On Friday evening, the 10 December 2021, John, Peter, Sandy, Colin, Judy, Catherine, Hazel, Barry, Bruce and Wayne left Timaru for a weekend at Arthurs Pass. John had booked the Christchurch Tramping Club Lodge for the weekend. We arrived about 8pm and settled in for the night. The weather forcast had not looked too good for the Saturday – rain expected, but there were options to work around that. The intention was to climb Avalanche Peak the next day – weather permitting. The weather was not permitting the next morning so Plan B was implemented – a day walk from the Village up the Bealey Valley to Arthurs Pass or the Temple Basin skifield via the Arthurs Pass Walking Track. We left the lodge on foot in light rain Saturday morning and walked through the Village to the start of the Punchbowl track and crossed the Bealey River and followed an excellent DOC track up the true left of the river. There were lots of flat gravel track, wooden steps and bridges which made the walking easy. We passed directly underneath several steel power pylons which were right on the track. We dropped down to Jacks Hut, an historic roadmans cottage beside the road. We crossed the road there and followed the Bealey Valley Track up towards the Pass, diverting once to view the Bealey Chasm in the river below the main track.
Once we got close to the Temple Basin car park it was decision time – do we want to climb up to the ski lodge or not? There was a brief discussion about the water resisting properties of Gore-Tex and other forms of water repelling materials and as some of us were damp and getting cold the party split with Peter, Sandy, Catherine, Barry and Wayne deciding to climb up to the Lodge and the others would walk to the Pass and then return home to the Village.
The climb up to the ski lodge was done in damp and misty conditions, with limited oppertunities for views. The track was wide and well beaten with many railway sleepers imbedded in the track as steps. We arrived at the Lockwood day-shelter, and had a quick lunch and Peter, Barry and Wayne climbed up to the upper day-shelter, about 30 minutes further uphill, and not far below Temple Col. The weather was still misty, with brief patches of sunshine and ocassional light showers. Barry and Wayne stayed at the shelter briefly while Peter climbed up to the Col, and then caught up with us on the way back down. Catherine and Sandy had gone on ahead. The three of us made a quick descent and met up with everyone at the Lodge in the Village the afternoon – a hot shower was appreciated. Peter put on a good meal that night of sausages and mash.
It rained during the night, but next morning the weather had improved and it was time to climb Avalanche Peak. About an hour into the climb, Wayne turned back with a suspect knee joint while the others headed up into the mist. It was a steep climb with a few small rock faces to climb over, but a good track overall. Once out of the bush and above the scrub line at 1300 metres there was only tussock and rock but still good views up and down valley with cloud obscuring the tops. The party climbed up towards the rocky top, climbing up into cloud and passing over snow on the way before reaching the turn off point just below the high point on the track at 1833 metres – no views from there. After lunch the party started the descent back to the Village via Scotts Track – a less steep route this time, arriving back at the Lodge after about 7 hours walking – a good days walk.
A shower, a clean up of the lodge and a pack up and we were on our way back to Timaru.
Thanks to the planners and leaders for an enjoyable weekend.