Table Ridge, Pinnacle Spur
Labour Weekend 2010
On the Friday night of Labour weekend Janette and I arrived at Blue Range hut just as it was getting dark. The rest of the party, Chris, Peggy, John and Neil had arrived earlier and were already well settled in.
The weather on the Saturday morning was really nice as we left (7.30 am) and as we walked along the track to Cow Creek hut we discussed altering how we would do the route. While the original intention had been to go from Cow Creek up to Arete Forks, and then to Pinnacle Spur and returning via Tarn and Table Ridges, we decided to reverse this and head up to Table Ridge straight after Cow Creek hut. Cow Creek was reached for morning tea at 1015 and, following refreshments and tending to Chrisís feet, we were off at 1045.
The route to Table Ridge turns off the Cow Creek-Arete Forks track at an altitude of 740 m. This point is marked by an old sign and the route up has a reasonable footpad with blue tape at regular intervals: generally a gentle incline and not too much of a navigational challenge. At 1230 we broke through into the tussock and had lunch in bright sunshine.
Following lunch the mist started to drift across at regular intervals so that the views could be best described as atmospheric rather than optimal; thankfully it was not dense enough to hinder navigation. A series of cairns aided us as we climbed up through tussock with the occasional patches of snow to cross. It was a steepish climb up to point 1390 and then a pronounced saddle between there and point 1478. Great views were to be had: south to Mitre, north to Bannister and west to Tarn Ridge as we walked around Table Ridge past a number of large tarns before we climbed sharply up to Brockett
Afternoon tea was had on Brockett before we proceeded via Girdlestone and the small pinnacles to Tarn Ridge hut (4.30pm). The hut was almost empty when we arrived but quickly filled up, unfortunately including some drunken youths who ended up vomiting throughout the night.
The next morning we left the hut at 7.20 am in fine but breezy weather. At the top of the highest of the Waiohine Pinnacles, a warratah signals where to turnoff to Pinnacle Spur. The drop to the start of the spur looked very steep from the top but once we started it we had no problems. There are a series of humps on the route but these presented no obstacles and by the time we reached the leatherwood belt we found that a good track had been recently cut. Given the sunshine that we were having and the great views, this spur was most enjoyable.
Once in the bush, the track is extremely steep (according to Peter Jagger, the second steepest in the Tararuas*) and by 11.30 we were crossing the river to Arete Forks Hut. This was my first time at this hut and we had a leisurely lunch before leaving at 1230. I had heard a lot about the tedious nature of the sidle track from Arete Forks to Cow Creek and four hours later when we arrived at Cow Creek I agreed with all of it.
The next morning we left early and re-ascended up to Blue Range and out to our vehicles at Kiriwhakapapa, arriving there at 11.30am. Apart from the somewhat tedious nature of the Arete Forks sidle it is a great loop to be done in the Tararuas on a three day weekend.
(*Peter Jagger, Tramping in the Tararuas, 2006, Appendix 3 p. 57)
- Party members
- John Thomson, Neil Challands, Peggy & Chris Munn, Janette Roberts and Russell Cooke (scribe).