No Gin and Tonic MF
8 November 2017
A long-held desire to complete a Matthews GT (Grand Traverse) was thwarted by the usual suspect - weather. This traverse, the Rimutaka ridge line between Matthews' north and south saddles, is both longer (about 3km versus 2km) and has greater elevation gain (300-400m versus 80-200m depending on where one starts) than its better known southern namesake. There is also a difference in median height above sea level (750m versus 3,640m) and exposure.
On this Wednesday a fast moving cold front drenched the city in the early morning but skies were beginning to clear as we left the city at 7am, drove over the hill and down to Ocean Beach.
Setting off up Wharekauhau Stream, we faced into strong winds but hoped they would abate by the time we gained the North Saddle, some 2.5 hours away.
The Matthews GT has both harder (from the east) and easier (from the west) approaches. From the west one zips along the Orongorongo Track, and either takes the Goat Stream Track to the South Saddle or continues up river and up Matthews Stream where eventually a marked route leads to the North Saddle. From the east, passage up Wharekauhau Stream is both thoroughly enjoyable and not without some scrambles, but perhaps these can be avoided with minor route variations. The southern approach is up the Mukamuka.
The GT crux is the Knife Edge, a short heavily eroded section of main ridge about 500m south of the North Saddle. On first sighting, thoughts may turn to cheval techniques but in fact a sort of ledge exists on the Matthews Stream side and usually one can skid along this without too much trouble.
This Wednesday, dragging ourselves over a tricky lip onto the North Saddle, the wind was so strong we found it difficult to stand; skipping along an exposed ledge, especially one sitting in its own gale-enhancing mini saddle did not seem to be a very sensible or safe enterprise.
So we retreated, at leisure, the grass terrace at the mouth of the Wharekauhau affording good views of the south eastern approaches to Matthews and an opportunity to speculate about new and interesting routes to both the Knife Edge and Matthews. CC
- Party members
- Tony Black, Robin Chesterfield, Colin Cook (leader and scribe), Gerald Leather, Jenny Mason, Paul McCredie,
Peggy Munn, Janette Roberts, Lynne White