Crawling in the Wind (Part One) – Erewhon Peak(2086m)

“A Mish a Day” #31 Erewhon Peak(2068m) – Part One. Hakatere Conservation Area. 5.5.2014. To look at a storm face to face is a truly humbling experience. The brute power of mother nature’s fury is impressive to say the least, and when facing one of her wild outbursts you need to be very careful that you don’t blow away like a loose piece of snow tussock. The Erewhon Park/Mt Potts Area is located near the famous ‘Lord of the Rings’ location of Mt Sunday and was once a small ski-field. This is an area I found by chance, and have returned to time and time again to test my skills on the big mountains in the area.

Nowadays, occasionally Mt Potts High Country Station flies people into the area for Heli-skiing during the winter for a unique skiing experience like no other. The former ski field has been abandoned, so there is an opportunity to have the entire place to yourself. Of course the easy way up into the area is with a helicopter, and from Mt Potts Station it is only a matter of minutes to get amongst the mountains. For the people who can’t afford to chopper into the area (me and my girlfriend), a walk up the bulldozed track was required. After a night’s stay at the crib in Lake Clearwater we got up early-ish to see a grim grey sky. The forecast had told us that rain was going to pay the area a visit later in the day, so we thought, if we move quickly we can beat the storm. It is only a 15 minute drive from the crib in Lake Clearwater Village to the start of the track up to Erewhon Park, and as we drove we could see lenticular clouds starting to push over the Main Divide.

It was eerily calm at the low altitude we started at, but we could see big black storm clouds looming on the horizon and knew speed would be key to the success of this mish. The gentle gradient of the road / track makes for an easy walk in, and at times the gradual climb on a zigzagging track is barely noticeable. The ski area resides in a large hanging valley with several large basins perfect for holding snow during the winter months. Once in the hanging valley the road is straight forward, and about halfway between the valley’s entrance and the upper basins is a large washout. The slip is a result of continuous avalanches, and has completely destroyed the road. Every time I visit the area the slip has changed, and most of the time crossing over the steep slope of loose rock is a risky affair. On this mission it wasn’t too bad, and after carefully negotiating the big slip on the road we continued on to the ski area in the upper reaches of the hanging valley. The goal for this mish was to climb one of the big peaks at the head of the valley. As the mountain is only marked as its height on maps we decided to give the mountain a name, Erewhon Peak(2068m)….

Wind Kicking Up the Dust in the Rangitata Valley

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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