Trip Report – Great Trip to Wanaka
By Lindsay Smith
Twelve of the Dunedin Tuesday Night Rock Climbing group headed to Wanaka early in February to experience the joys of climbing the crimpy crystals of the Matukituki Valley’s schist. Setting all sorts of records for diversity, there was a 50-year difference between the youngest climber and his pensioner dad; there were also two mother-daughter teams and the Otago Section’s usual impressive range of countries represented.
Leaving Dunedin early Saturday, we checked into the Wanaka Top 10 camp on the road out of Wanaka by lunchtime. At $20/person/night it slightly dearer than the usual camping spot at Albert Town, but it does have a great range of facilities (including swimming pool and spa) and doesn’t have the risk of hawk attack.
The temperature was already into the mid-20s by noon and the group elected to head to Kai Whaka Pai to take advantage of the shady side of the valley and the excellent introductory sport climbs. After the usual “I’m sure it’s this way” discussion the group were quickly grinning from ear-to ear enjoying the wide range of challenges on offer.
Further along the crag Ross Matthews and Jocelyn Soulard both led p the more testing “Nice and Sleazy”, where they were joined by others as the afternoon progressed. “Pulp Fiction” was the day’s most popular climb with two of the teen/parent teams succeeding on this classic, grade 15 steep wall with plenty of bolts and big grips. The youth half of each team led the climb while their parents took the more dignified option of a top-rope belay from their offspring.
By 6:30 thoughts were turning to food and cold refreshments and we headed back to camp with the plan to arrive at the Main Cliff at Hospital Flat early on Sunday morning to get in as many climbs as possible before the forecasted heat arrived. While we did get back to the crag early on Sunday, it didn’t take long for the heat to rise into the 20s and by mid-morning it was probably well into the 30s.
“Phormium Tenax” saw a heap of early action as first timer Adrienn Lucacs was introduced to the joys of climbing by flatmate Katrina Kirilova, while Stephanie Jasperse and Millie Bray used this well bolted climb to polish their leading skills. Alongside, Ryan Thomas guided Riley Smith up “Kiddies Corner”, his first full trad lead on his Christmas present rack.
Sunday’s climbs saw the Tuesday Night Crowd feeling much more confident on the Wanaka rock and everyone pushed themselves to new levels, with most leading up grades never before achieved. One star, grade 13 “Do I Have To” was a well bolted, testing lead while two star “The Big Corner” seemed to have an exit under the roof far more challenging than its Grade 14 would suggest. Three star “Headbanger’s Arête” lived up to its classic rating in Wanaka Rock and the Grade 18 “Straight Up the Face” became the must-do climb before a break for lunch at about 1pm.
Good intentions to end the day on the Tombstone dissolved in the heat of the early afternoon and the climbers adjourned to Wanaka for rehydration before heading home. Although still loyal to Dunedin’s quality basalt, the Tuesday Team are already planning a trip in mid-April to experience the joys of Elephant Rock’s limestone.
Posted By: Narina Sutherland