Mar 30 2016

Rock and Pillar Climbs

Published by under Both Hikers & Trampers

Rock and Pillar via Six Mile Creek.
This climbs 3300 feet up the eastern face from Glencreag Station up a leading ridge south of Six Mile Creek. This is the most direct approach.

Rock and Pillar via spur south of Lug Creek.

Information: Climbs 3000 feet up the eastern face of a well-graded vehicle track up a leading spur south of Lug Creek. Average time to Leaning Lodge is 3 hours on foot.
9.5km north of the Middlemarch store on SH87, just before Lug Creek, is a farm entrance (RAPID 7219 – no DoC sign). A short way up the driveway is a DoC car park. There is public access up the vehicle track to the conservation area boundary. The track is now a recreation reserve administered by DoC.
Easiest route to Big Hut from Leaning Lodge (foot only – unmarked – good visibility essential) is another 45+ minutes climbing gently southwards to cross a steep gully and then climb a gentle shelf to above the eastern basins. Sidle several hundred metres past the lower prominent rock tors before gently descending to Big Hut once it becomes visible. Route very wind and cloud-prone. Ice axe and crampons may be necessary to traverse steep snow slopes near Leaning Lodge.

4. 30-31/3/2016. Trampers. Leaning Lodge.
We had 6 trampers keen to do the overnight trip to Leaning Lodge on the Rock & Pillar range. This made the travel arrangements, & the journey up
the hill to the hut quite easy. We had the loan of Ian Heb’s trailer, & Neil’s 4WD Ford ute, with his quad bike on the back.
This allowed everybody to travel to the start of the track in comfort, then we hooked the trailer onto the back of the quad bike, loaded all the packs & other gear onto it, & the back of the ute, put 4 people in or on the ute, & I drove the quad bike with Ian hanging on for grim death sitting on the rear platform. We had morning tea at this point, & then began the drive up the hill.

1 Ready to set off up to hut (Ken pic and caption)

1 Ready to set off up to hut (Ken pic and caption)

it’s about a 7km climb up the hill to the parking place by the hut, & takes quite a while due to the roughness of the track, but we all made it safely without mishap. it was then a case of ferrying all the gear down to the hut, & getting things set up in there, after which we had lunch while discussing what to do for the rest of the day, as the weather was really good.
it was decided that we would walk along to Big Hut via the highest point on the range, to take advantage of the views available from such a high point. [1457mtrs]. We walked up the road to the tops, where we discovered that there was a 4WD track leading all the way along the tops, & this went very close to the high point. There are the remains of a trig station [Trig H] on the very top which is easy to access. After spending some time here looking & taking photos, …

5 View from Summit Trig (Ken pic and caption)

5 View from Summit Trig (Ken pic and caption)

… we carried on towards Big Hut, & were surprised to see a DOC sign pointing the way to the hut. From this sign it’s only a short distance down to the hut, …

9 Approaching Big Hut from above (Ken pic and caption)

9 Approaching Big Hut from above (Ken pic and caption)

… where we had a rest, while everybody examined the info on the walls inside, & marvelled over the solar heating system on the North facing side of the hut.
We then retraced our steps back to Leaning Lodge, …

4 Bit of humour (Ken pic and caption)

4 Bit of humour (Ken pic and caption)

… & got things organised for the evening meal, which basically meant boiling plenty of water for the freeze dried food everybody had, & then boiling even more water for tea/coffee afterwards, plus some more for doing a few dishes.
Neil rigged up his lighting system [a 12v battery plus lead, & bulb with
a shade] so we had a good amount of light when it got dark. We made use
of this by reading some of the magazines left in the hut, & Ian gave us
a run down on how to map read. We were all in bed by about 9:45, & were
serenaded with snoring by one member who will remain nameless!!! After a
cool night, which saw the fog surround the hut, we woke to a clear
morning, with the fog having descended down to cover the valley floor,

10 Middlemarch is under there somewhere (Ken pic and caption)

10 Middlemarch is under there somewhere (Ken pic and caption)

& the sun starting to light up our side of the valley.
Breakfast was taken at a leisurely pace while we discussed what the day’s
plans were, packed everything up, & carried it back up to the vehicles.
As we had gone to Big Hut the day before, we decided to drive to the ‘tops’ road, & walk along in the opposite direction to view some more of the amazing rock [tors] formations that exist up there. We stopped for morning tea at a suitable tor that gave us shelter from the slight cool breeze that was blowing, & then walked a few kilometers further, before turning & going back to our morning tea spot for lunch.

