And after a gruelling 5 hour climb (near the top it was virtually a 45 degree climb up scoria and some vertical rock climbing). Even for a relatively fit person like me, I was light headed and physically shattered by the time I reached the top. I spent the 3 hour climb back down sucking in the pain - my knee hurt, my back hurt, my head hurt. Even the hair on my head hurt. And I wiped out more than once as I scrambled down the scoria.
But wow. What an experience. The view from the top was amazing. The volcanic rocks were stunning - their colour, shape and texture is like nothing you'd ever see on the ground.
There was some snow on the top even in summer. There are some parts where the snow is permanently there all year round. The breeze was cool, which made climbing more comfortable. The weather was cloudy for the most part of the morning as we headed up, but there were parts when the cloud cleared and gave us a breathtaking view.
This is a much harder climb than the Tongariro Crossing which I did back in April 2004. To attempt Mt Taranaki, you must be reasonably fit and must be prepared for sudden weather changes. Mountain weather can change very quickly. We witness this when the clouds moved in until we only had visibility up to about 5meters, and when the clouds cleared, we were treated to some spectacular views.
Under cloud cover, it is very easy to stray away from the path and become lost. We lost sight of the poles which marked the way a few times, but fortunately did not wander off into some gully or other. Many people have lost their lives on this mountain.
This photo shows the view from the top, looking down at Fantham's Peak (spelling is correct). Fantham's peak is on the south side of Mt Taranaki and is a secondary cone. Because of Mt Taranaki's resemblance to Mt Fuji, this was the backdrop used in The Last Samurai.