Rakaia. January, 1967
Rakaia. January, 1967
Don Fraser, Neil Whitehead, and Tom Clarkson had a ten day expedition into the Rakaia in January 1967. We set off up the Rakaia Valley in deteriorating weather hoping to do some climbing up the Lyell Glacier. From the road-end at Glen Falloch it takes about a day and a half to Lyell Hut, not far below the terminal face of the Lyell Glacier. There is a good bridge across the Rakaia just above the junction of this river with the Ramsay. The best route to Lyell Hut is up the true right of the Rakaia, across this bridge, then back across the river to the hut if the river is low. A better ford is at the outlet from a large lagoon at the end of the glacier about 30 minutes above the hut. If the river is up the only access to Lyell Hut is over the Meins Knob, a climb of about 1000'. We reached Lyell Hut in good time via the lagoon crossing but, for the following five days the weather was almost continuously rainy.
One morning we set out at 4:30 a.m. in the direction of Malcolm Hut but the conditions were so bad that we were back at the hut at 10 a.m. An expedition to the top of one of the Jollie Sisters (7300') in a gale force wind was our only 'success'.
Our sixth [unclear: ay] was fine and we decided to try to make something of our trip by crossing to Westland. To cross the Rakaia we had to climb over Meins Knob and use the bridge (the river was rather ferocious in appearance after the rain). From the bridge we took three hours up the moraine to the head of the Clarke Glacier immediately below Strachan Pass. The snow up the last 800' onto the pass was hard enough to require steps and, on the other side, the descent to the Lord Glacier was also hard (this did not deter Neil from trying to glissade and as a result plummeting down the slope in a most undignified fashion). Eleven hours from Lyell Hut we camped on moraine just below the end of the Lord Glacier. From this position to the Wanganui- Lambert Forks is a distance of about four miles. We would endorse Pascoe's advice about attempting the Lambert Gorge sidle in murky weather (like we did) The four miles took 13 hours to cover. An extra hour spent looking fore the hunters' hut was wasted time.
The hut is ten minutes intpage break
The four miles took 13 hours to cover. An extra hour was spent looking for the hunters! hut and was wasted time.
The hut is ten minutes into the bush from the Lambert River and less than five from the Wanganui River. An antiquated cage crosses the Wanganui about fifteen minutes up from the hut and anyone who oils its pulleys will be doing a valuable service for the tramping public. It is one easy day's journey (about 7 hours) from the cage to SHO near Harihari. We emerged there just 10 days after paying off our taxi driver in Canterbury (£7-10-0 from Ashburton).