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Heels 1966

Wilkin River Trip. — 11-25 February 1966

page 31

Wilkin River Trip.

11-25 February 1966.

Five off us left Wellingotn on Friday 11th on the Lyttleton Ferry. Next morning we took a tourist bus from Christchurch to Wanaka. At Wanaka, John joined the party and we took a taxi to Makarora at the head of the lake. We had thought it might have been necessary to use a jet boat to cross the Makarora River, but as we would have had to walk about two miles to Makarora Township, we decided to wade it anyway. As it happened, we encountered no difficulty crossing either this or the Wilkin River, and made carp that night on the true right bank of the Wilkin.

Next morning, we left early, donning 70+ lb packs, and set off up-river. We reached Kerin Forks Hut about 10am and after a rest, travelled on up to Jumbeland Hut - fitness (or lack of it) about mid-afternoon.

Next day it rained..... and the next. Meantime we played cards, ate, argued, played chess, chopped wood, ate, slept and ate.

A rather wet and dishevelled crew of six A.U.T.C. members who had come down the south Branch of the Wilkin with reports of bad weather, arrived and finding the hut occupied, rather unharpily, elected to slee[unclear: p] out in their tents in the rain.

On Tuesday ([unclear: a]) it wasn't raining so much, and we decided to de something. So Colin, eter and Alistair went up the Wonderland Valley opposite the hut, to try to bag a deer, while John, Rose and Ian climbed Jumbo (6200') directly behind the hut. During this climb we saw two herds of 2 or so andseveral groups of one and two deer-ample reason for the airstrip and refrigeration plant we later examined on the top flats. The Wilkin and Adjacent valleys are infested with deer and chamois, and there is potentially a lot of money for the person who can find a cheap way of page break getting the carcasses out.

During our stay in the Wilkin, an aeroplane made three flights to the instrip.

Colin did the meat hunter out of no deer though and for the next few nights we had tasty yenison stew.

The next day was fine, so, disdaining a cold wet crossing of the Wilkin opposite the hut, we walked up to the river flats and crossed it there. We decided to climb Mt. Arne (c. 7000') reaching the top about 12.30pm. With fine views of surrounding peaks, and the impressive slopes of Pollux, we had lunch, and then traversed the ridge to a small bump which blocked the way. We tried to aidle round it, but the going became a little difficult, so we went up to the top. After a short but interesting rock-climb (finger technique') we reached the top of the 'Dimple' and once again enjoyed the view. We followed the rocky ridge from here to the main ride, and hoaded on down to the Wonderland Valley. We all reached the hut towards evening, pleasantly tired.

Our friends from Auckland had left for downriver and next day we decided to climb Aeclus (7600). The river crossing we had disdained the previous morning was unpleasant after a warm pit and breakfast, but it had to be done. After we had wrung ourselves out, we set off through beech forest to the tussack and then to the snew lind. The steep angle of the snow and the fact that we didn't have crampens, made stepcutting necessary, and we had lunch about an hour from the top. The top was covered in a light mist which with the wind made it not particularly pleasant, so we headed back down, glissading down the easy slepes. John and Ian chose a steep 500 slope to descend, but no-one else was game to follow.

On Saturday we moved on to Lake Diana at the feet of Mt. Pellux (8341'). Colin shot another deer, which annoyingly died in a small hellow in the ground, but someone found it so our supply of fresh meat was replenished.

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That night it rained, and the rock bivvy was found to be unsuitable for three in wet whatever- one side of the rock roof sloped down making minor waterfall over part of the fleer. Next day was fine and partly cloudy. A rest day was taken, sene of the party going un to a glacial tributary of the North Wilkin, while Colin and listeir wont up to look t lake Castalia (source of the other branch. All the time we were at this camp, avalanches fell or ctically unceasingly from the sheer cliffs which drop from the Pollux-Caster snow fiolds to the Makin glacier below.

That afternoon john and Ian found a route through the bluffs for our proposed attempt on [unclear: mollux] the next day.

An early start was suggested and about 3am we get up. The valley was filled with ominous cloud and mist. We had breakfast and went back to sleep for an hour or so. Some people took a pessimistic view of the weather but after assurances that it was fine on top we set off just before dawn. At the snowline, we emerged above [unclear: crampons], and as we moved higher up, we got magnificent glistening in the morning sunshine, and the 'cotton wool' mist filling the valleys.

It was only 9am and [unclear: [gap — reason: illegible]ollux] looked like 'easy most'. But this was not to be. Late in the season as it was a lot of snow had melted or avalanched, and as we moved up the usually snow filled icefall we were confronted by great blocks of bare ice and in between, hungry-locking green, went come way, but usually ended in might gaps or vertical ice walls. Alistair [unclear: pronounced] a route through [unclear: massive] jumble of soracs, but soon changed his plans when he unintentionally took the quick way down off the snow he was on into the lip of a crevasse. Mere than a little [unclear: disappointed] we gave headed back down to camp.

Colin and [unclear: Alistair] decided to commence trip in the Copland valley, Peter and Ress decided to stroll off down river and hitch-wellinton, while Johan and Ian decided to spend another page break day climbing.

But the next day it rained. Only Colin and Alistair stirred, [unclear: holding] down river. The next [unclear: Peter] and Ross left, and John and Ian in cloudy weather climbed about five [unclear: peaks] between Arne and the Main Divide: =June, Iphigonia, Vesta, Sentinel, Apollo- not bad going.

Although far from disappointed with our achievements, it must be pointed out that there is a vast amount of scope for both the climber and the [unclear: trainer] in the xxxxx wilkin, and rifle and good we ther make it an extermly enjoyable place for a Christmas Trip.

Ross Gooder.

Leader: Colin sayth.

Accompanied by: John [unclear: Mild] Alistair [unclear: chapman,] Ross Gooder, [unclear: Dotor] Gin I am Langford.