Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sharks Tooth

The highlight of my served time at Otago Boys High was the school camps at our lodge in Mt Aspiring. The lodge is nestled on the edge of a grove of beech trees on a great alluvial fan in the West Matukituki valley. We visited in 4th form to learn about the outdoors, then again in seventh form to study geography and PE, and yeah then there was the senior tramp which nearly ended in farce and tragedy a group strung out along the East Matukituki with hypothermia there and darkness there. Anyone who has ever descended from Rainbow Col to Ruth Flat would understand, I have been back and there is no easy way. We returned though to the lodge and woke the next morning as always under the shadow of Sharks Tooth a sharp pyramid capping the U shaped valley wall. I always wondered how hard it was to climb.

So at the Kane Family Christmas when I got talking to Sam Kane, the 5th generation of Kanes to farm the hills to the north of Tarras, and suggested that maybe we go for a wander up Sharks Tooth and he called my bluff and said yes, it was all on. We woke up at farmers time (and mountaineers, but we are neither). 5.00 and Sam picked us up and we drove up the done up Matukituki road, no more corrugations or lumpy fords or potholed bluffs at Hells gate. Raspberry Hut is still there, although it seems nearly swallowed by the vast carpark, empty now, but expecting the swarms of daytrippers for Rob Roy glacier.

Penny and Sam above the West Matuki, Cascade saddle in background

We shouldered light packs and set straight off, up behind the hut. We expected scrub, there was none, we expected bluffs, there weren't any. The route was straight forward up a giant rib of tussock until an obvious sidle into the top of a creek to reach the ridge looking down into Polnoon Burn. Sam plodded ahead, while Penny kept going as she always does. I felt the urge to sit down as the air got thinner, or maybe it was just my lungs getting slower.

The ridge was easy till the final summit pyramid. We scrambled straight up the ok rock, but was it! A sidle round on the Polnoon side on a lovely little ledge saw indefinite and irrelevant exposure but the summit was obtained. A high spot in the wind.

Cuzzie bros on the summit

We descended on the Matuki side, less slope but more broken rock, taking turns among the choss.

Then there was the long walk down to the carpark and a lovely swim in the Raspberry Creek waterfall, home just after lunch.


Bob McKerrow said...

Thanks Jamie

I climbed with you up this prominent landmark which I first saw in 1965 the same year I was up the East Matukituki. Tiger country !

The photos were excellent and the tale well written. Thanks mate.

I hope young Irina is alive. Sad situation.

Have a good day. Bob

Jamie said...

Hey Bob,

Yes its great country, I have spent heaps of time up there, especially East Matukituki. Sharks Tooth was about the most straight-forward tramp there I've done.

Yes its no good. I often wonder, having not been involved in S&R, how easily searches are called off or postponed. Theres no country in there below the bushline that I would be worried about going into in any conditions providing you could get across rivers. It seems strange.

I would have thought if she has fallen off Cascade Saddle they would have found her by now as they must know where too look.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Great write up, and photos. Such a plethora of walks. Just returned from the Ruahines, your wx forecast was spot on mate! Pretty cruisy trip as my mate from the states was more interested in the trout than climbing the ridges! My best to Penny and your folks and may the Mountain Weather Gods smile upon your upcoming nuptuals.
Cheers brother,

Jamie said...

Hey Robb,

Good to hear you sat it out for a day or at least avoided the rivers.

Hope your time in the hills has refreshed you for the new year

take care man