Escaping the South Ōhau
20th-21st January 2020
On previous trips up Gable End Ridge, I had noticed a marked exit from the track at pt. 930 that appeared to go down to the South Ōhau. A recent MF trip party had a quick look at the route there wasnít sufficient time to explore it and ascertain which spur it followed down to the river but it looked like an escape route from the South Ōhau if the river was up.
Curiosity piqued, Chris and I set off up the Ōhau River on Wellington Anniversary Day to find the start of the route. This didnít take long. Just as we entered the Ōhau, we spotted two familiar figures loping along the bank towards us Franz Hubmann and Paul McCredie. Once we had stopped gawping at their epic trip, we mentioned our paltry plan and they promptly told us that they had spotted the start of the route in Butchers Creek upstream from the hut. Fun ruined but we still had to complete the mission. We met three other parties returning from amazing trips during the long weekend. At our lunch stop in the South Ohau we met a couple who had just come down the route. Our sense of adventure was diminishing fast.
We had forgotten that the South Ōhau is no easy romp up a river and we were rather pleased to get to the hut which we had all to ourselves. We confirmed that the start of the route is about 50 m up Butchers Creek on the true left and marked with a permolat cross and various bits of tape.
The next day we set off to climb up to Gable End Ridge. There was very little dependable footpad but plenty of tape. Because the route does not follow an obvious spur and tends to zigzag, it's a good idea to find and follow the tape to avoid unnecessary time negotiating obstacles. It is a very steep climb most of the way and it took us 1 hour 50 minutes from the hut to pt. 930 , a climb of 600 m. From there, we descended Gable End Ridge and returned to Poads Road.
Could this be done as a day trip? Overall it took us just under 11 hours with overnight packs, two lunch breaks and plenty of chats with interesting people. Iíd say it would be a good fit trip or possible as a MF trip with people who are quick in bouldery rivers.
- Party members
- Peggy (scribe) and Chris Munn