Lewis Tops, Brass Monkey Biv

Duchess Stream - 5-6 Dec 2010

Four of us arrived at the Lewis Pass Tops car park on a warm Saturday morning planning to do an anti-clockwise circuit taking in Brass Monkey Biv and The Grand Duchess

Chrys chose to leave the car back at the Nina where we would emerge. In no time at all she’d placed the car and hitched a ride back to our starting point. We were pleased to get to the bushline and catch some breeze after a hot climb on a bush track. The ridge passes tarns, with Deer Valley and Mt Technical to the left, the Maruia River Valley and Mt Meuller to the right. Little patches of snow in high spots enhanced the scene. Some of the peaks along the ridge can be bypassed but Kerry chose to climb point 1648 for the view. Sidling on the north side of 1602 can save a lot of up and down but we went the hard way, rewarded by seeing a good-sized tarn SW of 1602.

Brass Monkey Biv is in an excellent location with little tarns just a few metres away. Looking towards Duchess the ridge looks horrible. In fact Duchess, 3km south west, is obscured and is less daunting than you’d imagine when looking from the biv. We had plenty of time for cups of tea and soup and then a tasty dinner concoction which Chrys provided. The biv has two bunks so two slept in the kennel and two in a tent.

Morning came with lots of mist so we thought the predicted drizzly weather was on its way and chose to head down Duchess Stream rather than attempt Grand Duchess. We found a good way into the head of the valley and dropped to the stream. By this time the sun had shone through and it was obvious the weather was improving but we weren’t about to head upwards now. Duchess Stream isn’t difficult to navigate though we had to cross the stream many times to find better terrain. There are traces of track in the bush in places. Near the end of Duchess Stream it gets gorgy so it’s necessary to sidle high on the true right, then drop to meet the Nina track very close to the site of the old Nina Hut. We had lunch there and then headed out on the old Nina track on a warm, sunny day. The new track goes along the Nina’s true right. Mid-afternoon and we were motoring back home—happy trampers.

We were: Chrys Horn, Cathy Mountier, Dorota Giejsztowt and Kerry Moore. (KM)