Friday, February 26, 2016

Hut 02 - Carrington

There would be very few trampers and mountaineers that have not spent at least one night at Carrington Hut.
It is positioned at the junction of the Waimakariri and White rivers in Arthurs Pass National Park, and is a strategic hut for trampers and mountaineers alike. Further up valley is the Barker hut (see Huts 01) and Waimak Falls hut (a future blog) - both stepping off points for serious climbing and also remote tramping. Harrington hut is the first stopping place on the Three Pass Trip from Klondyke Corner to Hokitika.

The second Carrington hut
This hut (above) is the hut I first remember. My first foray up the Waimak was about 1961-2 at the ripe old age of 13-14. It was the second hut at the junction. The first hut was located further out towards the Waimak riverbed and was washed away in a flood. It was built in 1929 and named after Gerard Carrington who was co-instumental in forming what was to become the Canterbury Mountaineering Club (which I joined in 1964 and have been a member ever since). Sadly he was drowned in the Waimak gorge before the hut was completed. The hut above replaced the original hut and sat up on a terrace well away from flooding.
Below this second hut there was a small four bunk NZFS (New Zealand Forest Service) hut (see below) - a handy overflow hut, especially at Easter in the 1960s when there was always an Easter Climbing School run by the CMC. I have spent a night in this four bunk hut with eleven trampers crammed inside. My 'bunk' was up in the rafters lying on a climbing rope wrapped around the rafters. A very uncomfortable night!!

NZFS hut below Carrington hut - November 1967
Sadly both these huts have long gone, and been replaced by the current Carrington hut, a Lockwood design, and capable of hosting many trampers and climbers.

The current Carrington hut
Whilst this hut is perfect for large parties visiting the upper Waimak - and I have no doubt that some busy weekends it is full to capacity with tents pitched close by. For me, it is a soulless dwelling - it echoes with every footstep inside - and will never have that character that many remote and older back country huts have. The smell, the stories in the old hut books, the writing on the walls (not graffiti). But still, it does provide a refuge on a stormy night and it is a stepping stone to remoter places up valley.
In this hut's early days, it had a sign above the entrance saying 'Carrington Hilton'. Sadly, the Hilton hotel chain had no sense of humour and after a court case, the sign had to be removed!
A think I may as well complete the Waimakariri huts in the near future so watch this space.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Crossing the Empty Quarter #3

I posted a blog a few days ago re the journey including eight images..... and then promised a few more. So here are eight more for your interest. If anyone wants more, please indicate with a comment. Otherwise, this it! Enjoy.

The last day - outskirts of Doha 
Oman - Saudi border again - Military post of Kyran in distance  
Campsite view - Rub Al Khali 
The Khanger worn by Bin Kalut in 1930 - it has now done the journey twice 
Another day in the Rub Al Khali 
Early start to day in the southern Rub Al Khali 
Deep in the Rub Al Khali 
Doha skyline - Thomas had to travel by Dhow to Bahrain to break the news of his success in February 1931

First Car

I talked about a city bike ride yesterday.
At the back of the Cathedral I spotted this car - a 1946 Austin 10 in beautiful restored condition.
It reminded me of my first ever car back in 1966 - a 1939 Austin 10. Looked identical to this one except for the colour. It cost me 70 pounds (pre decimal currency days!!). Loved that car - even if I did manage to roll it on the road into Lake Sumner one Friday night. With help, got it back on it's wheels, poured the oil back in and drove it home. Hardly dented such was the quality (and thickness) of the body - but sufficiently for my parents to notice unfortunately. I used to drive it down to Mt Cook to go climbing. Took ages to get there. Sold it a year later for 68 pounds!!

Checking out the City

I've been home a week.
It was time to check out progress with the city rebuild. Chris and I biked in to town yesterday morning. I hadn't seen it for nearly five months so it was good to catch up.
It's certainly happening - and will be a great place  to hang out in, in a few years time. I just wish they would make a few decisions re the big ticket items - the Convention Centre, the Sports Metro, the Stadium - and the Cathedral. At the present rate, the CDB will be completed and the Square will remain dead. Funny, I should be making this remark on the fifth anniversary of the big earthquake!
There's a few new pieces of street art, Spectrum is still on, there's a corrugated iron exhibition at the museum, the Art Gallery has reopened after being closed since the earthquake - so I've got plenty to go see over the next few months.
Yesterday I couldn't resist a few images in town.

Mowing the lawns - Restart Mall
Set Free - new Margaret Mahy playground
Feature Wall - new Margaret Mahy playground
New Street Art - Dr Zeuss?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Crossing the Empty Quarter #2

Three months on...........mission accomplished.
I got home one week ago after a successful expedition through the Empty Quarter from Salalah in Oman to Doha in Qatar. The journey took 49 days - starting on 10th December (the same date Bertram Thomas started 85 years ago) and ending on 27th January 2016.
Although I was only a member of the Support Team, it was a busy time some days. Responsibilities included support vehicle driver, photographer, quartermaster, medic, money man.
The walking team stuck to their knitting and averaged 26-27 kms per day throughout the 1300 km journey. We started with 4 camels and finished with 3 - the 4th was red-carded after about the 10th day and sent back to bootcamp because of bad behaviour. The support vehicles performed well throughout the entire journey, and although they got stuck on multiple occasions, the drivers were able to extricate their vehicles without support - a pretty good performance considering the terrain.
In total I captured ~4300 images. I have now whittled these down to ~250 for use in lectures, expedition book, etc.

The walking team deep in the Rub Al Khali
The Oman - Saudi Arabia border
Sand Boa - the only snake we saw
First steps on a moody day
New moon in southern Oman
The only arrowhead found despite extensive searching
Riding through the sabkha at the northern limit of the Rub Al Khali
Typical terrain the middle section of the Rub Al Khali
Only ever seen in January - the Southern Cross and the Pointers - at dawn
I will post a further eight images in a day or two. I don't want you to have all the fun at once!!