Blown Away (Part Four) – Just below Wright Col to Muddy Creek

“On a Mish” #46 Blown Away (Part Four). Just below Wright Col to Muddy Creek. Mt Aspiring National Park. 29.1.2012. The wind is a funny old foe. It is something you can’t see, but you can hear it, sense it and also feel its effects when it really gets going. It is hard to capture the wind in pictures so when it becomes an issue during an outing it is hard to show what is going on with a photograph. I didn’t know it at the time but my climb of Pikirakatahi Mt Earnslaw was about to be thrown into chaos by a very powerful invisible inconvenience…

It was early-ish when I peered out at Kea Basin for the first time and saw pure excellence. Nothing is more motivating than seeing epicness first thing in the morning, so it wasn’t long before I was finishing my morning coffee and getting ready to climb a mountain.

When I set off I began by following a well beaten track beside the rock bivouac that took me up and out of the basin and onto the scree and rock below O’Leary Peak. The sights above the basin are truly breath taking and I was loving it. At this stage it had got a little bit windy, but I was in the zone and charging my way towards Wright Col.

The scree became rock slabs, and from here the place I needed to be was obvious, however the easy-to-follow track came to an end. I paused for a drink and looked across to the Birley Glacier to see a Chamois sunning itself on the snow. I carefully tucked my bottle away and then played a game where I saw how close I could get to the animal before it scattered. I got within about twenty metres before the goat was startled into life and zoomed away to safety.

I got onto the snow and ice of the glacier and by now I had the odd bit of tussock whizzing past my head. I dragged myself onto Wright Col to be met with the full force of the wind which nearly threw me all the way back down to Kea Basin. It was at this point I realized I didn’t give a second thought to checking what the wind was doing during my time out. The sun was out as forecasted but was also joined by a wind (which was most likely in the forecast as well) which was only going to get stronger the higher I climbed. Knowing today wasn’t going to be the day I would climb Pikirakatahi Mt Earnslaw, I reluctantly turned back. At least the view was blowing me away slightly more than the wind, at this stage.

It was on the way back down that I decided that since I hadn’t climbed the mountain, I was going to change my plans and hike all of the way. I had lots of time left and as it was summer plenty of daylight as well.

After getting back to the rock bivvy and packing up my gear I discovered that during my morning mish my jacket had been forced out of the spot I usually stash it in and was now somewhere way down in the Rees Valley. It was a real sign of how windy it was up on Wright Col, and although I was annoyed to have lost a jacket at least it wasn’t me being blown away!

My hike out made my day a long one but at least this gave me time to think about checking both the rain and wind in the weather forecast properly on my next mish. And also while wandering I had plenty of time to think about when I would be back to have another crack at climbing the mountain the stands tallest at the top of Lake Wakatipu

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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