The Dragon’s Teeth – a hair-raising route in Kahurangi National Park – is on many tramper’s radar. Many more won’t have heard of it, or, more likely, have no desire to do it.
One of my favourite parts of this job is reading about the tramping adventures had by others, in parts of the country so grand and beautiful; only the most dedicated, hardened and experienced trampers can reach them. They take not just days of effort to complete, but years of accumulated tramping experience to notch up the navigation, decision-making and knowledge to complete successfully.
The Dragon’s Teeth is one such place and our article this issue, in which veteran Teeth’s traverser Warwick Briggs describes the route in detail, is one of the most enjoyable ‘tramping vicariously through the accounts of others’ stories I’ve read.
Part of the appeal is in the detail, and how over years Briggs has come to know the route intimately. Then there’s the excitement of a fall and the subsequent rescue. But a big part is in realising that doing a trip of this difficulty is akin to the process a mountaineer might go through in order to graduate from climbing easy peaks like Ruapehu to the highest of them all: Mt Everest. Tramper and mountaineer alike need to start small, build up their experience, attempting ever more tricky objectives until finally they are ready to have a crack at their goal.
And with the recent announcement by DOC of an expansion of the Great Walks network, I find it pleasing in the extreme that trampers, people who simply plod along the ground, one foot in front of the other, can still find difficult challenges in our backcountry to work towards.