After deciding not to race Avalanche Peak this year, even with a stellar field this time – Tane Cambridge, Grant Guise, Chris Forne & Rhys Findlay-Robinson, I chose to head north… Off to Hanmer Springs, an alpine village about 140km north of Christchurch. Famous for hot springs, a mountain biking mecca and the ‘local’ ski field… and it was here that I’d planned the 9th 52 Peaks summit.
The peak itself…
On another glorious morning, blue sky overhead, I made my way from the village up towards Jack’s Pass (a pass between Dumblane and Mt Isobel at 870m above sea level) via a trail known as Chattertons River Track – one of the less travelled trails around Hanmer as it diverted away from the tourist area and cycle routes.
Once through the forested lower area, Jack’s Pass reared it’s head and I saw the tell tale pylons above, where Hanmer gets most of it’s power from. The running along the river was easy, but having climbed 500m so far, it was far from flat. With only 500m more climb to go, surely the next bit would be simple. A waypointed track with metal spikes led the way towards the rocky bluffs (cliffs) ahead. Climbing up the edge was lovely running, through scree, bush, hopping over rocks, boulders and trying not to get spiked by the prickly ‘deser-like’ plants – this is totally what 52 Peaks is about – off road, rough and lots of climb.
Over the bluffs, one large climb until the final ridge flattened off. I pushed it hard up to the summit and claimed the 9th out of 52 Peaks before the 1hr 25m mark.
Messing around with the camera before descending, the views over towards the Hope/Waiau River were stunning… Back down the same way to Jack’s Pass gave my legs a little bit of a breather and then I decided to take a different route back into the Chatterton Valley via the old 4×4 track, meaning that I could get back into Hanmer with plenty of time for a walk up Conical Hill, a visit to the hot pools and a meal at Monteith’s to finish off the day.