A great snow trip– Wednesday 31 August 2016
With the original leader ill and poor weather the previous Sunday, it was fortunate that this trip went ahead. Meeting at Richmond Badminton Hall at 8am under a cloudy sky, we loaded up and were on our way. With much chatting, the kilometres passed comfortably and quickly. Around Tophouse patches of blue sky were seen and from Rainbow Road on it was all blue sky with views of snow-clad mountains. We felt lucky to have the flexibility to come on such a day.
Arriving at the ski field, we set off, Chris and Jo with snow shoes and trekking poles, Joy, Madeline and Colin with crampons and ice axes. The only way was upwards and we kept to the right of the main ski slope seeing many skiers and snowboarders speeding downhill. After an hour of steady plodding we reached the top of the T-bar lift. Three people were crouched around what appeared to be an injured person but was actually a mannequin – it was a first aid training session.
A few minutes later we crossed the ridge to gaze on a beautiful view of the snow-clad Robert Ridge with Lake Rotoiti below. A great spot for morning tea Joy decided - handing us a piece of delicious home-made muesli slice. We took in the views and the tremendous feeling of just being here.
Continuing mostly along the ridge (and being overtaken by cheerful snowboarders) we eventually reached the top of Mt McRae at 1878m. Whew! Time for a group photo, to take in more views, identify more peaks….and find a sheltered spot for lunch. We chose a place on some rocks just below the ridge, out of the rising wind and with a view back over the ski field. As we enjoyed lunch, a drone being flown from Mt McRae circled nearby...
After lunch we decided to go on just a few hundred metres more along the ridge to Pt 1880. Here, the ridge fell away and we saw even further to the south, identifying Kehu Peak and taking more photos. At 2.20pm with the wind whistling, we started back. From Mt McRae we dropped down the valley pretty well straight towards the carpark arriving around 3pm. Chris kindly lent me his snowshoes for part of this section and he proceeded in boots. For the conditions encountered, snowshoes and crampons were perhaps on a par in terms of security - but snowshoes took less effort.
Back at the carpark we were asked how far we’d gone. Pointing it out, it seemed quite a distance. We all thought we’d done well as we drove back full of happy memories. Perhaps I wasn’t the only one to sleep deeply that night! Thanks everyone for a great trip.
The group was Joy (leader), Chris (driver), Jo, Madeline (visitor) and Colin (scribe).