My first tramp up Mt Roy was with my best friend, the youngest of four in a family of keen trampers, when we were 10 or 11.
We started lagging when we were near the top but her father fed us chocolate and talked us up the last stretch.
I’ve done the eight kilometre walk up the 1,578 metre high peak several times since then but in spite of good intentions for the last few years the last time had been New Year’s Eve, 1999.
Those good intentions finally translated into action on Saturday. In the company of my farmer, our daughter and niece I tackled not only Mt Roy but neighbouring Mt Alpha and the skyline route down to the Cardrona Valley.
We started the ascent at 6.30 am, had three brief stops and reached the top at 9:20. That was about 20 minutes faster than I’d managed 13 years previously.
On a fine day, as it was when my my farmer did the tramp a year earlier, you can see Mt Aspiring:
When we did it on Saturday it was cloudy, but the views were still impressive.
The ridge track between Roy and Alpha starts with a steepish descent before it climbs again.
My farmer warned us it was hard and he was right.
The track was narrow, steep and in a few places a bit scrabbly.
As I was going slow step by slow step up a particularly steep stretch I was beginning to think if there was another bit like this it would be a bit too far when I reached the top, about an hour and 15 minutes after leaving Mt Roy.
The forecast had promised temperatures of 24 degrees in Wanaka but at an altitude of 1630 metres and with a chilly wind it was less than half of that on the top of Alpha.
We sheltered in the lee of the peak for water and a sandwich then began the descent.
The track starts down through snow tussock then gets narrower and overgrown but it wasn’t nearly as steep as the ascent had been.
There were a couple of downs and ups near the valley floor,. By this time I was thinking I’d had enough up and our feet appreciated the chance to cool down when we had to ford a couple of streams.
Soon after that a sign told us we were crossing private land and it was an easy walk from there to where we’d parked a car on the Cardrona Road about 10 kilometres from Wanaka.
The whole trip had taken 8 hours and 15 minutes.
We passed several people doing the tramp in the opposite direction. It would be less strenuous going up but much harder going down – especially the first stretch from the top of Alpha.
When we got back I consulted The Lake Wanaka Region by Neville Peat and read:
Mt Roy: 8 km, 3 hr, hard.
To enjoy this one you need to be fit. Here’s why, with it’s ziz-zags stretched out, the track measures 8 km, and from the foor-of-te-mountain starting point to the summit you will climb more than 1,200 m (4,000 ft). . .
Skyline route: For really fit trekkers; an alternative route back to Wanaka involves following the summit ridge south through Mt Alpha and down Spotts Creek to the Cardrona Valley . . .
I wouldn’t say I’m really fit but if I hadn’t been walking regularly and included hills most days I wouldn’t have even contemplated doing the tramp. I could have done a longer distance on the flat with no problems but was at the upper end of my tolerance for hills.
I took walking poles for the first time and found they helped.
I wasn’t stiff on Sunday but my legs were tired when I did the Waterfall Creek – Ironside Hill walk that afternoon and I was a bit slower than usual going up Mt Iron on Monday.
But it was good to finish the year on a literal and figurative high. As I write this, three days after the climb, the endorphins are still flowing.
DOC information on the tramp is here and says it will take 10 – 11 hours.
It’s alpine country and anyone doing it ought to be prepared for all weather.