The Alpine Trip

An outsider’s perspective or welcome to the world of digital tramping!

Tramping became a spectator sport when Jane Liddle took a MAProgress tracker on the PTC 2021 Alpine trip. This handy little device sends out position and speed details of the party every 10 minutes. When the party stops for the night, their location is shown by a tent icon. Jane didn’t take the fancier version that allows text messages, so us spectators only know where and when there is a change in route, but not WHY? Hence the following bird’s eye (mis)interpretation of the trip.

Day 1 looked good with the tracker working, watching afternoon tea at Reischek Hut through to camp at Ramsay Lake, so far so good. Day 2 started with no signal; not good. We can’t tell the party that it’s not working. Then a signal arrived about midday; they are still in the same place. The wind must still be too strong to ascend. Then movement at 2:30pm; backwards. Are they heading for Meins Knob and Lyell Hut? Yes, up they head and over but the signal stops 2km short of the hut. They wouldn’t stop that short of a hut after a windy night, so they must have reached the hut just before the next signal.

Day 3 starts at the previous position; they didn’t reach the hut. They reach the hut but move on. Are they going to try the Cockayne Glacier that Geoff had heard was very crevassed? Yes, they have turned, but look at the speed they are going up! They reach the top of the glacier about 1:30pm, only half a day behind now, and they are still going. Whoops; they have turned round after crossing most of the Cockayne Neve; weather must be packing in. A signal gap of two hours before the next one back down at Ramsay Lake. That night the PTC executive meeting gets delayed while we watch progress up the Lyell, way past the hut before crossing with again the signal stopping 2km before the hut.

Day 4 the tracker doesn’t move; it must be very wet. Day 5 starts back over Meins Knob; going a lot faster than descent; they are fresh after a hut day. They must be coming out; Plan B pick-up was in the Rakaia, but this is several days early. Hello; they have turned right at the top of Meins Knob. Where are they going now? Surely not along the Jollie Range? They must be heading for Butler Saddle and the Lawrence River. No, they have stopped about 2pm; that’s early.

Day 6 started over Butler Saddle and down, now what? I can’t see a route up the Lawrence River over the Arrowsmiths to the Rakaia. No, they are heading down the Lawrence valley. There are routes over onto the Potts and Ashburton, but they are motoring down the Lawrence. Right; past Hermitage Hut and still going towards Lawrence Hut; surely they are heading for Erewhon and the Rangitata tomorrow! I don’t want to hire a van tonight and head to the wrong road-end, so I wait for the morning and head off when they bypass the last possible route over to the Potts. Gary Huish

Screen shot of the MAProgress Tracker showing the route of the alpine trip