Author Topic: Sebastopol  (Read 2664 times)

« on: January 10, 2010, 11:34:23 AM »
Yay, FTL - first to log! With the upcoming climbing camp at Aspiring, this was set to be a nice little warmup on the way down.

The walk up the first half to the Red Tarns is on very good, safe track with spectacular views on the way. The lookout at the tarns is jaw-droppingly spectacular on a good day, and well worth the walk up just for that. This is a must-do walk in this park even if you go no further.

From the tarns, you turn off left up the lefthand side of the gully. There is an unmarked 'goat track' which is quite obvious if you look out for it. It heads up through the low lying vegetation on the LHSide of the scree slopes towards the obvious big boulder at the also obvious saddle up ahead. A nice spot for photos on the boulder - from there you veer right, still following the track which from here becomes a bit more scattered, but marked by the occasional cairn. The route is still pretty intuitive and it doesnít really matter exactly which path you take, however if you keep a lookout for the cairns, these should lead you up the easiest route. We found ourselves scrambling up some reasonably steep scree/loose rock patches, but on coming down, the correct track was more obvious and much easier.

About halfway up this second section, you reach a short, but very steep 'gut' which goes off to the left. The narrow track drops down steeply and then rises steeply up the other side, crossing a steep scree slope with some pretty dodgy looking loose rock on the way. I looked at this and thought that canít possibly be the right way - the short rock scramble mentioned in the link must be here immediately above us. We proceeded to rock scramble straight up from here. Do not do this!! It kept going further and further, and got harder and scarier as we went. It got to the point where we were pretty much committed to continuing, as turning back and down climbing what weíd just climbed was really not a very palatable option. By now I knew weíd taken a wrong turn and if we could find the top, hopefully the route down would be clear. Fortunately we unexpectedly topped out just when I was about to make the call to turn back, as the comfort zone was getting severely pushed way beyond itís limit -  especially for a 12 year old!

Once we were safe at Ďthe topí, now it was clear what was meant by the rock scramble to the summit - there it was in front of us! Fortunately for our (by now very frayed) nerves, it was deceptively very short and easy compared to what we had just been through. The views from the summit were incredible - you could see right up both the Hooker AND the Tasman glaciers at the same time with all the majestic peaks clustered around.

The route down was a very obvious, safe and well cairned track. Until it led us to the other side of the narrow gut we had met on the way up - so we WERE meant to go this way! It didnít look nearly so bad from this side (or perhaps it just looked that way after what weíd just done), so there was no hesitation this time. Down on all fours and using the rock on either side for traction made it reasonably safe both down and up. This is definately the crux of the climb up the correct track and I would not recommend doing it with kids under say 10 years of age. Adults too would need to have their wits about them, but if you take it slowly and are sure footed you should be OK. Sure beats the other option of straight up!

After passing the big boulder, we ran down the scree slopes this time - a lot of fun and much recommended on the way down! After a drink at the very cool spring bubbling up near the start of the track, we marvelled at the adventure we had just had. An all up round trip of around 4.5 hours.

A tip for accommodation in the park: Stay at Unwin Hut on your left just a couple of kís before you hit the village. Itís located right under Sebastopol on the main road in and clearly signposted. If youíre an Alpine Club member, itís only $15 a night, with kids half price. If youíre not a member, itís still only $25. Thereís bunks, hot showers, a huge fully equipped kitchen and very big roomy lounge with great views out over the mountains. If youíve got kids, and ask Grant the hut warden next door nicely, he might give you one of the two family units all to yourself - bliss! This hut is not well known as itís meant to be that way - the idea being that thereís always room for climbers to stay (this is the NZ Alpine Club's premium hut and is like a second home to me when Iím down here). However anyone is welcome to stay here if you know about it.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2010, 12:16:01 PM by GuanoGerbil »
'There is always a risk in being alive, and if you are more alive, there is more risk' -Ibsen