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July 2013 Issue
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In the hearth of Mordor

Ngauruhoe, with neighbouring Ruapehu and pale Taranaki in the distance, creates an exceptional camping spot. Photo: Jakub Cejpek
Mangatepopo car park

Mt Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park

Fighting against the tide of Tongariro Alpine Crossing day trippers, we started out from Ketetahi car park with large packs loaded with gear to aid our climb of Ngauruhoe.

As we climbed the upper slopes of Ngauruhoe, dark clouds began to gather and walking among the hot smoky fumes at the edge of the crater created an end of the world feel to the location.

There was plenty of snow at the summit for us to pitch our tent. The darkening clouds promised a storm, so we set the guylines tight with ice-axes, trekking poles and rocks buried deep into the snow. We were prepared for a blustery night, but we slept well and woke early to a surprise: in the early dawn light we could make out the clearest of skies with many stars still visible.

Still in our warm sleeping bags, we left the door to the tent open and enjoyed the best breakfast panorama imaginable.

I have spent many nights in colder and higher mountains, but this is one night I will never forget.

– Jacob Cejpek