Tag Archives: 7 Summits

EPIC’s of to a Playground in Godzone

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Plenty of rain in this area of NZ

Off to the Tararua Ranges just north of Wellington New Zealand.  How cool is that?  After 4 years living in Sydney and having the Blue Mountains as a playground I’ve managed to wrangle 3 days out of my work schedule and then also convince Hugh to join me.

The objective – Southern Crossing, the most commonly completed crossing of the Tararua Ranges from West to East.  This route is well summarised in “Footprints of the Tararuas” as-

“the most common of the range crossings.. this crossing like any other on the open tops, can however become difficult and dangerous in storm conditions.  Equipment must be first class and experience must be sufficient to deal with survival conditions”.

Now there’s a challenge and for the two of us, who would definitely be considered by our wives as “gear freaks”, there’s no reason not to accept it.

So, come the morning of Friday 8th March we will be making our way north from Wellington destined for Otaki Forks, from where we’ll commence the walk.

And from there…?  Well the more time I spend reviewing the route(s) in the area on the map the more convinced I become that we have two possible options.  For simplicity let’s call them –

Option A:  (Almost) Standard Southern Crossing, and,

Option B:  Southern Crossing via Tararua Peaks

I started looking for options when a friend’s facebook post identified that the Department of Conservation (DOC) are commencing demolition of Kime Hut, our intended first night’s accommodation, commencing on 4 March – now how’s that for timing?

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Ladder at the Tararua Peaks

Manning up and carrying a tent is the obvious solution but doing this means we miss out on the experience of staying in various huts in the DOC.  There’s 30 plus huts in the area.  These huts originated from the deer culling and possum trapping days and, while many of the originals have been replaced by new constructs, they are all a welcome sight at the end of a day’s walking.

Now back to the options.

Option A requires the tent and sticks to the stock standard Southern Crossing route.  For me that’s a return to the Mt Hector, Dress Circle and Mt Aston areas that I found so enjoyable on previous trips.  The down side is the walk down Marchant Ridge which I never found to be that exciting.  I heard it said that it’s up hill whether you are completing it  heading North or South!

Option B.  In 2008 I walked with friends around a circuit that included the section from Junction Knob to Bridge Peak.  The weather was crap but that just made the trip more enjoyable as we ploughed on through the wet alpine grasses and cloud hugging the hills.  Not much of a sales pitch but this route takes us along the main Tararua Range for approx.  15km and along the way we take in Tararua Peaks, the Ladder, Maunguhuka Hut before overnighting at Mid Waiohine Hut.

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Maungahuka Hut just breaking through the mist

How to choose?  Both present us with a great walk in the Tararua’s.  Maybe we need to toss a coin at Bridge Peak and make the decision as we go.

Or maybe the weather will make the decision for us – if it’s wet Option A it will be as it provides the best escape options and we can’t afford to miss our flight back to Sydney and work on Monday can we?

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Record Temperatures – let’s try Canyoning!

Forecast heatwave, with record temperatures across Australia. What else would you do but make a trip through Fortress Canyon in the Blue Mountains?

7 am and we are out the door, first stop a coffee and then on out into the Blue Mountains National Park. After 20 minutes we’ve made the turn off that will take us down into the valley and in a further 20 minutes we’ve reached the first signs of Fortress creek that will lead us out to the Grose Valley cliff line.

After a quick wardrobe change we are now kitted out in wetsuits and continuing on our way. The first hour is spent following the creek that is slowly growing in flow as side tributaries add to the water volume. There’s a nice 2 metre “jump in” that leads into the first swim for the day. From here on it’s a mix of wading and swimming along the stream between the narrow sandstone walls that reach skyward before we reach the days only abseil.

Anchor chains on the wall make for an easy set-up by Hugh while the rest of us are putting on harnesses and then it’s one by one over the edge, dropping approx. 6 metres before continuing the swim toward the exit.
Exiting the canyon to the view over the Grose valley is … – well you just got to either go there to behold, or check out our photos that we’ve posted. It’s incredible!

With such a fantastic view it’s hard to tear ourselves away and so with the temperature climbing we take an extra 45 minutes to rest and hydrate before commencing the 75 minute walk back to the cars.

With the temperature well over 30 degrees, the 150 vertical metre climb was never going to be enjoyable, so it’s “pole-pole” (slowly-slowly) to the top, all the time making sure that we are continuing to drink plenty of water. Approx. an hour and a quarter after leaving the canyon exit we are back at the cars. It’s been a hot, slow slog back and we’ve drunk approx. 15 litres of water between the 5 of us.

A successful summit team now safely back in Sydney

A successful team on the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro

We are all now safely back in Sydney after making a successful bid for the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.

On the 16th July at 6:25am our team reached the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The team, consisting of Hugh Ward, Bridie Campbell, Gavin Marshall, Colin Lynch and Kendra Magyar commenced the final climb to the summit (5,895 metres) from Barafu Hut at 4,600 metres elevation just after 12:00am assisted by three guides from African Walking Company. The final trek to the summit was completed in ideal weather conditions that provided excellent 360 degree views on arrival.

Over the preceding 6 days we had completed an access walk via the Shira Plateau route.

Following our descent from the mountain and return to Arusha we took a well earnbed break and left for 6 days of safari in the Serengeti National Park. An awesome experience and a great way to chill out after the climb. Once again we were successful managing to spot each of the “Biug Five” (Elephant, Leopard, Lion, Rhino and Buffalo).

Photo’s from the trip are available from our web site gallery.