Mt Wall

Sun 31 October 2010

On a perfect weather day it was surprising that only five turned up, perhaps everyone was resting up after their Labour weekend tramps. With the ski season over we had an extra walk from the locked gate up to the Broken River ski field where we contemplated the 6 person cable car which has replaced the old goods lift. It looked like a fun ride – perhaps we should organise a winter tramp to Broken River so we can try it out. At the top hut we stopped for a morning tea break that stretched out to ½ hour, as we all enjoyed the sunshine. The top part of the ski field was still covered in soft deep snow so we headed left towards a ridge leading up to the top ridge line. This provided some interesting terrain as we traversed tussock, scree, snow and rock. Thanks to those at the front who made steps in the snow for those of us following behind.

The fabulous views and photo op’s meant lunch also extended past the usual half hour but a change in the wind herded us onward along the ridge toward Mt Wall. The ridge looked challenging (at least to me) but turned out to be easy going until we tried to head down into Yukon Bowl (according to a sign). Here the snow on one side piled up to a sharp crest with a steep rock on the other side – not a good place to be without an ice axe and the experience to use it. As some of us were lacking the necessary equipment and/or experience the decision was made to turn back (after a few more photos of course).

Back at our lunch stop we eyed up Mt Hamilton as an alternative but instead decided to play in the snow and do some practice at self arrest. The snow was really too soft and deep for this to work very well but we definitely all enjoyed throwing ourselves down the slopes. John in particular mastered a new version of the traditional bum sliding technique – face down, head first with arms and legs lifted back and up like a free falling sky diver.

At the bottom of the ski field we were unable to resist the lure of a large wooden deck – in full sun and totally sheltered from what little wind there was. We went from coats and over trousers to shorts and T-shirts. The painted benches were almost too hot to sit on but did an excellent job of drying clothing wet from the snow. Our afternoon tea break extended to epic length as naps were taken, clothing dried and I tried out my brand new crampons (I didn’t want to put them away for the summer still unused). A visit by a Kea prompted attempts (unsuccessful) to photograph it on the wing. We discussed staying the night but decided that wouldn’t work as our food supplies were inadequate and didn’t include any beer.

On the way down the road Kevin spotted a track through the forest which he thought should be the other end of a track we saw on the way up. The others followed the road while Kevin and I checked it out. It turned out to be a pleasant gentle forest track but continued to the right for a long time, only finally zigzagging back just as we started to think we had made a big mistake. We came out on the road just as the others reached the same point so we decided it would be a good alternative to the road for future trips.

Thanks Kevin - while it’s exhilarating to achieve those high peaks a great time can be had just having a fun day out tramping. Mt Wall will be there for another day.

Kevin Hughes, Chris Leaver, John Robinson, Evelyn Barben, Heather Murray.