Author Topic: Umukarikari and an attempt on Makorako  (Read 4622 times)

Umukarikari and an attempt on Makorako
« on: February 22, 2010, 03:56:12 AM »
This was a hastily put together trip and as I had no chance of getting Monday off work, it necessitated us putting together a plan to attempt to climb Makorako in two days return.  The plan was an ambitious task of hiking in over Umukarikari and bagging this unroute to Waipakahi Hut. We would then climb up over Junction Top, down to the Rangatikei River, up to the tops again and around a long ridge to Mokorako, then return to the Hut for the night before hiking out the next day.

Our night before at Turangi cabins was interesting as we had three sightings of a ghost of an old Chinese man.  One at 1100pm where I saw him standing in the ablutions block brushing his teeth extremely slowly.  Guano then also spotted him in the kitchen at 300am in the morning making toast in the dark before again seeing him silently and slowly brushing his teeth at 330am in the ablutions block again.  So we are both now believers.

Anyway at 430am we started hiking from the Umukarikari carpark with headlamps on.  The gradient was a lot more pleasant than Mangaweka as we made our way upward through bush under headlamp light. Underfoot was a good surface, it was easy enough to navigate too. After about an hour we broke out onto the tops. Not long afterward the sky began to lighten to reveal Sharpe Cone in the distance. Soon it was a race to beat the sun to the summit of Umukarikari, a race we won by literally less than a minute.  There was some stunning views as the sun rose behind Makorako (or was the sun in front? I think both were similar distances from us!).  Makorako just looked an insane distance away. The trip up to the summit took 2hrs 15 mins.  It would be an easy 2 hour trip back to the car to bag this peak in less than 5 hours. 

But we had bigger fish to fry.  We continued on slowly dropping down as we moved along the range, then more steeply to the hut.  We arrived at 830am.  We then dropped some gear and I threw on the day pack.  Drinks, food and onward up the track toward Junction Top.  NB. about 2/3 the way up this ridge a sign shows the boundary onto private land.  You need to organise a permit from Air Charter Taupo in advance to continue onward.  We had the correct permissions so ventured upward to a point near Junction Top.  It was 10am and so much ground already covered.  Although Makorako was still a fair distance away, the mission was looking do-able.  We were upbeat and confident, feeling good. From there a Cairn with a small set of signs directed us left.  5 minutes further is another sign directing us right down a spur on an old steep path to “Rangatikei”.  We plunged down off the tops along a reasonably well defined track and about 30 minutes later entered the bush.

At this point the trip turned to custard.  The bush was a washing machine of tree fall, bush lawyer, part tracks, animal tracks and thick scrub.  We spent a long time trying to find a track, trying to bush bash a bit and generally becoming uneasy, tripping, sliding, crawling and crying like babies.  The GPS indicated it was still 700m vertical metres descent to the river and then we had the prospect of a similar flavour of bush experience on the other side of the river to climb to the final long section of tops before Makorako.  Not to mention that we then had to retrace our steps to the hut before dark with the same navigation uncertainties.  Time was ticking by.  Progress had ground to a halt.  It was now past midday.  The distance to go verses hours of daylight equation had swung away from our favour.  In itself that wasn’t too bad, we had headlamps, but taking into account the terrain and uncertainty we made the hard decision to pull the plug.

We were both psyched up for a big days hiking, so we decided instead of just heading back to the hut we would head all the way back to the car.  We turned around and tackled the steep exposed climb back up towards Junction Top as Mokarako taunted us.  It was hot and we were a bit deflated.  We tried to pull positives out of the abort as we dropped down again to the hut. 

The sight of the hut in the valley was a little earlier than we expected. Back at the hut we met some incoming hikers from a tramping club who were to attempt the same crossing the next day.  We compared notes and concluded it was possible we took the wrong spur as we dropped off the ridge (even though the track was obvious and signposted).  We shared our experience and swapped email addresses.  They are going to let us know if they find a route across.  If they do then a repeat trip is really a must do.  This peak is a tease, and needs to be conquered. It is possible though that after the very heavy snow fall last winter, and resulting carnage with the vegetation, that the already poor non maintained tracks in this area are now pretty much impassable. TBC

After a good hours break, and a much needed three coffees in a can; “Mother Shots”, we then took off from the hut on a caffeine high back up the long incline towards Umukarikari which sure looked a long way off.  Here it was our 4 hour+ trip back to the car. 4 hours didn't sound long in the context of the day but it is a fair hike on its own!

We crossed over Umukarikari summit and dropped down for what seemed like forever to break into the carpark at 730pm making the trip 15 hours, 36km and 2600m total vertical ascent.  That’s a big day in anyone’s language.  Although as usual I was a touch off the pace verses Guano (some say his legs are robotic), I was happy to be in great shape after 15 hours. I had no blisters, no strains etc and was walking completely unaided!  This is even more surprising realising I carried a full overnight 53L pack with generous provisions. I had still two full cans of tuna, a can of peaches, a can of chicken and a can of Coke for starters! Mad!

Then of course was the small task of driving back to Auckland.  We stopped at Waterside Restaurant + Bar in Taupo for a beer and meal (highly recommended they are always brilliant) before getting home for a much needed sleep.

I will leave Guano to post maps etc.

« Last Edit: February 23, 2010, 01:22:49 AM by vinodrinker »

Re: Umukarikari and an attempt on Makorako
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2010, 03:51:25 PM »
A good log Vino!

Being on the summit of Umukarikari for sunrise was pretty awesome - it's one of those very memorable experiences that makes you realise that you are alive and you are truly living life that day. It was so good in fact, that we just had to go back and bag that peak again the same day!  :D

It was a real disappointment though to accept the bitter taste of defeat. We both wanted that summit so badly, but it eluded us this time. Had we somehow battled our way through that impenetrable bush-bash Hell, I'm sure we would have found that Chinese ghost waiting for us at the river - still brushing his teeth. Very slowly. Our theory is that he was horribly murdered whilst brushing his teeth long ago, and now he spends eternity trying to finish the task.

Makorako still awaits. She has teased us, taunted us, and captivated us with her beauty. But most of all she has entranced us, and I'm sure we will be back to woo her once more.

'There is always a risk in being alive, and if you are more alive, there is more risk' -Ibsen

Re: Umukarikari and an attempt on Makorako
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2010, 04:27:25 PM »
Question Guano.  Whats that big red blotch on the right your gps map??  ;D

Re: Umukarikari and an attempt on Makorako
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2010, 04:48:58 PM »
We have done some more research (thanks napier tramping club) and it appears we took the wrong spur to the river even though it was clearly and obviously tracked from a signpost near junction top.

Only one thing for it. We gotta try it again!! No excuses, must be done!