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Heels 1966

[Report on trip to the Ohau region]

page 9

July 1965

All six members of the party arrived at the Pipe Bridge by rail and taxi, and we set off. Ohau Hut was reached in about an hour and half, and we sped on up the valley in order to reach South Ohau at an early hour. Some time after this, our leader, John, lost his torch in a pool in the river - this detracted somewhat from his route finding capabilities until I had the generosity to produce a carbide lamp. A little later strange mutterings were to be heard coming from some members of the party. It appeared that this part of the valley was remarkably changed since last time; it was, in fact, unrecognisable.

Packs were downed, map and compass extracted, and after snort deliberation, it was decided that we were in the North Ohau River. Since it was perfectly fine, we backed up to the last flats and camped the night. Next morning there was a very heavy frost, but all difficulties were overcome brilliantly, and we were away at the disgusting hour of 9.00 a.m. John's torch was recovered from the river - it still worked, - and we returned to the forks, Here the party split, four going directly to Tematawai Hut, the other using a more circuitous route.

On arriving at Tematawai, the first four had a snack, cut some fire wood, and taking parkas, ice axes, and snow goggles, set off up Pukematawai. After half an hour, Ross and Peter stopped t build a showman, while Ian and Bryan battered on another couple of hundred yards. All were back at Tematawai by 5 p.m. to find the two Johns, putting the fire wood to good use. Soon the usual enormous stew was boiling over a roaring fire.

We rose at 5.30 a.m. to the tune of John's Alarm clock, and after a quick breakfast were away up Pukematawai.

Three and a half hours of floundering through thigh deep snow brought us to just below the summit. Here the snow was firm and one member went mad and steamed to the top, arriving; (bathed in sweat) to be greeted by a fantastic view, of snow covered mountains and snow filled valleys. The snow conditions made a main range trip impossible, so we crossed to Arete. A 'Scrog' lunch was had here, and John's attempt to melt snow in a parka-wrapped billy were rewarded with utter failure. From Arete, we went north to Dundas over better snow, and set of down to Triangle Knob. By sundown we were at the top of a knoll, just below the bushline, at the top of a spur leading down to Avalanche Flats. Three hours blind blundering brought us our to the river bed. Conditions were pleasant, but there was no moon, and by now most torches were dead or dying, so after about half an hour we found a place to camp out. A large dinner was consumed and all turned in to sleep soundly after an eighteen hour day.

Next morning it was raining, and we get off down stream to reach Avalanche Flats in no more than 5 minutes.


However we knew exactly where we were, and set off at a fast trot down stream. Two deer were spotted on the way to page break the gorge track was discovered by devious means and we carried on to the cage! From here we followed the foot-steps of some predecessor who had wandered down the river bed to the head of the Mangahau no 1 Lake. When we arrived this was empty so we walked across the lake bead. The view was weird with hundreds of huge, white dead standing tree trunks - rather unpleasant. However the empty lake facilitated our exit, and in a short time we arrived at the dam. From here a ride with some workers, a taxi ride, and finally, a ride in a luxurious Newmans bus to home. However two keen aves, the two johns hitch- hiked.

- Bryan Sissons.

Party; John Rhodes (leader), Peter Radcliffe, Ross McGerty, Ian Langford, Bryan Sissons, [unclear: Johansen].