The Middle of the Field (Part One) – Central Peak(1912m)

“On a Mish” #37 The Middle of the Field (Part One). Central Peak(1912m). Hakatere Conservation Area. 18.6.2016. I have been very fortunate to have been able to spend so much time in the Hakatere area. Many memories of marching up and down the magnificent mountains fill my mind, and it is those memories that have got me through the drudgery of an injury. My winters used to be spent first researching, then executing excellent alpine outings and one particular place pulled me back time and time again. On this mish I once again headed west with the aim of climbing around the old Erewhon Ski Field, and my goal was a peak right in the middle of the field…

The once busy ski field now usually sits empty and, along with the bulldozed roads, the remains of the old rope tows (budget ski lift) lying in tatters are the only signs the ski area once existed. It is a shame the field failed because the area is not only good for skiing but also very pleasing to the eyes.

Apart from the odd party visiting the area via helicopters, most hike into the area using the old ski field bulldozed road for easy access. The uphill wander along the road isn’t very difficult and the gain in elevation is usually quite surprising as most just put their heads down and go for it. The road makes it feel like you are cheating, as normally the rock hopping and scree surfing makes alpine travel much more challenging.

The need for a mish was building during the early stages of the 2016 winter and this was the perfect quick trip into and out of the mountains of Hakatere / Erewhon. I was lucky to be able to start with a night in the cosy comforts of the crib at Lake Clearwater.

Winter had definitely arrived in the small mountain village with patches of frost standing firm for the entire day. It is safe to say that there wasn’t any frost inside the crib with the fire roaring.

An early-ish start the next day had me driving down the Hakatere / Mt Potts Road in the chill of the day’s dawn. I arrived at the Mt Potts / Erewhon Park 4wd access track at first light and things couldn’t have been better. Apart from some wind it looked as though I would get the right weather for climbing. Right, let’s go get this done!

With a light pack and some gear for the snow I headed up the zigzagging track into the hanging valley above and was having a good time covering the easy part of my upward journey.

At one point I had to cross over a large pile of avalanche debris and, as I clambered over the chunks of snow, ice and rock I kept an eye on the snowpack above. Seeing the size of the slide made me a little bit nervous and my ears were on high alert as I inched my way towards my goal of the peak in the middle of the field.

I continued to follow the road until I was looking up at the spiky spire that would be the day’s real challenge. With nothing but mountains surrounding me I was right in the thick of it, and I was ready to climb the peak that stands in the middle of the old ski field…

Looking down at the Erewhon Hanging Valley

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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