entrance in 45 minutes, plenty of time to get back to Punakaiki and call of the hounds! Now to go back and do it properly...

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09.15.17

Rome Ridge

Time for the annual trip to Mt Rolleston - what started as a group of two ended up being four, with several other parties on the mountain as well keeping us company.  Recent rain and low freezing levels made for near perfect conditions and we made reasonable time up to the gap where we bumped into a large group from the local mountaineering club.  They were in the process of fixing the gap so we snuck ahead going solo and zoomed up to low peak.  Seeing as we had plenty of time we did the side trip to high peak where we finally pierced the clouds and got a great view of the west coast.

Heading up to high peak

Heading up to high peak

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01.26.17

Mt Aspiring attempt 2

To climb aspiring walk in - walk out in three days via the quarterdeck with a marginal forecast in November was always going to be an ambitious plan, but we were optimistic enough to give it a go, so we did.

Fridays objective was to get to Colin Todd, a walk we figured would take about 12 hours.  We made good progress to French Ridge Hut in 6 hours and everyone was feeling good.  However the snow made for torturous travel above the hut, with ankle to knee deep snow the norm, with a few small patches of firm snow sprinkled about.

Heading up to the Quarterdeck

Heading up to the Quarterdeck

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10.30.16

Philstine-Rolleston Traverse

A trip that has been on my bucket list for some time, a good one day weather window opened up on a Saturday so two of us decided to give it a crack.  We left at 4.30am, as I was expecting this trip to take at least 13 hours, and lucky for us it had stopped raining an hour before so we had a nice dry walk up the Otira - that is until the sweat inducing slog up towards Warnocks Bluff.  This was unfortunately covered is soft snow, which persisted for most of the trip and made for relatively slow progress.  Warnocks Bluff was passed without any difficulty and we proceeded towards Mt Philistine, in which we sumitted 5 hours after starting - not bad time considering the conditions I thought.

The ridge immediately following the Mt Philistine summit was more technical than I was expecting, and we had to drop off the ridge a couple of times to bypass gendarmes surrounded by large overhanging cornices on one side.  Travel was otherwise mostly straight forward to Pt 2000, with one or two spots that were not difficult but required slow and careful movement.

Pt 2000

Pt 2000

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05.10.16

Bulmer and Bohemia

Somehow I have managed to not do any caving on Mt Owen in the few years since I started, but I finally got my chance recently on a trip with three others to Bulmer and Bohemia.  We only had three days, so we walked in early on Saturday to beat the rather miserable looking forecast, hoping that we would be underground by the time the rain reached us.  About 10 minutes up Bulmer Creek we had the first of many encounters with wasps, and we would often move quickly together through sections to attempt to avoid getting stung, which I luckily managed to do so - not so for the others.

The track heads up the ledge half way up the bluffs

The track heads up the ledge half way up the bluffs


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03.30.16

Temple Buttress

I was off work sick, so what better to do on a nice day than one of Arthurs Pass' classic alpine rock routes: Temple Buttress. After finding a willing companion, we set off before 5am, and were heading up the hill before it got light. On the way up I felt weak from days of coughing my guts up but still grateful I wasn't festering about at home. The weather was calm and not cold, and I set off up the first pitch on the Central route.

Climbing above the cloud

Climbing above the cloud

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02.20.16

South Westland

"yo are you interested on coming on a south westland trip?- fmc scholarship."

I had never explored much of South Westland save for the Gillespie Pass circuit, so it didn't take me long to agree to this venture in August 2015.  The scholarship was confirmed in November, so I hastily arranged some time off work and began to organise my food and gear for the 18 day trip starting in Makarora up the Wilkin River and taking a round-about route around Mt Aspiring finishing in the Matukituki River.  The final list of participants was only finalised a few weeks before leaving, two of whom I had either not met or barely knew, but in my experience people that are willing to go on 18 day trips in the mountains are generally fun humans to hang out with.

I had learned a few lessons from my last long trip, and I was keen to try out a few things on this one based on those lessons.  Instead of wearing shoes and carrying a heavy pair of mountaineering boots (which worked great for that trip), this time I bought a lightweight boot to wear all the time as we were not going to be spending much time in the show or doing any technical climbing.  I took crocs instead of jandals, as they are lighter and better to wear around camp.  I swapped the blow up mattress for a Thermarest ZLite sleeping mat, because of its robustness and the large amount of camping below the bush line, and its dual purpose as something to sit on.  I significantly reduced the amount of clothing, pots, first aid gear and anything else I deemed unlikely to be useful to save weight.  By the time I had finished optimising my gear I was able to comfortably fit 13 days of food, a 70m rope and a light rack, a bulky Exped Waterbloc 800 sleeping bag, cooker, fuel and all of my other kit into a 75L Macpac Ascent, which probably only weighed about 25kg.

On February 1 all 5 of us somehow piled into an aged Toyota Corolla Wagon and raced down to Wanaka, with a few brief stops to iron ourselves out a bit.  We had an interesting encounter with an enthusiasitc fruit seller in Fairlie where we bought bags of apricots and cherries (without having to leave the car!).  Before long we found ourselves in Wanaka to fuel up, before heading over to the coast to drop some food with Waitoto River Safaris who kindly agreed to drop it off up river for us in a weeks time.  We got back to Makarora just before dark and set up camp for the night, ready for a big first day ahead.
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