Frozen Feet (Part Two) – Cameron Range (Peak 1936m)

“On a Mish” #66 Frozen Feet (Part Two). Cameron Range(1936m). Hakatere Conservation Area. 2.5.2014. A description of a winter camping trip can easily turn someone away from the outdoors forever. Depending on your take on things, my adventure in the Cameron Valley could be a dream or potentially your worst nightmare…

For some reason I absolutely love a totally frozen environment. When winter provides the goods, you just need to be ready to put up with the chill. Now I’m not talking about mid August drizzle in Christchurch. I’m talking about inches of frozen water piled on top of all exposed surfaces. When winter works its magic the silence is a sound like no other. Many people don’t like winter and crave the heat of summer. Personally, I have always enjoyed seeing my breath in the air and snow covering the mountains. I welcome the cold with a puffer jacket and arms wide, however every now and then winter reminds me that in the wilderness nature is in charge.

Before I could begin my climb of Peak 1936m I had to hold my totally frozen boots over my campfire. In hindsight I could have used the old pouring boiling water technique, however my poor old feet have been frozen and thawed so many times that I would rather take the semi-dry-sock approach, which is very slow!

Another pleasant evening in the Cameron Valley

Back in the Cameron I was crouched over my small fire holding my frozen boots. I had to do this for over 45 minutes before I could force my feet into the clumps of ice posing as boots. It is good I really enjoy the simple art of looking at mountains while listening to a good tune. So after I had finally thawed my footwear I could begin moving and begin my adventure.

My campsite alongside the river was at 1004m, this meant I had a lot of altitude to gain to reach the unnamed summit I was aiming for. The climbing wasn’t very hard, it was just a lot of slow uphill movement. After a couple of hours plodding along in my crampons, I had slowly zigzagged my way up the east face of the mountain. The views increased with each step and this was good motivation to keep me climbing upwards and at points the idea of another big peak coming into view quickened my pace along with the fact that my toes weren’t feeling too good.

The easy stuff stopped after I gained the upper ridge. When covered in snow you sometimes forget how crappy the Canterbury rock can be. Under the snow was the opposite of bulletproof Darran Mountain granite and in places the thin layer of snow was hiding some awful terrain. My mind needed to be switched from the production line of left foot right foot repeat to full concentration as I inched forward on ground that wanted to be down in the valley far, far below. My toes were very cold but at least my boots weren’t frozen anymore…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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