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August 2014 Issue
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First snow at Kea Basin

Hiking thrugh the first snow of the season in Kea Basin, en route to Esquilant Bivvy Hut. Richardson Mountains opposite. Photo: Jakub Cejpek
Time
9-10hr. Kea Basin bivouac, 4-5hr; Bivouac to Wright Col and Esquilant Bivvy Hut, 5hr
Grade
Moderate
Accom.
Earnslaw Hut, 4 bunks; Rock bivouacs in Kea Basin; Esquilant Bivvy Hut, 6 bunks
Access
Muddy Creek car park at the end of the Rees Valley Road and north of Glenorchy
Map
CB10, CA10

Kea Basin, Mt Aspiring National Park

Autumn seemed to be a good season to climb Mt Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi, but the reality turned out to be somewhat different.

After pleasant tramping along Kea Basin Track, we reached the cozy Earnslaw Hut. But it’s inhabitants, a family of mice, encouraged us to contiue for 15-minutes above the bushline to one of the best rock bivvies imaginable. This overhang, fully equipped with fireplace, utensils and two separate tussock-covered ‘bedrooms’, represents a five star sleeping facility.

Our excitement was later interrupted when, instead of gazing at the stars, we felt snowflakes falling on our faces.

In the morning, the landscape was covered with a white blanket and as we walked to Wright Col, the snow became deeper and the route more challenging.

We eventually reached Esquilant Bivvy Hut (2150m) where we stayed the night, but the route to the summit of Earnslaw was too treacherous with numerous small avlanches forcing our retreat.

– Jakub Cejpek

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