|Joining the CTC|
|About the CTC|
"Wouldn't it be nice to go to the Gardens?" said I in February when it was summer. But with no annual leave left, the only possibility was Easter. Problem is that the Gardens are not very accessible—the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Allah straddle the Main Divide at 2000m between the Rangitata River and Whataroa on the West Coast. Most routes there are a difficult 2-3 days. And the weather can be very bad indeed. We decided to list a trip to the Gardens in the newsletter in the unlikely hope that the weather would cooperate (and quietly prepared a backup plan).
Wednesday before Easter—a perfect forecast. The unlikely had happened. We rushed around organising ourselves and set off Thursday evening. No one else had been tempted by the lure of the Gardens. Next morning at 7:30 am we waited for the helicopter pilot to finish his checks before we effortlessly climbed up the Perth River, gaping at the views. The day was truly spectacular. The pilot landed us on top of a very thin crevasse on the Garden of Eden. It was a easy stroll from there to Adams Col, our home for the next 3 nights. The snow was gone from the rocks above the Col. We had a choice of three flat campsites amongst the rocks surrounded by dry stone walls 4' high. We pitched our tent quickly eager to explore the Garden of Allah.
We descended a hundred feet to a vantage point. It took quite a while to convince ourselves that we were on the right route. All we could see was bluffs and a glacier completely cut up by crevasses between us and the Garden of Allah. But after we descended further the route tucked in underneath us came into view and it was an easy sidle up to the garden. Point 1874m was a very fine lunchspot indeed, as we took in the Beelzebub Glacier over bread and brie. We cramponed along the length of the Garden of Allah to Satan Saddle. There didn't seem much point in going down the Lambert Glacier so we continued the gentle climb to Snowy Peak. A magnificent view point with Mts Cook and Tasman clearly visible to the south and Arthurs Pass mountains to the north. We couldn't linger as darkness was but a few hours away, so we sped back down the garden to our campsite.
We rather belatedly realised that night, that weight is no longer an issue when flying in, and that our usual tramping food could have been supplemented with luxuries not even found on social trips. We'll know better next time!
Saturday dawned grey and misty. Oh. We hugged the mountain-side of the Garden of Eden obtaining the odd glimpse of rock and glacier. Baker Peak across the garden, illuminated in the sunshine, seemed to have its own hole in the mist, so we angled towards it. From a sheltered spot in the lee we could see .... grey mist. So we returned to our tents and spent the afternoon reading and writing letters. The forecast on the mountain radio that evening was not good. Simon Hassall and Lisa appeared out of the gloom—they'd followed our previous day's steps all along the Garden of Allah having 4WD'ed up the Frances River.
I didn't want to look out of the tent the next morning. But I steeled myself to do so. Blue! The sky was blue! We zigzagged from lookout point to lookout point all the way to the bottom of the Garden of Eden. The Devil's Backbone formed a dramatic backdrop as we walked below it. The mist engulfed Mt Barlow and The Great Unknown just as we arrived, so we rushed around to Vertebrae Col, the Little Unknown and various other points just keeping ahead of the mist. From Vertebrae Col we had a fine view of the Farrar Glacier sweeping down to 400m below our feet. After lunch, the mist lifted a little, so we explored the head of the Adverse looking for what is supposed to be one of the easier routes in. It looked decidedly bluffy. On the way back to camp we met Simon and Lisa—they'd wandered up Guardian Peak in the morning and were now following our steps in the mist around Angel Col—not realising that they were zigzagging to vistas they couldn't see!
Monday was also a glorious day. We retraced our steps from Saturday's walk in the mist and admired the icefalls above and beyond the Garden of Eden. After lunch we rushed back to camp to pack for the chopper ride back to the green world below. Later, driving over Porter's Pass into the thick murk that had settled over Canterbury, we regretted the need to leave the beautiful icy gardens behind.
Linda (scribe) & Steve