Tapuae-O-Uenuku via Hodder
''We left the road end at 0745. Having stayed at Camden Station the night 10mins from the bridge. We took the river as Bev Pitts had mentioned there were still lambs about. We travelled up the Hodder arriving at the huts at 1645, first timers marvelling at the cliffs and goat antics. The river was full from recent snow melt, Nikki was nearly knocked over by the water force on one crossing (but then she is little). A lot of fresh rock fall activity was seen from the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.
Taking in the magnificent panorama down the valley we had travelled up, we got organised for an early start 4am rise, to take advantage of some nice firm snow crust. The night was balmy & it was the first time I had been in the huts needing to keep the door open in the evening. Memories of Jessie popping up at just the right time with biscuits for everyone. We had the huts to ourselves.
Up at 4am & on the track by 0515 we made our way in the dark to the basin. No mean feat as fresh rock fall meant a lot of the track was intermittently covered making picking the foot trail challenging in the dark. The state of the Hodder meant there was no way we were getting over it without getting our feet wet again. Up the tussock, scrambling over rock fall & scree we headed toward the Tappy-Alarm saddle. We met what initially looked like a glacier coming down staircase stream, but what was of course old avalanche debris. Continuing up the basin until 2711 came into view. The cloud was starting to thicken, I had seen cloud generated off Mitre the day before with a little concern & I wasn't sure Tappy would be clear. However I was reasonably confident (having tracked the weather the past week) it wouldn't seriously deteriorate. A lot of aged avalanche debris was visible under 2711 and in the Alarm basin, both of the slab and wet snow variety. It had not snowed for a good week but evidence certainly that avalanche risk needs to be considered on this route, the debris was sizable. Heading to the right zigzagging our way up toward the access couloir, a couple of our group found front pointing up it challenging and elected to call it a day once reaching the main ridge, a stirling effort given Niel is in year 11 having reached 2700m. Peter kindly accompanied them back to the basin. The 3 remaining members (Nikki Jessie and Matt) continued and reached the summit at 11.15am. The final ridge was less scary than looking at it from a distance, although you wouldn't want to drop anything. Weather was thick high cloud, wind was gusting intermittently to 45-50 kph, making selfies and respectable photography difficult (at least when I got up there) I was told I'd bought the wind! I think Jessie & I were supporting each other in the photo!
We descended to meet the others in the basin for the long trip out. Coming down being as much of a challenge as up.
With some dispute between leader & co leader regarding the departure, the time was set at 8am and we left at 8.30am. Making our way with hurried pace through the river & fresh rock fall to the road end at 1545, to change our tickets for an early trip home.
Great team, everyone stuck together & helped each other out ''
- Peter Hicks, Matt Fogarty, Jessie Go, Kobus and Niel Boshoff
- (Nikki Joseph leader and scribe).