Three day weekends are what Dylan and I live for. That extra day means you can do a tramp that has just that little bit extra special something. This past labour weekend, we were lucky enough to finally tick one of the tramps that has been on our list for nearly a year: Mt. Titiroa.
Our local tramping club, OTMC, has had this trip on the cards a couple of times in the last year, but for one reason or another (usually weather) it hadn’t worked out. Despite the weather being a bit ick, there was the perfect window for us to knock out Mt. Titiroa before it really packed it in on Monday afternoon.
In total, there were 10 people on the trip, with 5 in each group starting from each side (Borland Lodge or crossing from Manapouri). We were lucky enough to stay in one of the club member’s family’s bach in Manapouri on Friday night. I must say, I love tramping, but man it is so good to be able to sleep in a bed on the Friday night before setting off.
We were part of the Borland lodge group, so we had about a 1 hour drive until the track start. Overall, it was a pretty uneventful day. Long – we did about 8 hours total, with a big climb and bushbashing at the end. But overall good. We weren’t too rushed, and did the very un-kiwi thing of taking our boots off at our 2 river crossings (the likely fact that we would be in snow the next day, and the fact that we weren’t really in any rush made the extra little effort of keeping our boots dry well worth it).
We arrived at our campsite at about 1100m near some tarns just as the weather really started to pack in. Despite the freezing weather, Dylan still decided to have a quick swim (he was already out of the water by the time I actually walked up to the campsite). The wind and rain picked up, and we all frantically set up our tents and then scurried into them (or maybe that was just me? I don’t know. It was cold!). Dylan and I were extremely lazy and cooked inside our tent – which turned out to be a mistake as I melted a hole in one of the mesh inner doors. Oops. 😦 Lesson learned – tie the mesh door back well before cooking under a tent vestibule.
The night ended up being one of the longest I’ve ever spent in a tent. The wind just howled and the tent shook all night long. Getting up to pee in the middle of the night was not much fun with the wind and rain whipping the tent every which way. But I was very impressed – none of the tents got blown over. I don’t know that is so much a fact that we were all in good tents (MacPac and Tarptent), or just excellent at pitching. Because it was some wind and no one really got more than a handful of hours of sleep. At least we now know that the Tarptent does stand up to high winds as well as the reviews I read claimed!
Lucky for us, the weather cleared in the wee hours of the morning, and we were greeted by a stunning sunny calm Sunday. This was exactly what we had hoped for, as it would be the day we would be crossing over the peak and we wanted the views.
It was a short climb up to 1521 where we realized there was too much snow/slippery rocks for us to stay up high on the ridgeline. Instead, we ended up using our ice axes (we were very glad we had them along) to descend back down about 1300 and travel along the east bowl and climb back up to the tarns at ~1500. For us this was definitely the most sensible route, despite us having to drop down and then climb back up again. We had lunch near the tarns, then headed across more snow up to the ridgeline. We made it to the summit of Mt. Titiroa by about 2:30 or 3 pm and it was absolutely worth it.
Then we had a very long descent. We decided we wanted to camp on the opposite side of the Garnockburn river – just in case the predicted heavy rain came in early. The descent was really fun – the rock formations on Titiroa are truly spectacular. And we met 2 very curious kea, who were happy to sit for literally hundreds of up-close photos. Myself and the other photographer in the group were pretty stoked to get so up close and personal with a kea. Seeing the keas was another good incentive to camp further down the mountain, as none of us had much sleep the night before, we weren’t too keen to be kept up all night by a pair of keas thrashing our tents and stealing our gear.
We had a good hour or so of bushbashing on this side of the mountain as well, though the bush was much more open and the terrain was easier going. We made it down to the snow white clearing to camp by about 6 pm. We were all shattered after a 10 hour day, but it had been incredibly epic and was absolutely a primo tramping day.
Monday we only had a short walk out to catch the water taxi back to Manapouri. It was an easy track all the way back and we were back at the bach about 2 pm.
All in all it was a choice weekend. And sure, some of the trip members had to forego the rugby to be on the trip, but in the end I think it was worth it. The weather was admittedly exciting on Saturday night, but Sunday was so superb it was worth it, the views and photos we managed to nab were truly stunning, and seeing the 2 keas so up close and personal was definitely a highlight. The trip was easily managed within the 3 days (even with snow) – overall a great alpine trip!