Crackers & Cheeseman (Part Two) – Mt Cheeseman(2031m)

“On a Mish” #58 Crackers & Cheeseman (Part Two). Mt Cheeseman(2031m). Craigieburn Forest Park. 31.8.2016. The small New Zealand ski industry kept my winter months busy for six years. I would make the trip from the south to Christchurch and then five months later I would head back after cutting a few lines into freshly groomed slopes. Being someone who loves mountains and introducing people to them, the shop was a perfect way to earn some coin and still be involved in the mountain world. Due to the connection with the mountain, we would talk about Mt Cheeseman and would always recommend the place to people looking for a field to visit. You would think with a mountain in the name I would have climbed it straight away. However, four years would pass before I tasted the slopes of Cheeseman…

One of the parts I loved when working in the ski rental shop was witnessing people’s ski days from the start to finish line. The nervousness of first timers as they were fitted for gear, then the elation when they returned after a day they will hopefully never forget. For me my goal was to turn as many customers as possible into mountain lovers, not just for the benefit of the ski shop but also for them, as going on missions into the mountains is about as good as it gets!

I had had four years of getting pumped about climbing Mt Cheeseman(2031m), and now I was closing the door and beginning the trek across the Canterbury Plains towards the Craigieburn Range. Dark clouds still hung over the mountains in the west, so I had to just hope the forecast of clearing weather was correct.

I arrived at a place called Texas Flat and it is here where most fit chains to their tires on a snowy day. I fitted boots to my feet and instead of heading up the road to the ski area I went in the opposite direction on the Hogs Back Track.

Lots of people would find carrying a full camping pack as some form of torture, I enjoy the challenge of carrying my comforts to an epic location. I guess I’m a sucker for punishment.

I slowly wandered up the track to a high point where I began my off-track travel. Just over a kilometre from the track I found a semi flat spot at the base of the east ridge. I had a water source in the form of Tims Stream, and along with the crystal clear water I had an outstanding view of the Castle Hill Basin.

The time had come to pull out the most appropriate food item I could think of when climbing a mountain with food in the name. At sunset, with the light fading on the mountains of the Craigieburn Range, I enjoyed a tasty helping of crackers and cheese as I prepped my kit for the next day’s hilly adventure.

As the sun left the area so did any signs of warmth. As I prepared my dinner I could start to see my breath in the air and the need for warm food became much more important. After powering down a good feed I was almost ready to retreat to the warmth of my sleeping bag.

Before I could go to sleep I needed to study my maps as I knew I would be starting in the dark early-ish the next morning. With my route planned I could now drift off to sleep and, in a location like this, I knew I would be having dreams of climbing mountains… Cool and crisp with an ever brightening orange glow to the east was a rather epic way to start my day. The colours on the horizon were what I dream of and the perfect way of building the motivation needed to climb 700m vertical metres…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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