Matthews’ East Ridge Recce
24 October 2020
Two 2019 trips up Matthews, one following Corner Creek and the other Hinakitaka Stream, set me thinking about an east ridge route to the top1. This ridge rises above the lower Mukamuka true left and, crammed between Hinakitaka Stream and Corner Creek, runs for some six or seven kilometres before ramming into Matthews’ summit pyramid. Viewed from various vantage points on the ground, on WAMS aerial imagery or Google Earth it is seen to be ravaged by slips and covered in tight windswept vegetation. I had never heard of any trips along it, so definitely worth a look.
Capitalising on an earlier reconnaissance and leaving the lower reaches for another time, our party set out from the DOC Corner Creek campsite, climbing a steep spur to join the main ridge about 250 m south of Bump 738. Apart from one or two patches of scrub easily sidled on the western side, the vegetation was pretty much regular Remutaka forest; this state continued beyond the bump whilst nearer the summit the leatherwood was remarkably restrained. So much for impressions formed from aerial photography!
Moving past .738 we found, as usual, that the topo map did not convey the true detail of the ridge crest: furrowing, kinks, ups and downs. About 700 m beyond the bump, an active slip reaches the crest. Here we had a good view out to the
northeast, providing a new angle on the Knife Edge. The southern lip of the slip is overhung but there was straightforward travel along the crest (thank goodness for a northerly rather than a southerly) until the last few metres where we sidled into steep bush rather than risk an exposed ridge climb. Finally, some five and a half hours from the coast, and with the last vertical 100 metres perhaps the steepest, we emerged on the northeast ridge about 50 horizontal metres from the summit.
On top we savoured what was for all of us a first, before travelling back down the northeast ridge to a small saddle at 730 m elevation, then southwestish down a steep gully to Corner Creek and so back to the coast.2
1 On both trips we left the valleys at about 550-600 m elevation, climbing somewhat precariously out onto respectively the northeast ridge and the south ridge. So, both times, shunning the east ridge. 2 Unsure if the route was feasible and contrary to the trip’s the recce mantra, we undertook this trip prior to placing it on the 2021 Wednesday fixture card. When it was done we agreed the recce’s the trip. Maybe in 2022
- Party members
- Bill Allcock, Colin Cook (scribe), Tricia French, Franz Hubmann.