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The Ultimate Tapi Adventure (August 2011)

Last post 04-05-2012, 8:22 PM by ginawaibl. 0 replies.
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  •  04-05-2012, 8:22 PM 6316

    The Ultimate Tapi Adventure (August 2011)

    The Ultimate Tapi Adventure (August 2011)


    While not strictly a VUWTC trip, we did take some club crampons so I figure that is close enough to warrant a trip report.


    It was an ambitious trip planned by Mr Rees Ward, aka Horse. A trip up Mt Tapuaenuku the tallest peak in the Kaikouras at 3000m+ with the added challenge of cycling to the mountain from Picton. Thankfully Rees gave us plenty of time to complete the journey, with the 5 days allocated being considerably more than one Kennet brother who did it is a weekend. Most importantly he ordered a fine run of weather for what would otherwise have been a miseryfest – it being August and therefore still very much winter.


    As with all good south island trips we started with a ferry ride, and much to the boys delight, all you can eat toast courtesy of Bluebridge.


    We rolled off the ferry to a bright sunny day in Picton, and gathered together for a team photo to start our journey at midday. Six of us, Rees, Kirby, Hamish, Steve, Ash and me, and an eclectic mix of bikes loaded up with climbing gear.

    We started off at a leisurely pace, enjoying the sunshine, stopping at the supermarket along the way (of course), and eventually turning off the main road into the Awatere Valley, where Tapi stood tall in the distance, a peak that punctuates the skyline and is often seen from Wellington.


    This is where Steve became the workhorse, taking Hamish’s gear to relieve his painful hips, not helped by a particularly small chain ring that required lots of spinning to get along the flat. Several hours, one puncture and a lost carrier bolt later, after several long climbs and well onto gravel road, we got out the map and proclaimed “only 7km to go”.


    More climbs followed, and we got to dread seeing tar seal – if they sealed the road then it must be steep! Kirby and I got to know why riding with tramping packs is not recommended, even if most of our gear was on the bikes. 7km came and went. More map stops later and we eventually decided it must be 3km to go – finally getting it right, and very happy to see the Hodder River bridge for a 10pm dinner camping on the farm track.


    Next morning we left our bikes, as arranged, at the back of the friendly farmers shed and began the 22km walk up the Hodder. Hamish, who had been there before, lead the way. Up and up we went, until we all became increasingly disbelieving that this was the route, before eventually doing a 180° and heading back down to the river to find the track. Yes, that cairn with a DOC trail marker did mean something (I hadn’t seen it, but at least one of us had). At this point Rees, who had brought the kitchen sink and was suffering after packing at 2am two nights before, jettisoned a load of gear. An easy walk up the river followed, including all 80 odd stream crossings (unlike some parties, we weren’t sadistic enough to count them). We stashed some gear on the river flat, intending to camp there after summiting the following day, and this is where we found Little Rees. A tiny piglet all on his lonesome.

    The Hodder is full of pigs and goats. I’ve never seen so many! Not too long after becoming acquainted with Little Rees some lost pig dogs found us. They were very happy to see us, and keen for a pat on the head. Rees exclaimed “Gina, how could you!” when I commented that Little Rees’s days were numbered (I was merely stating a fact). Sure enough, a few minutes later, we all mourned the loss of Little Rees before quickly moving on.


    Within sight of the Hodder Huts we hit snow. Deep pockets of it with a thick crust that you broke through, and not wanting to stop, we continued without putting gaiters on, leaving red marks in the snow where our legs were grazed by the sharp edges of our plugholes.


    The Hodder Huts proved to be excellent, perched up the side of the valley. After 6 or 8 hours or so and 1000m height gain, we all hungrily tucked in to Backcountry meals. The Park Ranger, Steve, spent the evening in agony as his feet thawed after the day’s river crossings, and Ash announced “I’m not climbing tomorrow so don’t even try to convince me”.


    Hamish had us up at 3am for an alpine start, but limited snow cover and not much of a freeze made for hard going as the four remaining troops teetered across scree slopes in our crampons in the dark. It was a long slog up the valley, slowly gaining the 1500 odd metres we needed to summit.


    Standing below the summit we climbed a coulier to the left, possibly not the easiest route, and climbed up to come out on the summit ridge where Kirby and I ate goodies tucked behind a wind scoop waiting for the others. Rees, the Big Man, the Unit, the Horse, came over the lip and crawled towards us, too tired to get up and walk, ashen faced and exhausted – his first venture onto such steep terrain. A gallant effort. Celebrations weren’t far away. We hit the summit and took photos of Rees draped in Rugby World Cup flags (that’s what happens when you work in the RWC office), before descending back to the Hodder Huts and then hot footing it down the valley, almost beating darkness, to our campsite. A slow summit day by some standards (some people do it in 6hrs) we arrived to a roaring fire and pitched tents, and after a satisfying day, we were quite happy to be warmed by the fire.


    Minutes after my head hit the pillow the wind came up. Ignoring it for a while as my fly bent in against me, I suddenly found myself out in the open air clamouring to stop my carelessly placed gear from being blown away. Retrieving the tent fly, it was quickly repitched in a sheltered spot amongst the Matagouri that I had spied the day before. The others persisted, loading rocks onto their tent pegs, while Rees slept comatose, oblivious to it all.


    In the morning, after a good night’s sleep, I woke to find a folded tent weighed down by rocks and people sleeping in various places amongst the bushes. We then had fun using our mountain radio, chatting to Jim about the weather, before a surprisingly quick walk out. So quick that I missed the turnoff, and after wondering what had happened to everyone (broken ankle??) I walked back to our morning tea spot, before turning around again and heading out to the road where I found everyone ready to head off on our trusty steeds once more.


    Descending the Awatere was much easier, and we enjoyed rolling down the hill, still basking in the sunshine, and marvelling at our luck with the weather – amazed that we had pulled off the summit. Hamish was further hampered when his rear derailleur decided to give up and was reduced to one gear held in place with a cable tie - never leave home without cable ties (and duct tape). We camped about 40km down the valley, and then had a very leisurely ride to Blenheim for a feast at an unsuspecting cafe, before heading on to Picton to catch the ferry, not without a few sneaky beers on the waterfront to celebrate in the afternoon sun.


    All in all an excellent trip with only a few minor dramas.


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