Topping Out on Arthur
Mt Arthur Summit, Kahurangi National Park - Saturday 27 March 2021
This trip was planned for Sunday, but a rather dismal forecast brought it forward a day to Saturday. Saturday wasn’t looking too spectacular either, so a combination of the forecast and the day change saw participant numbers reduced drastically to seven.
Our small select posse headed off from Flora Saddle carpark on Saturday morning at 9, with a Plan B in case our summit bid was thwarted. Mt Arthur Hut was reached in time for morning tea, and then we left the trees behind and ascended steadily above the bushline and into the heavy cloud.
We thought we’d see how far we could get; ideally we would climb above the pesky cloud, and even if not, achieve our summit goal nevertheless. We certainly did not want to resort to our backup plan (descending down to Flora Hut and then either strolling up Mt Lodestone or to the Gridiron Rock Bivvies).
Unfortunately the cloud didn’t disperse because there was no wind, but thankfully the higher we went, the thinner and more fluid it became. We passed the junctions to Horseshoe Basin and then Ellis Hut, and it was all going swimmingly. There’s a scree sidle near the summit and a couple of small scrambly bits, but these were polished off in short order, and about three or so hours after leaving the carpark we were at the summit cairn, just in time for lunch.
It was the first ascent for four of the seven group members, who were all very chuffed with their achievement. Views were extremely fleeting, but that didn’t matter too much - there’s something very special about standing on a mountain top where there’s nothing higher anywhere around you.
And then we retraced our steps downwards in ever-diminishing cloud, with a stop at Mt Arthur Hut for afternoon tea, and seven hours from setting off from Flora Saddle we were back at the cars. Job well done.
The summiteers were: Diane (leader and scribe), Anna, Deb, Lynley, Tony, David and Gael.