Tough Trails of the Past (Part Three) – Mt Larkins(2300m)

“On a Mish” #6 Tough Trails of the Past (Part Three). Mt Larkins(2300m). Whakaari Conservation Area. Richardson Mountains. 22.3.2014. Human beings need challenges to remind them that their bodies are made for moving. Whether it be completing a hike or climbing a mountain, setting goals and achieving them ALWAYS gives you a physical and mental boost. A fast ticket to mental turmoil is to go without exercise for a while. Back in the day most didn’t have the option of sitting around looking at Tik-Tok…

A road became a track. A track led to a ridge. A ridge deviation put me on a rocky mountain face. I should have stuck to the ridge!

Not far from the top of the gully the rock became more solid. Thinking the drama was over I reached out and grabbed a mossy rock which looked as if it had stood in this location for many years. What I didn’t realise is that the rock was just teetering in place and, as soon as I put weight on it, it rolled over. All I could do was hug the mountain and hope. Luckily the rock’s trajectory meant it just brushed over my pack before being airborne momentarily. After the rocks’ brief flight it smashed into the rubble at the bottom of the gully. I wouldn’t recommend this route to anyone!

I didn’t trust anything I grabbed from there on, and every hold was triple checked.

Finally, after a rather dramatic morning, I was on the summit ridge and from here it was an easy scramble to the top.

At the time Mt Larkin(2300m) was the tallest mountain I had ever climbed. The benefits of being so high up were incredible and fuel for future alpine outings. It seemed as though I had the mountain (perhaps the whole range) to myself.

Pure mish bliss.

From the summit I could see the distant icy pyramid tower of mighty Aoraki / Mt Cook(3724m), then closer the distinctive pyramid of Tititea / Mt Aspiring(3033m). Easily the most impressive looking mountain of all was the giant ice clad massif of Pikirakitahi / Mt Earnslaw(2830m). For years I would take the journey around the top of the lake to guide people on the Greenstone trail and each time I stared in awe at this great mountain’s presence.

Reluctantly I had to leave the serenity of the summit and, due to the lack of nerves remaining after my adventurous morning, I descended Mt Larkin(2300m) by the much safer ridge route. This got me safely back down to Kelly’s Hut with ease and gave me more opportunities to look around. The morning’s foray didn’t give me much time to take in the scenery, and the views this high up in this part of Aotearoa are world class.

The day had been a challenging one and I was still a good walk away from the safety of Heather Jock Hut. My food and a place to rest was a couple of hours away, and to get there I would follow the tough trails of the past, just like the miners would have done many, many years before…

Looking west from the summit of Mt Larkins

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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