Crampons Crunching on Cassidy (Part One) – Mt Cassidy(1850m)

“A Mish a Day” #4 Mt Cassidy(1850m) – Part One. Ka Tiritiri O Te Moana / Main Divide. Arthurs Pass National Park. 4.9.2014. If you have been given the gift of movement then you should go out and use your body to its maximum potential. Don’t waste what you have by spending your time inside on the couch. Testing yourself against a mountain is both good for your health and very rewarding. Setting a goal like getting up and down a mountain can do wonders for your self esteem, and the feeling of satisfaction is like no other. Once you climb a mountain you might find yourself addicted like me!

When seeking mountains in the South Island one needs only to look to the peaks of Arthurs Pass National Park for a challenge. I was very lucky around this time to be able to use a small batch (crib) in the village, and the use of this place led to many adventures in the small national park. I decided in the winter of 2014 to seek out some mountains to climb around Arthurs Pass Village, and I was very lucky to have the use of the cosy crib during that winter. Overnight I kept warm by the fireplace while listening to the sounds of trains carrying their massive loads through the sleepy little alpine town.

In the dark hours of the early-ish morning I dragged myself away from the warmth of the fireplace in the crib, and headed to the thundering sound of the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. The waterfall was a stunning way to start the day, and conveniently located at the start of the steep climb up Cons Track (Mt Cassidy Track). Cons Track is sometimes used as ski access to Bill Basin, before continuing on above Bridal Veil Creek to the Temple Basin Ski Field. The track up beside the constant rumble of the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls begins well formed, with many staircases that helped me gain altitude, and navigate my way through the beech forest on the lower reaches of the mountain. A ‘Mountaineers Only’ sign is reached at the treeline, a place where less experienced adventures should turn back. Just above the sign is the crux (most difficult part) of the whole mission, a steep gut full of frighteningly loose rock (even more interesting when down-climbing). Above this I was in the snow with my crampons biting into the frozen surface of the south ridge of Mt Cassidy(1850m), and conditions couldn’t have been better. 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, with very steep drops on the eastern side into the Upper Valley of the Devil’s Punchbowl. I got into the rhythm of kicking my crampons into the snow along with my ice axe, and as I did I relished in the environment I had got myself too. With a crunch of my crampons and the thud of my ice axe, I took the last step onto the summit of Mt Cassidy(1850m). And on a day like this one I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else…

On the Summit of Mount Cassidy(1850m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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