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Ascent of Mount Taylor on 2015-01-05

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Petter Bjørstad
Adrian Rayner
Pål Bjørstad
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, January 5, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Taylor
    Location:New Zealand
    Elevation:2332 m / 7654 ft

Ascent Trip Report

After our Manakau ascent we head southwest, finding a motel in Rangiora en route.
Leaving the main highway 77 at Mt Somers we drive to Hakatere then turn R (good gravel road) to Lake Heron; a R turn immediately before the Lake leads to a car park (S43.49065 E171.17808, 699m) at its corner.

We can see the peak and the route is snow free, so we leave the axe and champions behind and hike in trail shoes.

The 4x4 road (gated, apparently driveable by permit) crosses a stream, heads N following the lake shore, passes N of the diminutive Lake Hill, crosses the Swin River, then at S43.47722 E171.19497 a signposted trail forks R, following a fence. At S43.48597 E171.25166 we turn R on the Te Araroa Trail, boulder hop the river and follow the pole marked trail across thorny ground to another signpost, which oddly gives no direction to Double Hut which is now only a few minutes away: perhaps people unable to navigate are unwelcome here!

The route crosses former grazing land and most of the plants seem very similar to lowland English species; the mountains are reminiscent of northern Scotland; skylarks blackbirds yellowhammers and redpolls are singing: all seems oddly familiar.

We're at the hut in 2 hours from the car park, about half the guidebook time for this gentle stroll - oddly we were slower than book time on the brutal Manakau approach: the timings don't seem very consistent.

Double Hut (S43.49569 E171.26075), has just one occupant, David formerly from Gloucestershire UK, now resident in Christchurch. So no difficulty finding space on this tiny 6 bunk hut. We spend a lazy sunny afternoon, good recovery time after the Manakau workout.

It's quite windy overnight but calm when we leave at first light, early to beat the heat. The walk up beside Swin River South Branch is quite easy and the stream is narrow and easy to boulder hop. However we find on the way down that it's easier to shortcut the bends where possible, staying south of the stream, walking on easy terrain with just a few thorn bushes to avoid.

Reaching the main fork in an hour we follow the R branch for 100m to gain the west ridge at S43.50654 E171.28338. Soon there is a narrow section with easy but exposed moves above a deep gully. Once above this the climb is on easy loosish slopes alternating with sections of rocky arete: YDS 2+, any scrambling is easily bypassed. Upper slopes are devoid of vegetation with the different rock types very evident, quite reminiscent of the southwestern USA peaks. Views south and east to the Divide peaks are good, with Mt Arrowsmith dominating things. No sign of Mt Cook: 94km south and lost in haze.

With our early start we are sheltered from the sun almost all the way up and make good progress, summitting in 3h35 from Double Hut. Chilly wind. The North peak is quite a fine feature with a few gendarmes. Small scale mapping shows it 1 metre higher than where we're standing although it's clearly lower, with detailed mapping showing it as only 2296m.

After 30mins we head down, with enough scree to make it quite an easy descent. There's a nice looking scree slope dropping SW directly to the stream although it's not known how the walk along the stream would be although the climbNZ description seems to imply it would work.

At the foot of the West ridge it is important to remember that the descent ridge keeps R of the deep gully S43.50638 E171.28853.

The walk out along the Swin River is very hot, sheltered from the breeze. After a rest at the hut we walk out to the trailhead, thankfully in shade and with a cool breeze. The descent to the hut takes 2h40 and the walk out to Heron Lake trailhead 1h30.

Our total walking time has been less than 10 hours: clearly this peak could be climbed as a dayhike from the trailhead, although a very early start would be advisable to avoid the heat. And Double Hut is a nice spot to spend some time.

We spend the rest of the afternoon driving south towards Queenstown, planning to climb Single Cone tomorrow, finding a motel in Cromwell.

Mount Taylor Helens photo album
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1830 m / 6013 ft
    Extra Gain:99 m / 328 ft
    Route:Swin River, west ridge
    Trailhead:Heron Lake south  700 m / 2297 ft
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Gear Used:
Hut Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:5 Hours 35 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:4 Hours 40 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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