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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 1. March 1, 1946


Without doubt the most successful in the history of the Tramping Club, the Wilkin Valley Alpine Expedition will ever be remembered by the nineteen present, not merely by their triumphant climbs—two virgin peaks, the attack on Pollux and the crossing into East Matukituki, but also for the imposing majesty of scenery, the wide unspoiled river valleys, beech forests and uneroded grass flats, and by the friends won in the Alpine Club—without their co-operation such an excursion would have been impossible. Friday. December 21, saw the University party and the Wellington section of the Alpine Club board the "Rangatira" for the daylight voyage to Lyttelton. Ahead was a 36-hour journey—boat, train, bus and launch; sleep would be hasty, intermittent. . . .

Behold the grandeur of the West otago Divide, a splendid ripple of peaks, lost to the Cook group one hundred miles north, merging into the milford beyond Aspiring to the south. Thin country was once a high plateau, but glacial dissection and other interminable forces have slowly eroded in [unclear: ealleys]—long hollow fingers radiating from the higher peaks, twisting, meeting and ultimately leading to the expansive rubble plains—the glacial mor-raines. Of these valleys the Wilkin is but one, twenty miles long, up to four in width, it is enclosed by two breath-taking [unclear: walls]—save where it is intersected by its subsidiary inlets, the South Branch, Wonderland. Newland and Siberia Valleys—every one a [unclear: Shangri-la].

And into this solitude gaily charged 95 paranoiacs, armed to the teeth with ice axes, crampons and rope, primuses and dehydrated food. Pack horses, tents, supplies, all passed up the gaping corridor to Jumboland, where a small village was raised between breakfast and lunch. For fourteen full days, between sunrise at five and dark at nine, parties relentlessly and without apology hacked their rugged way up snow grass, rock and ice wall—sometimes resourceful, other times agile, occasionally fortitudinous, but always alert—pinnacle after pinnacle of the princely kingdom fell to man's omnipotence. Then, as a cinematograph in reverse, the vision retracted, the Wilkin was left to her emasculated sophistry.

Leader of the University party was Barney Butchers. With several seasons' climbing experience he combined activity with an adeptness for the intricate organisation the journey required.