French Ridge Jan 2022

After the Rees Rees we drove back to Wanaka for the night and the next morning Craig and Rachel rolled up in my car. The trusty outback was overflowing with stuff. After a cup of tea we said goodbye to Jeremy and Katie and drove around the lake to hospital flat and went climbing. Six bolted climbs later we went back down to the lake to swim and contemplate our next moves.

After much deliberating we decided to do an overnight tramping trip up to French Ridge in the Matukituki. We camped at the road end and walked in the valley the following day. It was an unusual day. It was extremely humid and the sky was white with homogeneous high cloud. This made for a sweaty walk. The ascent up French Ridge was steep and scrambly and it took us quite some time. We set up camp further up the ridge, above the hut and cooked dinner amongst a tiny rock biv that someone had constructed.

The weather was amazing the following day and we awoke to blue sky and sunshine. The views from the ridge were grand and we could see all the way across the valley to the Liverpool Hut with it’s red satellite toilet, two small dots in the distance. We could also see back across to Cascade Saddle where I’d been a few days earlier on the Dart side. Poking out through the saddle was what looked like Mt Earnslaw far in the background.

We packed up our tents and stashed some of our gear before wandering up the ridge towards the Quarterdeck, the ramp up onto the Bonar glacier. We followed the rocky ridge up crossing patches of snow and watched as a small avalanche came down off Mt French and onto the Quarterdeck. We took posy jumping photos and then headed back down. I joined the patches of snow together as much as possible glissading down the steeper sections.

It was time for lunch and hot drinks and then we collected our gear and continued down back into the Matukituki. After swimming and drinking more tea and waiting around for Plod we started heading out towards the car. It was already evening but it was still really hot. I walked without a t-shirt. It felt like high summer and really good.

We got out to the road end at dusk and cooked a quick cous cous meal before setting up camp.

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