Hanmer mid-winter base – 6 -7 July 2019

We had all arrived at the double storeyed Holiday House by late Friday afternoon. Just off the road up to Conical Hill, it was an ideal place for a base camp with the dining / lounge area focused around a large woodburner that was kept fed with logs from the amply stacked woodshed behind the house.

After sorting out our sleeping arrangements, John, Wendy, Shane and Jill went to a pub and joined in karaoke while the rest of us had a cuppa at the house. I was the only one who walked down to the town for a disappointing hamburger as everyone else had brought something to have for dinner.

Saturday was a bit overcast as we piled into two cars and drove out to the Jollies Pass carpark to climb up Mt Isobel. We steadily gained height as we walked up the Jollies Pass road to 800 metres past the pass where the track heads off towards Mt Isobel. Not far up this track, Glenda turned around and headed back to take one car back to the house. She planned to have a relaxing day enjoying the delights of the Hanmer shops and the pools.

Descending from the top required a little more care; poles or ice-axes were useful in a few places. Once we had dropped down to tree level we had enough shelter to enjoy our late lunch. Walking back down through the bush we were struck by the birdsong and at one spot had at least 3 bellbirds calling at once.

Descending from the top required a little more care; poles or ice-axes were useful in a few places. Once we had dropped down to tree level we had enough shelter to enjoy our late lunch. Walking back down through the bush we were struck by the birdsong and at one spot had at least 3 bellbirds calling at once. Down further where the track goes close to mid-way up Jack’s Pass, conifers have been harvested and recently replanted, we had a choice of routes to return to the house. It was still relatively early in the day and we headed off on a path that eventually led us to what used to be the DOC information centre. From there we walked beside the road back to the town and up to our accommodation.

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On route to Dumblane. Photo courtesy of Shane Wright  

Here we had a bit of drama as to how to get inside the house as Glenda was not there. Merv had some instructions as to where Glenda was going to leave the key, but he was not aware of the finer details. We hunted and hunted but to no avail. Luckily a window had been left open downstairs and Penny, as the lightest member of the party, was hoisted inside. John took Caroline back to retrieve her car only to find her vehicle totally covered in large blobs of mud sprayed up from some vehicle doing wheelies near hers. Luckily, there was a hose at the back of our house and she was able to wash it all off relatively easily.

With a light snow cover we were in a winter wonderland as we climbed through mountain beech and sub- alpine scrub before joining the east ridge to the summit. We had our ice axes but it wasn’t icy although it could be slippery if you were the last one on the track in steeper parts. As we climbed higher it was cool and windy so most of the party didn’t stop for morning tea. We were at the trig (1324m) by lunchtime, but it was cold and windy and we were in cloud so there was no view. There were other people at the summit, who had ascended by other routes, including a couple with an enthusiastic dog with a bright orange harness.

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On route to Dumblane. Photo courtesy of Shane Wright

Some of us headed for the pools for a lovely hot soak. The pot luck for dinner was the usual overcatered for feast of nibbles and liquid refreshments followed by a great selection of mains and several decadent desserts. Shane entertained us showing the photographs he had taken during the day on the TV where for some reason faces appeared rather orange. The rugby diehards stayed up into the late hours to watch the Crusaders win while the rest of us had a better night’s sleep than the first night by changing mattresses and heating arrangements.

Sunday we woke to a clear day and minus 8 degrees. It didn’t take us long to pack up and clean the house and we were soon up at Jack’s Pass where it was extremely windy when we got out of the cars. The plan was to head up Dumblane (1,303m) which is only a 433m climb from Jack’s Pass. We set off along the unmarked track westward away from Mt Isobel and then onto a poled route through low scrub. It was pleasant out of the wind, but when we got up higher and rounded a rocky bit we were in the wind again. It was at this point that the majority of the party decided to head back to the cars.

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Descending Dumblane. Photo courtesy of Jillian Fulcher

Four of us climbed up a rising spur and along the relatively flat ridge to the rounded top. It was easy walking in the light covering of snow and we were very fortunate as it wasn’t as windy as it had been down below by the time we were heading to the top. There were spectacular views of the snow covered peaks beyond Jack’s Pass. We dropped down off the top out of the wind and enjoyed the views out over Hanmer Basin as we ate our lunch. Then we strolled back to the two remaining cars, taking plenty of photographs, before driving back to Christchurch. Thanks to Merv and Glenda for organising a very enjoyable mid-winter base.

We were: Merv and Glenda Meredith (leaders), Carolyn Catt, Penny Coffey, Jill Fulcher, Wendy McCaughan, John Robinson, Shane Wright and Sue Piercey PSP.