Weekend Trip - Saturday 13th to Sunday 14th November 2010

Off-track Trip to Saddle Cone

We were fortunate to start in fine weather on Saturday morning. From the Public Shelter, Whakapapa, we headed up the Ridge Track to the lookout and then navigated by the natural features, map and compass to Saddle Cone. We enjoyed lunch on the rim of the crater, in the shelter of the rocks. The black-back gulls wheeled overhead when we arrived. Some of the alpine plants were flowering. The cold wind brought low cloud, which provided us with the opportunity to practise our navigation skills in whiteout conditions.  Photo: Christine MajorWe ascended the ridge and walked along the tops before dropping down a spur to the Wairere Stream. The true right of this stream was a route used by others and we saw cairns along the rough path. We stepped out onto the Taranaki Falls Track and returned to Whakapapa. The rain started after our return to Memorial Hut. Hot showers, hot food and hot drinks warmed us up and we slept well.

On Sunday morning the weather was windy, cold and drizzly.
We were up in the clouds. Too miserable to want to go out and try reading maps, we spent an hour indoors looking at maps and discussing routes. We had planned a visit to the Stanton Memorial, a plaque on a rock in memory of a tramper who died of hypothermia when he went for help during a storm. The others in his party, who had stayed in a sheltered area, survived. Our forecast predicted a temporary improvement at midday but not wanting to risk hypothermia because of slow travel in cold, wet, windy conditions, we cleaned up and headed home. Once off the mountain, the sun shone!

We were: Sue Grant (leader and scribe), Christine Major, Peter Scott, Willi Williams and Gemma Thomas.