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195710 [2016/02/06 07:00]
kennettj [Your Walking Guide]
195710 [2016/03/29 02:04] (current)
kennettj [Seven Weeks in New Zealand -- Part VIII]
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 by Dot Butler. by Dot Butler.
  
-The Almer hut is situated at the head of the Almer Glacier which makes a steep drop to join the Franz Josef Glacier about a thousand feet below. From a rocky platform a short way in front of the hut one gets an enormous sense of spaciousness. Away to the west extends a long horizon bounding the mist blue sea. In the fading twilight the slopes of the low hills are steeped in colours rich as a satin bower bird's wing. Back towards the east rises the snowy Main Range swathed in the lacy mist of a summer evening, and the wide snow basin of the Franz Josef neve through which we had come that afternoon. But our eyes looked+The Almer hut is situated at the head of the Almer Glacier which makes a steep drop to join the Franz Josef Glacier about a thousand feet below. From a rocky platform a short way in front of the hut one gets an enormous sense of spaciousness. Away to the west extends a long horizon bounding the mist blue sea. In the fading twilight the slopes of the low hills are steeped in colours rich as a satin bower bird's wing. Back towards the east rises the snowy Main Range swathed in the lacy mist of a summer evening, and the wide snow basin of the Franz Josef neve through which we had come that afternoon. But our eyes looked
 down to where tomorrow'​s route would take us, and there below lying wickedly expectant, like a white dragon exuding cold from its wrinkled scales, we saw the Franz Josef glacier waiting. "Come on down," we down to where tomorrow'​s route would take us, and there below lying wickedly expectant, like a white dragon exuding cold from its wrinkled scales, we saw the Franz Josef glacier waiting. "Come on down," we
 heard it calling. "Come down, you four little crawling creatures and see what happens."​ heard it calling. "Come down, you four little crawling creatures and see what happens."​
  
-The morning of 24th January dawned fine and calm. We weren'​t due in Christchurch till the afternoon of the 28th to catch our plane back to Sydney. It wouldn'​t take us two days to get to Christchurch,​ so it was with a fine sense of leisure that we dawdled around, and didn't set out from the hut till about 9 a.m. We had read in the hut book of a party which did the journey in three hours. We would allow ourselvesat least six hours, which would give us ample time for photographs and lunch and generally playing about.+The morning of 24th January dawned fine and calm. We weren'​t due in Christchurch till the afternoon of the 28th to catch our plane back to Sydney. It wouldn'​t take us two days to get to Christchurch,​ so it was with a fine sense of leisure that we dawdled around, and didn't set out from the hut till about 9 a.m. We had read in the hut book of a party which did the journey in three hours. We would allow ourselves at least six hours, which would give us ample time for photographs and lunch and generally playing about.
  
