Despite Christmas holidays I hadn’t got all the tramping out of my system, and although Rebecca wasn’t really up to it, I had no compunction in leaving her behind. So at the last minute I managed to convince my flat mate, Tim, and my friend from the Chemistry department, Cleo. We knocked off work at 2 pm Friday and drove in that afternoon which enabled us to walk to our campsite that night. After getting to the car park at 7ish we proceeded to make our way up the true right of the George Burn. Cleo had attempted Jane peak twice before and had said there was a vague track but was not always obvious and they needed to fall back on their route finding skills which caused them to take upwards of 3 hours. However, there was a recently cleared track marked with blue tape and the occasional marker pole spray painted orange which allowed us to get to the campsite a bit after nine. Which allowed us to take in the great sunset while eating a late dinner.
The next morning, after some discussion and route planning, I decided to do a loop by heading straight to the saddle between point 1876 and 2022, via 1652, traverse right along the ridge-line to Jane Peak then back down via the ridge-line at point 1913. Needless to say from the above map and as usual, my plan didn’t quite work. First off I was suffering from a persistent cough at the time which caused Cleo and Tim to wonder if was dying on the way up and they forced me to give up the collective day-pack. Although steep, it was pretty easy going to point 1652, however the last push to the saddle got much steeper and the scree turned into crumbly schist and it was clear from the whites in Tim’s eyes this was about his limit. Once the saddle was attained a discussion ensued on how to tackle the ridge line we had two choices go up the snow chute to the north-east without ice axes (Nope!) or go round the northwest which was pretty steep schist just above a 300 m bluff. Although a bit dodgy, the latter would have been doable but from Tim’s reaction in the previous 10 min he was at his limit and I decided to pull the pin. So we bailed on Jane Peak (Sorry Cleo fourth times a charm?) to go swimming in a high alpine tarn northwest of Jane Peak. (Note for anyone who wants to tackle this peak themselves I would suggest climbing to point 1642, southeast of our campsite, and then simply following the ridge-line to Jane Peak.).
Once we got to the Tarn it was about 2 pm and getting ridiculously hot so we stripped down and Cleo went for a swim while Tim and I proceeded to have a bombing competition. As we left Cleo, who is pretty experienced, remarked that the tarn was one of the best for swimming she has ever come across. We got back to our campsite by about 4 pm with the day still getting hotter all the way up to sunset. The problem was that we were camped in a bowl surrounded on all sides by hills with no wind. Our solution another swim, while we plotted the strategy for the next day. As usual I was reluctant to go back the same way so I managed to convince the others to go out via Smooth Peak.
The next day started off with an immediate slog straight up the hill to 1641, at this point Tim was feeling it and proclaimed that future weekend tramps should only consist of one hard day. Compounding this we were already getting low on water. The problem was that going back to the car from 1641 looked like a very unpleasant tussock bash, so I managed to convince the other two that it would be much easier to go along the ridge to smooth peak and down what I thought was a scree elevator to a creek at the bottom. Once we got to Smooth Peak we found that the rocks were indeed scree, which was lucky as by this time we were out of water. I felt vindicated as my route choice was easier but, as usual, no-where near as much as I had claimed. Strangely there was a small flock of wild sheep half-way up the mountain in the middle of the scree about 500 m away from any cover, foliage or water, what they were doing there in the middle of a 30 degree day I have no idea. After a 600 m scree slide and a refreshing dunk in the creek it was a short bush bash back to the car and then a hot evening drive back to Dunedin.