Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Remarkable climbing and conservation

This is Pauline.  J&B were bitten by the climbing urge today so they left me to my own devices.  I went to the Kiwi Conservation Centre and so, if we don’t succeed on our wild kiwi safari, at least I’ve seen a kiwi in NZ – well’ you have to, don’t you.  They had lots of other conservation projects in hand, as well as protecting injured wild birds as well.  I heard again about the unpopular possum, poor little chap, because he’s very cute and his fur is the softest thing ever – mix that with your merino wool and it’s the cosiest thing in the world.

 After my morning of education I came back for a coffee and couldn’t drag myself out again until I’d finished my book.   A meandering (let’s go and see where that goes) walk I found myself lake side away from the town (which has ski resort in its very soul) where the views were spectacular.

And that was my lazy day.  Just when I was beginning to think I suppose they haven’t fallen off the mountain they reappeared, looking just a bit wind swept and very tired.

We’d had a long discussion about where to climb, the original plan had been a two pitch bolted route, little bit of a walk in – 1km (that is a walk in here!) then mess about crossing some pipeline, I think it was the pipeline crossing that really appealed to him. Stupidly I let him read the book as I drove in towards Queenstown, just to see where to park etc, he found an area he’d obviously not seen before, in the Remarkables Mountain Range, easy trad route, 4 plus pitches (depending on how much you were struggling) finishing on the summit of Single Cone. To me without a map, this isn’t quite enough information, so we spent an hour in town being sent from the two information centres to various gear shops, you feel really bad walking in saying “Hi, don’t want to buy anything but can you tell us anything about this route please?”

Single Cone is the left peak
In the end, I let him win – well we did lug all the trad gear half way round the world with us, so off we set this morning to the Remarkables ski carpark. That was an adventure in itself, 30 mins up 13Km of dirt track! The views there were wonderful, could even spot Mt Cook in the distance (he wasn’t even looking like such a grumpy old man today!) However it was really cold, quite windy, so with a shirt, a jumper, a fleece, a woolly hat and gloves on, I decided it was too cold for climbing (well we are both only fair weather climbers after all!) 
B had yet to be convinced, so decided to take the gear for a walk! We set off to Lake Alta which was beautiful before veering off left to look at the route (in case we’d miraculously walked into a heat wave!) The route didn’t look hard, but neither did the scramble beside it, also to the summit, so due to temperature, and the fact it had taken us longer to get there than expected we went for the scramble. Beautiful rock, fab views, and the wind did drop a smidge! Just as well he’d carried the gear for the walk though, as about 50m below the summit we decided to rope up and continue ‘Alpine style’ moving together but placing gear, just to be on the safe side! 
Summit photo looking down to Queenstown
We reached the top and it was beautiful (shame the same can’t be said about either of our summit photos!) the hoar frost on the summit star testament to how cold it was. Set off back down the way we’d come (it was where the cairns were after all) still roped up – that would have been a shock if we’d done the climb, you expect it all to be over then and just follow the easy path down. That is what we did, just made the mistake of confusing easy with standard! 

Summit photo!
Jackie finds a Geocache
I did pull B back shortly after we left the summit as I saw a white plastic flask with “Official Geocache” written on the side! We’ve done a few of these with various kids (my niece and nephew and B’s granddaughters) that involve following clues and GPS co-ordinates to arrive at a given point where you then search for the ‘treasure’! Finding one unexpectedly that you have to climb to was very different, so we wrote in the book, didn’t take anything, but left a couple of sweets!

And this is where she was sitting!
On our way back down. Mount Cook is one of those mountains in the distance
Got back to the van cold and tired (probably not as tired as B as he carried much more than I did) back down the windy bumpy track, having to stop twice to shove the luggage bag back onto the shelf as it was trying to make a bid for freedom, dashed into Mothers backdoor (yep, posh house this one, she had a front and back door) shouted put the kettle on and left out the front door! Revitalised by tea, dinner shortly followed, and tomorrow we head off to the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers, hopefully with some kiwi spotting in the wild thrown in for good measure!

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