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Ascent of Mount Anglem on 1993-11-20

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, November 20, 1993
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Peak:Mount Anglem
    Location:New Zealand
    Elevation:29 m / 98 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Thursday, November 18:

In the morning the warden at the Invercargill Youth Hostel called up the airport for me and told me that there was standby space available on the 10 AM flight to Stewart Island, so I drove from the hostel through the city to the Invercargill Airport, a smallish facility with free parking, where I sorted through all my stuff and just took what I thought I'd need for my planned four-day hike on Stewart Island. In the airport I went to the small Southern Airways desk and paid NZ $33.75 for my one-way ticket, waited in the airport's one waiting room as passengers bound for Christchurch or Auckland passed through, and, when my flight was called, went out on to the runway with about five other people.

The plane only had eight seats, one for the pilot, and, since the seats took up the entire width of the cabin, the first people in had to take the rear seats. As we boarded it started raining heavily, and as we were taking off it started hailing, making me somewhat nervous about getting into such a small plane. The flight was extremely bumpy, as the fierce wind of the Foveaux Strait buffeted the plane as if it were a feather in a tornado. I got pretty sick to my stomach, but I still managed to chat with the lady next to me, an island resident, and look out the window at the scenery.

The twenty-minute flight ended when we landed at Stewart Island's airport, a dirt strip in the forest with utterly no buildings whatsoever. A van with a luggage trailer was there to meet the plane, though, so we hopped off and were given a ride down a dirt road to Halfmoon Bay, a tiny fishing village that was Stewart Island's only settlement. It was kind of neat to be here, on a small island at 46 degrees south, quite literally the bottom of the planet--the only real land further south being Patagonia and Antarctica. My plan was, of course, to climb the island's high point, 980-meter Mt. Anglem, a three-day hike away along the Northwest Track hiking trail.

So I found the island's tiny visitor center, where I bought the hut permits I would need for my trip, and also stashed some of my stuff in a locker. I then bought a snack at the island's only grocery store, and began hiking, at first along paved roads leading to Horseshoe Bay. It was hot, and hiking on the road was no fun. After walking around the bay I took the dirt Lee Bay Road left.

At the height of land on this dirt road I decided to take a slight detour and hike up over the Garden Mound, a small hill, on a steep but well-maintained trail through dense rain forest. There were no views from the top, but this little trip did mark the high point of my three-day hike, an imposing 164 meters (538 feet).

The Garden Mound trail ended on the main Northwest Track trail, which I would be on for the next several days. I followed it north as it largely stayed level, following the thickly forested shoreline of the northwest coast of Stewart Island. It would go up and down from time to time, and was also often very muddy, with occasional boardwalks alleviating this problem. More interesting were the times when the path would go out onto the beach, and I would hike past the crashing waves on soft sand with not a soul in sight, gazing out over the grey, rough waters. At one beach I had to clamber over a rock as the high tide came in, wishing to avoid the rough "high tide" trails hacked through the forest.

After several hours of this interesting hike I arrived at the Port William Hut, the first of the rustic cabins along the Northwest Track. I rested here a bit and chatted with the people hanging out (a Kiwi couple and a Brit), and then decided to push onward to the next hut, since it was only 4:30 PM. I hiked through more deep, muddy forest and along more cold, deserted beach for two hours until I arrived at the Bungaree Hut. It was in a scenic location, on a grassy bluff overlooking a sandy beach, and I gladly decided to sack out here for the night.

There were two other guys in the 20-bunk Bungaree Hut with me, one from New Zealand and his English friend, and the three of us spent a very social evening talking and telling stories as the night fell. We ate, got a good wood fire going in the hut's Franklin stove, and, between spells of light rain, went out to stargaze for a bit--I definitely identified the southern cross for the first time, helped by one of the guys in the hut. At this latitude, most of the constellations were unfamiliar to me. Also, one of the guys said he had a flash unit for my XA camera he would sell me, so I gave him my address, since mine had been stolen in Amsterdam and a replacement seemed to be non-existent.

It was very cold, windy, and dark in a wilderness hut at the bottom of the world that night, and the roaring surf outside the hut lulled me to sleep after the three of us had turned in.