13 Arthur taking notes, with our route home in background (Ken pic and caption)

13 Arthur taking notes, with our route home in background (Ken pic and caption)

Then it was back to the vehicles, & after securing everything, we set off back down to the car park at the bottom of the track, where the quad bike was loaded onto the back of the ute again, the trailer hooked up to the ute, &packs etc. loaded into the car ready for the drive home.
Of course we had to keep up the coffee club tradition, so a stop at the
Kissing Gate Cafe was in order before the drive back to Mosgiel.
We all had a great time, the weather was superb, & the company great, the hut is nice & comfortable, with double glazing, & insulation, so a successful trip.

Walked [over two days] 20km
Ave 4.5km/h
climbed 521mtrs
max elev. 1457mtrs – Ken.

3. 18/2/2015. Leaning Lodge. Trampers.

GPS of route, courtesy Ken. Leaning Lodge. (Ken pic and caption)

GPS of route, courtesy Ken. Leaning Lodge. (Ken pic and caption). We walked over 18km; 4km/hr ave; 4hr 30min moving; climbed 840mtrs; max height 1266mtrs.

With an 8:30 start, eight trampers turned up for our assault on Leaning Lodge. We drove to Middlemarch, & then along Highway 87 towards where the Rail Trail crosses it. As there is no signposting for the track up to Leaning Lodge we had to keep a sharp eye out for the turn off.
After parking in the large carpark paddock, we loaded up the packs & set off up the track, which is a not too steep, zig zag 4WD track, that goes all the way up to the hut & beyond. It is a relentless climb of 9km with hardly any level spots to stop & rest, so we found a place to have morning tea, & then continued climbing.

About 2kms from the hut some of the party decided they would stop for lunch, [we didn’t know then that it was another 2k to go] but 3 of us went on determined to get to the hut for lunch.

1 Leaning Lodge. (Ken pic and caption)

1 Leaning Lodge. (Ken pic and caption)

The hut comes into view about 1km before you actually get to it, so it’s like a beacon drawing you on for the last bit of the climb. Then you have to go DOWN some quite steep steps to get to it, & after spending the best part of 3 hrs climbing, going down steep steps seems really foreign to the body.
However, the 3 of us made it safely, & had lunch in the hut.

 

2 Lunch inside Leaning Lodge (Ken pic and caption)

2 Lunch inside Leaning Lodge (Ken pic and caption)

3 Leaning Lodge with track leading to it (Ken pic and caption)

3 Leaning Lodge with track leading to it (Ken pic and caption)

4 zoomed in shot of the Lodge (Ken pic and caption)

4 zoomed in shot of the Lodge (Ken pic and caption)

As you may know, this hut is only one year old, [to replace the old Leaning Lodge on the same site] so it’s in very good, clean condition. It has a wonderful view…

5 view from hut (Ken pic and caption)

5 view from hut (Ken pic and caption)

