Hodder River & Mt Tapuae O Uenuku
Labour weekend, 19-22 October 2012
The trip to Mt Tapuae O Uenuku began with a night drive from the ferry up the Awatere Valley as far as the bridge over the Hodder River at its Awatere confluence. There all ten of us pitched our tents on grass slippery with frost. After a cold night and little sleep we set off up the Hodder River Valley bound for Hodder Hut. In bright sunshine we crossed and recrossed the river numerous times (~80 actually). A faster advance group in our party reached the hut within eight hours but some of us took nine hours to get our first glimpse of it - perched on a high exposed escarpment above the river. It took another hour to reach; this involved skirting the tussocky hills that rose steeply from the river bed. The wire ropes which span the hut roof and tie it to the ground were impressive and reassuring.
The next day, a determined group of five - Andy, Andre, Bob, Sarah and Paul - left the hut at approximately 7:30 for the summit of Tappy. After a gut-busting climb up a steep couloir assisted a little by the strong gusty winds to the rear, Andy and Andre sought refuge in a hollow while waiting the other three. A little further on four Christchurch climbers could be seen snuggled down in a dugout pit, also waiting for a change in the weather.
After lunch, our group set out, avoiding the summit ridge as long as possible, willing to test Paul's assurance that the winds would be lighter higher up. All five successfully summited at approximately 2:30pm. Much enjoyment was had glissading down from the steep couloir. Unfortunately this time-saving technique was not so kind to people's bums, with some over-pants ripped to shreds, but it was all ok because it was damn good fun, the sun was shining and what a great way to finish a superb day.
Meanwhile another group of five under the indefatigably patient and cheerful leadership of Alan Graham, set off at 9.00, traversed extensive scree slopes then climbed up into the snow for views of Mts Alarm and Mt Tapuae O Uenuku. From a comfortable perch on a rocky outcrop, they crunched ginger biscuits and contentedly contemplated the peaks. They appreciated that every good mountain deserves two attempts, with some there looking forward to the next summit attempt on Mt Tapuae O Uenuku next Labour Weekend in 2013. Then it was back to the hut for late lunch sitting at the outdoor picnic table, enjoying long views down the Hodder Valley.
Early next morning light snow flurries farewelled the first group as they set off from the hut at 6.30 to tramp the return route down the Hodder River. The day quickly warmed and river crossings provided many refreshing opportunities to keep cool in the intense inland Marlborough midday sun. The welcome sight of the Hodder road bridge meant the tramp was well-nigh over and the party returned to the Picton ferry weary but in high spirits. The ferry crossing was a very convivial TTC reunion with numerous TTC trampers from various South Island trips joining up and sharing their weekend experiences. Many thanks to Paul Bruce and Alan Graham for providing the party with such a strenuous, satisfying and memorable tramp.
- Party members
- Christine Ben-tovim, Elizabeth (Bob) Claridge, Peter Crossland, Sarah Day, Andy Jones, Mary Kane (scribe), Andre Lazelle, Jo Mackay, Alan Graham and Paul Bruce(co-leaders) .