Mt Somers Rock Climbing Trip
By: Phillippa Yasbek
Photo: Philippa Yasbek – View across the Orange Wall.
Source: Uprising Newsletter
The trip began with a hike in the dark. The hut was tramper-free when we arrived but James tried to recruit an extra trip participant. He picked up the hut possum by its tail and started bringing it inside. The possum got a bit scratchy when it saw the lights in the hut and James had to backtrack and drop it off back outside. James decided to go sleep in self-imposed exile under a rock bivvy and nurse his wounds.
We justified a sleep in on the grounds that it had been wet and the rock would be soggy. By the time we hauled ourselves up to Orange Wall the rock had been baking in the sun for a few hours. We sampled the moderate climbs on Orange Wall (yes they exist), including the splendid and now fully bolted Orange Roughy (16). James had a go on Uno (21) but had to take a few rests because of his calf burn on the sustained bridging up the corner.
As the afternoon wore on, we migrated across to The Fortress. It has some great starred moderate climbs. I lead Banana Split (20) which is definitely longer than the 40 metres promised in the guidebook. Hotline to Jim (18), lead by both Tim and Chris, was probably scarier thanks to some old-school macho bolting. The day got progressively colder and as most of us hadn’t carried up enough clothing to the crag, we were very grateful to the four or five trampers who had got the hut stove going.
Sunday was beautiful and hot. The group split up and headed to different crags. Piotr, James, Matt and Paul tried their hands on some sport routes at the Pinnacles. Eric and Tim headed up to the Christian Principles Crag. Chris and I bush bashed up to Fog Buttress. The lack of track indicates that it’s rarely visited. I thoroughly enjoyed the 14 metres of hand crack on Parthenope (16). Unlike most cracks in NZ, this one has to be jammed. Chris got sandbagged on Bucket of Fino (17). We walked past Meat Grinder, but decided to keep going and climb at Christian Principles along with Matt and Paul, who’d ventured up from the Pinnacles. The names of the climbs don’t bear repeating but there are some decent moderates on the cliff.
Beta (why else would you read trip reports?): 2:40 to walk in to the hut (in the dark no less) and 1:40 to walk out. The best quality climbing at Mt Somers is definitely the trad routes. Ideally you want a rack of double cams and wires. Double ropes come in handy. With some faff you can cope with a single 60m rope but most of the pitches are longer than 30m. Get ready to smear on some very tenuous stuff – bring your slab shoes. Climbs on the crack features are generally well-protected with natural gear. Beautiful lines and great scenery.
A big thanks to Chris for organising the trip.
Trip participants: Christopher Wallington, Matt Harwood, Eric Skea, Piotr Nowak, Paul Marsden, James Hobson, Tim Hargrave, Philippa Yasbek
Posted By: Narina Sutherland