Another missing tramper in Tararuas

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It's also hard to know exactly what might have been going through his mind. Maybe he'd not even have thought of the possibilities, but if he'd written in the Arete hit book, he might have written something like "Not sure about the wx, going out to check anyway and if it looks too bad then I'll come back here." Something like that might have helped to narrow down the likely search area considerably.
@izogi, he texted his wife confirming out on Saturday. Not a single thought had crossed his mind that the conditions would ever be too much.
Tragic that he couldnt make it back to Arete biv. Assuming he tried but couldnt find the biv in the conditions. Its those sort of situations where a phone offline gps app with gov topo maps loaded can really save your bacon. Being on the tops it should enable enough accuracy for a 3m postion fix.
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A route like that, in winter, solo, for a guy for whom it seems like a pretty big step up in difficulty... Sounds like he was well under-equipped electronically. No beacon and no gps. I'm guessing he looked at the map and backed himself to get off the tops and to the hut via the route that killed him. It's likely he hadn't done a great deal of research on the walk either, or else I don't see why he would even have taken is on by himself in June. Such an avoidable tragedy.
An excellent writeup of a typical close call in this area: Outlines just how easy it is to miss the Arete Biv (although I assume this refers to the old one, not the new) and how easy it is to get disoriented in this area. It even ends being stuck for three days in Tarn Ridge hut in bad weather as I was. While it's in a great location, there are no easy escape routes from either it or Arete Biv if there are gales for a week. The weather dominates everything. My misadventure started at Herepai, with a long day in cloudy but reasonably nice conditions around to Dundas. Then a lost day there with high winds and heavy rain. Then a short day across to the new Arete Biv in pleasant conditions, where again I lost another day waiting out poor weather. Then a day that started ok but rapidly clouded over and I missed my intended escape route down to Arete Forks, wound up grovelling over the Pinnacles in high winds and landed up at Tarn Ridge for three days. It was meant to be a five day trip and at the end of seven days the forecast was for another week of the poor conditions. I was now low on food. The next day I've described, descending the unmarked route into the head of the Waingawa, then the massive rainstorm overnight at AF. The next day down to Cow Creek via the sidle track was memorably awful, with lots of fresh windfall and everything pouring water. By now I had no food, had eaten little for three days and couldn't face the climb over Blue Range, so I opted for the longer but less strenuous walk out the Ruamahunga on the tenth day. Even then the weather decided to have another go at me, with plenty of heavy showers and on that final 200m climb on the farmland to avoid the gorge I got blown off my feet in the wind. I've never been happier to see my partner turn up in the car; it was a weary and subdued tramper who gratefully lowered his somewhat slimmer body into a very hot bath that evening. And now looking back I can see how easily it can go wrong in this area; I've been there four times and on a nice day it's a great spot. But if the weather gods are not kind it's a trap. RIP Darren.
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Very good article. No waterproof shelter on the tops in Autumn. One torch for the group. A bit of safety in numbers though.
@philipW when was that trip? theres been a few hut book entries at AF, of parties bailing out from Tarn Ridge hut, down the river. Its ok, unless the river is flooded. even then, the true right can be sidled ok, down to AF hut. Only one climb over a bluff
@TararuaHunter I'm not 100% sure of the year now, but I think it was late November 2009. If you know Tony Matheson he may still have the phone call I made to him jotted down in his records if they go back that far. Dropping down the spurline from pt1393 at Tarn Ridge would have been easy enough if the weather hadn't been so grotty and I hadn't bluffed myself twice. But once through the leatherwood band (which was nowhere nearly as bad is it could have been) it was just a steep bushbash down to the headwaters. The last 20m into the streambed itself was the most interesting bit. At that point the river was still low enough that I could boulder hop down to Arete Forks. It was pretty strenuous; I recall having to stop for a break within sight of the hut. Combination of low rations and not as fit as I could have been :-). I was dead lucky though, as I said in my first comment, within 30 min of making it to the hut the heavens opened. Same storm hit the Toast Martinborough Festival next day. Arete Forks is a special place, a bit hard to get to, well looked after, and in a dramatic location. Good memories of it.

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Forum The campfire
Started by TararuaHunter
On 3 June 2019
Replies 87
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