Youth AIC 2 - Tongariro Winter Crossing
Fri 31 Aug - Sun 2 Sept
The adult/student ratio looked good: 6 adults and 6 students set off at lunchtime on Friday. The lads were a surprisingly quiet bunch on the road - no demands for incomprehensible, loud 'music' and we arrived at Mangatepopo Hut just after dark. We were lucky to find the hut practically empty, bagged bunks and Mike chose to set up his fly outside. Over the course of the evening the hut filled to capacity with a final group arriving at 1 am Saturday morning and occupying the kitchen/dining area. There was some awkward stepping around bodies to get the billy on for tea in the morning. The students and four adults set out early. The remaining two (Helen & Becky) magnanimously forwent the satisfaction of completing the crossing in favour of driving the club van to Ketetahi for the pick up (via a good coffee on a comfy sofa at Macrocarpa Cafe in National Park).
Saturday was cold but bright at first so we had great views of Mt Taranaki from the Devil’s Staircase. There were a number of guided groups but they stuck to the main route. We headed off to the left on South Crater and “wandered up” (Mike’s words not mine) the South side. The students had some great winter climbing practice with ice axes and crampon points, even admitting to getting the adrenaline going a bit on the steeper sections. After some well-earned relaxation sliding in the softer snow we stopped for lunch at Emerald Lake, which was white with ice. The students found a nearby vent to warm themselves before the rest of the crossing. A stronger, colder S wind got up so we headed down the final section as quickly as we could. Helen walked up to meet the weary trampers while Becky read her book in the van. A glorious day, we were so lucky, and Bharat made his first full crossing in 5 attempts.
During Saturday night heavy rain and wind set in and the walk out from the hut was cold and wet. Mike claimed to have enjoyed the wild night under his fly. With the skifields closed Ohakune was heaving and we aborted an attempt to find coffee and headed for the Brown Sugar Café at Taihape where we spent a pleasant hour sitting peacefully in the sun putting the world to rights.
- Party members
- Students: Patrick Comesky, Ray Cook, Juvenka Earthson, Clarke McLachlan, Joe Sumner,
Lewis Thompson. Adult supervisors: Fiona Girdwood, Simon Holmes, Mike Jacobson, Bharat Pancha. Drivers: Becky Holmes (scribe), Helen Gibbons