What Goes Up (Part Two) – Mt Potts (2184m)

“On a Mish” #405 What Goes Up (Part Two). Mt Potts (2184m). Hakatere Conservation Park. 3.8.2014. Getting ‘bluffed out’ is when you hike / climb / scramble to a point where you can’t go up or down. You have got yourself stuck and rescue is your only escape. The best (and only) way to get around this is training, experience, and learning to know how to avoid getting bluffed out in the first place. A bluff is a small cliff or rock precipice, but getting bluffed out can happen on all sorts of terrain, and we were about to find out that what goes up can sometimes have a little bit of trouble on the going down part of the journey…

The hike from the Hakatere Mt Potts Road up to the ski area takes about an hour, and the difference between the two places is vast. The huge, open expanses of the Rangitata Riverbed are left behind and, after a couple of zigzags, you find yourself in a narrow corridor lined with peaks. On our mish the east side of the skinny valley was rock with the odd patch of snow, but the other side was huge – a snowy ramp that finished many metres above where we were. Our goal seemed simple enough at this point.

We began to climb, and it didn’t take long before we needed to strap on our crampons and get spikes into snow. The massive face meant we could zigzag our way up just like the road which got us to the base of the mountain. The snow depth was perfect for the twelve points on each foot, and each step was aided by the reassuring thud of an ice axe plunging into the icy surface.

We kept our heads down and powered our way up to a point not far from the western summit of Mt Potts. It was here that my adventure partner had a little reality check of where she had hiked herself. Suddenly panic set in. I had to reassure her that we had got ourselves up here and were definitely going to get ourselves down. After a couple of pictures we took a few moments to regather our thoughts before pointing our feet downwards.

Descending snow-covered slopes on Mt Potts

Panic causes stress, stress distracts, and distractions lead to accidents, and nobody likes accidents! To avoid any mishaps, I went into guiding mode and began to help Celine slowly get herself back down to easier ground. I have come across this situation a few times during my time in the outdoors, and I have always relished in the challenge of not only helping the person overcome the obstacle but enjoy the experience as well. It didn’t take too long before Celine got more confidence on her feet, and my assistance was no longer required.

After getting back onto the ski field track we could relax and relive what had just happened. I learned that you should be aware of your fellow mish buddies’ abilities before taking on a challenge. But with that said, sometimes you need to push yourself a little in order to advance your outdoor skillset. Overall, I’d say the mish was a grand success even if we hadn’t got to the top of Potts. No mistakes were made and now Celine had more experience on snow, that’s a win win in my books!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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