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Trip Report – Gunsight Pass

By: Ed Ivison

Photos: Jerry Provaznik

Source: Otago Section Newsletter (June 2017)

On the 6th and 7th May I led a team of 6 over Gunsight Pass in the Barrier Range. The week before the trip the weather looked as though it would scupper the plans with heavy rain, snow and gale force winds. Although as the weekend approached it appeared we would get a good weather window so the trip pressed ahead.

On the Saturday morning I think we had early start (8:30 am) although I was told that this really isn’t early!

We set off at pace to cover the 6km of relatively flat terrain up the Temple Stream North, only to find a few minutes later that we were on Temple Stream South! I like to think of this as a warm up before we started the actual trip, but the team were not convinced and put it down to my poor navigation skills.

As we headed up the gully on to the pass we were expecting snow and ice, although we only came across this about 50m from the top as the gradient levelled off. After a rather enjoyable scramble up on to the pass we were rewarded with clear skies and a stunning view of Mt Cook to the north. The sun was out and with virtually no wind we took an extended lunch break taking in the scenery.

Sadly, we had to leave the views behind us and set off to find a place to camp for the night. As the route down was south facing we encountered significantly more snow. After a little test, it felt a bit ‘crispy’ so we broke out the crampons and ice axe and set off. In hind sight, we probably didn’t need the ice gear but it was nice to use the kit we had taken and get a km or so using crampons.

The planned campsite was at the confluence of streams leading in to Temple Stream South, but as we got there it seemed a little ‘bumpy’ so we held out for something a little better further downstream. Thankfully we did find somewhere better and set up camp. As night fell we were graced with a stunning star display but this was short-lived as an almost full moon rose which was so bright it dimmed the stars.

The following morning it was a pleasure to see that the weather was still fine although bitterly cold. This of course meant we also had the pleasure of donning frozen boots.

Within about 200m of camp we had a river crossing to do, it wasn’t big, deep or that challenging but that didn’t stop me from falling over, getting drenched through, and requiring a swift change of clothes.

The 10km back to the car part didn’t take long and we were off the mountain by 12. The previous night’s discussions about a pint in Ohau lodge on the drive out had nothing to do with the swift pace that we took on!Photo: Jerry Provaznik

Posted: 31/05/17

Posted By: Narina Sutherland