Anti Crow-Fools Col-Avoca Col-Jordan Saddle

7-9th December 2018

This trip had to happen. We had set out on at the same time last year, but due to a brain fade or whatever on my part, compounded by a few other factors, we had climbed the wrong way out of the Anti Crow and missed Fools Col. So this year was about ‘putting it right’.

Of the original five people, who set out last December, only three of us - Peter, Diane and me – were able to repeat the trip.

We left town 3.30pm on the Friday afternoon in Di’s car, parked at the Bealey Hotel, ate our dinners in the car park and were walking about 6.00pm. Trundling up the Waimakariri River and over Turkey Flat, Di was walking unusually slowly. However, there was no rush in lovely weather, and we were at the Anti Crow Hut by 8.30pm. No one there this time. But Di then confirmed what we might have noticed earlier. The virus that had been affecting her for weeks still hadn’t gone, and she was sure that she would not be able to cope with tomorrow’s long day. Her best option was to walk out again tomorrow and join her family in Castle Hill village, and on Sunday, return to the pub about 3.30 –4.00pm to pick us up when we walk out. That’s fine. Now the gear. I had opted for the luxury of a Spectrum tent. We didn’t want to carry that for two, so we left part of the tent and a few food items with Di.

Saturday morning, Peter and I were up early and away by 6.30am, leaving Di to snooze on. Trundling up the now familiar route up the Anti Crow on a perfect morning, this time we continued on, sidling up the true right of the waterfall and eventually circling the valley head with a stop in a good spot for lunch. A ‘benefit’ of Di dropping out had been that we no longer had a GPS or map programme. From well down valley, we had ‘the Col’ in sight. But once in the upper basin my compass told me that what we could see was Gizeh Col. Fools Col was now in full sight around to the true left. To be absolutely certain this time, I checked the bearings a few times.

Peter led all the way up in reasonable snow and we were on the Col about 2.00pm. I then led the sidle around to Avoca Col on the northern side, but took too high a line, and we eventually had to drop to the Col. A speedy descent to the Avoca in good snow didn’t happen. More like a slower walk on soft snow or boney conditions, so it was about 5.00pm before we reached the river, having taken lots of photos in the Moraine Flat area, for Grant Hunter. But then the fun started. The river was clear, but racy, and not wadeable. The bush bash down the true left was more than interesting and we were relieved to eventually reach the wider valley and open terraces.

Approaching Fools Col

Peter on Fools Col

Our objective had been the ‘deer pen’ terrace, where there had been a walk-in deer pen in the deer research days. But at 7.00pm, we found a large grass terrace with a perfect sheltered tent site at the far end, which was too good to turn down, even though it didn’t have it’s own stream. So 12.5 hour day. Didn’t seem that long on a lovely December day. We set up our very spacious Spectrum fly camp and eventually finished dinner after dark. Another day in Paradise.

Sunday morning was perfect. Away early again at 7.10am we weren’t far down river on the hour’s walk to Galilee Creek when we noted a hunter watching our approach. He turned out to be Eugene; Ian Rowe’s son- in-law. The two deer, we spooked on our terrace last evening didn’t rank with him; he had seen thirteen already this morning! We were also aware of the chopper buzzing around the tops, on a special permit from DoC due to the high deer numbers.

Continuing down river, we had turned up Galilee Creek by 8.00am, to reach the spur leading up to Jordan Saddle. The creek is now well gutted at the bottom so we tried the tussock on the true right. Very steep and a pain. On the saddle after 11.00am, we had dropped down the Jordan Stream for an early lunch at the bushline by 11.35am. After lunch, the wander down through the ‘S’ bends was enjoyable, but of course, the long straights down the Waimakariri, less so. However, we were back to the Bealey Pub with time to spare at 3.20pm, with Di turning up shortly afterward. So plenty of time for drinks and goodies, do the money and cruise back to town.

We were: Diane Mellish, Peter Umbers and Merv Meredith (leader)