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Heels 1968

Arrowsmiths Easter

page 3

Arrowsmiths Easter

Four of us decided to spend about ten days in the Arrowsmith Range, climbing. This range lies between the Rakaia and Rangitata rivers in Canterbury and about five miles east of the main divide. Most of the peaks are between 8 and 9000 feet high and are predominantly rock climbs though any snow soon puts them out of condition.

Our plans were almost wrecked by the combined forces of the tropical storm and southerly which devastated Wellington and sank the "Wahine". A quick check revealed that we were on the "Maori" and it was sailing the next night. We arrived at Lake Heron Station some time on the Saturday afternoon and got to Downs Hut in Lake Stream that night. Next day we travelled up the Rakaia over Prospect Hill and up Jagged Stream to a campsite by evening. The weather looked promising but John unfortunately sprained his ankle which ruined his chances of any climbing.

About 5 a.m. Tony, Clive and myself left camp for an attempt on North Pk. A moon and clearish sky created initial optimism but powder snow slowed us down and as we roped up at dawn on the Assault Glacier south-westerly scunge started to drift over us. We reached Reischeck Col about 10 a.m. but it was fairly bitter and unpleasant and no-one wanted to go on so we returned to camp in an impending snowstorm. That night it snowed heavily. I remember belting the tent roof periodically to shake off the rapidly accumulating wet snow. We got up late for obvious reasons to be greeted by a spectacular sight.

It was a perfect day and Jagged Stream was plastered from top to bottom. We spent the day photographing, sunbathing, eating and I, feeling energetic, plugged steps up to just under the Jagged Glacier

By this stage, the two party watches had stopped, so a Jagged Stream Mean Time was established and with this guide we left at about 4 a.m. next morning for Jagged Col. Some hours later after arduous ploughing through snow drifts up to our waists in places, it was still dark - not a sign of the "hunter of the east". It had us worried for a minute. It's okay to joke about the end of the world, but when it's still dark at eight - shucks!

Anyway this story had a happy ending and we were glad to be so high so early. At the col, we headed up Jagged, but knee deep powder snow on atrocious rock turned us back only a few hundred feet above the col. We turned our attentions to Prop Pk. and found the going rather better though we had to move singly, which with three on the rope page 4was slow. This ridge too was plastered with powder snow and though we probably could have climbed it safely, we turned back at a series of rock towers about two hundred feet from the summit, basically for the reason of our slowness.

However, the descent, like the ascent, was enjoyable and provided excellent photography. We ambled back to the camp where John had been keeping the keas amused. Next day was murky and snowing again as we plugged tediously up to Peg Col and down to Cameron Hut where we stayed the night.

It snowed again that night and dawn provided a wonderful view of the Cameron skyline. We travelled down the Cameron Valley - a pleasant open valley devoid of bush but smaller and narrower than the typical Canterbury rivers. A pleasant autumn afternoon provided the sort of lighting which made the snow-covered foot hills and distant cloud-covered Arrow-smiths most attractive. We returned to the car after a most enjoyable if unsuccessful (peaks-wise) trip. The Cameron-Jagged Stream trip is a highly recommended tramping trip as well as offering exciting and unusual climbing to the proficient climber.


Party: John Nankervis, Tony Parlane, Clive Bolt, Ross Gooder.