Cameron Hut & Peg Col
1-3 October 2016
Funny how things sometimes work out for the better. This was scheduled to be Boulder Col which I have good memories of in Jan’99. Talking to Glenfalloch was frustrating with vehicle access now restricted to a car park on the eastern side of the station, adding a few kilometres of walking. ‘Why don’t you just walk up the river’ wasn’t helpful. Anyway, it was a niggle, but phoning Lake Heron Station for access beyond Lake Stream was the killer. ‘Gosh, I’ve got cattle over there until November. You would be very welcome any other time’. Friendly as ever, but no way did we want to push it, so a Plan B was needed
A team email discussion resulted in a 3 day trip with a climb to Peg Col on the middle day? Coincidentally Peg Col is just out of sight around a spur from Boulder Col. Then Colin W phoned and said he had work to do to the Cameron mountain radio and could he tag along? So then we had five.
It was 1995 when I was last at Cameron Hut; with Victor Paul on a very memorable trip. Walking at 10.20am from the road end, the valley is still nice. Coming across a nationally vulnerable Banded Dotterel was a small highlight. Straggling into the hut from 5.20pm onward we eventually became concerned that Colin hadn’t turned up yet. Colin’s knowledge from previous trips led him up the main stream on flatter ground over the final section, so had diverted. And we had no idea just how heavy the toolkit including radio battery was he was carrying. So Merv set out at his best speed back down the side valley, later followed by Chris and Diane. No sign of Colin within the available time, but returning to the hut, all were relieved that Colin had safely arrived, no trouble, just that his memory of the ‘short cut’ was a little faded.
While this was going on, a party of twelve from the US based NOLS Mountaineering Group arrived for a week, spoke to Sue, left food in the hut storage bin and departed over a ridge to tent. So dinner was enjoyable but a bit late that evening. The weather after dark got damp but still no wind.
Another calm day on this side of the hill, sheltered from the N/W. The day started at 6.30am when a NOLS individual stomped into the hut and put two packs of toilet paper in the storage bin. It really started for us at 7.00am when we arose and found he had bolted the outside door when leaving. Lovely! A few concerns about getting to the loo which were soon amended using a couple of screwdrivers to easily unscrew the door hinges (the screws were obviously used to it).
At 9.10am we left Colin to work on the radio and set out for PEG COL. Over the moraine wall and up the TR of the Peg Col valley in soft snow. Picked a good line up and crossed over to the TL for the final bit, now with limited horizon visible for placing the next step.
As the climb steepened, Sue P and Chris L turned back leaving Merv and Diane to continue on, climb the very steep final section and then push vertically up through the cornice and sit beside the Peg. Well for all of a minute at least. Enough to take photos both ways and then front point down out of the wind again.
Dropping further down valley after lunch at 3.00pm, we caught up with Sue and Chris who had waited for us. If the morning snow was soft, the afternoon snow was far worse, with regular crashes through down the sides of rocks and getting a boot trapped a number of times. Back to the hut by 4.30pm
At 7.30pm, Lisa from Rakaia arrived, travelling on her own, so we had more company for the evening and she was able to tell us of her former experience in the NZ Army band.
A beautiful clear sky dawn. Diane went for a walk up The Carriageway,which, in limited snow conditions, was somewhat isolated at the top. Merv, Colin and Lisa left at 8.50am and we agreed Diane, Sue and Chris shouldn’t be more than an hour behind. Back to the vehicles by 3.00pm, the others were less than a half hour behind arriving.
So sometimes Plan B’s can be just the bees knees. Thanks for the Peg Col suggestion Diane. We were: Chris Leaver, Diane Mellish, Merv Meredith(Leader), Sue Piercey & Colin Wilmshurst. (MM)