…down into the highway 87 valley, will sleep 12 people, has a long drop loo, no water supply, but two sinks in a stainless steel bench, with drains to an outside sinkhole.
As it was the day before my birthday, I carried a bottle of wine wrapped in newspaper to keep it cold, to share with the others at lunchtime, but with only the three of us, & one person declining to partake, the level in the bottle didn’t drop very far, so I was resigned to having to take it all the way back down again!!
George also kindly arrived at the carpark early to present us with some cake & chocolates to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.
While we were having lunch, we saw two others walking along the 4WD track towards the hut, but they then turned around & went back again. We later learned that they had just come up to see the hut after their lunch, but decided to not go all the way to it.
After lunch we climbed the steps back up to the 4WD track & proceeded to walk back down the mountain., where we came upon two of our group resting in the shade of a big rock cluster. it was here that we learnt of one group member who had taken the wrong turn, & was last seen heading up the 4WD track to the mountain tops, which was away above the hut site. To make matters worse this person [who shall remain nameless] left their pack behind, which contained their water supply, & a cell phone, so when I rang the number, it didn’t get answered. By this time everybody had climbed high enough to at least view the hut, without actually going to it, so we just had to wait around for the errant tramper to return, which happily happened after about 1/2 an hour wait.
We then started the long walk down to the cars. This was rather hot going, as by this time of day the temperature was quite high, my wrist watch temperature gauge said 34°C at one stage, but from past experience, as I’m wearing it, it reads about 7°C too high, but even so, it was very hot work, & quite a few ran out of water before we got back down, so they were thankful for a stream near the bottom of the track. We were glad of the early start, which allowed us to climb in the cooler morning conditions.
We picked up the last member of our group, found lying in the shade near the cars, packed up, & drove back to Middlemarch hoping that the coffee shop would still be open, but as it was well after 4pm this was not to be, so we carried on home, arriving at the Mosgiel carpark about 5:30pm.
We all agreed that the trip was worthwhile, & the weather was superb all day, with just a very gentle breeze at times. – Ken.

2. 23/10/2013. Trampers. Rock and Pillar – Big Hut.

GPS

GPS of route, courtesy Ken. Distance 10.5 km; Moving time 3 hr 45 mins; Stopped time 1 hr 37 mins; Ave 2.8 km/h; Climbed 973 mtrs; Max Elevation 1337 mtrs.

As this was a new tramp for most, we left early to make sure we had plenty of time. We arrived at the start of the track to find a really nice looking day, so as the signs at the bottom say, we “set off slowly, & then eased up” as the grade got steeper. You have to realise that this is a 3000ft [970mtr] climb, so haste was never on the cards, especially for us 4 old farts that made the trip. We had a couple of stops on the way up to enjoy the views,

 

Snowcave

Snow-cave near the top with a stream running through it (Ken pic and caption)

but we could also see some clouds that looked a bit threatening, so we pushed on up to Big Hut at almost the top of the range.

Ian approaching Big Hut. (Ken pic and caption)

Ian approaching Big Hut. (Ken pic and caption)

After a good look around, we had lunch,…

Lunch in Big Hut. (Keith pic)

Lunch in Big Hut. (Keith pic)

… & because we could see the occasional wisp of cloud going past the windows, we didn’t dally too long before heading back down the mountain. The air temperature had dropped markedly since our arrival, so we made fast progress down to warmer conditions. We stopped 3 – 4 times on the way down to give our screaming thighs some respite from the continual down hill pounding. One stop in particular was very enjoyable, as both the temperature, & the views, along with the comfort of the tall tussock were hard to leave. We arrived back at the car, & it was a bit of a struggle for some to fold themselves into the seats, due to stiffness setting in. A stop at the ‘Kissing Gate’ cafe for a well deserved coffee was appreciated by all, & we all said it had been a good tramp. We arrived home at about 4 pm, so it wasn’t as long a day as we thought it might have been before we set out. It took us 2 3/4 hrs to go up, which was within the recommended times of 2 – 3 hrs. So we felt really good about that. – Ken.

1. 9/11/2008. Rock and Pillar via spur south of Lug Creek – attempt! Leaders: Ian, Leonie.
9 of us made it only a little way up before we experienced the WIND. We snatched as much shelter as we could find for an early morning tea …
A windy tea stop

Windy cuppa

Windy cuppa. George and Ria.

… but had climbed only a little bit further before several wanted to turn back, with the remainder following suit only a little later when they could no longer keep their feet as the northerly only increased in strength. Prudence triumphed over ambition. But we vowed we would return some time in the future as the gentle gradient of the zig-zag route was a gift of a climb.

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