St Cuthbert Range – Saturday 27 January 2024

It was third time lucky for this tramp. Led by Catherine T, seven of us, Graham and Joan,
Vicky, Ali, Don and Catherine Y, joined the trip, despite the seemingly permanent high wind
warnings. The aim was to get as far as we could up Mt St Cuthbert, conditions permitting.

We parked on the east side of Omarama on Prohibition Road and walked a short way back
on the Alps to Ocean Cycleway to a DOC easement to start at about 9.30. At first we were
on a grassy track between two fences and marked by poles, and then once on the
conservation land we roughly kept to the right of the fence also marked with poles. There is
no definite track, so tended to pick up animal tracks through the briar, but we managed to
keep the fence and the markers in sight. It soon started to climb quite steeply, gaining
approximately 700m in 3.5 km, and was quite rough and rocky in places. But well worth it
for the views we had all the way up. Fortunately the wind, although gusty on the exposed
parts of the ridge, was not too bad and certainly didn’t impede us.

Eventually at about 1100m the fence route joined the 4WD track which climbs to Mt
Cuthbert from the other side of Omarama. The gradient was gentler, but as we walked
along, the wind started to pick up. We reckoned we had another 2 or 3 km to get to the
summit of Mt St Cuthbert and so the decision was made to stop for lunch and then reassess
our progress as it was 12.30. Lunch was in amongst the tussocks which provided excellent
shelter, but when we emerged from these after lunch, the full force of the wind hit us and it
was becoming cold. We had about another 300m of elevation to get to the top, but decided
not to go any further.

The descent was a bit “slidy” on the gravelly parts of the track, but we were back down by
about 3.15 (still time for an ice cream in Kurow!), having walked a total of about 13 km.
Incidentally the DOC sign at the bottom is a little ambitious – it gives the mileage as 7.5km
and the time to reach the summit as 2 hours. Even Ali, who walked very steadily, took 2
hours to get to the point where we joined the 4WD track. So 3 hours would have been a bit
more realistic.

Nevertheless, we had a great day. It was beautifully clear, a comfortable temperature and
the wind only an issue higher up. Thank you, Catherine.

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