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Heels 1969

The Great Wilkin Pike

The Great Wilkin Pike

We left Jumboland hut early and started following up the stream that is just upriver from the hut. After reaching the bush we sidled to the left, away from Jumbo (6200'). We then made our way along the tussock and rock ridge and soon reached the rocky summit of Jumbo. Here, with magnificent peaks abounding - Cook to the north, Pollux and Castor to the west, and Aspiring to the south - we were able to laze in the perfect conditions and think back over the past few days.

The first day had been perfect weather, but on the second the signs of an approaching nor'wester had spread across the sky. By this time we had reached the new musterers hut at top forks. The view from this hut of Pollux towering above the North Wilkin was magnificent - a superlative hut site. The next two days had seen the start of the piking which abounded for the rest of the trip. We had set up camp by Lake Diana in the north Wilkin under the slopes of Pollux, just as Huey started to vent his fury. In bad weather the next day, we had vacated our wet, windy campsite for the comfort of top forks hut.

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Then the weather had cleared to stay fine for the rest of the trip.

Lazing on Jumbo stirring our snow tangs, we could easily see why the fine weather had led to piking - it was too fine.

First we had attempted to climb Perseus - that insignificant bump - by its south-west ridge, which rose, jagged, above the top Wilkin forks. We had got well along the ridge which was fairly easy when suddenly we had been confronted with a hundred feet of razorback of doubtful stability. Pike. The sunbathing had commenced as we lay back and admired the twin peaks of Pollux (8341') and Castor (8256') towering above us on the other side of the North Wilkin valley.

The trip over Pearson Saddle and down the Waiototo had been abandoned that night. A trip over the ridge west of Jumbo into the Albertburn and then over an easy (Moir) saddle into the East Matukituki had been proposed instead.

However before embarking on this trip we had decided to climb two peaks - Ragan and Aeolus (or Oblong) (7706'). We had failed on Ragan. We had decided to gain the spur leading up from the North Wilkin fairly high up, just before a scrubby bluff. However, this had turned out to be a major navigational blunder, as just below the ridge crest we had been turned back by a 15' greasy overhang and so had had to retreat to a point where we could gain the ridge. We had then followed it up to the bluff, which had been pronounced negotiable before we had decided time would not allow to complete the ascent. At Top Forks hut we had packed up and headed down to Jumboland hut.

Aeolus, an easy plod, had been climbed the next day without much trouble. However, it had been this climb which had finished our trip into the Albertburn. We had been exhausted. That was why yesterday had been spent in a similar manner to much of the trip - sunbathing.

"You know, we haven't achieved what we set out to do, or any alternate plans - but boy, we've enjoyed not doing it." That summarized the trip. Here on Jumbo, I could look back and see how much I had enjoyed the relaxation of just being in the Wilkin for the last eight days. The next two days would be just as lazy. We would stroll down the river to Makarora, and then move off home.

The sun moved around and reluctantly we stood up and started moving down to Jumboland hut.

Party: Keith (Pentax happy) Dick

Chris (Seven league boots) Brown

John (Come on Claudius) Atkinson

Keith ("leader") Jones

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"A piker is like a musician in an orchestra -he spends most of his time in the pit".