08 February 2006

On the road: an update

Arthurs Pass National Park, in New Zealand’s South Island. Southern beech (Nothofagus) forests; wide riverbeds; steep, rough, mountain streams; gorges; shattered rock and vertical bluffs; snowgrass basins and subalpine scrub; waterfalls. The home of kea, the superintelligent mountain parrot; miromiro (tomtits); and many other birds, including our smallest, the thumb-sized rifleman. The dominant peak near the village is Mt Rolleston (2271 m)—not the highest in the park, but the most common mountaineering objective.

Jonathan and I climbed it on Friday, via the easiest route, the Otira Slide, but saw little except the inside of grey, swirling cloud; loose, blocky rock; and the long, steep slope of old snow that gives the Slide its name. On Monday, now knowing the descent route from the High Peak, we climbed Rolleston again, this time up one of the harder routes, the Central Direct buttress on the Otira Face. Perfect weather for climbing: high, lumpy cloud affording some shade from the summer sun; just enough breeze to keep the temperature comfortable.

From the summit we looked down to the Crow Glacier. Clean, white snow gashed with deep crevasses; big bergschrunds separating rock from striated ice; further away, the icefall, a mass of seracs teetering on the lip of the glacier. Clouds drifted slowly above, their shadows echoes on the neve. Down in the Crow Valley, just beyond the point where the beech forest began, the tiny, dull orange rectangle of Crow hut was one of the few visible signs of other humans.

This is the real world; this is where and how you live.

We’re in Christchurch now, about to head further South. I’ll post photos and more details when I return to Pohangina; maybe another quick update or two before then. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already done so, have a browse around the blog, and for older posts, including other mountaineering and a few snippets from overseas in 2004 (Mongolia, China, Japan, etc.), try this blog’s predecessor at www.xanga.com/pohanginapete.

Stay safe and happy, and look after one another.


Rexroth's Daughter said...

Sounds like you are walking and hiking on some spectacularly beautiful parts of this earth. Really looking forward to your exceptional photographs of this journey.

The real world, breathe deeply while you are there and remind the rest of us of it upon your return.

Anonymous said...

really enjoy your succinct writing, which can be the hardest way of composing, but the most efficient as well (at least for me). it's a challenge to go to the essential, and once again you make feel so much.

you can definitely take more risks in the future, you're good at it. Don't be afraid of setbacks (?), we won't hold them against you.


Duncan said...

Just be careful, mate!

Ariel Gordon said...

It's strange, given how short a time I've been aware of you/your site, but I've been missing your posts/photos...and, selfishly, your posts of my posts/photos.


wordgirl said...

Yo, Pete, the Fuelfools would like to catch up with you down south for the 'traditional' bloggers beer at Pomeroy's (well, we've done it once...all traditions gotta start somewhere :) Does your infogen email address still work? Or do you have a cellphone with you?

Hope we're not too late to catch you....