Woohoo! Back in Canterbury and ready for another peak. This time my old favourite, Ben More. I’ve tried on 2 previous occasions to tick off this mountain and it seems reluctant to want to be bagged… so I thought I’d try again this weekend.
Parking at the newly acquired DOC easement at Ben More Station, I began my adventure along Thirteen Mile Bush Stream, which leads to the old hunters lodge (Benmore Hut).
The track is well maintained and really nice to run, starting off in the Canterbury plains and ending up crossing rivers, darting through trees even with a few muddy climbs in the mix too. A few of the river crossings were well hidden and I found myself running in the wrong direction a couple of times, but made it in the end; note to self – must remember my orienteering background and keep my head up to scan the horizon.
The track is around 7-8km from the Station (a sheep farm for those not acquainted to the kiwi language) and sits at 840m altitude, so around a 300m climb from West Coast Road.
From the hut, it was a bush bashing mission for around an hour; attempting to find hunters tracks through the regenerating beech forest all the way to the ridgeline. These was a little bit of snow on the ground and not much visibility. After a lot of “Where the hell am I?” and “Is this the right way?” I found my way out into the open and into the freezing southerly winds.
Adding another layer and my gloves too I kept heading upwards (now at around 1250m high)… the winds subsided for a good 15 minutes as I made goof progress through the snow and onto the next ridge, getting to 1444m lower peak. This is where it all went pear shaped.
From the hut, it was a bush bashing mission for around an hour
The winds picked up to what felt like aircraft engine strength and I found myself recording on the GoPro and having to hang onto tufts of grass to keep myself balanced on the incline. After about 5 minutes of being battered by the winds and trawling through knee deep snow I gave up and found shelter behind a rock. I had a mumble to myself; decided to call it a day, then headed back down the mountain to the hut.
Gutted. Ben More summit defeated me for the third time, but at least I hit the low peak so I’m counting that as “Peak 22”, not as high up as I wanted, but definitely a good day out in the mountains.
Gutted. Ben More summit defeated me for the third time.
The run back was longer than I’d thought from the hut, a good hour or so, but I was glad to be off the ridgeline. Thankfully (and unfortunately that the conditions weren’t like this on the ridge) the winds dropped as soon as I hit the valley and the sun came out to welcome me back to the car.
After around four hours in the hills I decided that I was in great need of sustenance and an energy boost. As every Cantabrian knows, there is only one solution to this problem… especially when you’re heading back on West Coast Road back into Christchurch. Next stop, Sheffield Pie Shop – World Famous in New Zealand.