Trip Report – East Ridge, Mt Taranaki
By: Caroyn Ellis
Source: Wellington Section Newsletter (April 2017)
The East ridge of Taranaki has been on our list of things to do for a while and we managed to line up a great forecast with a rare free weekend in late April. We headed off to Taranaki on Saturday afternoon and had a meal at Stratford before heading up to park up outside the Stratford Mountain Lodge on Pembroke Road. We’d recently bought a new(er) vehicle so spent the night in relative comfort sleeping in the back. At 5am our alarm went off and we woke to a brilliant starry sky and no wind. After breakfast we sorted out gear and set off from the plateau carpark at 7am. We’d contemplated what gear to carry and made the call to leave crampons behind but carried axes and a rope. Looking up to the Sharks Tooth we could see a bit of snow on the southerly facing aspects but it didn’t look too bad. We climbed up through the skifield then headed to the north to make our way around the Policeman. We took a break beside the Policeman to reduce a layer or two. The day was clear and there was a light breeze so it was pretty warm making our way up the East ridge to the Sharks Tooth. We carefully avoided the snowy and icy patches and steadily climbed until we reached the top of the Sharks Tooth at around 10:20. A snack break and a few photos were called for as we basked in the sun – by now the breeze was pretty chilly.
After a period of laziness we made our way northwards along the arete until we reached the chimney which provides access into the crater. We peered down the chimney and noticed that there was quite a buildup of ice – certainly a place where crampons would have been pretty useful. While there is a wire to hang on to assist with the descent I didn’t fancy my chances of being able to hang on while my feet were slipping and sliding so we pulled the rope out and did a quick abseil down to get past the ice.
Once down in the crater we joined the mad throngs of tourists and headed up to the summit for an early lunch. As usual on a sunny day it was like a meeting of the United Nations on top – a lot of people moaning and groaning up the last few metres of the climb. We took a few photos and had a leisurely lunch before heading off with the crowd down the scree to Tahurangi Lodge, back on the Round the Mountain track to get to the car before 3. With a stop in Wanganui for dinner we got back to Wellington a little weary at 9pm.
The climb was definitely in summer conditions and would be a completely different experience in the winter – but it was nice to get back into the groove and into the mountains. The benefit of heading up the East Ridge was the almost complete absence of scree to ascend – loads of nice solid rock which was easily scrambled.
Posted By: Narina Sutherland