Taranaki always seems a lonely mountain separated from all his mates on the Central Plateau. The Maori story of how he ended up standing alone, sad, and badly wounded explained it all perfectly—although nowadays the theory of plate tectonics seems even more plausible.
But whichever you believe it is still a fun peak to climb and there are many ways to do this. The East Ridge has to be one of the best—direct and without all the loose scoria on many other parts of the mountain. It was this way that a cheery bunch of 11 punters headed on one of the few clear and calm days we have had this summer so far.
We left our Friday night camp at the end of the Stratford Mountain Road and followed up the line of the top ski tow at the Manganui ski field. Here we traversed a bit to the right to climb around the north side of the Policeman (and don’t ask me why the feature is called that). Here is where the good rock of an old lava flow begins and we followed up this to the top of the Shark’s Tooth. Some mid-day cloud blocked the view occasionally but there was no real bother otherwise.
After a short rest we descended the crazy little chimney that leads down from the ridge into the crater. At the bottom of this a nice steepish snow slope led directly down to the crater floor—something that is not usually there late in summer. This offered a quick and exciting bum slide—except that some folk overlooked the tendency for granular summer snow to exfoliate top layers of skin from any exposed parts of posteriors. Although even that didn’t seem to diminish the buzz from a fast slide down.
Then a climb to the actual summit which is all of 8 metres higher than the Shark’s Tooth where there was time to relax a bit and just enjoy the wonderful view in all directions.
The descent down the north side of the peak is always crazy fun, or a bit of a disaster, depending if you can stay on your feet or not. Some in the group were new to the joys of loose scoria—and it showed, although no-one completely lost their sense of good humour. Karen did, however, describe it at one stage as ‘this f&@!#ing scoria’ and the photo of her shorts at the end of the day confirms her feelings.
We arrived at North Egmont in dribs and drabs and all thankful it wasn’t any further. A camp at the DOC site partway down the road was a pleasant way to end the day, and we had a calm and mild night with the sound of moreporks calling in the bush.
Sunday morning was breakfast in Inglewood and a cruisey drive back home. We all agreed—it was a rather pleasant and satisfying day walk.