Crampons Crunching (Part Two) – Mt Cassidy(1850m)

“On a Mish” #4 Crampons Crunching (Part Two). Mt Cassidy(1850m). Ka Tiritiri O Te Moana / Main Divide. Arthurs Pass National Park. 30.9.2014. Attaching twelve spikes to your feet usually means you’re starting to tackle rather challenging terrain. Slick and steep terrain is usually no match for these ‘teeth’ on your boots, and my teeth wanted to crunch down on some ice! I was trained to use my crampons at Temple Basin Ski Field, and now I was putting that training to use on the mountains that stand above all else in Arthurs Pass National Park…

Cons Track starts well-formed and easy to follow. Many staircases helped me gain altitude quickly without putting too much thought into it. I quietly navigated my way through the thinning beech forest on the lower reaches of the mountain.

A ‘Mountaineers Only’ sign is reached at the treeline and above the sign the slopes steepen dramatically. This is definitely a place where less experienced or ill-equipped adventures should turn back. The view from here is very impressive enough, and there is no need to bother the search and rescue teams back down in the village.

Looking West from the Summit

Just above the end of the easy stuff is the crux (most difficult part) of the whole mission. You go from a garden path to a steep rough gut full of frighteningly loose rock (even more interesting when down-climbing). Calves and quads are screaming as you dig your feet into the rocky ground and hope what you are grabbing is still attached to the mountain.

Above the gut I reached the snow of the Arthurs Pass Tops. It was time to get my ice axe and the spikes out, and I was excited about getting my crampons crunching on the South Ridge of Mt Cassidy.

With nothing but blue sky above, I couldn’t have asked for a better day to be in the mountains. The snow aretes on the ridge make for excellent alpine travel. However, do be aware of snow cornices which overhang the ridge with very steep drops into the eastern side of the Upper Valley of the Devil’s Punchbowl Creek.

With the crunch of my crampons and the thud of my ice axe I crept along the ridge, getting closer to my goal. My early start had paid off and I was now at the apex of my mish. I took the last couple of steps onto the summit of Mt Cassidy(1850m) and my smile couldn’t have been any bigger. On a day like this one I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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