A chance to win some free food is something a Tai Poutini Polytechnic student can’t turn down, so to have the opportunity to win some Back Country Cuisine meals just by planning a mission outdoors is right up my alley!
Now picking an adventure is sometimes rather hard but when the adventure picks you out it's something worth doing. The Craigieburn range was that mission due to the fact it has stared me down every time I drive back home with the range silhouetting as the light fades, showing its true shape and features.
The vast Craigieburn Range traverse connects Porters Ski Field all the way to just outside Arthurs Pass with multiple escape options with local ski fields along the ridgeline. This enabled us to make safe decisions with the ability to remove ourselves if the conditions deteriorated or if any issues arose.
Finding a crew that was motivated and keen to spend time in the hills traversing an awesome mountain range was the next step. This team would need to be a well-oiled machine, keeping each other in check but having an absolute blast while we are out there.
Once amassed, a group gathering was organised to discuss the route plan, equipment required, avalanche conditions and group health. I felt this was super beneficial to be all on the same page before we went any further.
The trip was all lining up nicely and we were set to attempt the 24km traverse in two days. As soon as the sun came up we were on our way. Getting moving early meant we would have it slightly easier later on in the day and get through the avalanche terrain before the temperature could have an impact on the snow conditions.
We were soon welcomed by a very long tough ascent up towards the ridgeline. A glorious morning beamed down on us creating a hot and sweaty slog up to the summit of Mt Cloudsley (2107m). The team’s bodies were feeling it now and we were all in need of a good pitstop. The Back Country meals that were supplied really hit the spot!
This pit stop was also a great time to check in with the weather as we knew we had a deteriorating forecast coming in overnight. We noticed that the higher we climbed the more severe the winds were becoming so we wanted to make the safest and smartest decision before it was too late. The call was to push on and see what the weather was like on the next summit. We made this call due to the wind being relatively sweet on the leeward side. We stuck as close to that side to make it a little nicer for us.
The problem we came across was that the ridge started narrowing up and the leeward side had too much snow to be safe and efficient for walking, so we had to walk on the windward side. This was pushing our abilities and experience near the limit. Howling gale-force winds were blowing us around trying to wipe us off our feet. The game plan became rather obvious at this point.
The plan was now to move off the mountain, out of the rather unsafe environment. We descended rapidly via a hectic scramble and backtracked to our vehicle. Reflecting upon this mission we made the right call. Sometimes things don't always go to plan. Sometimes the best decision is the hard one and It just means you have to come back another day.
Back Country Cuisine, thank you for supplying such a great opportunity. I’m grateful for the food and look forward to continuing to adventure with your meals providing the energy I need.
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