Climbing a Hakatere Giant (Part Two) – Mt Taylor(2333m)

“A Mish a Day” #5 Mt Taylor(2333m) – Part Two. Hakatere Conservation Area. 10.10.2015. It is reassuring to know that some of the world’s best climbers have fine tuned their skills in Aotearoa. Along with Tenzing Norgay, Sir Edmund Hillary, the first to stand on top of the world’s tallest mountain, crafted his skills in the mountains of New Zealand and now one of the peaks on the list of his achievements stood directly in front of me…

The route to the top follows the west ridge, but to get onto the ridge I needed to find the access gully. The climbing guidebook said that the gully of loose scree looks a lot worse than it actually is, and as I approached the gut full of loose rock I really hoped the guidebook was correct. As written, the gut wasn’t as bad as it looked from far away, and with a few delicate moves over very loose ground I gained the ridge. Once on the ridge the rest of the route was very obvious, and a sight to excite anyone who loves climbing mountains. The west ridge is an excellent scramble, with only a couple of minor peaks to negotiate en route to the summit. Outstanding views matched the awesome climb up the mountain, and from my vantage point I could see all sorts of incredible views in every direction. To the south stood the jagged, giant spike of Mt D’Archiac(2875m), and further beyond amongst, the biggest peaks in the South Pacific stood tallest. Above the other snowy peaks of the South Island was the unmistakable tri-peak ridgeline of Aoraki/Mt Cook(3724m). I enjoyed an epic lunch with an epic view and so far the day had been nothing but epic! Unfortunately what goes up must return to civilization, so I reluctantly began the return voyage back down the mountain to my camp in the Swin Valley. To speed up the descent I surfed scree down into a small valley north of Mt Taylor(2333m), and then followed this back to the Swin River. Not too good for the boots, but definitely a fun way to lose altitude and get to lower ground. I got back to camp just in time to be joined by my old man Jeremy, who had hiked up from Lake Heron. Not one for heights, he was happy with a night out camping, and as we enjoyed a meal around the campfire I told him about the climb.

We were up early-ish the next day, and we were greeted by Cirrus clouds, informing us that rain was on the way. No problems putting wet socks on when you know you’re gonna start your hike with multiple river crossings, and in no time we had passed Double Hut en route to Lake Heron and the end of the adventure. As I got back on to the familiar plains of Castle Ridge Station I looked back at the peak I had looked at so many times when visiting the area, and for the first time I could say I’ve climbed that, just like Sir Ed did all those years ago.

Top of Mt Taylor(2333m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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