Ascent of the Remarkables - 1932

Tuesday, 28th Dec.

Ralph Wesney and I left home in the car at 4:30 am for Kawarau. Murray drove us over, and we had to push the car down the hill to start it, so cold was it. We arrived at Kawarau, where we met Stroud & Oxenbridge, who were also intending to do the climb. However, after about ¾ hour’s going, Oxenbridge became ill, the result of injudicious eating of fat ham before starting, so Stroud and he had to return home.

Curiously enough, however, after another half-an-hour’s going, Ralph also petered out, when we were half-way up the lowest spur, so he also returned, leaving me to continue on my own.

I reached the top of the lowest spur at 6:45 am, and then made my way along the ridge leading up to the double cone. After an hour’s steady going, the first lake was reached, at 7:45 am. Then I climbed the ridge behind it, reaching the saddle at 8 am. Lake Alta lay below, and above it to the west lay the three cones, called the Double Cone, the highest in the range. Intending to make a traverse I continued up the ridge I was on, but as soon as I saw I could not traverse the peaks, I went down over some cliffs, without however descending right to Lake Alta. Then began the actual ascent of the highest peak of the Double Cone. I went up the steep gully lying between the highest and the other two peaks, and when some distance up, branched off to the left, up a very steep snow couloir. The snow was frozen, and I had to cut steps right up. Soon I reached the ridge leading to the top. This ridge soon became extremely steep, resolving itself into a rock wall climbable only by small ledges and cracks, of which, however, there were plenty. After some rough going I reached the summit at 10:45 am, 6 hours from Kawarau.

It was a marvellous day, and a simply wonderful view was had from the top. I looked down on Cecil & Walter Peaks, and could see the Livingstone Range, the Ailsa Mts, Mt Christina, Crosscut, Tutoko, Madeline, Earnslaw, Aspiring, and many other high peaks whose names I did not know.

Having stayed 25 minutes, after photographing in various directions, I left the top at 11:10 am. The going was, if anything, harder going down than coming up, and when I reached the snow it was exceedingly slippery. However, without mishap I reached Lake Alta at 12 noon, then, after a stiff climb, the saddle behind it at 12:20 pm. Ten minutes sufficed to reach the other lake, and a short climb brought me to the ridge behind it at 12:35 pm. After more or less steady going, I arrived at the lowest ridge at 1:20 pm. All along this ridge there were thousands of huge grasshoppers – as big as my thumb, some of them were. I stumbled down the spur to Kawarau, which I reached at 2:30 pm.

I was foot-sore and tired that I could hardly walk, but I received a lift home to Q’town by a passing motorist, arriving home at 3:15 pm. I had nothing to eat all day, had no breakfast, but I had five oranges which kept me going. I took 6 hours to get to the top and 3 hours 20 minutes to come down again. The day was hot, with no wind and a cloudless day. Walking underfoot was extremely hard, and more than once I nearly gave in before I reached the top. It is the first solo climb I have done, and also the highest up I have been yet, 7688 feet.

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extracted from Lindsay Stewart’s Diary (aged 15 yrs 10 mths in Dec 1932)

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