Cloudy Hill – Mt Lyndon

Mon 14 June 2021

Yes, Monday. On the usual Sunday gale nor-westers were forecast, and looking further ahead the weather didn’t look too flash. But there was a bit of a window on the Monday so I fired out an email. 7.45am Monday, Markus and I met at the Russley Rd corner and moved on to Springfield to team up with Helen and Tania from Ashburton. It was overcast in town with ground-mist across the plains, but the high-country forecast was good, with nor-west winds maybe up to 40km/h forecast, so, no surprise when the mist disappeared near Sheffield.

After the big rain the first point to check was the Coleridge Road turnoff at Lake Lyndon. Yes, the gossip was right. The turnoff had a road barrier and the ford of the little creek was well scoured out. So, moving on, the next thought was the Porters Road. The scheduled trip was for Red Hill via Porters Road, Porter River, Coleridge Pass and up the spur to the hill. A week previously the ski club website had said a contractor was working on restoring the road to the lodge and hoped to finish by the end of the week. But the website had not been updated all week and there was nothing helpful at the gate on SH73. So, we assumed the road was a no-go and opted for plan B.

Parking half a km up the ski road at the first bend, we set out at 9.15am in a pleasant, light nor-wester up to the west of 917m and up the ridge, SW to 1014m. On the ridge our four were halted by a curious falcon, happy to sit on its rocky perch and wonder who we were; great to see in the Porters area.

On 1442m Cloudy Hill by 10.45am, we dropped around the broad ridge, then up to 1345m. From there we sidled the face of 1456m to drop to the big saddle at 1250m and start the trudge in bare scree up to Mt Lyndon at 1489m. With the 40kph nor-wester on top we looked for shelter to the south-east edge and settled down in a cosy hollow for lunch at 12.30pm.

Continuing down the broad slopes, south-west of the top, we crossed 1390m, climbed up beside the gully to approach the sharp dog-leg containing point 1494m. Before the northern bend, we turned north and headed down a long way, to a major confluence in the Porter River, arriving there at 2.30pm. Tania and Helen hadn’t been looking forward to battling downstream in tall tussock, but we soon found ourselves on an easy, clear MTB track, so could cruise down to the Porters Road by 3pm.

The road situation was obvious. That section of road below the river bridge had been well washed out and all the contractor’s heavy gear was there. The grader driver was working, but nobody else, so the job should be finished by Christmas. Porters Ski Field are planning to open on the 25th June, but they will need a whole lot of snow before then. Once past the road-works we still had a few kilometres to trudge down the road in calm, nor-west conditions, to arrive at our vehicle at 4pm, after a snowless but enjoyable round-trip.

We thought we had timed it well to be back in Springfield in time for a coffee. But, gosh, it was a Monday and both the cafes had closed. No problem. Back through the ground mist to home. We were: Helen Biddle, Tania Dalzell, Markus Kaufmann & Merv Meredith (leader). MM

Starting up Mt Lyndon from the saddle. Photo by Merv

Looking into Porter River Valley. Photo by Markus