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Heels 1973

Tararua Day Trip

page 6

Tararua Day Trip

How many times have I gazed north from the learned hills of Victoria in the middle of the week and seen the Tararuas all snowy and sunny and tempting, and wishing I was there. It never seems to be the same in the weekends.

On a fine afternoon in June, when the Tararuas were glistening on the skyline, Paul Stevens suggested that it would be nice to be there. When he said that the weather forecast was good, I quickly saw what he was getting at, and agreed that it would be good value to have a day off.

The result was a phone call early (too early) next morning to wake me, and a car arriving half an hour later to collect me.

"Got your crampons?" he asked.

"Nah, don't need crampons in the Tararuas, just an iceaxe!"

With that, we sped northwards, with a brief stop at Waikanae to talk to a guy in a car with a funny red light on top. After that we went a bit slower, and eventually reached Otaki Forks. Cold, cold. Cutting steps in the frost up the farmland to the safety of the bush, then a gallop up past Fields to a nosh stop on Table Top. Egmont, Euapehu and Tappy on the horizon. Ice on the trees in the shade, but where's all the snow gone.

"Just as well we didn't bring our crampons."

"Yeah. could've left our iceaxes at home too!"

Suddenly, as we came over the brow of West Peak, there it was - white everywhere! But no snow, only very heavy icing on the tussock, and all the tarns frozen over. Singlets in the sun for a two-hour lunch break at Kime, then onward to Hector.

"What's that bout no crampons?" as we cut steps off a very iced-up Field Peak.

Hector at last with the cross disguised as a chandelier. Click, click went the cameras, while the Neill Winchcombe beckoned in the sun and Egmont played tricks with the cloud on the horizon. A perfect day!

Time to go, and we slithered down Hector, chipped our way back onto Field Peak, then ran to our packs at Kime. A bit more food then back down to Fields at the bushline. Time, five o'clock.

"Hey, the sun sets in 10 minutes! You gotta torch?"

"Nuh, have you?"

So started a mad race against darkness, stumbling onto the farmland just as the last light faded from the sky. The last half hour or so to the car we were travelling blind, getting down the farmland just by memory and luck. Anyway we made it, what a tremendous day! Much better than sitting in the Union Building or swotting in the Library.