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Annual Meeting:
28th October 2020 – 7pm
Lakes Hayes Pavilion

This could be called an AGM but I didn’t want to scare you! It will be a fun an interesting evening where I will summarise what has been achieved and we can also discuss where to go in the future.

This event is open to anybody interested in the Turk project.

I’ll be there from 6:30. Please bring something to drink and if somebody is really generous some snacks would be much appreciated. It would be good to make the evening social as well as having to do the formal club stuff.

Turk progress and tasks to complete

All six of the turks are fully installed and safe to use, however there are currently two limitations:

  • The Toilet at Mt Hyde is not yet set up.
  • The water tanks at Mototapu Saddle and Crown Basin are not set up. This is a problem at Motatapu since there is no running water for quite a distance

Organising the club

Zane Kerse (treasurer@mountainturk.nz) has sent out roughly 200 receipt/invoices over the last week to recognise either peoples financial contribution or their labour contribution. If you are either (or know them)  James Hay or Ed Willis please contact Zane. We have your money but not your contact details!

If you are a legitimate member you should have received some communication from me a week ago with changes to the constitution that need to be voted on. If you haven’t received anything don’t be offended! Email isn’t perfect and neither are our records. please contact admin@mountainturk.nz

In addition to the 200+ people who have have supplied materials or labour to build Turks there are 18 people who didn’t get over the 10 hour threshold. This was often because these people got involved a bit late and all the easy building tasks were already complete. My thinking is to allow these people to use the turks as general members with the expectation they will complete their hours in the near future.

Tee Shirts

To celebrate the success of establishing the Mahu Whenua traverse we have some stylish t-shirts to impress your friends and convince them you are part of  an eccentric clan building unusual things in the mountains. We’re selling them for $30, with the margin going towards the club. Bring some cash (we won’t have any electronic payment facilities) to the annual meeting on the 28th. We will also have them for sale on the club’s website soon.

Summer thoughts

I tend to over-emphasise winter use or Turks because I just love playing around in the snow. Visiting the turks is just as much fun in summer and I’m sure the Mahu Whenua Traverse will be completed much more in the warmer months than winter.

The current period between the end of September and mid-November is a bit weird because there is enough snow to make walking difficult but not enough for skiing. From mid-November to mid-May the traverse is a wonderful walking experience. I will clarify the access conditions for the Treble Cone road in a later email.

Terrain between Treble Cone and Mt Hyde. All those gullies in shadow will slow you down and be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing

Skiing the Mahu Whenua Traverse

At the start of September Dave Hamilton and friends departed Treble Cone with the intention of skiing the Mahu Whenua Traverse to Coronet Peak. Weather and conditions were not in their favor but equally were not that unusual for New Zealand. I think Dave’s notes about the trip are worth considering…

We were a group of four with considerable international and NZ climbing and ski-ing experience and had a great few days on the traverse at the beginning of the month. It has been a lean snow year but we decided to have a go all the same on a forecast that was moderate at best; we allowed four days for the Traverse, which should be fine in good conditions.

However we had two days of fierce westerly winds gusting to 120km/hr, which gave us some challenges even getting to the Mount Hyde Turk. The west sides of the ridges were stripped and icy; there was also enough wind to blow us off our feet, producing huge difficulty skinning and skis acting like sails when we resorted to walking!

The East sides were better, but in places we were forced to skin traverse under threatening cornices and in places they were too steep. Rounding Mt Motatapu and the Veganhorn was slow and challenging and Mt Hyde Turk was a very welcome sight! Blizzard set in on day 3 and we enjoyed refuge in the wonderful Turk, which was quiet and retained its warmth well.

We got up early to a wonderful cover of fresh snow, a wonderful, windless, white world! We skinned up the ridge till it steepened and then after some avalanche assessment put a few turns in on the fresh powder! We then traversed under the peak to take the easy S ridge to the summit, but were beaten to it by the Heli skiers. Of course there was plenty of mountain left for us to leave happy turns on including a very enjoyable run down to the St Just Turk! It was very bare over Mt St Just and Vanguard and we were starting to get low on food and fuel, so we accepted Erik’s kind offer of a back-flight out from there after shifting numerous bags of gravel into the Turk base !

I have a few thoughts to share … don’t underestimate the Traverse … we did! There is much more route finding than say on Symphony, that will change between trips, depending on snow cover, rocky outcrops, wind and ice, as well as potential avalanche issues generally on the eastern side that will be the choice side for most of the ski-ing and skinning. The distances and height changes are modest looking, but if conditions are suboptimal they will feel considerably more. It is a great Traverse with the brilliant and well-spaced Turks making it much more comfortable, but don’t underestimate it!

Also…

In mid September Thomas Schattovits, (qualified alpine guide and from Austria so probably born with skis on) and friend left Treble Cone aiming for Mt Hyde Turk. It took 6 hours to reach Motatapu Saddle Turk and the next day another 6 hours to reach Mt Hyde. Their comments were similar to Dave’s – complex terrain and many opportunities to get into situations (like steep little gullies) that consume a lot of time and are potentially dangerous.

My advice:

The traverse is a significant step above “slack country” skiing. Just because you have the gear, fitness and have been out the back of ski areas doesn’t mean you are necessarily up to it. Terrain judgement, understanding weather and snow along with efficient movement are of critical importance when covering this complex terrain. Walking the traverse in summer will allow you to understand what you are getting yourself into. The Crown Basin Turk is a great place to start, it is also possible to do weekend there-and-back trips to the Motatapu, Vanguard and Coronet Turks. Such trips provide an easier opt-out if you think you are getting in over your head.

Of course, make sure you have the right gear, locator beacon and know as much as you can about avalanches and other hazards. I’ll provide more thoughts as the days get cooler in 2021.

That’s enough for now!

Enjoy spring
Erik Bradshaw
16 October 2020

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