-We got through the lateral broken ice and on to the glacier very successfully,​ and pottered along till about midday when we had lunch. There were lots and lots of cracks now, and as we got into the ice-fall area they got deeper and deeper and more maze-like, and, to cut a long story short, after spending three or four hours of trial and error we ended up again at our lunch spot. From the hut book we knew that a party had gone up recently, and from below the obvious route would have been up the centre of the glacier, but when we tried to get over to the centre we encountered a vast and melancholy ruin of dirty yellow rotten pinnacles and we let ourselves be deterred by them, although, as we afterwards found out, this was the correct route. We looked at the time and held a conference and decided that as we had two or three days up our sleeve anyway we might as well go back to Almer hut and try a different route in the morning. So about 5 o'​clock there we are on the return run, expecting to be off the glacier and back to the hut before dark at 9 o'​clock. However, about 8 p.m. down came a dense fog, and in the uncertain light it took us a long time picking our way amongst the maze of crevasses. Nor could we be sure of the location of the Almer Glacier on our left - our landmark for getting off the Franz to ascend to the hut. At 10 o'​clock we were still creeping along in the fog and getting a bit tired of the futility of it; it hardly seemed worth while trying to climb up the couple of thousand feet to the hut, reaching it by midnight, just to have to get up by 4 a.m. and start coming down again. Our packs were heavy so we decided to stay where we were, dig some sort of cave shelter, and start moving again in the daylight. We scouted round and found a great overhanging wall of ice and hacked away in relays with our ice axes till midnight hollowing out a shelter sufficient for the four of us to crouch in. It wasn't a very effective hole, but at least the work kept us warm. But by midnight we were alL tired of chopping, and it had begun to snow and the wind blew cold and George and Snow were beginning to wonder apprehensively what they were in for. (Whaka and I had on past occasions spent nights out in blizzards so we knew.)+We got through the lateral broken ice and on to the glacier very successfully,​ and pottered along till about midday when we had lunch. There were lots and lots of cracks now, and as we got into the ice-fall area they got deeper and deeper and more maze-like, and, to cut a long story short, after spending three or four hours of trial and error we ended up again at our lunch spot. From the hut book we knew that a party had gone up recently, and from below the obvious route would have been up the centre of the glacier, but when we tried to get over to the centre we encountered a vast and melancholy ruin of dirty yellow rotten pinnacles and we let ourselves be deterred by them, although, as we afterwards found out, this was the correct route. We looked at the time and held a conference and decided that as we had two or three days up our sleeve anyway we might as well go back to Almer hut and try a different route in the morning. So about 5 o'​clock there we are on the return run, expecting to be off the glacier and back to the hut before dark at 9 o'​clock. However, about 8 p.m. down came a dense fog, and in the uncertain light it took us a long time picking our way amongst the maze of crevasses. Nor could we be sure of the location of the Almer Glacier on our left - our landmark for getting off the Franz to ascend to the hut. At 10 o'​clock we were still creeping along in the fog and getting a bit tired of the futility of it; it hardly seemed worth while trying to climb up the couple of thousand feet to the hut, reaching it by midnight, just to have to get up by 4 a.m. and start coming down again. Our packs were heavy so we decided to stay where we were, dig some sort of cave shelter, and start moving again in the daylight. We scouted round and found a great overhanging wall of ice and hacked away in relays with our ice axes till midnight hollowing out a shelter sufficient for the four of us to crouch in. It wasn't a very effective hole, but at least the work kept us warm. But by midnight we were all tired of chopping, and it had begun to snow and the wind blew cold and George and Snow were beginning to wonder apprehensively what they were in for. (Whaka and I had on past occasions spent nights out in blizzards so we knew.)
  
 George and Snow took off their boots and got into their sleeping bags and put their feet in their packs and their parkas over the top, and sitting on their boots tried to sleep. George sat partly sheltered by our excavation - it wasn't worth sitting right inside, as we found, because the water dripped in through the ceiling too much - and he says he slept well. He was the only one next morning with anything dry in his possession. Snow sat out on the ice, and the snow built up on his head and shoulders till he looked like a relic from Scott'​s last base in Antarctica. Whaka didn't have a sleeping bag as he had been sleeping in the hut blankets all the trip, so we wrapped my bag half round his waist and half round mine and pulled our parkas down as best we could over the bulk, then we proceeded to keep ourselves entertained by jumping up and down together on the ice, and singing all the songs we knew and telling each other jokes and funny stories, and laughing like made through the rain and the sleet and the howling wind. By 2 a.m. the laughter was getting a bit hollow and by 3 a.m. it had stopped. George and Snow took off their boots and got into their sleeping bags and put their feet in their packs and their parkas over the top, and sitting on their boots tried to sleep. George sat partly sheltered by our excavation - it wasn't worth sitting right inside, as we found, because the water dripped in through the ceiling too much - and he says he slept well. He was the only one next morning with anything dry in his possession. Snow sat out on the ice, and the snow built up on his head and shoulders till he looked like a relic from Scott'​s last base in Antarctica. Whaka didn't have a sleeping bag as he had been sleeping in the hut blankets all the trip, so we wrapped my bag half round his waist and half round mine and pulled our parkas down as best we could over the bulk, then we proceeded to keep ourselves entertained by jumping up and down together on the ice, and singing all the songs we knew and telling each other jokes and funny stories, and laughing like made through the rain and the sleet and the howling wind. By 2 a.m. the laughter was getting a bit hollow and by 3 a.m. it had stopped.
  
