Crawling in the Wind (Part Two) – Erewhon Peak(2068m)

“A Mish a Day” #31 Erewhon Peak(2068m) – Part Two. Hakatere Conservation Area. 5.5.2014. It is amazing what you will put up with to get to a summit. Summit fever is a condition that you sometimes don’t realise you have until it is too late. On some occasions I have only been a matter of 100 or so vertical meters from a summit and been forced to turn back. Sometimes it is because the route reaches a point where going up is impossible. But most of the time it is due to New Zealand’s wild mountain weather, something you do not want to mess with…

On Erewhon Peak(2068m) the wild weather was beginning to rear its ugly head, but we still pushed on. To get to the base of the south ridge we followed the bulldozed track into the deep snow in the upper basin. The powder snow was starting to get whipped up by the building nor’west wind and would sting any exposed skin as if it was being sandblasted. Many times I would look back to my girlfriend and say it must only be about ten minutes or so to the top. This turned out to be one of the longest ten minutes in history. A short, steep, and sometimes exposed scramble on the loose red rock of the south ridge eventually led to the summit, and into the full force of the wind. I was on top first, then after a couple of minutes I was joined by my partner. The power of it took our breath away, and cut through the many layers of clothing we were wearing. The sustained wind at that altitude was like a big gust that never dies down. It was both exciting and scary and with the wind burning the tiny amount of skin I had exposed I knew this wasn’t a place to linger. After one last look at the mountains and Mother Nature’s angry side, we began the climb down. The descent was via the west ridge to a saddle between Erewhon Peak(2068m) and the larger Peak(2140m). So to get to the saddle we were forced to crawl in places against the very strong wind, and I knew it was only a matter of time before the storm unleashed its watery rage.

Looking back down the valley from the summit

Once down off the saddle we followed the bulldozed track again, now with gravity on our side. Not long after leaving the summit the heavens finally opened up with at first heavy rain, which then quickly turned to snow. A quick glance behind me reinforced my need to get out of the area, and also revealed how well we had timed our climb as all the big peaks in the hanging valley were now in the clouds of the storm. We were very happy to be partaking in this trip wearing the latest goretex and merino clothing, as the wind chill was extreme. The last part of the adventure was easy walking back down to the valley floor, and apart from the scramble over the big slip, the walk out was easy. Soaking wet and satisfied, we got back to our car and were very happy to be out of the wind and rain. Another incredible adventure in Hakatere Conservation Area done and dusted, and another awesome summit to add to the ever growing list. There is nothing like pitting yourself against the fury of mother nature, and feeling the power of a storm in the mountains. But it is extremely important that you have an escape route. And luckily for us we had a warm crib only 15 minutes drive away!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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