Dabbling In The Darrans
Dabbling In The Darrans
The sun shone brightly as we pulled up outside Homer Hut at 5.00p.m. The first reaction was one of wonderment at the surrounding vertical walls. It seemed impossible that there could be any routes up them that the average climber could start to look at. However, a short wander up the Gertrude, and a look in the Guide Book, decided us on the East Ridge of Talbot.
Ken, being masochistically inclined, wanted to get up at 5:00am! However some fast talking by me, backed up by two others who we were going with, convinced him that 6:30 was quite early enough! The dawn page 27came crisp and clear as we set off up to Black Lake. Crossing the outfall, we wandered up the slabs and blocks to the snowfield at the foot of the climb proper. The first pitch was a crack system with several possible variations. Charlie and Daphne tried one and had just decided to give it a miss as Ken came tumbling bum over breakfast, down the line we were attempting. A second attempt though, proved it to be a reasonable route if one took care not to step on anymore plants! A full rope length took him to a comfortable belay position and we followed in due course with no more incidents, though with some anxious moments. That was the hard part over, but I had decided that grade V climbing with a rotten gut does not constitute fun. The rest of the climb was mixed pitches of III and IV on very sound rock ( a big difference from Titahi Bay ), except for one pitch which was more like home. Halfway up Ken turned to me and said, "I think this must be the rotten grade III mentioned in the guide," just as his foothold collapsed under him and rattled merrily off down to the valley floor, not a short distance away. This brought forth the comment, "Think some protection is called for here," and a rather more cautious approach to the following moves.
By mid afternoon we were traversing the summit ridge and partaking of the terrific views that Talbot makes available. As we made our way down towards Traverse Pass, the fore-runners of a norwester lifted a little, so that we were able to find a steep gully down to the snow well before we reached the pass itself. We were soon glissading off down to Gertrude Saddle, where tired legs, sore feet, and raw fingertips started to catch up, and so we were glad to get back to the hut for some tea and a good sleep.
By next morning the nor'wester had arrived, and being sunday with no place to go, we all went quietly mad in the hut. Then it was monday's turn to rain, so it was off to Milford for loopey views and jugs and darts and pool.
Tuesday seemed indecisive, so Ken and I decided to look at Moir. By the time we got to Homer saddle, Moir was no more, thanks to mist, the new wonder sky-filler, so we turned to Mac Phearson. Now it was our turn to be indecisive, but discretion proved the better part of valour, and we set off down and headed to Dunedin, there to find a fine place to climb. Unfortunatly Ken had hurt his knee in his wee tumble, and the doctor pronounced it unfit. So ended our trip, not with a cry but with a whimper.