Monday, February 12, 2007

The summit

Yesterday I climbed Mt Taranaki (2,518meters, one of the world's most symmetrical volcanic ash cones).

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.

11 comments:

butterflies said...

Great pics Polar!! Im so glad to see you out and about.Id love to do that climb.
Happy Valentines day:)

yarngirl said...

Wow polar bear your climb sounds fabulous! Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself.

love and hugs yarngirl xxx

james said...

I love hiking and have been doing it since I was young. As well as backpacking up at high mountain lakes. Unfortunately I haven't been able to much of either lately due to the weight gain from these damn meds.

I miss getting out in nature like that and it makes me depressed. It pisses me off that these meds do this to me.

Kym said...

Wow! What an accomplishment! It sounds like it was incredibly hard going, yet so spectacular.

Ophelia said...

Somethimes I wonder if the purpose of life has something to do with mountains. This isn't the first time I came to that thought.

I'm glad for you!

Reiki 4 Life said...

I love mountains...such peace and tranquility there...makes you feel so close to mother earth. It sounds like an absolutely wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing.

sansanity said...

wow! you make me want to get fit and go climb a mountain. that seems like it would be an INCREDIBLE experience. reminds me a bit of when i drove to vegas and saw the expanse of desert. I had a strong craving to just drive the car off the road and find a rock and just sit there and watch. it's the place i imagine now when i am stressed.

sansanity said...

p.s. thanks for your comments the other day. you saved me from heading down a very nasty decent (even though I was so convinced that I was ok) with the non-judgmental gentle nature of your words.

sans

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sansanity said...

WTF? (see comment above from "anonymous" assuming you scrolled down long enough to get to this one)

Why is it people who can leave messages like that can never do so by leaving their name and a place for you to return and reciprocate or atleast continue the dialogue.

if you do not support your convictions strongly enough to be identified with them, why the F*CK would you think anyone else would give any creedance to them?

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Hey PB, you can delete this comment if you decide to delete the comment it references.

I guess my rant is pointless since it is not like such a coward would return to see what was said in response.

Polar Bear said...

thanks Sans. I agree with what you said about the comment from Anonymous. It was a stark raving mad rant, I must say, and I have deleted it.