Black Hill, Rakaia

Sunday, 1 September 2019

The Black Hill trip has historically left town at 7.00am to allow for a long drive into the Rakaia valley and the climb to the top from the former old quarry site, if we could manage to drive there at all. Then depending on the route option taken and the month, often pushed the daylight hours. But the logistics have changed substantially a number of years back. The farmer split the farm, completely rebuilt the road around the quarry including a sidle of Redcliffe Hill eventually making it possible to drive right in to the old musterers’ hut. The ‘old hut’ has had a complete upgrade including toilet and shower, maybe for quarry operation accommodation. The farmer was happy for us to drive in, so what was a long day has now potentially become a relatively short day, depending on conditions and the route/circuit taken to the top.

Angela arriving at the final ridge before the summit of Black Hill. Photo courtesy of Merv Meredith.

This time we still left Church Corner at 7.00am and met Angela and Jan at the Blackford Rd (South Bank) turn off at 8.00am. It was a straightforward drive up to the rebuilt hut.

Felt a little like cheating though as we started walking from there at the 900m level, at 9.10am. Taking the usual ‘direct’ route up the broad face south of Packers Creek then sidling around to approach Black Hill from the east, despite the softish snow we reached the peak at 12.30pm. Shelter for lunch from a moderate westerly wind was easy, just down a little on the lee side. Our view included the Porters Pass fire burning all day across the Rakaia valley.

Descending to the south over 1971m and down the spur from 1934m was the obvious circuit down, but the temptation to take the easiest route retracing our tracks in the snow, was too much. Halfway down the weather was too good to leave and maybe we shouldn’t have wimped out and gone for the circuit. We were back down to our vehicles at the fancy hut by about 3.30pm and most of us home by 6.00pm.

We were: John Allan, Bridget Barclay, Jan Finlayson, Doug Forster, Angela Grigg, Jane Liddle, Merv Meredith (leader), Kerry Moore, and Peter Umbers. MM