Taranaki West Side climb

Mt Taranaki west side

After a couple of failures to reach the summit via the west side of Taranaki Maunga with club and solo trips it finally turned out to be third time lucky. I had often thought of going back after the last non-ascent but Covid had wreaked the plans of so many people, and then the weather seemed to be so unsettled I put the idea on the back-burner. Then in early December it seemed all the stars were aligned. However, given the forecast was for a single fine day I decided to make an attempt as a one-day trip from a well provisioned and comfortable base camp in Johnsonville.

I left camp at 5 minutes past midnight and after a leisurely drive arrived at the Kahui roadend in time to start up the track at 5:30 am as planned.

The weather was perfect and only got better. The bush track was lovely, the grassy meadows wonderfully pleasant and the scoria somewhere between OK and fairly awful. It was sometimes possible to seek out the bigger sized scoria in the shallow gullies and then it was actually easy. The summit at 1:30 pm was just the same as usual except that there was no-one else there.

Coming down was a bit tricky but by trying to get to the finest scoria it was possible to surf down on the stuff. I had marked the top of the cool narrow ledge through the bluffs I had found on the way up and glad I had because it was very difficult to find again from above. Then back down through the snowgrass and the track and to the car arriving at 6:30 pm. It was the expected bit of a drag back to camp but it was made tolerable by cranking up the music and taking a break at a beach to watch the sun set over the ocean and have a 30 minute nap. I arrived back at base camp at 15 minutes to midnight – a round trip of just under 24 hours.

It had been a great fun day made even better by actually reaching the top – but in hindsight not quite fun enough to want to go back that way again. This made it the inverse of Type 2 fun, enjoyable at the time but afterwards not so much. The long scoria slopes are frustrating and tiring both climbing and descending. However, the upside is that the geological history of the maunga is fascinating – and there is plenty of evidence of some of those past violent episodes on the west side of Mr. Taranaki Maunga that make it a special place well worth visiting.

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