I have set up the booking system with the following traverse availability over winter:
- 13 July – 31 August there is a departure every third day (i.e. 13th, 16th, 19th etc.)
- 1 September – 31 October departure every second day.
The direction of the traverse is from Treble Cone to Coronet Peak (which is best for skiing). The idea behind the dates is to have a “weather window” where you can choose the best weather and snow conditions to make a start. For example, if you booked the 16th July you have the 16th, 17th and 18th to get started and then another 6 days to complete the traverse. Depending on the party ahead you might also be able to start a day or two early.
Having all these scheduled departures creates a secondary problem of weekend use of the more accessible Turks such as Vanguard and Deep Creek. I hope to solve this using some kind of GPS technology so we know where people are.
Remember there is also the Crown Basin Turk which is available for booking on a daily basis throughout winter.
The club will be building 5 toilets to be positioned on Mahu Whenua Covenant land in March. Most of these are positioned near historic huts.
Some of the locations can be accessed by vehicle, the others will require a helicopter:
- Cabin Hut, Polnoon Burn (helicopter)
- Strolhes Flat/Stone Hut (drive)
- Green Gates Hut (maybe quad bike and trailer or helicopter)
- Premier Battery Hut (helicopter)
- Junction of Coronet/Eight Mile Creek (drive)
Build will start at my place on the 12th March.
1pm Saturday, 12th March
92 Centennial Ave
Bring: Hand tools (skillsaw, torque drive, drill) and if the weather looks good some toppings for pizzas. If the weather is bad we’ll postpone until Sunday. Ideally you need to be pretty handy with cutting, screwing and assembling with a reasonable degree of accuracy. However anyone is welcome to come and help with making pizzas later in the day! If you’re unsure, send me a text.
I’ll work out dates for installation once I see the team that assembles. I anticipate we will do the two that can be driven in on a weekend afternoon sometime. This would suit a couple of people with decent 4WD vehicles and some others to help. After that we’ll organise a toilet and maintenance weekend later in March/early April – most likely 9th-10th April.
The rationale behind this project is to support the Mahu Whenua covenants. They have been very supportive of our Turk building and adventuring so it is important we work in unison with their vision of public access and facilities. The club has budgeted $6000 for materials and helicopter time for this project.
The following are the main issues needing attention at the Turks:
- The water tank stands have proven to be a bit on the weak side. With 220kg of water they have slowly moved away from the Turks and in some situations the down pipe has become disconnected. This is easily fixed with some additional timber to strengthen the support platform.
- A quick coat of paint on the wooden doors and windows. No problems observed yet but we need to keep on top of this since water in the wood with freeze/melt will cause problems.
- Changes to the backup latch – the top latches on the turk doors have proven to be prone to internal rust and are not working properly. These need to be removed, the hole bogged up and painted and a more simple bolt latch installed.
- Other small fixups like trimming the door and repairing the outside seat at Saint Just.
My thinking is to organise this as part of the toilet install weekend. My idea is that we fly toilets tools and people in on the Saturday with people walking out on the Sunday.
I promised myself that I would take it easy on Turk work for 2021 but it is now 2022 so time to think of building more Turks.
Soho properties/Mahu Whenua are supportive of doubling up Turks if needed (i.e. two at one location) and possibly an additional one at Advance Peak. We don’t yet have the usage/demand for this but my thinking is to apply for extensions to the resource consents so we are clear to take this initiative when appropriate.
I am also looking further afield with possible locations on the Remarkables, up the Dart, the Canterbury foot hills, Takitimus and the upper Murchison. If you have any suggestions please email me. The planning process is the most time consuming so sooner we get started the better.
The club is also using Facebook to communicate (yes, I think the metaverse is a stupid idea) It is restricted to proper members. You can find it here Mountain Turk Club | Facebook
Regular meetings will be held the first Monday of every month at the Fork and Tap in Arrowtown. The committee will meet between 7-7:30 and after that it is general discussions about Turks, and adventures. Come along at 7:30 to join us for a beer and chat. The current committee is:
- President – Erik Bradshaw
- Treasurer – Zane Kersk
- Secretary – Katrina Gardiner
Other things people are helping with
- Environments assessment/consents – Glenn Davis
- Winter Operations/coordination – Anton Schmitz
- FaceBook – Wendy Johnston and Melanie Fraoch
I am looking for assistance with the following:
- Redoing the club website
- Researching and helping to decide on the best beacon (Garmin, Spot etc.) communication device to help with winter logistic.
- Maintenance coordination/recording issues
More thoughts on mountains, weather and avalanches
Comments in my previous newsletter have resulted in some good feedback, especially from mountain guides, however I was accused of being elitist by one person. What I am trying to ensure is that people ask themselves the hard questions before they take on something like the Mahu Whenua Traverse in winter.
I was reflecting on a recent solo crossing of a flooded Dart River while climbing Hedin Peak. All my judgements were inferred, because the water was discoloured, I couldn’t tell how deep it was, how much power there was or how bouldery the river bed would be under foot. All I could see was the surface and I had to make approximations of these issues. Thinking I could do it I then had to try in such a way that if something went wrong I could self-rescue and extricate myself from the river. Making these judgements requires experience and while you can teach knowledge you can’t teach experience – it is something you hold personally from getting out and doing things.
Our basic reptilian instincts make us afraid of certain situations such as steep cliffs, a wobbly kayak and probably a flooded river. The problem is those instincts don’t work when looking at a nice slope covered with powder snow. You need to infer the risk and the more knowledge you have the better judgement you can make.
My advice is to walk the traverse in Summer, visit the Crown Basin Turk and get familiar with Otago terrain. Do an overnight trip into Vanguard or Saint Just Turk. Build a pyramid of experience with the Mahu Whenua Traverse in winter being near the top.
26 February 2022