Mark Greig Main Range SK

MY SK ADVENTURE


The much talked about tough run/thing to do in these parts. I knew it would be hard from other exploratory trips in with the experienced likes of Mike Brown, Paul Helm and Iain Atkinson.  My first deep trip in the Tararuas was lead by Christopher Martin doing the Dundas Loop. I found that interesting, taking 13 hours, but it gave me a taste for more.

My kit . Snickers bars are secret weapon

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The trip does not start with your first step, but with the planning and gathering of equipment, also the mental preparation. I had been thinking about this for a while and had planned to do it with Barrett Hocking the week before. Unfortunately the weather was not quite right and I was tired and not mentality in the game so it didn’t happen.

My plan was to do the trip as fast as I could and not intending to stop at the huts unless needed through exhaustion or for safety. I expected it would take me between 25-32 hours but didn’t really know.

Thursday at 1130 Marianne dropped me at the central train station so Mike could drive me to the start. We planned a start for 0200 Friday, we made good time on the road.

Drop off

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0142 Start:- Putara road end.
Nice warm up to begin with and good company chatting with Mike on the way to Herepai Hut.
There are still a few possums about.

Mike Brown and I

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Herepai Hut. Quick toilet stop, refill water bottles, bye Mike and up I go.

On the way in, Mike had lost his jacket. When he crawled under a log it scrapped his jacket off his pack without him noticing it. He found it on his way out.

15 minutes after leaving Herepai I got into cloud and a bit of wind but not too bad as it kept me cool with the sharp climb to West Peak. A couple of times I had to pull out Viewranger to check I was heading along the correct ridge.

By now the cloud had closed in and light rain was falling, still not enough to be an issue and expected.

East Peak to West Peak was to me the start of the fun. Good thing I checked Viewranger heading off East Peak as I was heading a bit far south. A slight correction put me toward East Peak. Down into a bit of leatherwood and back up to West Peak. On the way up it was time to don the rain jacket, balaclava, and gloves. Under the jacket I was still in a singlet as I had much climbing still to do.
This is where I noticed I lost my 500ml water bottle. Which normally would concern me but given it was raining with a cold wind and I had another 3+ litres of water I felt fine.
I’ve left some water up there somewhere for the next silly person.
Once on West Peak I was into it.

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Onto Dundas Hut Junction. Where is that sign! I Did not hang around to take this photo. Cold wind.

I continued along the ridge having to pull out Viewranger a few times to check I was tracking the correct ridge. Even though it was light by now I could only see about 20 meters because of the cloud and few times I found myself tracking the wrong ridge. Most of the time it’s not bad as you can see a type of trail/track.

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The wind and rain was consistent, not hard but you’d prefer it was not there, however it did cool me down, no chance of overheating. As you swap sides of the ridge line you go in and out of the wind. At one of these parts, out of the wind I decided it was getting cold enough to put on a heaver layer underneath the jacket as I was getting colder.

No views at all.

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Oh, and yes I did do a weather report on several sites before leaving including the mountain forecast so i was expecting this very weather to begin with and I had the gear.

About 0915 I arrived at Mt Arete. I was pleased because it was mostly down from here for a bit and I was able to get out of the cloud some wind and rain. Which enabled me to enjoy the views. Sent a quick message to my comms to let them know where I was but it didn’t get through.

Here coming down toward Dracophyllum Hut with the sun just starting to show.

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Dracophyllum hut is the next port of call. A welcome relief coming down off the ridges and into the bush. A quick refill of water and continued on. It is all new track to me now. The odd patch of sunlight and I warmed up so I was able to shed some clothing. I would have like to see Carkeek Ridge to my left but it was in cloud mostly

This is about as good as it got, looking back from where I came.

25552392_1274293316049383_4634264569196518151_nNichols hut took forever to get to. I assumed it was not that far away. The track drops down a long way and at times I thought it might be going down to the valley floor. So out comes Viewranger again to check on position. Heading back up toward Nichols I’m back into the cloud. I get to the Nichols junction and head to the hut for water and say hi to the only two people I saw today. They are happy staying put as the weather is still not the best on the tops.

Nichols Hut

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Where are you Mt Crawford? Every top I come to you aren’t there, and I want to pass Junction Knob and and heading down to Anderson Memorial Hut. Back on the top more clothes go on.

At this point I was trying to get comms out so Mike and Marianne would know where I was. They didn’t receive it.

Anderson Memorial hut was a welcome sight and a good run down to it, very enjoyable. Again refuelled water and carried on.

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Aokaparangi.  What’s with you?! There are some decent up and downs getting to you. I had to fight to get to you, and you let me.