-Now that our own voices were silent we became creepily aware of the noises around us. The glacier seemed alive and evil and monstrous shaken by inner growlings ​and hoarse pantings. A desolate wind from nowhere moaned over the icy wastes and fought its way through the ice pinnacles in uncanny gusts and gaspings. It would not have been good to have been alone. Once Snow woke up with a start hearing a hollow booming, soft and muffled and remote - curiously disturbing. "​There'​s a dance band", he said. "I can hear the drums!"​ It took us a little while to convince him that he wasn't back home with a dance going on up the street.+Now that our own voices were silent we became creepily aware of the noises around us. The glacier seemed alive and evil and monstrous shaken by inner growling ​and hoarse pantings. A desolate wind from nowhere moaned over the icy wastes and fought its way through the ice pinnacles in uncanny gusts and gaspings. It would not have been good to have been alone. Once Snow woke up with a start hearing a hollow booming, soft and muffled and remote - curiously disturbing. "​There'​s a dance band", he said. "I can hear the drums!"​ It took us a little while to convince him that he wasn't back home with a dance going on up the street.
  
 "Go back to sleep Snow. It's boulders rumbling down the watercourses under the glacier ice,​.."​... Doom! Boom-de-Boom:​ Snow shut his eyes tight to the torture of reality, pulled his sodden sleeping bag around his ears and tried to recapture his dream. "Go back to sleep Snow. It's boulders rumbling down the watercourses under the glacier ice,​.."​... Doom! Boom-de-Boom:​ Snow shut his eyes tight to the torture of reality, pulled his sodden sleeping bag around his ears and tried to recapture his dream.
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 The weather was incredibly still. The sky, softly blue, seemed chastened and contrite after its stormy excess. The Minarets were breath takingly lovely with diaphanous swathed of white mist floating round their lower slopes. The whole of the western side of the Main Range, under its mantle of new snow, radiated tranquility and peace. But the eastern side, from the top of Grahams Saddle down to the Rudolph and then the Tasman, was a scene of complete and incredible wreckage. I have never seen so much destruction following a storm. The whole mountain side was scoured out. The snow couloirs we had climbed up only a few days previously were gouged out to the virgin rock. Huge rock avalanches had ploughed deep and dirty troughs down the mountain side and lay scattered in dark fans away below. As we gingerly climbed down, a whole face of the mountain dropped away in one terrific snow avalanche. The weather was incredibly still. The sky, softly blue, seemed chastened and contrite after its stormy excess. The Minarets were breath takingly lovely with diaphanous swathed of white mist floating round their lower slopes. The whole of the western side of the Main Range, under its mantle of new snow, radiated tranquility and peace. But the eastern side, from the top of Grahams Saddle down to the Rudolph and then the Tasman, was a scene of complete and incredible wreckage. I have never seen so much destruction following a storm. The whole mountain side was scoured out. The snow couloirs we had climbed up only a few days previously were gouged out to the virgin rock. Huge rock avalanches had ploughed deep and dirty troughs down the mountain side and lay scattered in dark fans away below. As we gingerly climbed down, a whole face of the mountain dropped away in one terrific snow avalanche.
  
