09 October 2009

Cairn, Otira valley, Arthur's Pass NP

Cairn, Otira valleyThe Otira valley in Arthur's Pass National Park provides relatively easy access to several well-known climbing routes on Mt Rolleston. In early February 2006, Jono and I climbed Rolleston by the straightforward Otira Slide route to check the descent route, with the intention of returning to climb one of the classic routes on the Otira Face. But the weather put paid to that, although only briefly. We returned three days after our initial ascent and climbed the Face in ideal conditions, with a little cloud swirling around to protect us from the sun while enhancing rather than obscuring the view. A magnificent day in the Southern Alps.
In winter, avalanches sometimes threaten the route up the valley but in summer the walk to this cairn can be undertaken by even the marginally fit. That's the Otira Face in the background, on the left.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

9 comments:

P.E.A. said...

Ha! Maybe you should post your definition of 'marginally fit'? Would rising seventy and still breathing qualify?

Barbara said...

Stirring and majestic ... this is stunning and makes me pull my spine up nice and tall! Wonderful interplay of light and dark, stone and mist. I wonder what the cairn honors?

P.E.A. said...

Barbara - probably a rising seventy year-year old!

Barbara said...

Maybe seventy is the new fifty???

Michael said...

I feel like I'm falling when I look at this photo. How close it is to flying!

Zhoen said...

I know this is a huge space, but something about the cairn so close and the clouds so low, it could as easily be a very tiny mount of sand around a bonsai mountain.

pohanginapete said...

P.E.A. The good thing about it is that even a short distance along the track takes you into magnificent surroundings. You can walk as far as you feel comfortable and the return journey poses no additional problems — it's an excellent track at least as far as the footbridge over the river, and beyond that it's straightforward provided you take your time and go carefully in one or two places. However, the most important thing is to go prepared for sudden changes in weather. A lovely track in beautiful weather can be an entirely different proposition in driving rain and bitterly cold wind — in those conditions, the car can seem an awfully long way away. I'm sure you'd get far enough to delight you.

Barbara, thanks. The cairn signifies nothing in particular other than the position of the track — and P.E.A., to the best of my knowledge no one's buried there!

Michael, that's the feeling I had on the Otira Face (flying — thankfully, not falling!).

Zhoen, I can see how it could give that impression. But I guess I know the situation too well to be able to imagine the change the scale easily, and I have to try hard to imagine it now. Good to hear what other people can see in this — and other — photos.

butuki said...

Looks amazingly similar to the peaks I climbed here in Japan just this last weekend.

What a stunning, gripping B&W image. You captured the feeling of impending dread that only the human walker experiences. The mountains themselves seem just to be taking a deep, deep breath.

pohanginapete said...

Thanks Miguel. That means a lot, coming from someone who knows and loves mountains and wild places, and who's such an accomplished photographer.
:^)