Tuesday, February 9, 2010

20.) Photovan does Mount Egmont / Taranaki

On the 1st of the 1st 2010 I climbed Mount Egmont .
I took this picture of " The Camphouse " from the roof of the photovan for a better perspective .

When I arrived on Thursday afternoon I did a short walk and got some pictures of the surrounding plant life .

Including some of the damage caused by introduced possums ...

Friday morning I started walking at 7:15 since they rate it as a 5-8 hour climb one way .

First you head for the tower

next to this hut ....

That took just under an hour .

Then after a 5 minute rest you start climbing again

and within a few minutes you reach these steps designed more to protect the soil than help climbers .

Initial thoughts are that it is hard having your steps paced out for you but once you leave the steps you start to wish there was more of them .

After the steps is a long steep slope of scoria , lots of light loose volcanic rock particles ..... two steps forward takes you one step in the right direction as you start 'moonwalking' and welcome the occasional solid rock to step on and get full movement for a second .
At this point the gusts of gale force winds occasionally knock you off your feet if you don't learn to drop to the ground as you feel them and when you have a Nikon D50 hanging around your neck it's a bit harder .

Then you welcome the sight of solid rock to get a grip on until you notice how sharp its edges are ![ have a look at that rather suspect image right in the centre of the frame ]

Then perhaps the most scary part of the trip is when you find some nutter doing the climb butt-naked for a challenge and sort of wish he would realize how sharp the rocks are and put on some protection to make the scenery more pleasant for the rest of us !

I eventually got to the 'top' 3 hrs and 15 minutes after leaving and prepared for a walk around the crater .

At the top it was quite warm until I stepped around the corner into icy gale force winds and snow and had to get all my protective gear on before going any further .
I started walking onto the snow and almost got knocked over a few times by the wind and since I never had my proper alpine gear decided I had already seen enough and had lunch in the warm area .

Besides that I had slipped on the ridge of Mount Ruapehu in the past and ended up hanging on the safety strap of my ice axe and I didn't like the look of the sudden stop in the rocks at the bottom of this slope .

so lunch on the edge of the crater would be enough for me ...

Going up was nerve wracking enough but now I had to maneuver my way back down the sharp rocks without damaging the camera [ which had been forgotten on iso 1600 for some of the earlier pictures - hence the grainey skies ] , or losing too much blood in general . Going down involves 'helping gravity' on such a steep slope .

Then you leave the sharp rocks and are greeted by the slippery scoria and a pile of rocks a long way down if you start to roll or slide too fast .

Someone was taking a different route on another slope .

I did have the chance to enjoy some of the colourful plant life on the rocks though .

while eagerly anticipating getting back to a safer environment .

and 2 hours after leaving the top I had one last glimpse of mount Egmont before heading off in my van ....

Of course you have to wear the correct clothing on these trips

I decided to take the scenic " Forgotten world highway " which is a mysterious stretch of road with buildings rotting away [ Unfortunately I never had the energy to stop for all of the nice opportunities ] and some attractive mountains .

and Ruapehu in the distance [ which is actually in a few of my pictures from Egmont ]

After stopping to help someone with a puncture , finding out I never even had the tools to change my own tire ! , driving the guy to Taumaranui to get the AA and only arriving at a Waitomo camp site at 9 pm I was rather tired and slept pretty well till this morning .... [ drove straight into town and bought $200 worth of tools for the van for NEXT TIME ]
And that was the end of another adventure in the photovan - but then there's still next week ...............


  1. I truly enjoy your blogs, Desmond. The photos are great, but the commentary is wonderful, too. If you decide to do a book, I will gladly put together the book proposal and marketing plan for you to shop around! You'd be really good at this! Deb

  2. Thanks , I just bought a "gopro hero" HD helmet cam that I'm going to install in the van to record the journey with - I'll test it this weekend !
    In future I will do more in-depth stories as well :) .