-Eventually we got down to the Tasman, then, as Whaka had unfortunately sprained his ankle, we sent George and Snow on ahead to tell the Mt. Cook bus driver at Ball hut that we might be about an hour late for the bus back to the Hermitage, and slowly came on our way. George went back with the bus, while Snow and a young Australian guide came back to meet us, and a special bus was sent back for us later (at our expense). We got down to the Hermitage and sent off telegrams and cablegrams to announce the fact that we were overdue and had been weatherbound ​in a hut for several days, then we went down to the Unwin hut for the night and caught the next day's bus to Christchurch,​ That evening we saw Whaka off on his boat to Wellington. We slept that night in a local motor camp, and were on the doorstep of the Airways office bright and early next morning to explain why we were three days late and try to get another booking. There was no plane available that day, so we trailed out to Summer beach and slept in a shed in the park, and next day (Feb. 1st.) returned to Sydney. To leave Christchurch at 5 and get to Sydney at 8 (having put our watches back the regulation 2 hours) seemed all wrong. It made New Zealand as close as a train journey to Katoomba. However, it was a long time before the unreality wore off. For many days I found myself thinking I was still in those lovely little green islands with their snowy mountain peaks. For a few years hot dry sunny Australia will fill our thoughts, but one day we will find that strong, sensitive fingers are again rapping at the mind and we needs must leave our shores and go whither the Stranger ​beckons - back to the high hills, the hard life, the effort and the striving, and the merry companions, all of which stir the soul to a depth and tenderness past the power of words to describe.+Eventually we got down to the Tasman, then, as Whaka had unfortunately sprained his ankle, we sent George and Snow on ahead to tell the Mt. Cook bus driver at Ball hut that we might be about an hour late for the bus back to the Hermitage, and slowly came on our way. George went back with the bus, while Snow and a young Australian guide came back to meet us, and a special bus was sent back for us later (at our expense). We got down to the Hermitage and sent off telegrams and cablegrams to announce the fact that we were overdue and had been weather bound in a hut for several days, then we went down to the Unwin hut for the night and caught the next day's bus to Christchurch,​ That evening we saw Whaka off on his boat to Wellington. We slept that night in a local motor camp, and were on the doorstep of the Airways office bright and early next morning to explain why we were three days late and try to get another booking. There was no plane available that day, so we trailed out to Summer beach and slept in a shed in the park, and next day (Feb. 1st.) returned to Sydney. To leave Christchurch at 5 and get to Sydney at 8 (having put our watches back the regulation 2 hours) seemed all wrong. It made New Zealand as close as a train journey to Katoomba. However, it was a long time before the unreality wore off. For many days I found myself thinking I was still in those lovely little green islands with their snowy mountain peaks. For a few years hot dry sunny Australia will fill our thoughts, but one day we will find that strong, sensitive fingers are again rapping at the mind and we needs must leave our shores and go whither the stranger ​beckons - back to the high hills, the hard life, the effort and the striving, and the merry companions, all of which stir the soul to a depth and tenderness past the power of words to describe.
  
 (And so ends what must be one of the most remarkable literary efforts ever to be associated with the "​Sydney Bushwalker"​. Certainly it had length, but Dot's series of articles on the N.Z. adventures had much more than this. From beginning to end she has sustained the highest level of entertainment value with that inimitable style that only Dot could produce. The nicely balanced mixture of scenery, personalities,​ adventures, incidents, philosophy and reminiscences has earned a wealth of admiration, not only from Club members, but from many right outside the field of bushwalking who have read our Magazine. Our heartiest thanks to you Dot, for a really outstanding series of contributions. -- Editor.) (And so ends what must be one of the most remarkable literary efforts ever to be associated with the "​Sydney Bushwalker"​. Certainly it had length, but Dot's series of articles on the N.Z. adventures had much more than this. From beginning to end she has sustained the highest level of entertainment value with that inimitable style that only Dot could produce. The nicely balanced mixture of scenery, personalities,​ adventures, incidents, philosophy and reminiscences has earned a wealth of admiration, not only from Club members, but from many right outside the field of bushwalking who have read our Magazine. Our heartiest thanks to you Dot, for a really outstanding series of contributions. -- Editor.)
195710.txt ยท Last modified: 2016/03/29 02:04 by kennettj