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Heels 1968

Three Pass Trip

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Three Pass Trip

We all arrived at Klondyke Corner some time in the afternoon from Christchurch by thumb. After clomping through snow in the Waimakariri riverbed we arrived at the Anti-Crow Forestry Hut for tea. Next day was still overcast so we went for a trip up the Anti-Crow River.

The snow from the recent heavy snowstorm made the anti-Crow a real Christmas scene. So much so, that at lunchtime, the males of the party fashioned a snowman which eventually became a comely, but frigid wench. Nigel became enamoured of her - I have photographic evidence. When we came back from the Anti-Crow bivvy she had rather faded away. Nigel wasn't in the slightest bit interested, fickle fellow! There was such a lot of snow around that avalanche fans were seen all up the Anti-Crow. In fact, on the way up, Kevin and I nearly had a nasty encounter with an avalanche of wet snow, which we couldn't hear till it was quite close to us, because of the noise of the river.

Next morning was beautifully fine. We travelled up the Crow River to Crow Hut in good time and spent the rest of the day sunbathing, the results of which appeared a day later. Next morning was a little murky, but Nigel and I left about 6 a.m. for Rolleston. We travelled up a huge avalanche fan and crossed to the Crow neve where the snow was waist deep in places. We turned back when approximately 500 ft. from the High Peak because I broke my snow goggles and because of the weather. That afternoon it rained heavily and we amused ourselves with cards, food, pit-bashing and a yeasty-brew which had been festering in my pit while I climbed.

A government culler called in in the afternoon. We chatted to him and provided a brew before he took off back to his base - Anti-Crow hut, in the rain. It poured that night and in a break the next morning we went down the Crow arriving at the Waimak about midday. The Waimak was sufficiently high to persuade us not to cross. We camped in the beech trees on a flat on the upstream side of the Crow-Waimakariri confluence. It poured all that day and while we lay in the pit inside the tent, Kevin, good lad, prepared our tea on the fire. Once we were comfortably pitted and fed, an enjoyable "I-spy" game was had until dark when our attentions turned to the thunder and lightning four or five thousand feet above us. Next morning Peter and I arose early to examine the river, which was pronounced "crossable", so over we went and up to the hut where breakfast was had. After breakfast we went up to Carrington Hut in intermittent hail showers to find it unoccupied.

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A day or so later I got up before dawn to see stars in the sky. A perfect day for crossing Harman and Whitehorn Passes. Carrington Peak looked magnificent with a decent coating of snow and we moved up the Taipo-iti Stream enjoying the scenery on the way. From Harman Pass we plugged slowly up to Whitehorn Pass with thoughts of attempting Rosamund. The physical state of the two keenest party members for this project left much to be desired at the top of the pass, so by tacit agreement, we descended by judicious "on chuff" glissades into the Cronin. The Cronin icefall looked interesting, but deep snow in the valley was tedious. After lunch we slogged on down to Park-Morpeth Hut at the Cronin-Wilberforce confluence. This is a pokey but comfortable hut, oozing character. We found it in a mess. Food was scattered everywhere, so was rat dirt. Apparently the rats had been living it hard during the snow-storm because we found several candle wicks - no wax, lying on the floor. Can't say I'd fancy it meself! We tidied the place up and went to sleep while the rain thundered down once again. The next day too was inclement. We experienced a terrific thunderstorm during the day, the proximity of which provided morbid amusement for our scientists. We couldn't be electrocuted in an iron walled hut, just cooked. One of the flashes was followed by its bang, which shook the hut only a second later - approx. a quarter mile away, I'm told. Peter and I swore we smelt that one. Each thunderclap was followed by torrential rain for about thirty seconds or so, which then receded to its usual downpour. The Wilberforce, like Topsy just growed in a very short time and looked most spectacular for those foolish enough to step outside.

Next day, surprisingly, was fine, or at least fine enough to cross Browning Pass. We got a little bluffed at first trying to follow the eroded miners track, but retreated and plugged up the steep snow slopes to the pass. The dog-kennel which is called Gelignite Hut was observed amusedly and a reprehensible but most satisfying sport was indulged in from the top of the pass. We sidled Lake Browning and descended into the Arahura under an overcast sky. We missed Pyramid Rock, not that we would have known it, and so an unpleasant West Coast alpine scrub-bash had to be endured before we arrived at Harman Creek Hut. We found another friendly culler in residence with his dog, who provided us with piles of venison and Peter with a couple of antlers of velvet. The rest of the day was spent enjoyably there and next day we ambled down to Grassy Flats Hut - only a few hours on benched tracks. Because of this culler's hospitality we deemed it prudent and right to stay the night with him at Grassy Flats.

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This bloke really travelled light - pit, sack tent, climbing pack, rifle, cleaning gear, ammo and dog and impressed us all as a professional. Next day we travelled down the Styx River enjoying its typical West Coast scenery and the interesting rocks in the river. After a tiring road bash, we were fortunate in obtaining a ride to Hokitika, where we spent the night and thumbed next day, home.


Party: Ross Gooder (leader), Peter Radcliffe, Lesley Bagnall, Kevin Pearce, Nigel Eggers.