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

“On a Mish” #4 Crampons Crunching (Part Three). Mt Cassidy(1850m). Ka Tiritiri O Te Moana / Main Divide. Arthurs Pass National Park. 30.9.2014. Summits give you a strange feeling. Any thoughts of success quickly subside after the realisation that you have only completed half the journey. No point celebrating the success of a summit if you have any issue on the way down. The mix of emotions takes some getting used to, but once you do it just becomes part of the adventure…

With the day being so good I had time to soak in the amazing view and catch my breath. As I surveyed the area, I could see down to the Otira Valley and towards the West Coast, with the Tasman Sea just visible on the western skyline. Mountain upon mountain stood proud in the winter sun and Mt Rolleston(2275m) was easily standing tallest, towering over all other peaks above Arthurs Pass Village.

Unfortunately, 80% of mountaineering accidents happen on the way down. As I took in the alpine environment, I thanked the weather gods for such an amazing day, and I also asked for safe passage back down to the village. After a few photos I began the journey back down the mountain to the tiny town.

On the trip down I made the mish quicker by glissading (sliding on my butt) down snow slopes into Bill’s Basin. I figured this technique would take some time off the hike back home. The morning sun had softened the snow perfectly for an exciting slide and it was a big change from the slow plodding of uphill travel. However, I ended up creating extra work as I slid well past the trail and had to climb back up to the ridge to get back on track.

The snow thinned and I got to where I didn’t need my crampons anymore. As I stashed them into my pack I wondered where they were going to be used next. However, before the next mish I had to finish this one, and coming up was the toughest part of the entire adventure.

I got back above the steep access gut, and it looked even uglier from above. After an intense downclimb which included dislodging a couple of chunks of earth and watching them plummet hundreds of meters, I was back on the easy ground at the ‘mountaineers only’ sign just above the treeline.

From the sign I retraced my footsteps down Cons Track, and I heard the familiar rumble of the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. It still looked as impressive as it did in the morning, and it temporarily slowed my progress as I had to get some pictures.

The climb of Mt Cassidy(1850m) really reinforced my love for the Arthurs Pass Area, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d be back in the little village again looking for another peak to climb! The views and the challenge of Mt Cassidy(1850m) were fantastic, and days out in the mountains don’t get much better.

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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