Walker Pass –Amber Col –Sudden Valley

15- 16th March 2017

A little confused about the dates above? Yes, they are Wed – Thursday. Our PTC trip was listed in Footnotes for Sat 18 – Sun 19th March but by close off only one had enlisted. John Allan had phoned and questioned me about the route and timing as he had an OVER FORTIES group planning to go there on Wed – Thurs. He said the forecast was for a dying southerly Wed morning and fine on Thursday. If the PTC trip didn’t go, would I like to come? At noon on the Sunday I phoned John and said yes please. So this report is what PTC might have experienced.

I first did this trip in late May 2010 with Gary Huish and Sue Piercey. The 2010 trip was in not very good weather and poor visibility. But a classic trip none-the-less, enough for me to say I must come back in fine weather. Well the PTC trip didn’t go but this Wed – Thurs one did and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. I will try not to mention the weather again but it was FINE, blue sky, no wind, tee shirt weather and not even a dew at our campsite below Amber Col! Got the picture?

Helen and I were late getting to Springfield to rendezvous with John and Bridget. 7.45am there, so it was 9.00am before we were walking from the Hawdon shelter. But the timing ended up fine. Three hours up to Hawdon Hut and a chat with a chap from Bath doing an impressive series of multi day trips in the area. Then up Twin Falls passed the tarn, or muddy basin, to have lunch on Walker Pass. By 2.00pm we had dropped to where the track crosses the East Otehake and turned back up it. The climb up the stream steadily steepened so it was a relief to eventually emerge into the upper basin at 5.00pm. Our 2010 tent terrace was still there and the little stream 10 metres away was still just trickling, in March. What a lovely evening. And night, with a full moon.

Thursday, we were away at 8.30am up to the Col then climbing to our left up toward point 1828m. From pt1828m a rocky ridge runs south some distance. The ridge is steep and not easily travelled on either side. I had a misplaced memory of this ridge. It was of another ridge altogether! We sidling right a bit to find a semi suitable route up through the rocks to the ridge. Then travelled south along the ridge some distance before it looked certain we would be blocked. One or two screes down on the eastern side were explored before settling on a reasonable one from which we could sidle around to the saddle at the southern end running up on to the Polar Range. Took some time.

In 2010 we sidled below Pt1844m and then lower along the Polar Range often through tussock before ascending to the ridge. This time I think John was peak bagging, as he went over 1844m and we travelled mostly along or near the ridge, with the near vertical drop into Sudden Valley spectacular on our left. At 12.30pm, again as in 2010, we arrived at the face rising to Mt Scott and there on our left was the top of the scree dropping all the way into Sudden Valley. But this time in very different weather. Lunch.

After lunch, The scree down without snow was steep, sometimes a bit boney and lumpy toward the bottom, but mostly good fast travel. At 3.20pm we stopped in the heat for a spell at the biv, then continued on, sidling on the TL to bypass Barrier Falls, emerged from the gorge into late afternoon sunshine and arrived back at the shelter at 6.25pm. John had questioned me on Wednesday how come it was 6.00pm when we got out on 2010? Now he knows.

Thanks lots for the invite, John. We were John Allan, Bridget Barclay, Helen Binnie & Merv M. (MM)