The best view in the Remutakas
2019 6 November
Bump 819 lies on the Ōrongorongo main range roughly midway between Papatahi and Matthews' north saddle. It towers above Papatahi Hut and is easily identified from the East Whakanui Track as a high, broad, cupola-shaped bump with immense slip faces on its northern and western flanks. Although I had traversed it in overnight trips along the range I couldn't remember ever being lucky enough to do so in conditions of good visibility; the Wednesday 6th November day trip offered a chance to capture the view.
Multiple defections due to illness and injury left me trip leader. I decided to shift the approach from the Ōrongorongo valley, (requiring 2 1/4 hours' walking along the Ōrongorongo Track and up river before starting the climb), to Ocean Beach, a two-hour drive but then a much shorter trip. Much rougher too! Mukamuka, Hinakitaka, Corner, Wharekauhau, all drain into Palliser Bay. All, in their lower reaches, offer broad shingle plains with subterranean flow and all, higher up, morph into chaotic boulder-strewn nettlebedecked obstacle courses.
The lower Wharekauhau is in private hands. The farm manager readily granted access (presumably no clay pigeon shooting scheduled) and also gave some good advice about the route: "stay in the river until about 480m altitude then climb out and ascend the spur that runs straight on to .819". From the map the obvious route is up a spur rising from forks at about 280m but, on reaching this point, we noted the spur toe was flat and scrubby and that route there and higher up may have involved some serious bush bashing. At least there we were beginning to lose the very strong headwind - although we would find it again on the top. The climb-out at 480m was straight-forward and the spur travel uncomplicated if steep at times. From the east the top is ringed by thickets of horopito perhaps best penetrated on hands and knees. Of course cloud first encountered at about 700m did not lift, even when given more time by our hill-top lunch. So once again, the best view in the Remutakas proved elusive.
- Party members
- Colin Cook (leader and scribe), Gerald Leather, David McNabb