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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Mt Taranaki - #1



After several failed attempts to climb Mount Taranaki, at 7:23pm Tuesday 31st January 2012, I reached the summit. Perched on a windy rock at two thousand five hundred metres, I was there in the moment. At last!

Magical
During the weekend, the mountain was taken by storm by Anna Frost, Matt Bixley, and Grant Guise. They each smashed records on the mountain, some had stood since 1976. I spent Saturday cycling around Taranaki, and was too depleted to join their record-breaking attempts. Read about their success here: Mt Taranaki - Speed Record. Alistair McAlpine has recently compiled all the records on the mountain, hence the recent interest! I was determined to make my own way up at the first open chance...

Today began windy & wet, but as I patiently stared outside my office window, mentally tearing away the layers of dark cloud, the storm began to subside... I was just about to think of another plan when, the rocky peak appeared above the clouds. All go!

I set off up the Razorback track from North Egmont at 5:50pm, following advice from 4-summits record holder Matt Bixley. Overgrown, and laden with hundreds of steps, I climbed steadily along a 'razorback' ridge to the Translater tower  by Tahurangi Lodge. 35 minutes, I branched off to the summit climb section.
Stairs...
A few hundred steps launched me into the nemesis of the climb - 300 vertical metres of scree. Not your average scree, with hundreds climbing this route every summer weekend, it was all but impossible to get a grip! As I climbed and clawed desperately, I started to pick a better route between well lodged rocks, but it was still a huge mission. Once at The Lizard, it was a rock climb scramble to the crater. My watch spurred me into a furious dash once I saw the ice in the crater, ticking down to my goal of 1 hour 30 minutes...

Head down until I saw the memorial plaque, what an epic view to burst through my senses! 1 hour 33 minutes to the summit, I was ecstatic. Reminding myself this was only the first, the reccie, I'm sure there's plenty more to be shaven off.
The summit crater
I didn't rush the descent, it took about the same time as the trip up. Facing down, you realise how steep Taranaki is, and precarious pockets of scree on the solid, serrated rock are forever out to get you. This mountain is just as lethal in summer as it is in winter.

I arrived back at North Egmont at 9:05pm just before dark, making for a 3:15 return trip. It was a magic climb, as I drove off I occasionally caught sight of its darkened silhouette on a surprisingly calm night.

I'm now looking forward to taking 10 others with me to climb the Eastern Ridge on Saturday, and sleep at Syme Hut atop Fanthams Peak. Lets hope the weather agrees! But for now, I can finally live in Taranaki, and relax.

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1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you're hooked Alastair. Good luck on East Ridge it's a much cleaner climb with exposure over 'Ted's Alley' on the left. Fingers crossed for a still fine day.

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