Sunday 19 March 2023
Due to dreary weather forecasts, an anticipated overnight sojourn to Hunts Creek Hut via Kellys Creek Track and back via Mount Barron was delayed a week. Weather concerns for Saturday meant the overnight trip became a day circuit, summiting Mount Barron via the Pipeline Track and a descent on the Mount Barron Route.
Our day began with a 6:30am departure from Christchurch. After a brief stop in Springfield to pick up Helen, we continued to the start, just south of Otira. We began the ascent up the Pipeline Track after placing a car at the base of the Mt Barron route. The climb was slow-going as the track was steep and overgrown. We bush-bashed our way up, following the occasional pink flagging tape and looking for breaks in the vegetation, only losing the track a few times.
We had a well-deserved morning tea break on the first knoll and basked in the lovely weather. Aided by the delicious coffee provided by Sonja, we continued the ascent, sidling just below the 1629m point along a wide, grassy bench, until we approached Barron Saddle.
Before the ascent to the summit, we decided to have lunch on rock slabs with views over Otira to the mountain ranges spanning east to north. After a lovely, if slightly windy, lunch we climbed over the saddle, dropped over to the western side and sidled below the summit along the boulder scree, before the final ascent along scree to 1730m Mount Barron. We were rewarded with spectacular views of Arthur’s Pass, the Otira Basin, and the West Coast with Lake Brunner just visible. The only complaint was from Shana who was looking for kea, but none made an appearance.
The descent was via scree, then over to point 1569m where we encountered and befriended a stray tramper who joined us for the descent. We were grateful for the familiar orange triangles on the climb down on the Mount Barron Route. The going was still a bit tough as it was steep, a bit overgrown and slippery. We finished at the bottom of the track 9½ hours after we began the ascent—a tough but rewarding climb, with lovely weather enjoyed by: Shana Dooley, Peter Umbers, Geoff Spearpoint, Helen Binnie, Jane Liddle and Sonja Risa [SR]