|Ben relaxing below Avalanche Peak as we take in the beauty of Mt Rolleston, January 2012|
For my final weekend, I was determined to knock the classic climb off the list, and found Hamish Cumming to join me to tackle the intimidating northern side of the mountain - the Otira Face.
In late summer, Rome Ridge is a choss pile and the Crow Glacier is broken and crevassed. The Otira Face however had seen several ascents by friends I'd made in the Canterbury Mountaineering Club. Owen Lee had also recommended the climb earlier in the summer. Armed with beta, to navigate the route and stay on solid rock, and a pristine forecast, we had high hopes of success.
|A mild 5:20am start at the Otira Valley carpark|
We were on the trail up Otira one hour before dawn to maximise our chances of finishing before dark. Owen Lee told of suffering a cold forced bivvy on their descent, he didn't recommend it. We knew we'd have to move fast.
Sure enough, we reached the head of the valley just as first rays lit up the top of the reddish rock face. Our route headed started up the buttress middle right, topping out just below the high peak.
|First rays on the daunting Otira Face, head of the valley|
|Route C: Central Direct. - Climb NZ The Otira Face in winter|
|Climbing early on, solid rock slabs|
|Appreciating our rapidly rising views|
|Climbing solid rock|
|Hamish seconding up the only pitch|
It was great experience leading the alpine rock, we simul climbed the entire route except for one overhanging chimney-squeeze section. That was just for fun.
|Telephoto of Mt Murchison (2400m) at the head of the White River, reminiscent of the January 2010 trip|
|Interesting mist in the lower valleys above Arthurs Pass|
I had neglected to tape up my known blister hot spots on my heels - this was a climb, not a long walk - but as it turned out the climbing was rather easy and fast. In return for our raging speed, my heels began to heat up. In anticipation of the 5-day Kahurangi trip coming up, I patiently attended to my growing wounds before yielding to the call of the summit.
|Taping up hot-spots|
Hamish coiled up the rope as he traversed right in behind, and a hearty high-five sealed the deal. Not a breath of wind at the summit, we were right in the middle of an enormous high-pressure system. It had taken 7 hours from the carpark, leaving at 5:20am set us up nicely for a relaxed half hour lunch at half Noon to enjoy our lofty surroundings - perfect. Almost. The only thing missing was some cheese for lunch, I was just craving some fat. Muesli bars, dry fuit and dry wraps just weren't enough.
|Team photo on the summit of Mt Rolleston High Peak|
|Summit view to the west|
|Bridging across the abyss to gain the 'schrund of Crow Glacier|
|First drink since the summit halfway down Otira Slide...|
|Stoked with a great day out on Rolleston|
We reached the Otira Valley carpark after 12.5 hours on the go. A big day out, with huge success, but thanks to our early start finishing at 6pm with plenty of day-light helped make the day trip feel only modestly exhausting. Beer and Bacon Egg Pie at the Bealey Pub finished off a memorable last day in Christchurch.
The next day I packed up all my belongings, fitting most in the car, only the bare essentials in my pack - and leaving the rest behind, I hitchhiked north to St Arnaud... ready for the next adventure.