By Keith Thomas
I'm afraid I scored a fail for my walk to Mt Holdsworth this morning. I did the 900m ascent to Powell Hut last night as I planned, arriving there at 22:10 after a pleasant couple of hours wandering up the track in the moonlight with only the occasional light breeze. About midnight the hut started to shake as gusts of wind hit it. This stopped about 7:00am so I headed off to the summit. However, when I started to walk along the ridge to the summit I was hit by gusts of wind that threatened to blow me off the ridge. I got to within 1km of the summit and 150m below it and actually saw it, in contrast to the last time I was there when we walked over the peak in snow and ice, but could barely see 10m. I have attached a photo to prove that I actually saw it, as well as a couple of others of the area around Mt Holdsworth. You can just make out the trig point on the top of the summit in the Mt Holdsworth photo.
The peak that I really wanted to ascend was Mitre, which I haven't been to before and is the highest peak in the Tararua Ranges, but the weather forecast of 100km/h winds suggested that was not a good idea. I thought I may be able to sneak up to Mt Holdsworth before the strong winds came, but it was not to be. This is fairly common weather here and there are many stories among the local trampers about having to crawl along the ridges in high wind conditions.
It is a beautiful country with fantastic hiking (which the locals call tramping). The forest and particularly the tussock tops are really lovely, although the Tararuas have a reputation for being the most dangerous tramping area in NZ. They are prone to strong winds and very rapid and severe weather changes. For example, early yesterday there was snow around the peak followed by heavy cloud, which cleared in the afternoon and was followed by the strong winds early this morning.
The company that I work for in Canberra has won a contract to do the air conditioning for a project Upper Hutt, so we are living in Lower Hutt (north of Wellington) in NZ and have been here for about 7 months with another 18 months to go. Irene is here as well, although she is back in Canberra at the moment having just had an operation to remove a cataract. We have joined the Hutt Valley Tramping Club, which is one of the 5 main tramping clubs in the Wellington area.