To the South Island with racks and ropes and heavy packs.
We started out early on Thursday with a water taxi across Lake Rotoiti to Coldwater hut, weather calm and sunny, couldn’t ask for more for the 8-9 hour trudge up the Travers valley. Lunched at John Tait in fairly good time and continued up the valley to Upper Travers Hut, in time for a swim in the creek. That night we studied the routes and with a fine forecast ahead decided that we would look to try for Kehu on Friday and Travers on Saturday, with a short walk out from John Tait on Sunday.
Friday was again calm and sunny, perfect day for some climbing, with a valley fog slowly moving in. We headed through the beech trees directly behind the hut and and out onto the tussock beyond, we pushed on through the Spaniards tussock and spear grass until we hit the creek running up towards the basin below Kehu. We stuck to the true right of this all the way up with water found a long way up. At the top, we followed the rock fall valley up to the right.
Here is where the fun begins, we were to the right of the low point on the West ridge and the two Mikes discussed where to proceed. Mike P said right is our summit, Mike S annoyed with himself for heading in the wrong direction said OK. The start was not very steep so we decided to solo the start and would call for the ropes when it got a little bit steeper. When we reached the false summit we realised it was the summit and the altimeter was showing we were still some 100 metres too low. We looked across to where Mike S was originally heading and realised that was Kehu, good practice.
We dropped down and sidled the basin (still some snow) and came to a face on the North West Ridge that looked like good climbing, this time we roped up and started pitching to the ridge line, all in all the climbing was good, and we did about 4 pitches and scrambled the last little bit of ridge line. Going by the noise, I think Mike S and Katy picked a slightly harder line than the one we did.
We scrambled down onto the Northwest face and abseiled off of that. This is when it started to rain. Dropped down the same way we had come up and got to a relatively full hut. For those on the trip this is when the bathing occurred…It rained most of the night, but we were still optimistic for good weather on Saturday.
We woke again to clear skies, but no valley fog, the South ridge should get early sun so we were hoping it would be dry by the time we got there. This time we followed the track up to the Travers saddle and turned right just before the saddle to pick up the South ridge. The rock was still wet and a little bit slippery in places but was in the sun now so was drying out quickly.
We made it to the notch (requiring a two pitch climb) in good time and upon investigation it was in full sun, our only issue now was the cloud rolling in from the East and South. We decided with the rock still being wet and the weather coming in, to not proceed with the climb. We dropped down to the hut, had lunch and cleaned up. The Summit of Travers was covered in cloud so it looked like the correct decision was made. We dropped down the valley to John Tait for the night and bumped into the group that had head out to do Travers on Friday and they were caught out in the rain all night, apparently there is a really good rock bivy up on the summit creek route.
Got out a couple of hours earlier, via the water taxi, so had a feed, beer and sit down. The others turned up and the van had been broken into, SOB.