Friday, November 19:

After eating a cold breakfast at the Bungaree Hut on Stewart Island's Northwest Track trail, I left, well ahead of the two guys in the hut with me, and continued north on the well-worn trail. From 9:15 AM to 1 PM I just hiked 10 kilometers, the weather being mostly rain, drizzle, and low clouds. The trail, although still following the coast, actually gained some elevation, up to 150 meters on a couple occasions, which was discouraging. There were also a couple of long stretches on beaches, some rivers to cross on very rickety swinging suspension bridges, and a creek on a beach that required a flying leap to cross.

I arrived at the Christmas Village Hut area tired and wet, and, while hiking along the bouldery side path along a rocky beach to the hut, I was discouraged to see that the top of Mt. Anglem, my ultimate destination, was utterly sheathed in thick clouds. In the hut I found Markus, yet another German twenty-something backpacker (they're everywhere!) hanging out. After talking to him, drying out, eating, and reading the logbook comments of the hut's recent visitors, I decided to blow off my planned climb of Mt. Anglem today. I had plenty of time, but slogging up 3000 vertical feet of mud and snow in a rainstorm up into thick, windy clouds seemed like a bad idea. I decided to go for the summit the next morning, when the weather might be better.

That afternoon I didn't do much. Markus and I were the only people in the hut--indeed, he was the only person I had seen since leaving Bungaree hut this morning--and we talked a lot, I took a nap, and I even read, cover to cover, a cheap detective novel lying around. We also built a fire, having trouble finding dry wood. Nightfall finally came, and after wasting more time Markus and I sacked out, each of us with a whole wing of the roomy hut to ourselves.

Saturday, November 20:

I woke up early, thinking I'd get an early start for my planned hike up Mt. Anglem on Stewart Island, but it was pouring rain, so I slept in some more, and finally woke up when Markus the German also got up. I ate breakfast, alarmed at how my food supply had vanished, something that seemed to always happen to me whenever I went hiking for more than two days, before leaving. Markus wasn't interested in Mt. Anglem.

I left the Christmas Village Hut, hiked on the wet, slippery boulders on the beach in front of it back to the main Northwest Track trail, and shortly found the sign showing where the Mt. Anglem Trail began. It was still raining, very foggy, very windy, the trails were seas of mud, and I knew from reading the logbook in the hut that halfway up Mt. Anglem the trail was snowy. All this, plus my lack of food, convinced me that there was utterly no point in making the hike except for pure peak-bagging purposes, which, even for me, weren't enough.

So I took a picture of the sign and started heading back south along the same route I had just hiked out on, the Northwest Track, passing all the same bogs, beaches, and bridges that I had on my outward trek. Markus soon caught up to me, on a long, very windy stretch of beach--the sand was blowing intensely right into my face and it was freezing cold. From this point on we hiked together the muddy, muddy, muddy trail to the deserted Bungaree Hut, which offered us a dry place to rest, and then continued on. After traversing Big Bungaree Beach we had trouble locating where the trail re-entered the forest, and after several abortive tries we found it, further that we had thought.

Markus and I reached the Port William hut at about 6 PM, tired and totally soaked and muddy. Here we saw the first other people of our long day: two Kiwi couples and Lee, a world traveler Vietnam vet from California. As I ate the last of my food and dried out I talked mostly to one of the New Zealand couples, an engineer and his wife, and later to Lee, an interesting and bright guy. I thought his stories of travelling in Africa and Asia were far more interesting than my tales. Lee was a lot like my Uncle Jim, proving that you never know who you're going to meet in places as far out as Stewart Island.

The conversations in the hut continued until 11 PM, by which time the rain stopped and we all went to sleep.

Sunday, November 21:

I had no food left, and, not wanting to bum any off of anyone else, I left the Port William Hut first, saying goodbye to the people from last night and setting off south at 8:30 AM. It didn't rain today, bumming me out--I wish I had waited to do Mt. Anglem today. Anyway, I hiked all the way back to Lee's Bay, the start of the Northwest Track, and then on roads back to the town of Halfmoon Bay, really lagging on the uphills due to lack of food. Markus caught up to me just beyond Horseshoe Bay, and he bailed out to go to the rooming house he was staying in before town--we agreed to meet for lunch later in the town's only restaurant.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:211 m / 698 ft
    Extra Gain:91 m / 300 ft
    Trailhead:0 m / 0 ft
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Hut Camp
    Weather:Raining, Cool, Windy, Low Clouds
Ascent Part of Trip: 1993 - Stewart Island (3 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1Garden Mound1993-11-18
2(Attempt) Mount Anglem1993-11-20
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
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