|Paradise - the Upper Waimakariri|
After the opening and catching up with friends I made the most of my presence in the South Island and took off for the hills about Arthur's Pass for a few days with Mike White and Jim Wilson, 'old' climbing friends for more than sixty-five years. Sadly, Dave Elphick, the other of our climbing 'quartet', passed away a little while ago.
We spent much of the time based at Rough Creek Shambles, the Wilson family batch at the 'Pass'. From there we did day trips to the Upper Otira Valley, to the top of Avalanche Peak and had a three day excursion to the Pfieffer Bivi to the west of Arthur's Pass. There were heaps of stories from the past and we managed to even repeat a few of them during our trip! And the others would politely wait until you'd finished before telling you you'd told it two days ago!!
|Mike and Jim|
|The Rocky Knoll|
|One of the Pfieffer Basins|
The highlight was probably our trip to Pfieffer. Apart from the return day the weather was magnificent and we spent the middle day resting and taking photos of the surrounds. The big lesson for us was finding that our times were more than double the guide book times. The suggested 4-6hrs in to Pfieffer took us close to 11hrs. This was a wake-up for us who (it seemed only a few years ago) prided ourselves on doing trips well under suggested times.
Our trip up the Otira Valley was full of memories - joint memories of both joy and sadness. It is still one of our favourite valleys.
|In the Upper Otira Valley|
And then there was a great lunch with John (Jim's brother) and Ash - full of good stories from Ash - and us. Isn't it great when folk who know one another well, get together - there is never a lost word.
And everywhere about Arthur's Pass was the hyperactivity of the Coast to Coast - in full swing as we climbed Avalanche - more memories.
We nearly didn't make it to the summit of Avalanche Peak - managed it by having a good rest and adjusting our pace downwards. On top it was like the United Nations - young back packers from Israel, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, America, United Kingdom, several from Asia and a few Kiwis. And they were just the ones we found out about. All good company - as is usual when you meet like-minded folk in the mountains.
|Slowly Upwards Towards Avalanche Peak|
|Little Leafed Celmisia|
|A Kea scans our lunch with a wicked eye.|
|Mt Rolleston and Crow Neve from Avalanche Peak|
We didn't seem to be going slowly - the others were just faster and the clock wasn't fibbing. I guess that out average age of over 82 had something to do with it. But we enjoyed ourselves and felt pleased with our achievements. Still planning more get-togethers in the mountains.
Here is a quote from something I read about 65 years ago :
… he who loves the mountains for themselves and for their eternal beauty will never grudge them their everlasting youth. He will turn to them again and again, knowing they will never fail him. And when he can no longer do more than lift his eyes to the hills he will still find that the promised strength is unfailing – not strength of body but of spirit, garnered from long days in nature’s tranquillity and peace.
Andre Roche “On Rock and Ice”