Once I arrived a Aokaparangi I was back on part of the track I had done with Jan and Mike last year so I knew what to expect heading to Mungahuka Hut.

(Note to self: even if you know what to expect it doesn’t make the pain any less).

Mungahuka hut. You can see the Hut well before you get to it, except for today because I was back in the clouds and damp wind again. Knowing the hut is not far, I pushed on.

It was light but I could only see about 20-50 meters ahead with the cloud just enough to the next markers. Because of cloud Viewranger got a hammering today and the batteries were at 50% coming into Mungahuka. This was enough if I managed it because I wanted comms and if it was needed on the way to Bridge Peak.

My weather prediction was that the wind would drop as the day got on so by now I had hoped for around 15kph Easterlies but as I approached Mungahuka it felt like the wind was increasing to around 40-50kph and cold South Easterlies so it was welcome to get to the cold cold Mungahuka Hut. It’s like a chilly bin in there.

Here I stopped for about 10-15 minutes refueling, changing to warmer clothes, eating, sorting batteries for torch, looked at paper maps….. in prep for Bridge Peak.

I knew you could get comms just above the hut so I sent out a message that I was leaving Mungahuka for Kime at 1930hrs.  

I received several messages back one from Mike saying “you F%&king got this” and one from Paul Helm saying “have a rest at the Huts”, I laughed and turned my phone off 🙂

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The wind had picked up and vis was not good, cloudy with around 20-30 meters. I was tired but the body felt good and i was tracking ok so I started for the ladder.

But with lack of visibility, night around the corner, & cold strong wind, if I slipped and  hurt myself here I could be in trouble. A bit risky, so I decided to turn back for Mungahuka Hut and wait for the wind to die and cloud to lift,which I expected it to do.

I let comms know what I was doing and arrived back at Mungahuka about 2000hrs.

Where is Martas blanket ? (also used by Allen/Atkinson )

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So yes I had a sleep, which I didn’t want but what do you do in the coldest hut in the world while you wait for the weather. I woke at 0130 looked out the window, clear sky and the wind had died so off I went to the ladder.

There is nothing better than putting cold wet socks and shirts on early in the morning!!!

Night ladder

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The Mighty Ladder. It wasn’t a let down but I wish I could see the terrain as I approached it.There seemed like some good drops but I will never know on this trip. Probably got to the ladder about 0230ish.

Its not straight up like I thought it would be, but on an angle of about 85-90 degrees so it’s easy to climb and the rungs are doubled up with good grip. The stars were out and I could see town lights as I approached Bridge Peak.


Bridge Peak. The day was beginning to dawn and I could see it was going to be a brilliant sun rise. Could I make it to Hector in time for the light show? I would have to keep moving. The drop down to Kime hut was reassuring as I was back on familiar turf.

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Kime Hut. A very quick refill of water bottles and bladder. I guessed there were people inside but don’t really know as I wanted to get to Hector.

Mt Hector the Beehives and Atkinson from Field Peak

S-K The promised land 
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Mt Hector. I do like this spot because you can see both sides of the range down to the East and West coasts, Wellington city and the Hutt Valley.

Having the Cross also makes it special.

I knew if the sun rose before I got to the top the light would not be as good so I was pleased when I arrive and received this amazing backdrop of light.

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The next sections of the trip were as expected, tough and sore, although it was good to have the sunlight. Over the Beehives and Atkinson up down up down just little pimples now around the Dresscircle and sidle Alpha.


Just before Alpha Hut was my first tramper “hi mate” as we passed refilled at Alpha hut, closed the open window then onto Hells Gate and up to start the never ending Marchant Ridge.

I over-estimated my time out, asking Marianne to meet me at 11 so I tried to hurry knowing she would be there. I arrived into Kaitoke  at 1251 Saturday.

So hot and warm at the carpark, so different from up on the tops.

Times

Start at 0142 Friday

Finish 1251 Saturday

Time at Mungahuka Hut arrived 2000 Friday left at 0145 Saturday.

Moving time 29.36hrs approx

Overall time 35.09hrs approx

 

Acknowledgements go to

  • Mike Brown for driving me to the start and keeping me company to Herepai at a time you should be sleeping. And all the fun trips we’ve had,looking forward to more.
  • Marianne Elliott for support and encouraging me to do this and waiting for me for two hours at Kaitoke.
  • Paul Helm and Iain Atkinson for taking me into the Tararuas on some of their long trips and advice.
  • Christopher Martin for being the encourager and motivator.

 

Would I do this again??

Does a fish swim!

just a little sleep.

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