Can’t Cross That (Part Two) – Long Charlie Spur(2024m)

“On a Mish” #56 Can’t Cross That – Part Two. Long Charlie Spur(2024m). Whakaari / Richardson Mountains. Mt Aspiring National Park. 21.1.2014. Mountains plus rain equals rivers, and in Aotearoa / New Zealand’s wild backyard the rivers are in charge. Sadly drowning is a common occurrence in this country of stunning wilderness, and it is because of this that I am extremely careful when dealing with river crossings while on a mish. Getting swept away by an angry river can be disastrous, especially if you are on a solo mish…

The next day the Rees River was still running high so I decided to abandon my Mt Earnslaw attempt and climb a peak directly behind my camp. My plan was to head up to the first peak(2024m) on Long Charlie Spur, as it would be a straightforward wander uphill. The weather was the complete opposite from the day before and there is nothing like a clear sky sunrise to get you pumped for climbing a mountain. My slow and steady wander uphill took me up past a series of terraces each containing the perfect mixture of small alpine tarns surrounded with alpine flowers. Just below the final ridge to the summit I came across some impressive rock crevasses which seemed to be bottomless. I looked across the Rees Valley at the east peak of Pikirakatahi / Mt Earnslaw and briefly wondered “what if I was over there”, but then I very quickly realised my plan b was fulfilling my wilderness cravings so all is well! The final scramble up the west ridge was on classic loose scree and was a little bit tricky. After a mini battle with Otago Schist which involved a section of two steps forward, one step back (due to the loose scree), I finally made it to the summit. Across the valley Pikirakatahi / Mt Earnslaw(2830m) dominated all the mountains around it, and it was still another 800 metres or so above the top of Peak 2024m. I had 360 degree views from the summit and Tititea / Mt Aspiring was living up to both its Maori name (Glisinning one), and also its European name as well. It was hard to drag myself away from the top but what goes up must of course go down, so I slowly made my way back down via the northern slopes into Twenty Five Mile Creek for variety. I was tired by the time I got back to my little orange tent so the afternoon / evening was spent chilling at my camp looking up at the Forbes Range.

High Above the Rees Valley on Long Charlie Spur

I needed to be back in Aoraki/Mt Cook Village the next day so an early-ish start was needed, and I was up at first light and on my way down the valley back to the Muddy Creek car park. I’m guessing that because everything on this mish had gone so well without any drama, the mission had to have one last twist of turmoil. With only twenty metres of mission left I crossed Muddy Creek, which was still flowing above normal and needed extra care when crossing. Just before I got to the otherside my sunglasses fell off my hat into the bubbling brown water, and I watched them float away then disappear. I got to the other side and dropped off my pack at the car and after a couple minutes of umm-ing and ahh-ing I decided to have a quick look to see if there was any sign of my sunnies. To my surprise I found them about 15 metres down the creek snagged on a branch stuck behind a rock! I’m guessing this was my reward for putting up with the rain on day one! So once again I had set out to climb Pikirakatahi / Mt Earnslaw, and once again I had been stopped by Mother Nature. But I’d much rather think of a plan b than finish my outdoor life in the bubbling mass of a swollen river!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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