A slice of Pie and a Pile of Choss


I had been cooped up in front of my computer screen deciphering the intricacies of Latex for an unpleasant amount of time, so when Jeff suggested a weekend trip to Arthur’s Pass I thought “YES!” “Outside!”. And so despite knowing that Rome Ridge was a total chosspile in the middle of summer, I decided it would be a good idea to traverse said ridge with Jeff, Tania and Barbara.

Jeff on Rome Ridge
Jeff on Rome Ridge

No tramping trip is complete without an opportunity to eat delicious food, but when I was halfway through making a peach pie to take for a shared group dessert, I suddenly remembered that Jeff was allergic to dairy and couldn’t eat the buttery shortcrust pastry I’d just made.  Having an inner aversion to margarine as a thing, let alone a foodstuff, I thought, “Never mind, I’ll just take several desserts!”.  And so I found myself on Saturday morning plodding up the Coral Track carrying a peach pie, marshmallow crispie treats and the ingredients for a dairy-free rice pudding (including a can of coconut cream). At least Alastair wasn’t there to observe the lack of ‘fast and light’ tramping going on.

The extra weight didn’t seem to slow us down much, and we reached the bushline just as the mist was rising, revealing a beautiful day in Arthur’s Pass. Tania and Jeff frolicked in the tussocks, I ate hot cross buns and Barbara took numerous selfies before we got down to the serious business of trying not to dislodge large rocks onto each others heads. At a few points I did ponder why I had chosen to climb on top of hundreds of loose boulders instead of one solid boulder at Flock Hill…

After a few ‘scrambly bits’ we found a suitable scree chute to run down and reach a large basin of more scree.  We scampered across this, found a patch of snow to bumslide down, and were soon on the ridgeline to Avalanche Peak. After a small but particularly horrible downclimb, we reached the scree run leading down to the Crow River.  Having really enjoyed this scree run myself a few years back in the Avalanche Peak race, I was looking forward to it.  However, erosion is a continuous process of course, and much of the nicely-sized scree was now interspersed with large patches of skiddy gravel on top of compacted earth. This made for a very stop-start descent and a general fear of getting up too much speed.

Jeff patiently waited for us at the bottom by building a giant cairn on top of a giant boulder. When I reached the bottom I assisted by lifting many large rocks above my head up to him. We felt very caveman and cave woman-like.

Jeff and Barbara traversing the ridge towards Avalanche Peak
Jeff and Barbara traversing the ridge towards Avalanche Peak

When Tania reached us she said she’d slipped on one of the skiddy bits and bruised her hip on a rock. She looked like she was in pain so I ran ahead to Crow Hut to make a cup of tea.  It was a busy weekend in the outdoors – I was greeted by a group of Army cadets camping outside, a family of four and another pair of trampers, as well as the ubiquitous sandflies. We enjoyed a delicious meal and fell asleep to rhythmic snoring and the beginning of the forecast rain.

Our planned Sunday morning sleep-in was abruptly interrupted by numerous kea announcing their presence at 5am. Fearing for Jeff in the tent, I dragged myself outside and counted 5 on the roof of the hut having great fun, with another 7 circling above in anticipation!!The walk out to the roadend is probably best described as a pleasant river valley plod (and a more pleasant run). We snoozed in the sun at Klondyke corner eating the rest of the peach pie and swatting away sandflies while Jeff hitch-hiked back to get the car. A stop at the Sheffield pie shop for, yes, another pie, concluded a fantastic weekend. I was even mentally recharged on Monday morning for more Latex editing!

Date: Feb 21-22, 2015
Location: Rome Ridge, Arthurs Pass

Tramps: Laura King, Jeff Ducrot, Barbara Meddick and Tania Seward

Words & images: Laura King