I woke up early in the near full hut. The sleep was deep after the longish day and I know I had a big day ahead of me too. The plan I thought was to get to Old Man Hut and if I was there early enough, I would push for the more technical section and head to Rintoul Hut.
Will & John were pretty fired up to get to tarn hut but I knew that’s a real stretch for me so I wouldn’t do that. Kevin & John were going to follow their schedule and get to old man and take many short days. So I wasn’t sure if I’d need any one if I got to Rintoul.
The day was glorious with not a cloud in e sky and the route out of slaty climbed up to the ridge and pretty much went up and down along the ranges. The views were breathtaking to say the least. The Richmond ranges are surely a place worth revisiting. I took my time along the walk, taking pictures and the occasional breaks that I do when I am on my own. I hoped to get to old man by 12:30 but the route was fantastic and after a steep climb along the side of. A mountain, I was at the junction to the hut by 11:30. Old Man was a side trip down and I figured it would be an hour detour. So I just had lunch at the treeline and decided to push on.
Now the real adventure began. The route was about 4.5 km and the notes estimated a 5 hr trip. I had a guess on the scrambles I’d have to do but was seriously shocked when I did encounter them. First up, it was the climb to little Rintoul. This was over big boulders after a steady climb in the bush. It was hard work trying to get good footing in the rocks, but it’s nothing compared to what came next. The slide down from Little Rintoul was almost 1000 ft drop and the surface was loose slaty stones. Every step I lay was in loose gravel nd it just slid off the side of the mountain. There was very few footing I could find, even big rocks slide away as they were sitting on these smaller rocks. I personally found it to be the hardest terrain I have been on. One thing was the sheer drop and the fact that I had absolutely no footing and on top of it, my body stiffened up (it happens when I am in uncontrolled heights).
I couldn’t slide easily either as I could see the rubble generally side 30-40 ft when I kick them.i resorted to all sorts of skills I had in my repertoire, using the poles, walking along big boulders for support, some rock climbing, dropping my poles and walking with both hands and feet and finally, sitting down on my arse and sliding down. None of the techs worked perfect but I eventually managed the scramble down without broken bones or any scratches. It was really hard work indeed. And following that was the climb up to Mt Rintoul which was on similar terrain but it seems easier to climb up than down.
It was energy sapping and I had to start rationing my water as there is none more till I reach the hut. The climb down from Rintoul was on scree, which is much smaller rocks and I could pretty much slide and arrest my walking by balancing my weight on on foot at a time. It was easier, but still scary and when I saw the open patch where the hut was, and given it was below the tree line, I could have shed a tear or two. Once under the tree line, it was still steep, but at least I knew it was safer to arrest if I went on an uncontrolled slide. Gladly nothing serious happened and I managed to get to the hut after nearly 5 hrs of slipping and sliding.
The hut is in a beautiful spot with a nice clearing looking over some hills and the Tasman sea. A lovely way to end the day. It seems like a couple more big days will take me to st. Arnaud and am glad that my ankle and knees re holding up fine!
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 2800 ft
Descent: 3600 ft