Mashai Pass Report 17-19 May 2013

21 May 2013 13:37 - 21 May 2013 14:05 #56996 by JonWells
So myself and my new hiking partner, Smurfatefrog were both keen to test out some new winter kit on the escarpment before mid-winter arrived. Smurf hadn’t been up Rhino peak before, so we decided that we could climb the peak, then camp the night in the valley at the top of Mashai Pass.


We arrived at Garden Castle at around 8pm. I went to sign the mountain register and was a little annoyed to see that it had not been left out. :thumbsdown: On our previous hike at Giant’s Castle, we had found the register but no pen! So not much luck recently in that regard!






We began the hike in cold, misty conditions. There had been rain on and off during the day, and the grass was as wet as can be. Within a few km’s my “Waterproof” Hi-Tec boots each had around half a litre of water in them. “Not a good start to a winter hike” I thought.


As we walked past Pillar Cave with our headlights lighting it up, there were some rather surprised hikers inside who woke up and were rather confused as to why anyone would be hiking late at night in the cold dark mist!


As both caves had been booked for the Friday night, we proceeded to a reasonably flat patch of land a few hundred metres upstream from Pillar Cave Annex, where we set up our tents, enjoyed a few whiskeys, then turned in for the night.

The next morning we awoke to rather crisp conditions, but were pleased to see that the skies had cleared and the sun was out. We had a quick breakfast, packed up camp, and headed off to Mashai Pass.









Smurf with eyes on the prize






JonWells at the start of the pass




About half way up the pass, we encountered a few people from the group ahead of us who were heading back down to the cave. We chatted to them for a while, and they explained that they had reached the final river crossing, and that the very steep bank that needed to be climbed after that was pretty iced/snowed up, and they had decided it was a tad too risky for their liking and it had forced them to abandon their Rhino Peak mission. Just the kind of information Smurf wanted to hear as he went up the pass for the first time :lol:


When we finally reached the river, I spotted a route up the steep bank that looked doable. (It turns out there are a number of routes up this section.) After a fair amount of huffing and puffing, some careful foot placements on the snowy footholds, and a lot of grabbing onto grass and shrubs, we got up the steepest part of the bank. Both of us were glad the hardest part was over, but we were both feeling a bit apprehensive at the thought of having to climb down it the next day!






During our ascent it had become rather cloudy, and a mist was appearing sporadically around the peaks. I thought to myself, “Four passes in a row now, I’ve arrived in mist!” Luckily this time it wasn’t too bad, and we were able to at least get some reasonable views from the top of the pass.


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Last edit: 21 May 2013 14:05 by JonWells.

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21 May 2013 13:42 - 21 May 2013 13:45 #56997 by JonWells
After a brief rest, we headed off towards the Rhino to accomplish objective one. The mist threatened once again, obscuring the peak at times. Half way there it looked like it might not be worth it, but Smurf was adamant he wanted to tick off the peak, even if it meant not having the accompanying views. A quick scramble later and we were both at the top. Luckily the mist played ball and we were able to enjoy the panorama!









It was now around 3pm, and we still needed to find a decent campsite for the night so we descended the horn, and headed West into the valley. We located the river, but it was dry, so we continued a km or so until it eventually had some water in it. (albeit a little green in places)

We pitched our tents and sat down for a well-deserved rest as we watched the sun setting rather impressively to the West. At about 5.30pm whilst still light, the temperature reached 0°C. The mist and clouds above began clearing. I looked around at the surrounding topography, we were in the lowest part. All of the ingredients were there for a rather chilly night!





At around 6.30pm, it was simply too uncomfortable to be outside. There would be no merry whiskey drinking under the stars that night! So off we headed for possibly the earliest bedtime I’ve ever known!

After 8 hours of lying in bed, I became rather fidgety, so at 2.30am I decided to go for a walk outside. My boots- still wet from the night before were inside by tent and had frozen solid! No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get my feet into them. “Oh well, slops and socks it is then…” Needless to say, I wasn’t outside of the tent for very long!

When dawn finally broke, I was quite amazed at the amount of frost that formed on everything around us. I was equally amazed to see Smurf emerge from his tent alive and well after staking his life on a Mr Price sleeping bag! :P







Close up of some interesting frost formations on the river bed gravel

Once we had sun in our camp spot, I was finally able to defrost my boots, and by 9am we were packed up and ready to head back down to some hopefully warmer weather!

The trip down was largely uneventful, we managed to find a relatively safe route down to the river crossing, which was quite a relief!

After a fairly leisurely hike we were back at the car at 1.30pm to wrap up another successful weekend in the mountains :)

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Last edit: 21 May 2013 13:45 by JonWells.
The following user(s) said Thank You: diverian, plouw, Selous, Bigsnake, ghaznavid, brio, Smurfatefrog, tonymarshall, HFc

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21 May 2013 13:58 #56998 by Smurfatefrog
Thanks Jon B)

Here's some video, a pity the views from Rhino weren't that clear looking south
The following user(s) said Thank You: HFc, marggraffd

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21 May 2013 21:06 #57011 by ghaznavid
Nice :thumbsup:

Surprised the register wasn't out - I have filled in that register before and after office hours many times. Maybe next time I go there a phonecall in advance would be a good idea.

So Smurf - I know how much you love rock climbing, so are you up for Rhino Peak Eastern Arete route :laugh: the first pitch is a "short" 30m D-grade...

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22 May 2013 05:11 #57016 by Smurfatefrog

ghaznavid wrote: Nice :thumbsup:

Surprised the register wasn't out - I have filled in that register before and after office hours many times. Maybe next time I go there a phonecall in advance would be a good idea.

So Smurf - I know how much you love rock climbing, so are you up for Rhino Peak Eastern Arete route :laugh: the first pitch is a "short" 30m D-grade...

That's the thing Ghaz, Jon did phone on Friday to let them know we were arriving late. Next time we must take our own form & put it under the door

haha, ummmm, maybe next time :blush:

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