Saturday, November 18, 2017

Grampian Range Summit, Mackenzie Country

Wednesday 15.11.17. I drove SH8 from Pleasant Point to Hakataramea Pass via Albury, Fairlie, Burkes Pass, Dog Kennel Corner & Haldon Rd, as I wanted to summit Grampian Range, 1921 m. (Map ref: BZ17 029891). At Hakataramea Pass, gravel road turnoff, a fence sign read:

                                                   BE AWARE
                                       UNLAWFUL HUNTING
                                   WILL NOT BE TOLERATED
                                            OFFENDERS WILL
                                            BE PROSECUTED
                       FIREARMS & VEHICLES MAY BE SEIZED
                                         MAXIMUM PENALTY
                       2 YEARS IMPRISONMENT $100 000 FINE
                                  OBTAIN PERMISSION FROM
                           THE LANDOWNER / PERMITS (DOC)
                                           BEFORE HUNTING

                        [Ph]...                                               NEW ZEALAND
              SPEAK UP, IT'S ANONYMOUS

Typical NZ cop sign touting for snitches, when cops were thin on the ground. The only cops I saw in Mackenzie Country were cops fining speedsters on SH8. Evidence of hunting / poaching I saw were dead wallabies on roadsides. SH8 farmers told us poachers spotlighted on their farms at night, taking pot shots close to their homesteads. I often saw road-kill wallabies near wooded spots on SH8 & passes.

A road sign read:




Hakataramea Pass, gravel road passed between Dalgety Range E, 18 kms long & Grampian Range W, more than 20 kms long. En route, I crossed 4 fords, streams trickling down to Snowy River below Dalgety Range. A stream crossing the road caused big potholes. 12 kms along Haka Pass, just beyond the 4th ford, a dead wallaby lay on the road, marking a farm track. (Map ref: BZ17 058919). My Topo50 map showed the farm track ascending Grampian Range to a scree saddle at 1800 m. Above the saddle, Grampian summit ridge track spit into a S farm track & N farm track. I would take the N farm track to Grampian summit, 1921 m.

From Haka Pass, I wandered up the farm track, zig-zagging up a steep tussock ridge, streams in valleys both sides of the ridge. Besides tussock grassland & spiky Spaniards, I saw many alpine cushion plants, mentioned in other blog posts. Notable were green or brown whipcord hebes amongst stones & many grey vegetable sheep clinging to rocks on steep slopes. Scab weeds & other cushion plants reminded me of zooanthids in coastal rockpools. Living scab weed branches were supported by dead scab weed branches, providing nutrients for the living.

A warm morning. A lone wallaby hopped down a tussock slope to a stream. Skinks scuttled across rocks. Brown crickets & bigger green crickets hopped about too. A lone falcon soared thermals, hunting while I climbed.

At about 1600 m, tussockland became steep scree, covered by snow patches & sparse alpine cushion plants. I compressed snowballs, sucking them, quenching my thirst, saving my bottled water for later.

From the 1800 m scree saddle, I didn't descend the farm track the other side, as it was still snow covered, making it difficult to pass Black Rocks. Instead, I followed a fence over scree, the last 100 vertical metres odd, to Grampian summit 1921 m. I added a stone to the cairn on the flat top, surrounded by stones & alpine cushion plants, mostly yellow. On the summit ridge I'd passed two farm gates, one bent by foul weather, the other still half covered in snow, amidst scree & cushion plants.

Clouds played above my head, while I admired alpine views: E, Rollesby Range, Dalgety Range, Mt Nessing. S, Hakataramea Valley. SSW, Kirkliston Range. SW Benmore Range, Lake Benmore below. W, Mary Range, Lake Pukaki, snowy Ben Ohau Range beyond. NNW, snowy Mt Sefton prominent. NW, snowy Mt Cook Range, snowy Mt Cook & snowy Mt Tasman prominent. NNE, Mt John & Lake Tekapo. Snowy Mt Stevenson prominent. NE, snowy Malte Brun prominent. Snowy Gammack Range. Snowy Hall Range. ENE, snowy Two Thumbs Range, snowy Mt Edward, snowy Mt Dobson prominent. Snowy Sherwood Range & snowy Mt Fox prominent.

I texted Leah from Grampian Range summit, no problems, as long as I pointed my cell towards Mt John. Any other direction, my texts didn't get through, like aiming my cell towards Hakataramea Valley, a waste.


Climb: 1000 vertical metres from Hakataramea Pass to Grampian Range summit.
Return distance: 12 kms.
Times: Ascent 4.5 hours. Descent 3.5 hours. A long day.

Essentials: Tramping, hill walking fitness, map, all weather gear, backpack, sunglasses, food, water, walking stick(s). Cell phone coverage if cell pointed to Mt John.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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