I love tramping into the head of the Waimak. Whether it's to climb a peak, cross a pass or just spend some time among its mountains I always get a keen sense of anticipation in the walk up the valley. This time our mission was to climb the Mottram Peaks.
We started with just an easy tramp in the twilight to AntiCrow hut, an hour and a half up the Waimak from Klondyke corner. As we crossed the gravel flats towards the hut, pairs of NZ dotterels fluttered their wings on the ground to lure us away from their young, which were nimbly running across the stones in the other direction. Magic!
AntiCrow hut had been fully refurbished only recently and made for a more pleasant night's shelter than it has in recent years.
In the morning, cloud drifted aside to reveal Mt Rolleston across the valley.
|Magnificent Mt Rolleston across the valley from AntiCrow Hut in the Waimak valley|
We walked a short distance along the bush track through mountain beech forest and turned up the AntiCrow river. The loose cliffs of the AntiCrow canyon towered high above us. The rocky stream bed alternated between rounded water-smoothed stones and angular blocks of shattered rubble brought down by earthquakes. We travelled easily, steadily gaining height under a warming sun.
In the head of the valley we stopped for an early lunch before leaving the ready water supply of the splashing stream. A young couple of trampers came down the route from Sphinx Saddle and paused for a brief chat. They'd just crossed over the saddle from a camp in the Avoca river. They went on their way and we on ours.
|Creeping Ourisia (Ourisia caespitosa) on the Mottram Peaks|
We left the stream and walked up a dry gully with masses of tall snow tussocks to either side. The gully turned a corner and we climbed slopes of short green grasses.
Small flowers spread everywhere. One mistaken for an eyebright, turned out to be a Creeping Ourisia. But just as lovely.
Above us a very large scree of loose stones climbed away to the ridgeline. The upper slopes shimmered under the high sun. We toiled up it, avoiding the looser patches where we could.
Frequent pauses to take in the changing view gave gratifying evidence of height gained as features dropped away below us. A key moment was when we first could see over Sphinx Saddle into the Avoca river.
|Anisotome pilifera on the summit ridge of the Mottram Peaks|
The 500 metre scree climb took us an hour and a half. We topped out at 1700 metres on a col between two of our peaks. A gentle breeze cooled
A hardy anisotome, the Bristly Carrot, grew right on the rocky ridge, flourishing in the harsh conditions.
We sidled to the west and climbed the lower Mottram peak. Views of the upper Waimak valley and the main divide peaks were fantastic.
It's always great to see familiar country from a new angle. Burly Mt Greenlaw hulked above Gizeh Col. The snowy summit of Mt Murchison topped everything. The full length of the Mt Harper ridge was in full view directly across Greenlaw Creek from us. Behind this Mt Davie raised its head and shoulders, the thin line of its summit tiara of loose chossy rock was clearly visible. Further round, the upper Waimak valley curled under the towering cliffs of Carrington Peak. Only our view of Mt Rolleston was partly obscured, behind the long and spikey Jellicoe Ridge, .
|Honora, resplendent in her tramping sandals, on the 1789 metre Mottram Peaks|
We dropped back down to the col and climbed to the higher of the Mottram Peaks at 1789 metres.
This now gave us an unimpeded view to the east, right down the Waimak valley to Mt Binser, as well as a complete survey right around 360 degrees.
For our descent we explored down a gully on the northern side, directly to the Waimak valley. Our route took us down scree, through shrubland and into the beech forest in a very quick descent of a vertical kilometre. We emerged on the valley floor a short distance from Greenlaw Creek. Cool, refreshing water was appreciated.
That only left us an easy walk down the valley to Klondyke Corner, with a short diversion back to the AntiCrow hut to collect our overnight gear.
What a great day, with a bonus night away too.