Back country appeals to College boys

02 Nov 2020

Boulder hopping up a river bed, tramping steep tussock hillsides, scree running, and crossing rivers – Labour Weekend proved just that for the College boys who braved the Arrowsmith Range near Lake Heron and the Ashburton River.

All were completing various parts of their Duke of Edinburgh Gold award. Head Prefect Dominic Edmond was completing his Gold Qualifying Journey, Alex Brett, Jamie Barr and Jonathan Huo were completing their Gold Practice Journey, and Thomas Johnston was doing his Silver Qualifying Journey. The three-night journey saw the boys camping out in tents, cooking their own food, and carrying all their gear in packs.

Year 12 Jamie Barr said the quiet, the absence of phones, the sky at night and the scenery all combined for an unforgettable experience.

“We learned how to use ice axes – I’d never been to a glacier before– how to self-arrest in tramping boots with an ice axe, traverse through snow, boulder hop and scree run. We did navigation and compass practice, and for most of the time we weren’t following a track.”

The first day was spent walking the 16km up to Cameron Hut in the Arrowsmith range behind lake Heron, and the next morning they went on to the Cameron Glacier to practise their snow tramping skills before tramping up and over an alpine saddle between the Cameron and south Ashburton valleys. The final camp was at Boundary Creek Hut, wet weather meaning the 12km walk back to the College van was conducted in cold temperatures and boggy conditions.

Dr Tom Hawkins, who along with Sam Leary and Neil Edmond also took part, said the boys were essentially independent throughout the trip.

“They coped excellently with the conditions underfoot–off route tramping for the most part–and with managing the different abilities and fitness levels of those in the group. They’re now ready to be independent backcountry trampers!”