Trip Report – Transgressions in Hakatere: Chick thief strikes Double Hut
By: Kevin Peng
Source: Uprising (Canterbury / Westland Section Newsletter) – September 2018
Over the weekend of 04/08/2018 –05/08/2018, a group of 7 NZAC members climbed Mt Taylor via the very standard Double Hut route.
Jacob, Jonathan, and Markus left Christchurch before sundown proper, so a cosy matagouri fire was in place by the time Kevin, Jamie, and Tim arrived at 10:50pm. Animal activist Byron had to tend to some sheep, so he arrived at a full Double Hut shortly after. Now would be a good time to mention that there was a mysterious Te Araroa tramper who wielded an axe and long spear. At a certain point during the younglings’ faff with their daypacks, the man came-to and began humming a sweet tune –though sweet and melodious, it was merely a veil over the deep angst that only 10 days of dehydrated meals could bring; an insidious foreshadowing of the events about to unfold.
We woke at the leisurely hour of 7am as suggested by the trip leaders, and set off towards the obvious fork in the Swin River South Branch at 7:45am. The riverbed provided pleasant travel despite a few verglassed rocks, so we gained the west ridge of Mt Taylor in good time. The younglings quickly made an appointment with a polished riverbed rock for a post-descent bouldering session.
A layer of low cloud rolled in from the Arrowsmiths as we climbed up the ridge, but we managed to stay above it, enjoying our ever-widening vantage of the whole Canterbury/Westland Alps. The surprisingly solid red buttresses around Pt1766 provided a nice bit of scrambling for the keener members of the party, with even a half-star chimney being climbed by Kevin, Jake, and Jamie.
The ridge eventually developed a reasonable snowpack, so crampons went on and transceiver checks were carried out. There was a noticeable soft slab that did not cause much concern to the party.
At the summit of Mt Taylor 2333m, we were greeted by a noticeable nor ‘easterly which also did not cause much concern to the party until Jamie and Kevin decided to stand up and block out the sun for Markus and Jake. Hence, emails were checked, summit photos were taken, and we began the west ridge descent.
This time, the old studs decided to tackle an aesthetic line true to the rocky ridgetop, while the young studs focused on (contrived) a more futuristic option on a smaller rock step. A creative arête sequence began at an unbelievable jug, led into a mantle, and finished with a solid finger jam.
After descending past Pt1766, we efficiently descended the obvious NE-facing scree slope back down to the river, where a couple of whacks were thrown at globules of plastic riverside ice. The old studs were well on their way to dinner now, but the younglings had an appointment to make. After a few heel hooks and dirty slopers, the younglings-turned-weaklings decided to head back to the hut, collecting dead matagouri for Double Hut. Jake now has some unfinished business with the boulder: “Existential Crisis” V4.
Now this is where the scandal begins… when Jon returned to the hut, he noticed that the chicken he brought for dinner was missing. However, this strange misfortune was only compounded by the fact that Tim’s cooker and pots were also missing! We will never know for sure what happened, but of course we quickly came to suspect that the Te Araroa tramper was the perpetrator of a cruel backcountry betrayal. Rough plans to seek vengeance for the lost chicken at Manuka Hut were abandoned after Markus recalled that the man was well-armed for spearfishing and axe throwing. After dinner, Byron, Kevin, Jamie, and Tim left the starlit setting for further animal activism and academia.
All in all, a great trip with great company. Only partially ruined by the unsavoury tramper offense.
Posted By: Narina Sutherland