Mt Taranaki July 2010
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A mid-winter weekend forecast to die for had Di and Pete on the road mid Friday afternoon heading for Inglewood. We overnighted at the Forrestal Lodge, an old nuns convent. After a good nights sleep we discovered the forecast snow had fallen to low levels but the sky was clear and the wind dropping. The road up to north Egmont hadsnow on it from the park gate and we were forced to put the chains on a few hundred metres below the carpark. After a bit of chain untwisting we finally had them on and completed the journey. The views up the mountain were spectacular and we hurriedly completed our intentions form and checked with the Doc office about track conditions. No known problems so we decided to take the lower route to the Waingongoro Hut as the winds were forecast to drop completely later that afternoon.
At around 10am we started up the puffer track so we could appreciate the views above the bushline before dropping down to Maketawa Hut. From here we crossed a number of steep and deep ravines and as the morning progressed the snow starting
melting off the tree cover. It therefore got a bit damp and we were forced to wear raincoats. We wondered whether we should have gone high and avoided the snow melt and in retrospect that would have been the better option, returning the same way on the high route. Never mind we were committed to this route so we stopped for a quick break for lunch and continued on towards East Egmont. We soon heard the distance reeving of a car engine but it was another 40 minutes before we hit the road. The temperature was starting to drop as this side of the mountain went into shadow so continued quickly on to the Waingongoro Hut arriving there about 4pm. A much slower than anticipated trip but the snow and Di's problem feet contributed greatly.
The hut had five young university students in residence so we had company that night. A fire was quicken started as the temperature was getting near zero by around 6pm. The frost the following morning blanketed the bush as we crunched up the track towards the skifield. It wasn't long before we were out of the treeline and checking out the views. There was no wind and the sky was cloudless. Doesn't get much better than this and the views for the rest of the day didn't disappoint. Di's feet were really giving her problems but she wanted to make the most of the weather and soldiered on. We encountered a few walkers above the skifield carpark which was still covered in snow. A rope tow started up as walked by the skifield buildings.
This would have been the tows first use for the 2010 season. Our crampons stayed in our packs as our iceaxes proved to be more than sufficient for safe travel. A steady climb had us slowly making our way toward the repeater mast below Taurangi Lodge. As we neared it we could hear the ice falling off the steelwork and bouncing its way down to the ground. We sighted about 20 climbers practising half way up the mountain above the lodge. Ideal conditions for getting used to travelling roped up. As we started down the Puffer track I reached the conclusion that this weekend's weather was the best I had ever encountered on Taranaki. We reached the carpark by 12:30 with Di vowing to see a podiatrist the following week. Her feet though taped were a mass of blisters, her inserts obviously well past their used by date.