2-4 October – Mt Gladstone, Inland Kaikoura Range

on summit mt gladstone 

Summit Mt Gladstone

It had been over nine years since the club had run a trip to Mt Gladstone, a picturesque peak, but mostly overlooked by parties in favour of its loftier neighbours. Back then the club had headed up the Otterson Stream side on a warm, bluebird day, only to wake up to snow & cloud enshrouded ridges.

This time, the attempt was to be made from the south-east via the Hodder Huts. Three had gathered for the attempt; Kazuhiro Abe, Pat Holland & Liam Sullivan. The huts were gained in good time on Friday & the team settled in with a Czech couple making their second attempt of Tappy, along with a neighbouring group of four, in the other hut.

With memories of the previous trip, it felt like deja vu with intermittent sounds of thunder heard during the night. It was with great relief to discover fine conditions outside, & the ominous sounds had in fact been issuing from one of the hut’s occupants.

gladstone towards head of valley

Gladstone  towards head of valley

Kazu & Liam were away by five, Pat opting for a later start & an explore of the upper Hodder. A kilometre walk up the Hodder then a right up the first major stream gained the ridgeline of the Red Hills. This provided easy travel until it was decided to drop off the ridge & sidle the northern slopes towards the saddle at the head of Trail Stream. Awkward travel ensued, with loose boulder fields & scree slopes of varying quality to be negotiated before making the saddle, some three hours from the hut.

Here, the full extent of the SE couloir was revealed, a broad snow ramp of almost 500m in height, leading all the way to the summit ridge. With crampons & ice axes set the pair made their way up, the snow initially crisp on the lower parts, turning to soft, deep powder higher up. Two and a quarter hours later the ridge crest was gained, with a short scramble from this onto the summit. As expected, the views were sublime, but a cold breeze did not encourage lingering. A careful descent was made in softening snow, and the sadde was reached in and hour later.  red hills ridge view back to gladstone

Red Hills view to Mt Gladstone

The team was back at the huts by two with Pat there to greet them; he had earlier followed the route to the top of the Red Hills ridge. The other parties

returned later, all enjoying success.

Strong wind gusts buffeted the hut in the early hours of Sunday & departure was made in much windier conditions. Kazu’s stream-crossing count had reached 81 by the time the party left the river & followed the farm track back to the road. The only further obstacles to be negotiated were the three large Hereford bulls, (negotiated best by keeping one other party member between themselves & the bull) before exiting to the car.