Fri 02.09.16. I drove Leah from Mt Gerald Station to St Josephs School, Fairlie, for Leah to teach there.
I drove to Timaru for shopping, including round balloons for Leah's students to stuff with sensopathic play dough.
Sat 03.09.16. I drove Leah to St Josephs School, Fairlie, for her to teach her Woodbury students there.
Afternoon: I drove to Timaru for Leah to buy a new laptop at Warehouse Stationery, as her old laptop was bung. She used her laptop a lot for teaching prep & reports. We had tea at Pak 'n Save's Sticky Cafe. At the garage, I did our Subaru's tyre pressures, as I didn't want a blow out on rutted Lilybank Rd.
Late afternoon: I drove up Burkes Pass & along Lilybank Rd, back to our lake house at Mt Gerald Station. Our two green, plastic, rubbish bins were blown over by Alpine winds. They were blown over several times a week. Despite mature oregon pine & larch shelterbelts the homestead was prone to Alpine winds, as Mt Gerald Station was in a variable weather zone N of Lake Tekapo, high Alps on 3 sides - snowy Two Thumbs Range E, snowy Sibbald Range N, snowy Hall Range W.
Sun 04.09.16. Rainbow over N end of Lake Tekapo, due to showers over Mt Gerald Station & Godley River Valley. Intermittent wind & showers all day.
Afternoon visit by SA expat friends from Cape Town, living in Blenheim. They regularly motored to Fairlie to maintain their son's property near Farm Barn Cafe at the top of Mt Michael. Their son lived in Canada.
Mon 05.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.
Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her to teach a student there & for her computer class. I wandered round The Cairns golf course.
Tues 06.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.
Weather forecast: 10 degrees Centigrade, clear, no wind. Perfect for climbing Mt Gerald, 1551 m. Map ref: BY17 099538. Snows had thawed on Mt Gerald west faces & up Ribbonwood Stream gorge.
Mt Gerald climb: I parked my car at the end of Lilybank Rd, crossed Ninety Five Stream & several sown grass paddocks to hummocky, moraine country at the bottom of Mt Gerald & Ribbonwood Stream gorge. Steadily rising, I crossed fences & streams & followed a vague farm track up Ribbonwood Stream gorge. Tributary streams, cutting through moraine hummocks, joined Ribbonwood Stream & Stone Hut Stream further N. My Topo50 map showed a paper road zig-zagging up Ribbonwood Stream gorge on the south side of the gorge.
About 1000 m height I left the farm track, as it would take a long time zig-zagging up the gravel track. Instead I made a beeline up sunny, N facing, tussocky, moraine terraces above Ribbonwood Stream. Above 1000 m there was still snow on the N side of Ribbonwood Stream - S facing slopes.
At about 1300 m, the border between farm lands & DOC lands, I crossed a deer fence & the farm track, which had climbed out of Ribbonwood Stream gorge then descended southwards through Mt Gerald tussock land on moraine terraces towards Mt Gerald Stream. The farm track also went N towards Stone Hut Stream through patchy snowfields on moraine tussock lands by the 1300 m contour. Mt Gerald Station's deer fence gates were padlocked at the border between farm lands & DOC lands, to stop recreationists leaving gates open for stock to escape to higher Alps controlled by DOC.
Above glacier terraces, the stiffest part of my Mt Gerald climb was the last 200 m, past rock outcrops & scree, interspersed with matagouri & snow tussock. I aimed for the wireless mast on top of the N face of Mt Gerald. The wireless mast was a power pole, a metal aerial on top. A long drop sized aluminium hut contained 2 car batteries on a wooden shelf & wireless equipment attached to a wall. The seat was a DOC trap, wooden box. Previous denizens left empty plastic bottles & other junk in the hut, too small a shelter for camping. The hut had a solar panel on top.
Mt Gerald top was a snow tussock plateau, sloping to a long, snowy hollow, forming Mt Gerald Stream catchment. Eastwards, on the other side of Mt Gerald Stream, snowy Beuzenberg Snake Ridge rose above Mt Gerald, going N all the way to snowy Beuzenberg Peak 2070 m.
As it was still sunny & windless, I wandered Mt Gerald top for 2 hours towards Beuzenberg snowy Snake Ridge. Map ref: BX17 104548. (On a sunny March day, I'd started along Snake Ridge via Rex Simpson Memorial Hut, but turned back as I'd run out of time). Northwards, across Ribbonwood Stream gorge, below Beuzenberg's Snake Ridge & between a lower snowy, Mt Gerald ridge was Ribbonwood Stream catchment, where Ribbonwood Stream meandered down through snowy tussock land to Ribbonwood Stream gorge.
A clear day, I had grand views of Macaulay River Valley, Godley River Valley & snowy Alpine Ranges:N, S & E - Two Thumbs Range; N - Sibbald Range; W - Hall Range & Gammack Range; Sublime Mt Cook & Mt Tasman beyond.
I descended to my car via the steep, N facing, tussock slope below the wireless mast & the zig-zag farm track in Ribbonwood Stream gorge. The farm track was badly eroded with tumbled rocks, top soil lumps & crossing streams. Little horse or vehicle traffic went up there anymore, as farm helicopters were de rigueur.
My Mt Gerald climb times: Ascent 3.5 hours, 800 vertical metres. Plateau top wander 2 hours. Descent 2.5 hours. Total distance 13 kms. I didn't see a soul all day. Two paradise shelducks circled me high above Mt Gerald N slopes. A chamois darted through snow tussock near the top.
Tramping fitness, food, water, maps, all weather gear, safety gear, farmer's permission required.
Wed 07.09.16. It rained most of Tuesday night, a fresh snowfall down to 1000 m on the Alps.
School day Mt Gerald Station. Variable winds & squally rain from the S.
Thurs 08.09.16. Overnight powder snow down to 700 m surrounded our lake house.
School day Mt Gerald Station.
Morning snow flurries blown horizontally by southerlies. Mt Gerald I'd climbed on Tuesday was snowy from top to toe.
I drove Leah through a snow storm to Lake Tekapo for her lesson preps at Lake Tekapo School & for her Pilates class at the Community Hall, Aorangi Cres. We had supper at Tahr Bar, Tekapo Spa. Grand views of Mt Edward, snowy from top to toe.
Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.